Express & Star

Work continuing on Staffordshire History Centre and is set to be finished next summer

Construction of the new Staffordshire History Centre is continuing – and work is set to be completed in Stafford town centre next summer.

Staffordshire History Centre new link artist impression

The cost of the project has gone up to almost £10m – but work is “progressing well” and the centre is due to open by the end of 2024, members of Staffordshire County Council heard this week.

More than £4.8m has come from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. A further £3.9m match funding has been raised through the county council, grants from other organisations, donations from the Friends of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service and the Friends of the William Salt Library, as well as contributions from volunteers.

The existing Staffordshire Record Office is being extended. And a modern glazed link is being created between the office and the William Salt Library to form a new entrance and permanent exhibition space to showcase the county’s collections.

Members of the Prosperous Overview and Scrutiny Committee had an opportunity to visit the site in Eastgate Street before their meeting on Wednesday. They were also shown a time-lapse video of construction taking place.

Councillor Victoria Wilson, cabinet member for communities and culture, said: “We started the build in February of a four-storey extension for the strongrooms. You can see how much progress has been made since February.

“The structure is 15m high and the video really doesn’t express the tribulations and trials that the developers have gone through to deliver what we see now – I think they were brushing away pools of water at one stage during the floods. It’s just remarkable and I’m really proud of it.

“You will have seen as well the William Salt Library and modern glazed entrance that links the two buildings once the glass is in there. That’s going to showcase the museum, the archives and William Salt Library collections.

“We want people to be as enthused about the history centre as we are. It’s somewhere for everybody in Stafford and the wider area to come and have a look at the rich history we have here in Staffordshire.”

A report to the committee provided further details of the project’s progress. It said: “The piling work has been completed for the strongrooms and the concrete slabs for the new stores are up to the third floor out of four.

“The foundation slabs, steel posts and columns are in place for the covered courtyard which will contain the new public entrance and exhibition space. The roof work is ongoing and the link to the William Salt Library building is being constructed.

“There have been delays to works on the William Salt Library listed building. This was due to a requirement to apply for listed building consent for the repair of one of the floors and replacement of a staircase in the cottage part of the building.

“The two buildings have been separated for their two future purposes of a residential let (cottage) and History Centre/office lettings (townhouse). Three period wallpapers revealed in the townhouse will be cleaned and a section of them will remain on display protected by a clear vision panel.”

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