Jobs are being created and the local tourism industry is set to receive a boost after it was announced that work will start on £5.4 million history centre for Staffordshire early in 2023.
More than a thousand years of the county’s history will be brought to life with the building of the new heritage venue – with the project being made possible thanks to a grant of £4,858,699 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The new centre will include an extension to the existing Staffordshire Record Office on Eastgate Street in Stafford, incorporating the William Salt Library.
A modern glazed entrance will link both buildings, creating a bright exhibition space to showcase museum, archive and William Salt library collections. Additional strong rooms will provide space for a further 55 years of collections.
The project also has funding to deliver an ambitious four-year programme of activities enabling people to discover more about their family or local history through behind-the-scenes tours, history days, exhibitions, and family activities.
A new website will be developed and key collections will be digitised to widen access.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture at Staffordshire County Council, said: “We’re justifiably proud of our history and wonderful collections and we want to be able to share them and be able to protect them for future generations to enjoy.
“We’re all incredibly excited about the project and it’s great to have the start confirmed for the new year.”
A brand-new learning programme is being created for schools, families and adult learners. Four project staff have been recruited to develop and deliver the programme, supported by over 60 volunteers.
Shropshire-based Pave Aways Ltd have been awarded the contract to build the new centre with work starting in early 2023.
Managing Director Steven Owen said: “We are very pleased to be working with the council to deliver this flagship building that will play an important role in the preservation and development of Staffordshire’s history.
“Having previously built a records and archives centre in Mid Wales, we are well placed to meet the stringent conditions that are required to house these historic collections. We can’t wait to get started.”
The total cost of the project, which includes the four-year programme of activities, is £8,780,239. The project has been made possible thanks to a grant of £4,858,699 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Additional match funding of £3,921,540 was raised by the partnership, including Staffordshire County Council funding, grants, donations from local organisations and friends and in-kind contributions from volunteers.