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Construction work on county’s new history centre gathers pace

Construction work on a new history centre set to capture over a thousand years of Staffordshire’s past is progressing at pace, thanks to funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Work on the new Staffordshire History Centre on Eastgate Street in Stafford started in February 2023 and is due for completion in Summer 2024 with the centre opening to the public later that year.

The project includes an extension to the existing Staffordshire Record Office, whilst incorporating the heritage building that formerly housed 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.

Six months on and work is progressing well.  Foundation work at the rear of the site for the four-storey extension to the building is complete and with the crane now on site, people will soon see the building emerging from the ground.   In the courtyard where the exhibition space will be, the floor slab is in place, the wooden frame is in place, masonry works on the wall is ongoing and beams are being lifted in place shortly.

In the William Salt Library, careful restoration works and repairs are also underway.  During the work historic wallpaper was uncovered in a number of rooms which will be conserved and displayed when the centre is open, for everyone to see.

Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture at Staffordshire County Council said:

“We’re all incredibly excited about the project and grateful for the funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

“It’s great to see the progress so far.  We’re six months in and there’s a lot of work already done.  Having had a tour of the site and meeting with the team overseeing everything we can’t wait until it’s all up and running.  The new extension at the back of the building will give us much more storage space for archives while the modern glazed area will allow us to display some of the amazing collections.”

Dave Marriot, Vice Chair of Trustees at the William Salt Library said:

“The progress has been fantastic and it is great to be part of this exciting project.

“We are really excited that the home of the William Salt Library is being preserved as part of the project and that it will be here for many years to come. The William Salt collection is rather unique, a fascinating range of documents and artefacts which will all be showcased and cared for within part of the new building at the Staffordshire History Centre.”

Whilst the construction work has been taking place the Archives and Heritage team continue to run a full remote enquiry service from a temporary base. This summer staff and volunteers have been engaging Staffordshire families with hands on outreach activities at libraries across the county.  More events and activities that showcase Staffordshire’s history are planned for the Autumn.

The Staffordshire History Centre project has been made possible thanks to a grant of £4,858,699 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

People can keep up to date on the project blog here: Staffordshire History Centre

Victoria and David talk about the progress in this short video.


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