Residents are invited to Hoole Community Centre on 21 September between 2pm and 7pm for a pre-planning consultation drop-in session to see the proposals for Cheshire West’s new History Centre and chat to the architects and project team.
‘Cheshire’s archives: a story shared’ will be the new home for the Archives service when it moves from Duke Street to Lightfoot Street, Hoole (the site of the former Enterprise Centre).
The Archives and Local Studies Service is a shared service with Cheshire East Council, the need to relocate the Service has been recognised by both authorities. The new service will see two new history centres being established in Chester and Crewe, alongside improved service delivery in libraries, extended online services and a more extensive activity and event programme to reach people across Cheshire.
The Cheshire Archives and Local Studies service identifies, collects and cares for historic records and publications recording the lives of Cheshire communities’ past and present. The collections are available for information, learning and enjoyment, the service protects the archives for future generations to continue using them.
Cheshire West and Chester Council will fund the £10 million delivery phase from its 2022-2026 capital programme, this is being matched by the same amount from Cheshire East Council. The total project cost is estimated to be £26.459 million. Consultations, design work and business/cost plans have been completed following a £0.545m National Lottery Heritage Fund grant.
A second-round funding bid has been made to the National Lottery Heritage Fund with a decision expected in December. If successful, construction will start on Cheshire’s archives: a story shared in 2023. The proposed centres will be home for the unique and nationally important archives documenting the lives of Cheshire’s communities over the past 900 years.
Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council said, “Chester has hosted the archive services for over seventy years, but our current location is no longer able to meet the expectation and requirements of the many people who access this service.
“Please join us next week to view the exciting plans. There will also be an online survey for people to complete if they wish to express their views and cannot attend the drop-in.
“Following this, a Planning Application is expected to be submitted in October. A further event is being planned for October to introduce people to the Archives service and how it can help you take first steps in family/local history.
“The new centres in Chester and Crewe are expected to open in Winter 2024/25 providing new research, exhibition and event spaces.”
The project has been piloting new digital activities and tools for engaging more people, and a more diverse range of people, with archives. The Archives team have developed online exhibitions for LGBT History Month and Black History Month, live plus web-based training for community history groups. An online training programme has also been produced for library staff to help them develop their knowledge about the local history collections in their libraries and to support people who visit libraries to research family and local history.
Over the past year the Archives service has been speaking to hundreds of people across Cheshire to gather their views about the proposed new service, through online surveys, workshops and at in person events.
Online survey available from 21 September for four weeks: www.avisonyoung.co.uk/planning-consultations