Construction has begun on a new heritage project in Staffordshire, intended to combine Staffordshire’s historic collections under one roof.
Plans for the Staffordshire History Centre were first approved in 2021. It will be formed by an extension of the existing Staffordshire Record Office building, which will also incorporate the renovated and redisplayed William Salt Library building.
The Staffordshire County Council project, funded in part by a £4.8m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, includes a glazed entrance which will link both buildings and create an exhibition space to showcase museum, archive, and William Salt library collections.
The project also includes additional strong rooms which will provide space for a further 55 years of collections.
The total cost of the project is £8.7m, which includes The National Lottery Heritage Fund grant and match funding of £3.9m via partnership, including Staffordshire County Council funding, grants, donations from local organisations and friends and in-kind contributions from volunteers.
Preparatory construction work has begun on the site, and construction will begin with the refurbishment of the William Salt Library and existing records office.
The William Salt Library collections have been moved from the building, revealing hidden architectural features which will be restored. New interpretation will retell the story of the building, as well as William Salt and his collection.
The buildings will have their interiors stripped before groundworks begin for the new strong room and footings are created for the link that will form the new entrance.
The project also has funding to deliver a four-year programme of activities allowing visitors to explore their family or local history through behind-the-scenes tours, history days, exhibitions, and family activities.
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.
Jonathon Price, Cabinet Member for Education (and SEND) at Staffordshire County Council said the project “will bring together our amazing collections in one place.”
Frances Beatty, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Planning at Stafford Borough Council said: “We are really pleased to have been able to support this wonderful addition to our county town.
“It’s yet another demonstration of the huge investment going on in and around the area.”