Plans to house Staffordshire’s historic collections under one roof have been given the go-ahead.
Permission has been granted for what will become the Staffordshire History Centre, combining the collections of Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service, the County Museum and the William Salt Library.
Staffordshire Archives and Heritage collections stretch back over 1000 years and include rare items such as Anglo-Saxon charters confirming the foundation of Burton Abbey and a letter written on the eve of the American revolution.
The museum collections include the Douglas Hayward puppet collection and carriage. The Georgian Library building held the collection for over a 100 years and has its own history as a fine town house, a doctor’s surgery and a shop before becoming a Library.
Staffordshire County Council and its partner the William Salt Library Trust secured the National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £3,964,000 towards the project in July, the total cost of which is expected to be £7.1m.
The new location will include an extension to the existing Staffordshire Record Office, incorporating the William Salt Library. The Library, a rare book and manuscript collection amassed by Victorian collector William Salt, will be restored and will retell the story of the building as well as William Salt and his collection.
A glazed link between the Library and the record office will create a new entrance and permanent exhibition space to showcase the collections. Alongside this, reading areas, and research labs will be added to allow visitors to find out more about their family and local history by visiting exhibitions, taking part in events and family activities.
Space for a further 55 years of collections and a new learning offer will also be created for schools with courses for students and adult learners.
The centre will be supported by a programme of touring exhibitions and targeted projects to reach all communities across the county.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture at Staffordshire County Council said the project will “help to get more people interested in our history but it will also give us a brand new heritage attraction which will support the recovery of Stafford town centre.”
Mithra Tonking, Chair of the William Salt Library Trust added: “The Trustees are delighted by the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s generous grant towards the creation of the Staffordshire History Centre.