Milestone for new Staffordshire History Centre
Construction work on a new history centre for Staffordshire has hit a major milestone, with a reinforced concrete structure for the four-story extension.
Set to capture over a thousand years of the county’s past, the Staffordshire History Centre project has been made possible thanks to a grant of £4,858,699 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Rising from the ground, is the 15-metre-tall reinforced concrete structure, which will house the centre’s strong rooms. With the concrete floor slabs also in place, work is progressing well on this important part of the project. The strong room extension will expand the space to house archival material for up to 50 years and will provide suitable environmental conditions to help care for these collections.
The new centre on Eastgate Street in Stafford includes a four-storey 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.
Careful restoration work In the William Salt Library building continues, including some structural work, repairs to the floors and the replacement of a staircase in the cottage part of the building. Other restoration work and window repairs are ongoing.
Work on the centre started in February 2023 and is due for completion in Summer 2024, with the centre due to open to the public later that year.
The construction site was recently visited by Staffordshire County Council’s Prosperous Overview and Scrutiny Committee, who were pleased to see the progress that has been made on the project.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture at Staffordshire County Council said: “This is a wonderful project made possible with help from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery players. It will deliver a brand-new history centre for the county, whilst bringing together our amazing collections on to one site.
“Work on the new glazed area is looking good and work in the old William Salt library building is going well.”
Steven Owen, Managing Director of Pave Aways, which is building the new centre, commented: “We are very proud to have been chosen to undertake this prestigious and important project, which will help preserve and display a vital part of Staffordshire’s history and heritage. Once completed, the centre will inspire and educate visitors for many years to come, helping strengthen the local community at the same time. As a company with deep roots in serving our communities, that is something we are immensely proud to be helping to achieve.”
Robyn Llewellyn, Director, England, Midlands & East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are delighted to hear about the progress at The Staffordshire History Centre. Thanks to the generous support of National Lottery players, this project will connect visitors to local culture and heritage.”
Simon Hart from Pringle Richards Sharratt architects said: “The project is progressing really well and it is very exciting to see the spaces emerging; all thanks to the collaborative and proactive attitude of all involved – including of course Paveaways Ltd.”
Mithra Tonking, Chair of the William Salt Library Trust, added: “The Trust is delighted that this project is well on the way to preserving the much-loved heritage building on Eastgate Street, ensuring the future of the house, whilst the unique library collection will be safely housed in the new strong rooms.”
Running alongside the construction work is an exciting programme of outreach activities to promote the centre. Events in schools and libraries are all helping to raise awareness of the project, and shape plans for displays and exhibitions, ahead of the opening.
People can keep up to date on the project blog here: Staffordshire History Centre