Cheshire East Council wants your views about the best place to locate the county’s historic archives and local studies service.
Around 5,000 people a year visit the Record Office, in Duke Street, Chester, and a further 3,000 people attend or participate in outreach events and activities run by the service.
However, the storage conditions for Cheshire’s unique and irreplaceable written heritage – which date from the 12th century to the present – are inadequate.
The environmental conditions do not meet current standards and there is little expansion space for the growing collection held by the service. Customer facilities at the Record Office are cramped and increasingly do not meet customers’ needs.
Councillors from Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East councils have therefore asked for a feasibility study into potential new premises – and want the views of the public.
The two councils are now holding a public consultation, in partnership with Warrington and Halton Borough councils and Warrington-based Livewire Community Interest Company, to gather views about locations being considered as a potential new home for Cheshire Archives and Local Studies service. This is your chance to have your say.
The following locations have been identified as potentially suitable for the archives and local studies service. These were chosen by elected members both CWaC and Cheshire East councils, advised and supported by officers. They are:
● Chester: former Enterprise Centre, Hoole Road;
● Crewe: town centre site as part of regeneration programme for the town;
● Ellesmere Port: EPIC Leisure Centre;
● Middlewich: town centre site as part of regeneration programme for the town;
● Northwich: Watling Street council offices;
● Winsford: Verdin Exchange.
The existing Record Office at Duke Street, Chester, will also be assessed to see if it is feasible to bring the building up to the required environmental standards and to create space to expand.
The aim of the consultation is to determine people’s views on the general location rather than specific sites. The results will be used to inform a decision later this year about a future home for the service.
A further consultation about the design of the new facility and the services provided will take place once funding has been secured. This funding would be sourced from both councils and possible external sources, such as the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The service preserves and provides access to the historic written record of the county of Cheshire. The archives reflect the lives, interests and activities of Cheshire’s communities since the 12th century. The archives, maps, books and photographs include:
● Medieval charters granting rights to the Borough of Macclesfield;
● Cheshire earliest map of about 1540, showing farmland in Allostock;
● Cheshire’s earliest photographs, dating from the 1850s;
● Records of workers at the London and North Western Railway works at Crewe; and
● 19th-21st century records of schools, hospitals and courts.
About a million people visit the service’s websites every year and about 7,500 people each year make use of the service the archives and local studies service provides in libraries around the Borough.
Councillor David Brown, Cheshire East Council Cabinet member in charge of strategic communities, said: “This archive and local studies service is a fantastic resource for the people of Cheshire and it is important that you have your say about where it should be based and how it can best serve local people in the 21st century.
“I would urge people to take just a few minutes to fill in the online consultation questionnaire.”
The consultation runs until June 30, 2014. For more information visit the archives website at: http://archives.cheshire.gov.uk