Cheshire Archives and Local Studies, a shared service of Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire East Council look after the county’s unique and irreplaceable written and pictorial history, their plans are to rehouse the archives in two new state-of-the-art history centres in Chester and Crewe.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund is contributing £4.45m, which has been made possible through money raised by National Lottery players, allowing for construction of the centres to go ahead. The funding from the Heritage Fund not only contributes towards the new facilities but will help the service to fund a programme of new activities across the county until March 2027.
‘Cheshire’s archives: a story shared’, aims to transform the way the archives service works and give local people greater access to the collections and opportunities to interact with them more easily helping them to celebrate their personal and communities’ histories.
Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “The City of Chester has preserved the precious archives for 70 years in their current location. These archives are of both local and national importance, recording the history of the county over the last 900 years. Some highlights include the archives of the city of Chester which reflect its historic position at the crossroads of the British Isles, with links to Ireland and North Wales from the south.
“The current location is no longer able to meet the expectation and requirements of the many people who access the service. This is an exciting project working in partnership with Cheshire East Council that will allow us to move forward to revolutionise access to a wider audience and protect the collection for future generations. I am sure that as this project now moves to the construction phase, we will be sharing our joint experiences with authorities across the country.
“Planning permission is the next important milestone for this project. The new History Centre will also help to improve outreach and our digital programme, extending access to the archives across Cheshire and further afield. There will be better spaces for staff and volunteers to work with the collections, more spaces for research, performances and exhibitions, and opportunities to develop and exchange skills.”
Cheshire East Council will be considering the planning application for the History Centre on the site of Crewe’s former library, next to Memorial Square on 15 March and subject to planning permission, work to build the centres is expected to begin in autumn 2023 and finish in winter 2025.
To view the plans for the history centre in Chester, visit: https://pa.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/online-applications/ and search for application reference: 22/04233/FUL
Details of the planning application for the history centre in Crewe can be found by visiting: cheshireeast.gov.uk/planning and searching for application reference 22/4451N.