Agenda item

Staffordshire History Centre Project - Update

Joint report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and Director of Housing and Community Services (Stoke-on-Trent City Council).  


The Committee considered a report by the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and Director of Housing and Community Services (Stoke-on-Trent City Council) updating them on the development of the Staffordshire History Centre project.


At their meeting on 15 May 2019, the County Council’s Cabinet agreed that a further Stage 1 application should be made to the National Heritage Lottery Fund (NHLF) (formerly the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)) in respect of funding for the Development Phase of the Staffordshire History Centre Project, during the 2019/20 bidding round. This followed the unsuccessful Stage 2 (Implementation Phase) bid made during 2018. In addition, Cabinet agreed that match funding of £4,000 should be earmarked to support the Development Phase in the event the application was successful.


The new project vision and aim was:-


“Placing Heritage at the Heart of the Community: the Staffordshire History Centre.


A dynamic partnership between Staffordshire Archives and Heritage, William Salt Library trust and Staffordshire communities to create a centre of excellence to engage the wider community. Unique collections of designated outstanding archives rare books, and museum objects will be brought together, interpreted and made fully accessible for the first time.




·       Truly engaging spaces where people of all ages can learn, share and engage with Staffordshire’s heritage;

·       Research centre for people to discover their own stories and develop new skills;

·       Presentation of unique collections in proper storage conditions;

·       Conserving and opening access to a loved Georgian Grade II* Listed Building;

·       Establishment of a mutually supportive network of history groups, community organisations, schools and universities, in partnership with the History Centre;

·       Touring exhibitions, activities, sharing resources and partnership to deliver a countywide offer.


This creative blend of exhibitions, engagement activities, learning and volunteering opportunities will engage individuals and community groups in researching, curating, cataloguing and discovering their own histories, The Staffordshire History Centre will complement and enhance Stafford’s tourism offer, ensuring that Staffordshire’s communities are placed at the heart of this project. We will re-imagine our collections and spaces to reflect their relevance to the lives of Staffordshire people and communities”.



The new Phase 1 application referenced work undertaken during the previous Development Phase (2016-2018). However, it was shorter and required a smaller grant of £36,000 to review and strengthen existing plans. The estimated cost of the History Centre (£5,235,288) would be funded by (i) NLHF grant aid (£3,900); (ii) the Archive Service’s General Reserve (£251,000) and donations from key stakeholders including (i) Hildegard Simon Trust (£100,000); (ii) William Salt Library Trust (£58,000); (iii) Welcome Trust (£31,340); (iv) Friends and depositors fundraising (£28,537); (v) Lichfield Diocese (£5,000) and; (vi) Staffordshire County Council Capital Funding (£861,411). 


A project stakeholder event was held on 20 May 2019 to update partners on progress with regard to the project. The revised proposals which also included a new digital offer comprising website, search facility and online catalogue, were supported by all attendees. Further feedback indicated that Partners were also keen to see greater digitisation of content including photographs, maps, Tudor material, poll books and twentieth century trade directories.


Members noted the key dates for the project were as follows:-


·       Stage 1 bid submission – 28 May 2019;

·       Detailed business case for future storage – Autumn 2019;

·       Stage 1 bid decision – September 2019;

·       Stage 2 bid development phase – September 2019 to March 2020;

·       Stage 2 bid submission;

·       Project delivery – June 2020 to 2025;

·       Staffordshire History Centre opened by September 2022.


During the discussion which ensued the Committee welcomed the decision by Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet and the continued support received for the project from key stakeholders. They thanked the Deputy Chief Executive for her efforts and expressed their hope that the Phase 1 and 2 bids achieved success in the current NLHF bidding round.


RESOLVED – That the report be received and noted.       


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