National Lottery funding approved for ‘The Hold: a Suffolk archives service for the 21st century’

A National Lottery grant of £10.3m to create a flagship heritage centre for Suffolk and transform people’s access to their archives, is announced today.

The money, awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), will see the completion of The Hold beside the Ipswich Waterfront and launch an exciting and people-focused future for Suffolk’s archive service.

More than just a building project, The Hold is about engaging people right across the county and beyond with Suffolk’s archives and heritage. Vital to the project is an exciting programme of events, activities and learning opportunities, which will enable existing and new audiences to explore 900 years of archival material and share Suffolk’s treasured stories.

The Hold will offer a bespoke home for the majority of Suffolk’s unique archival collections, as well as state-of-the-art public facilities and teaching spaces for the University of Suffolk. Some of these unique archives will be put on display in the exhibition area for the first time, making it much easier to view records in the new centre.

The Hold is expected to attract thousands of visitors each year, seeking to research local history, find out about their families, or to take part in events and activities. Even more people will access these stories online and through new digital programmes. The project will also offer school groups and adult learners positive and stimulating learning experiences.

The total cost of the project is expected to be £20m. The county council has pledged £5m for the building and the university, £1m. The project team previously secured development funding of £538,000 from the HLF, bringing the total National Lottery funding to £10.8m and a grant from the prestigious Wolfson Foundation. Further fundraising by charity the ‘Suffolk Archives Foundation’ will also support the project.

Councillor Tony Goldson, Cabinet Member for Public Health and portfolio holder for Heritage, said: “We are delighted to receive this National Lottery funding and it’s fantastic to see the project we’ve worked so hard for being brought to life.

“The Hold project will enable us to deliver many more archive-related events, learning activities and digital programmes than we can currently offer across the whole county, whilst completely transforming our ability to care for and showcase our county’s records and collections. This means more people will be able to connect with our wonderful collections than ever before.”

Tim Greenacre, Registrar and Secretary at the University of Suffolk said, “The University is delighted to be hosting The Hold, and this award is testament to the hard work of all those involved in developing the project. The Hold will deliver exceptional facilities for all those interested in exploring Suffolk’s heritage, alongside some outstanding new teaching and conference space for the University.”

Andrew Rowe, Managing Director of Concertus, said: “This is going to be a huge benefit to the people of Suffolk and we are delighted to have been involved from the beginning of the project as project managers and technical advisors.”

East Anglia based construction company R G Carter has been confirmed as the building contractor for the project. The company has experience of delivering award winning archive, heritage and educational buildings, as well as working on confined sites in congested locations. Building work will begin this Spring and The Hold is scheduled to open by the end of 2019.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk.

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BBC Radio Suffolk – April 2017

Broadcast on 10 April Lesley talks to Steve Gilbey about Mapping Suffolk’s Stories project. This project recognises the national and international relevance of the Record Office’s collections. It will use the engaging nature of historic maps as a starting point for uncovering the unique stories about the people, places and events of our county, often hidden in the archives.

Map of Orforde

The programme will see the Record Office, aided by the University of Suffolk and a group of teachers, working alongside communities to explore and promote their local heritage to new regional and national audiences.

Some groups will focus on the initial stimulus of historic maps; others in the same locality (including schools) will use the maps and new research to learn more about where they live and create contemporary responses to it.

The project’s results will be available to national audiences through an exciting, interactive mapping feature.

Mapping Suffolk’s Stories will act as the template for a new way of working for the Record Office – delivering outreach and education “out there” in communities, rather than just relying on activities delivered in branches.

It is hoped that the Hold will play a pivotal role in this project.