Cambridgeshire Archives’ move to Ely delayed

Cambridgeshire Archives’ move to Ely delayed

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Cambridgeshire Archives’ move to Ely has been delayed till 2019.

The archives were due to move from Shire Hall in Cambridge to the former Strikes Bowling Alley in Angel Drove next year.

However, the move has now been put back to 2019, “due to the need to submit a second planning application and to bring the design within budget”, district and county councillor Lorna Dupre said.

Cambridgeshire Archives holds historical records and other information sources relating to the former counties of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely.

Cambridgeshire County Council has for some time been working to secure new premises, following an inspection by the National Archives in 2011 which found that the current archives accommodation in the basement of Shire Hall was no longer fit for purpose.

The National Archives imposed a three year deadline on the county council to find new accommodation for the Cambridgeshire Archives. Failure to do so by that date would have resulted in Cambridgeshire Archives losing its status as a place of deposit for public records.

The National Archives would have removed the Cambridgeshire public records from its care and been able to charge the county council for the storage, preservation and packaging of those records.

Initially the county council hoped to host its archives in Cambridge but when that proved unfeasible, the Strikes building was identified as a suitable option. The acquisition of the Strikes building was unanimously approved by councillors in September 2014, ahead of the National Archive’s deadline three months later.

Initially the project was costed at around £4 million but by 2016, this had shot up to over £6 million.

The county council hopes that the new location, located near Ely train station and city centre, will be “a wonderful local asset that will introduce many new users to the value of research and will attract families, school students and other visitors to the area”.

The new archives centre will contain a public searchroom, conservation studio, digitisation studio, and an archives cataloguing room. Because it is currently anticipated that the civil registers of births, marriages and deaths will also be stored at Ely, there will also be a meeting room for members of the public to have appointments with Registration staff.

The building conversion is expected to be completed at the end of 2018, with the county council hoping to move the archives shortly after.