Cheshire East has taken a step closer towards the creation of a new state-of-the art history centre to host the region’s archive.
The county's archives are currently held in Chester, but the Duke Street centre has been deemed no longer fit for purpose.
The plan is now for Cheshire Archives and Local Studies, a shared service of Cheshire East Council and Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC), to be rehoused in two new bespoke history centres – one in Crewe and one in Chester.
These would be climate-controlled environments to house the collections, better display them and make them more interactive and accessible to the public.
The £13m joint scheme, which has today been approved by Cheshire East councillors, would see each authority contribute £4.2m, with the remainder of the money being sought via a bid for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
Crewe’s history centre would be located at the ‘Old Library’ site in the town centre.
Crewe would get its own history centre, like this one in Hull
Councillor David Brown, Cheshire East Council deputy leader and cabinet member responsible for archives, said: “This proposal is really exciting and the centre in Crewe would make our unique, precious and richly-diverse archives far more accessible for Cheshire East residents and visitors alike – and would help attract many more visitors to the town centre.
“It would also provide a suitable focus for our extensive railway and engineering archives – which are a nationally significant collection and uniquely central to the story of Crewe as a town.
“These are exciting times for Crewe – with an HS2 hub station coming and the council working with partners to deliver an impressive £48.3m investment in regeneration, including the redevelopment of the Royal Arcade site, refurbishment of the Market Hall and improved public realm.
"A history centre for Crewe would be a key catalyst for revitalising the town and its local economy and creating a quality of place that the people of Crewe can be really proud of.”
The Crewe history centre would include:
- A large gallery space to host cultural exhibitions of regional and national interest, workshops and talks;
- Railway/engineering archives for Crewe and the local region;
- Access to film and sound archives;
- Local newspapers and photographs;
- Supervised access to archive materials not on display;
- A potential home for the Family History Society of Cheshire, with access to its genealogical resources and expertise.
Subject to funding, the proposed new facilities would open by 2023.