Packed archives in £2.5m plan to make local history go further
AVID historians and curious family members are set to benefit from a proposed £2.5m expansion to the Nottingham Archives.
The archives, in Castle Meadow Road, hold four miles of historical documents dating as far back as the 12th Century and the proposed expansion will create space for at least 20 more years of documents.
The plans, unveiled yesterday, will be available for the public to view over the next few weeks.
County Councillors John Cottee and Reg Adair were on hand to reveal the plans alongside Mark Dorrington, team manager of archives and local studies.
Mr Dorrington said that 75 per cent of archive users are looking to trace their family history and the extension would allow the archives to keep adding to their records.
He said: "We're virtually full, so we have to be quite creative in the way we store records.
"We have acquired some documents that we've had to put on hold until we expand."
The archives are home to historical documents, parish records, census data as well as marriage records – all of which can be used for historical research.
"Different people will connect with the archives in different ways," added Mr Dorrington.
"Parish records are very personal to Nottingham people, and help them trace their family trees."
Councillor John Cottee, cabinet member for culture and community, recalled the finding of a charter signed and sealed by Henry VIII to open Nottingham High School.
The school – celebrating its 500-year anniversary this year – received a copy of the charter.
Mr Cottee, who went to the school, said: "Our archives provide a fantastic service which preserves the historical value and memories of the county for a wide range of audiences. We've got great staff and miles of archives, but we've just run out of space."
The archives are keen to modernise by digitising numerous records – with their dedicated team aided by around 40 volunteers who come in and also help to clean documents.
Mr Dorrington said the archives welcome volunteers and will help to train them in what is a skilled and careful craft.
"All people need is a bit of interest and enthusiasm," he said.
The development is also good news to Peter Hammond, current president of the Nottinghamshire Family History Society.
He said: "We are very lucky to have been given this opportunity.
"Other counties have strict opening hours, but at Nottingham Archives you can just walk in and it's free. There are always new things turning up, which makes it so interesting."
The archives are open Tuesday from 9am-8pm and Wednesday to Friday from 9am-4.45pm. Weekend users can access the facilities between 9am and 12.45pm on Saturdays.
For more information, call Nottingham Archives direct on 0115 958 1634 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.