£1.6m boost for York archives

A BID to secure a new home for York’s internationally important archives has attracted a £1.6 million boost.

City of York Council’s Gateway To History project will refurbish the first floor of York Explore Library Learning Centre into the new home for York’s archives, including a new 21st century storage vault.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) windfall is being hailed a permanent legacy of York800, marking the 800 years since the city was granted a Royal Charter allowing York to take charge of its own affairs by electing a council, creating the post of mayor, and giving its people a voice.

York council hopes people across the city will add their stories to the 850 years of documents preserved in the archive. It currently records all aspects of the city’s history from complaints about mediaeval prostitutes, the city’s reaction to the death of Richard III,the growing influence of railways and the Rowntree family on the Victorian city to the defence of York in the Second World War.

Councillor Sonja Crisp said: “York has the most important city archive outside London, and this generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund means that it will start the next 800 years in better condition and open to more people than ever before.

“The Archive is the permanent record of the lives of all of the people of York from 1155 and now, thanks to the HLF, more people than ever before are going to be able to use it and to be part of it.”

Fiona Spiers, head of Heritage Lottery Fund for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Centuries of life in what was once England’s second city are detailed in this revealing and fascinating archive. We are delighted to support this project that will give the city’s present day inhabitants many new opportunities to discover how their predecessors lived.”

Richard Taylor, York council’s archives manager, said the grant would cover 88 per cent of the Gateway project costs.

“The balance will be met by the council which will use this opportunity to complete the refurbishment of York Explore. This will include installing a new energy-efficient heating system, repairing the roof, refreshing the layout of the ground floor and the very successful cafe.”

He said building work was expected to start next summer and finish in early 2014 with as much as possible of York Explore staying open.

The project team will be inviting people to join the project Advisory Board, and act as ‘Archive Champions’ for their neighbourhood or community organisation.

Comments, suggestions and feedback can also be emailed to gatewaytohistory@york.gov.uk

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