Herefordshire archive opens its doors
People with Herefordshire connections can now investigate the county’s fascinating history following the completion of a state-of-the-art archive centre
Genealogists with Herefordshire roots now have access to historic documents from across the county following the completion of a new archive centre.
Unveiled to the public on Tuesday 4 August, Herefordshire Archive and Record Centre (HARC) holds thousands of items dating back to the 12th century, including collections relating to schools, trade unions and the historic Diocese of Hereford.
Built at a cost of £ 8.1 million, the facility boasts more than two miles of archive shelving, a document conservation lab and searchroom containing computers and free wi-fi access.
Visitors can also make the most of a large public meeting room, which will host a variety of community workshops, talks and school sessions throughout the year.
The centre acts as a replacement for Herefordshire Record Office, which was located on Harold Street in the centre of Hereford. Deemed “not fit for purpose” following an inspection from The National Archives in 2011, Herefordshire Council decided that moving to a new, purpose-built facility outweighed the benefits of making repairs to the existing building.
After a new site in Rotherwas was secured, construction began in August 2013, with keys handed to Herefordshire Archive Service staff at the beginning of this year.
“The design has given us a repository with a naturally stable environment that is compliant with the highest standards for archive storage,” said Rhys Griffith, senior archivist at HARC. “This is in stark contrast to our previous home, a former militia barracks that was affected by damp.”
In order to prepare for the move, each collection had to be stock-checked and packaged, with some items needing vital cleaning work. To complete the task, staff received help from an army of volunteers, who devoted more than 15,700 hours of their time in 2014 alone.
Mr Griffith said that local volunteers would continue to play an “invaluable” role helping visitors to HARC, including family historians.
“To manage the predicted surge in the amount of users following the reopening, the number of public-facing staff has increased,” he told Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine.
“In addition, volunteers are providing invaluable support as ‘Ancestry Buddies’, offering advice to visitors who may be unfamiliar with the growing number of family history sources online.”
“We look forward to helping users make the most of what this remarkable new home has to offer.”
The new archive centre boasts more than two miles of
shelving across three floors