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

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - ON THE RECORD -

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

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