Cheshire's archives: a story shared

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why are you doing this?

A: Conditions for the long term preservation of and access to Cheshire’s archives are no longer suitable at the Record Office. We also know that people want to understand more about their past and the story of their communities, so we need to increase and improve the opportunities we provide for people to do this.

This project is how we will deliver our vision (PDF, 948KB) for ‘Easy access to histories: collecting evidence of Cheshire communities’ lives past and present, for everyone, for the future’.

Q: When will the new centres be open?

A: The National Lottery Heritage Fund has now agreed to provide funding to contribute towards the delivery of the new facilities in Chester and Crewe, which will replace the Cheshire Record Office, in Chester. Planning applications for the two centres were recently submitted and decisions on the plans are expected to be made before spring. If approved, the grant from the Heritage Fund of £4.45m, which has been made possible through money raised by National Lottery players, would allow for construction of the centres to go ahead. The planned opening time for the new centres is early 2025.

Q: What are the history centres?

A: The history centres are future homes for Cheshire’s unique and irreplaceable archives, which record the development of county and its communities from the Middle Ages to the present day. They will keep the archives safe for future generations, as well as making them – and the stories they tell – accessible in all sorts of different ways. The history centres will give people opportunities to explore their past, through research, talking to expert staff and volunteers, exhibitions and events. The two centres will replace the Cheshire Record Office, in Chester.

Q: Will the Record Office at Duke Street continue to be open for access until the new centres are ready?

A: We are now planning the next two years of our project in more detail. During this time, we will all be busy getting the six miles of collections held at the Record Office ready for their move to the new centres. Please be aware that, in the coming months, the searchroom at the Record Office will need to close to visitors, to enable us to undertake this mammoth task. We will let our customers know as soon as we have a firm timetable for this work. During the closure, our online services will be unchanged and local history publications, maps and the Cheshire Collection on Find My Past will still be available in Cheshire libraries.

Q: What opportunities will there be to get involved in developing the new service?

A: We will continue to talk to service users, residents, staff and volunteers over the course of the project. We will be promoting opportunities to get involved in some of the projects were are planning over the next 4 years.

Q: If you are building two centres, will you still be one service?

A: We will still be a single service serving Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East, Halton and Warrington.

Q: Are you splitting the collections?

A: Access to some collections will be available in Crewe for the first time. Over the next year we will be working with our users to make good decisions about where it is best to locate the collections. We will continue to use offsite storage for a large proportion of the collections that can then be made available at either centre.

Q: Will public transport and parking be considered?

A: Yes, both sites have been selected with access in mind. 

Q: Where can I find out about progress with the project?

A: The best way is by signing up to our quarterly newsletter. You can subscribe by getting in touch. We will continue to add progress reports and updates on this page.

Q: Will I still be able to use local history/family history resources in my library?

A: Yes, we will continue to provide local and family history resources to local libraries in Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East. We hope to develop this aspect of the service as part of the project and in a few years’ time you should see some exciting improvements locally – not just in Chester and Crewe.

Q: Will there be coffee and WiFi in the new centres?

A: Yes! We will want to provide refreshment facilities and WiFi will be a requirement in new 21st century buildings.


Progress reports

Between April and June 2014 Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East Councils ran a public consultation about the potential relocation of the Cheshire Record Office. Almost 800 responses were received.

Archives transformation update: read the Report (PDF, 106KB) and Vision (PDF, 948KB) approved by Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East Councils in January 2016.

Update October 2016: the Shared Services Joint Committee have approved a way forward (PDF, 1.23MB) for the Archives and Local Studies service.

Update September 2017: Cabinets in both Cheshire East Council and Cheshire West and Chester Council have approved the allocation of sites for new centres for the service.

Update September 2019: Development stage grant awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.