Six-month closure of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire Archives from December before major move to Ely

Shire Hall in Cambridge.

Shire Hall in Cambridge. - Credit: Archant

A temporary six-month closure of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire Archives will take place from December – before miles of historical documents dating back to the 13th century will be moved to Ely.

Strikes Bowling Alley, which will become the new Cambridgeshire Archives Centre in 2019.

Strikes Bowling Alley, which will become the new Cambridgeshire Archives Centre in 2019. - Credit: Archant

Cambridgeshire Archives, currently based at Shire Hall in Cambridge, will be moving to its new home in the former Strikes Bowling Alley building next year.

It comes as Shire Hall was dubbed as being “wholly unsuitable” by the National Archives because of widespread mould and damp.

Alteration work has already started on the former bowling alley site and the handover of the completed building to Cambridgeshire County Council is anticipated to be in June 2019 at the earliest.

The move of the archives will take place as soon as possible after that.

Strikes Bowling Alley, which will become the new Cambridgeshire Archives Centre in 2019.

Strikes Bowling Alley, which will become the new Cambridgeshire Archives Centre in 2019. - Credit: Archant


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The temporary closure this December is necessary in order for all archives staff to be able to focus entirely on the essential cleaning, repackaging and data correlation work which is essential to prepare all the archive documents ready for the move.

It is set to re-open in the summer of 2019.

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All of the records in the Shire Hall basement need to be cleaned and properly packaged.

Bosses say that if this work is not done in advance, the service runs a “high risk” of damaging or misplacing records during the move.

The new building is located within easy walking distance of Ely rail station and town centre, and will contain a public searchroom, a conservation studio, a digitisation studio, and an archives cataloguing room.

Councillor Bill Hunt, vice chair of the highways and community infrastructure committee, said: “I really am excited about the opening of the archives during 2019 in Ely.

“Of course many communities recognised the benefits of having the archives in ‘their town’ but Ely won out as it was central to the County and of course walking distance from East Anglia’s railway hub.

“It was also co-incidence that the owners of Strikes Bowling Alley had earlier determined to close the facility which meant a suitable site was available.”

It is hoped that the service will create an archives repository which will enable Cambridgeshire Archives to remain a place of deposit for public records and achieve Archive Service Accreditation, the UK-wide standard for archive services.

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said: “The Ely building will be a wonderful local asset to introduce many new users to the value of researching their local heritage, and attract families, school students and other visitors to the area.”

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