New £19million Brighton archives centre opens its doors

New £19million Brighton archives centre opens its doors

New £19million Brighton archives centre opens its doors

First published in News by

The history of Brighton, Hove and East Sussex will be laid out along ten miles of shelving at a new home.

Standing a stone’s throw away from American Express Community Stadium, The Keep in Woollards Field, Moulsecoomb, will be a portal for the public to trace the history of their local community through documents dating back 900 years.

The building will bring together archives from Brighton and Hove City Council, East Sussex County Council, the Special Collections of the University of Sussex, including the internationally renowned Mass Observation Archive and the Sussex Family History Group.

Following almost two years of construction, the building will be handed over to archivists on Monday and is set to open to the public in November.

The cost of the new £19 million building is split between the local authorities, linked to how much floor space they are using with approximately two-thirds of the building for East Sussex County Council and one third for Brighton and Hove City Council.

The Argus:

The University of Sussex has also contributed £1 million while Sussex Family History Group is renting space.

The scale of the project has been reduced slightly following a failed bid for £4.9 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund which meant plans for a separate café at the site had to be scrapped.

It is hoped that The Keep will attract 16,000 people in its first year rising to 20,000 annual visitors within five years.

This would represent a 25% increase in the number of visitors attending the archives that The Keep is replacing.

Programme manager Wendy Walker said: “We spoke to other archive new builds and they had all seen an increase in footfall and increase in archives coming in.

“Archive offices are not the easiest to get publicity for but this building will raise our profile.”

High-tech equipment surrounds the ancient documents at The Keep ensuring they are kept in pristine condition.

There are 17 separate air units to control the air temperature of rooms and the layout of The Keep’s plant room was so complex it needed 3-D modelling before units could be installed.

It is the most sustainable archives building in the country.

Visitors can see for themselves how green the building is because its carbon output will be displayed on a TV screen in the reception along with live bus times and, it is hoped, live rail times.

Any new archive material brought to The Keep can be cleared of damp and insect infestation by being vacuum packed and put in a high-powered freezer operating at -40C.

The Argus:

Previously, archivists had to use domestic freezers in a process that would take up to three months but with the new technology this can now be completed in just a week.

The archives are stored in repository rooms with closely controlled air temperature and humidity and accessible only to trained staff.

The rooms have thick brick walls that in the case of a power cut will remain at a constant temperature for at least 24 hours while the repository walls can withstand a fire elsewhere in the building for a minimum of four hours.

The resin floor has five layers to ensure that it is able to withstand the daily pressure of trolleys full of archives being pushed across it.

The repository rooms are spread over three floors and are colour coordinated to help any staff disorientated from spending time among the shelves upon shelves of archives.

Mrs Walker said: “We have material that is 900 years old and we want to make sure it lasts for the next 900 years so we’ve got to keep them in the right conditions.”

The Argus:

Other high-tech equipment includes a large digital display which visitors can use like a giant tactile computer screen while rooms have been fitted with UV protected lights and windows to stop rays damaging documents.

A sandstone block in The Keep’s car park has been specially adapted to be used to project images on the large white wall on the front of The Keep.

It is hoped artwork and archive movies will be screened which Mrs Walker said she envisioned could be used as an “archival movie drive-in”.

In total there are ten miles of shelving in The Keep’s repository with six miles to be filled up with the existing archives.

The barcoding of archives that will be brought over to The Keep, including 85,000 containers from the Maltings in Lewes alone, has been ongoing for 18 months.

The first items to arrive will come from the East Sussex archives in Hailsham later this month in a process that is expected to take three months.

In the meantime, while archives are being moved, visitors can use digital archives available in Lewes Library and the Jubilee Library in Brighton.

The final four miles of shelving will take another 20 years to fill while there is a designated space at the back of the building which is set aside for further expansion when needed.

Mrs Walker said: “This building is future proofed. “You can’t spend £19 million on a building and then ten years down the line say sorry but can we have another one?”

The Argus:

Opening times for the new building are still to be confirmed while work is underway to get a website live for later in the summer.

To access the archives, residents will have to apply for a readers’ card which will be valid for three years so staff will know who is looking at which archives.

Mrs Walker, talking about the opening of the building, said: “We might find in six months’ time that something we thought might work one way, works better another way.

“There will be teething problems. We want to make things work as early as possi- ble from the start but we want to be flexible too.”

Peter Crowhurst, chair of the North Laine Community Association, was one of the invited guests given a tour yesterday.

He said: “It is a wonderful facility. It is long needed to replace the facility in Lewes which was not fit for purpose.

“The concern before was residents’ access but it’s not as bad as feared with the agreement with the bus company and with the train station, access shouldn’t really be a problem.”

 

Comments (15)

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7:25pm Wed 5 Jun 13

rolivan says...

“The concern before was residents’ access but it’s not as bad as feared with the agreement with the bus company and with the train station, access shouldn’t really be a problem.
What resident access is required I thought it is an Archive Centre
“The concern before was residents’ access but it’s not as bad as feared with the agreement with the bus company and with the train station, access shouldn’t really be a problem. What resident access is required I thought it is an Archive Centre rolivan
  • Score: 0

8:05pm Wed 5 Jun 13

Hove Actually says...

Why are archives needed now days.
Digitise everything and stop wasting paper, ink and all this cost to store information when everyone has internet access or a smart phone now and all the records could be stored in one room in a computer room somewhere
Why are archives needed now days. Digitise everything and stop wasting paper, ink and all this cost to store information when everyone has internet access or a smart phone now and all the records could be stored in one room in a computer room somewhere Hove Actually
  • Score: -2

8:57pm Wed 5 Jun 13

Poetic License says...

Hey Finn Scott-Delany what a find it will seem like Paradise..

You can write 900 year old stories and post it at news...that would be quite nice...

We can read about the things in which nobody is interested in...

Second thoughts don't bother...you are doing that already Finn.
Hey Finn Scott-Delany what a find it will seem like Paradise.. You can write 900 year old stories and post it at news...that would be quite nice... We can read about the things in which nobody is interested in... Second thoughts don't bother...you are doing that already Finn. Poetic License
  • Score: 0

9:12pm Wed 5 Jun 13

Sussex jim says...

Judging by the picture,it is nice to see that a large car park has been provided for the normal people of East Sussex who live outside Brighton and neither can or want to use public transport to visit it.
Judging by the picture,it is nice to see that a large car park has been provided for the normal people of East Sussex who live outside Brighton and neither can or want to use public transport to visit it. Sussex jim
  • Score: 0

9:50pm Wed 5 Jun 13

Lady Smith says...

Hove Actually wrote:
Why are archives needed now days.
Digitise everything and stop wasting paper, ink and all this cost to store information when everyone has internet access or a smart phone now and all the records could be stored in one room in a computer room somewhere
Oh really? Can you tell me where I can access NOW every item that's in these collected archives online? And have you ever had the delight of handling original letters by the likes of Virginia Woolf, etc? And can you show me the statistics that prove that 'everyone has internet access'?
Yeah. Thought not.
[quote][p][bold]Hove Actually[/bold] wrote: Why are archives needed now days. Digitise everything and stop wasting paper, ink and all this cost to store information when everyone has internet access or a smart phone now and all the records could be stored in one room in a computer room somewhere[/p][/quote]Oh really? Can you tell me where I can access NOW every item that's in these collected archives online? And have you ever had the delight of handling original letters by the likes of Virginia Woolf, etc? And can you show me the statistics that prove that 'everyone has internet access'? Yeah. Thought not. Lady Smith
  • Score: 1

9:54pm Wed 5 Jun 13

HJarrs says...

They are even building a cycle route to it! Very exciting. I look forward to the centre opening.
They are even building a cycle route to it! Very exciting. I look forward to the centre opening. HJarrs
  • Score: 1

10:17pm Wed 5 Jun 13

Valerie Paynter says...

Disabled people will not be able to access it except in a car. You need to be able to climb stairs to use Falmer Station and anyone using the bus will need to get across that highway. Lots of walking in all weathers. The walk from Falmer is apparently a good 20 minutes to half an hour.

Had it been located in the city centre we would have had a prestigious institution that would attract more people to the city to use it and give the city something to be proud of....like London has the British Library, the London Library, loads o museums....etc. These things are reputation builders and the city should have grabbed it. Out in the sticks is a little weird.

And pity the poor employees not having even a café. Packed lunch and a coffee machine after the Local History Centre in Brighton Museum is harsh.
Disabled people will not be able to access it except in a car. You need to be able to climb stairs to use Falmer Station and anyone using the bus will need to get across that highway. Lots of walking in all weathers. The walk from Falmer is apparently a good 20 minutes to half an hour. Had it been located in the city centre we would have had a prestigious institution that would attract more people to the city to use it and give the city something to be proud of....like London has the British Library, the London Library, loads o museums....etc. These things are reputation builders and the city should have grabbed it. Out in the sticks is a little weird. And pity the poor employees not having even a café. Packed lunch and a coffee machine after the Local History Centre in Brighton Museum is harsh. Valerie Paynter
  • Score: 0

11:35pm Wed 5 Jun 13

Eugenius says...

Interesting piece of architecture and engineering, good value considering the cost is shared by multiple organisations.
Interesting piece of architecture and engineering, good value considering the cost is shared by multiple organisations. Eugenius
  • Score: 0

11:38pm Wed 5 Jun 13

Henfield Hovite says...

Valerie Paynter wrote:
Disabled people will not be able to access it except in a car. You need to be able to climb stairs to use Falmer Station and anyone using the bus will need to get across that highway. Lots of walking in all weathers. The walk from Falmer is apparently a good 20 minutes to half an hour.

Had it been located in the city centre we would have had a prestigious institution that would attract more people to the city to use it and give the city something to be proud of....like London has the British Library, the London Library, loads o museums....etc. These things are reputation builders and the city should have grabbed it. Out in the sticks is a little weird.

And pity the poor employees not having even a café. Packed lunch and a coffee machine after the Local History Centre in Brighton Museum is harsh.
I think you're being a bit harsh there Valerie. There are many places in Brighton that are only realistically accesible by car for disabled persons. If you were going to Churchill Square, you are hardly likely to freewheel down Queens Road from Brighton Station in a wheelchair, likewise on to Brighton Marina. And if you get off the bus on the M&S side it can be pretty hairy trying to cross Western Road inbetween the buses and taxis if you are disabled. I must point out also having done the guided tour that there is a cafe at the Keep for visitors and poor employees. And if staff get bored with that cafe they can always nip over to Sussex University, Brighton University, Stanmer Park, or Dick's bar at the Amex for refreshments! Quite a lot of choice for the sticks!
[quote][p][bold]Valerie Paynter[/bold] wrote: Disabled people will not be able to access it except in a car. You need to be able to climb stairs to use Falmer Station and anyone using the bus will need to get across that highway. Lots of walking in all weathers. The walk from Falmer is apparently a good 20 minutes to half an hour. Had it been located in the city centre we would have had a prestigious institution that would attract more people to the city to use it and give the city something to be proud of....like London has the British Library, the London Library, loads o museums....etc. These things are reputation builders and the city should have grabbed it. Out in the sticks is a little weird. And pity the poor employees not having even a café. Packed lunch and a coffee machine after the Local History Centre in Brighton Museum is harsh.[/p][/quote]I think you're being a bit harsh there Valerie. There are many places in Brighton that are only realistically accesible by car for disabled persons. If you were going to Churchill Square, you are hardly likely to freewheel down Queens Road from Brighton Station in a wheelchair, likewise on to Brighton Marina. And if you get off the bus on the M&S side it can be pretty hairy trying to cross Western Road inbetween the buses and taxis if you are disabled. I must point out also having done the guided tour that there is a cafe at the Keep for visitors and poor employees. And if staff get bored with that cafe they can always nip over to Sussex University, Brighton University, Stanmer Park, or Dick's bar at the Amex for refreshments! Quite a lot of choice for the sticks! Henfield Hovite
  • Score: 0

12:01am Thu 6 Jun 13

tradebooker says...

Jesus and the greens want to put up our taxes!
Jesus and the greens want to put up our taxes! tradebooker
  • Score: 0

12:29am Thu 6 Jun 13

Martha Gunn says...

A magnificent project - years in the planning and making - that was bound to attract the opprobrium of our local inveterate whingers like Ms. Paynte.

Let us hope though that the building doesn't become crowded out by people doing pointless and inconsequential so-called 'family history research' the practitioners of which activity have swamped so many of our archives and libraries in London.

In the summer particularly these folk become the bane of anyone trying to do more serious and worthwhile research.Those telly programmes asking 'Who the **** do you think you are?' have got a lot to answer for.
A magnificent project - years in the planning and making - that was bound to attract the opprobrium of our local inveterate whingers like Ms. Paynte. Let us hope though that the building doesn't become crowded out by people doing pointless and inconsequential so-called 'family history research' the practitioners of which activity have swamped so many of our archives and libraries in London. In the summer particularly these folk become the bane of anyone trying to do more serious and worthwhile research.Those telly programmes asking 'Who the **** do you think you are?' have got a lot to answer for. Martha Gunn
  • Score: 0

4:49am Thu 6 Jun 13

Nellie's Grandson says...

Martha Gunn wrote:
A magnificent project - years in the planning and making - that was bound to attract the opprobrium of our local inveterate whingers like Ms. Paynte.

Let us hope though that the building doesn't become crowded out by people doing pointless and inconsequential so-called 'family history research' the practitioners of which activity have swamped so many of our archives and libraries in London.

In the summer particularly these folk become the bane of anyone trying to do more serious and worthwhile research.Those telly programmes asking 'Who the **** do you think you are?' have got a lot to answer for.
What a snob you are, what makes you think that your research is any more interesting or relevant.
[quote][p][bold]Martha Gunn[/bold] wrote: A magnificent project - years in the planning and making - that was bound to attract the opprobrium of our local inveterate whingers like Ms. Paynte. Let us hope though that the building doesn't become crowded out by people doing pointless and inconsequential so-called 'family history research' the practitioners of which activity have swamped so many of our archives and libraries in London. In the summer particularly these folk become the bane of anyone trying to do more serious and worthwhile research.Those telly programmes asking 'Who the **** do you think you are?' have got a lot to answer for.[/p][/quote]What a snob you are, what makes you think that your research is any more interesting or relevant. Nellie's Grandson
  • Score: 0

8:10am Thu 6 Jun 13

Hove Actually says...

Lady Smith wrote:
Hove Actually wrote: Why are archives needed now days. Digitise everything and stop wasting paper, ink and all this cost to store information when everyone has internet access or a smart phone now and all the records could be stored in one room in a computer room somewhere
Oh really? Can you tell me where I can access NOW every item that's in these collected archives online? And have you ever had the delight of handling original letters by the likes of Virginia Woolf, etc? And can you show me the statistics that prove that 'everyone has internet access'? Yeah. Thought not.
Sadly you jumped on a soapbox and forgot to read....
What I said was "Digitise everything" meaning it hasn't been done yet.
Everyone does have access to the internet, either at home or on a smartphone or through the council in a library or family or friends.
Your comment on Virgina Woolf is idiotic as Jo Public would never be allowed to do that
[quote][p][bold]Lady Smith[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Hove Actually[/bold] wrote: Why are archives needed now days. Digitise everything and stop wasting paper, ink and all this cost to store information when everyone has internet access or a smart phone now and all the records could be stored in one room in a computer room somewhere[/p][/quote]Oh really? Can you tell me where I can access NOW every item that's in these collected archives online? And have you ever had the delight of handling original letters by the likes of Virginia Woolf, etc? And can you show me the statistics that prove that 'everyone has internet access'? Yeah. Thought not.[/p][/quote]Sadly you jumped on a soapbox and forgot to read.... What I said was "Digitise everything" meaning it hasn't been done yet. Everyone does have access to the internet, either at home or on a smartphone or through the council in a library or family or friends. Your comment on Virgina Woolf is idiotic as Jo Public would never be allowed to do that Hove Actually
  • Score: 0

9:57am Thu 6 Jun 13

NickBrt says...

One day we shall all be able to access archives of the greens and say with a little sigh "oh yes they used to get votes back in the 2010s but disappeared from trace in 2015'
One day we shall all be able to access archives of the greens and say with a little sigh "oh yes they used to get votes back in the 2010s but disappeared from trace in 2015' NickBrt
  • Score: 0

5:49pm Thu 6 Jun 13

Mr Sworld says...

tradebooker wrote:
Jesus and the greens want to put up our taxes!
Why would the son of God want to put up our taxes? Is it, as he preached, to help the less fortunate?
[quote][p][bold]tradebooker[/bold] wrote: Jesus and the greens want to put up our taxes![/p][/quote]Why would the son of God want to put up our taxes? Is it, as he preached, to help the less fortunate? Mr Sworld
  • Score: 0

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