Background to the project

Feasibility work

In 2014, Suffolk Record Office commissioned property consultants ‘Concertus’ to conduct a feasibility study for a new heritage centre, on the north campus of the University of Suffolk, beside Ipswich Waterfront.

A culmination of several years of research and consultation, the new centre would replace existing Record Office facilities at Gatacre Road, as well as providing the university with a much-needed auditorium.

Concertus were asked to estimate the high level costs of developing a centre that included:

  • A 200 seat auditorium
  • 2 seminar rooms
  • New public searchrooms
  • A small café, retail and exhibition area
  • Document strongrooms with capacity for the next 20 years
  • Ancillary back office and fit for purpose public facilities

The study indicated that a capital budget of around £17 million would be required to build the centre; further funding would also be needed to transform the way the Record Office approaches its education and outreach work.

Front View Visulisation

In July 2015, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet agreed to invest £5 million in the project; further funding would need to be secured from external sources.  The University of Suffolk, already providing the land for the centre, agreed in principle to invest £1 million.

An application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) was submitted in December 2015 for close to £11 million; in May 2016, we were thrilled to learn that the application received initial support from the HLF together with a development grant of £538,000 to take the proposals forward.

The Hold – background to the title

The proposed new centre is called ‘The Hold’.  By evoking the hold of a ship, where precious goods are safely stored, this is a nod to the maritime location of the new facility and a reflection of the secure, specialist storage within the facility.  It is also, by happy coincidence, an echo of the fact that archival collections are referred to professionally as “holdings”.