Background to the project
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.
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”.