The Suffolk Archives statement on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its services is available to read here.

Key milestone for The Hold

Today (Monday 20 July) marks the practical completion of The Hold on Ipswich Waterfront and the ‘handover’ of the site to Suffolk County Council.

The garden entrance of The Hold.

The garden entrance of The Hold. Photo credit: Suzanne Franks, Suffolk Archives.

When finished, The Hold will be the new home for Suffolk Archives’ Ipswich branch, safely housing the bulk of Suffolk’s nationally and internationally significant archives.

This is a key milestone for the project and signifies a huge amount of work, led and coordinated by the project team; Suffolk County Council, the University of Suffolk, R G Carters Southern Ltd, Concertus Design and Property Consultants, Architects Pringle Richards Sharratt, and Focus Consultants Quantity Surveyors. Together, they have worked to bring this flagship heritage facility into being, supported throughout by the National Lottery Heritage Fund team.

John Irons, Construction Director at R G Carter said: “It has been a pleasure for R G Carter to help deliver Suffolk County Council’s vision through this unique and important facility for the county. We are extremely proud to now be handing over the building, which will benefit the local community and connect people with their heritage for many years to come.”

Inside the searchroom in The Hold, July 2020.

The searchroom in The Hold takes shape. Photo credit: R G Carters.

Although the majority of construction is now complete, work will continue on site for the next few months with contractors and staff focused on building fit out, installation of furniture and IT equipment, and staff training, to ensure the site is operationally ready.

With the steady relaxing of the Coronavirus pandemic restrictions, it is likely that The Hold will now have a phased and gradual opening. With health and safety plans under development, it is hoped that the building could be ready to welcome members of the public to the opening of its first exhibition towards the end of this year.

With more than 900 years of the county’s rich and diverse history to discover, when it opens this exciting new building will allow people of all ages and backgrounds to step inside and discover more about where they live and their own heritage.

The Hold will be open to everyone, offering not only archives specific services in the searchroom, library, and education room, but also state-of-the-art public facilities and teaching spaces for staff and students from the University of Suffolk. An exhibition gallery, café, shop and garden will complete the visitor experience.

Inside The Hold.

Inside The Hold. Photo credit RG Carters.

Councillor Paul West, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Heritage said: “It is fantastic to know that the majority of the construction work is now complete on site and that the building can be officially handed over to us so that it can be fitted out over the next few months. We are looking forward to sharing our archives service more widely. This fantastic purpose-built facility will make such a difference, enabling us to welcome so many more and different audiences than before. I know that much is already happening through the associated National Lottery Heritage Fund Activity Plan and I look forward to seeing this county-wide engagement continue to grow across all three of our branches, and elsewhere in Suffolk”

The Hold is a partnership project between Suffolk County Council and the University of Suffolk. It has received funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, other national organisations, and local Suffolk heritage groups.

Anne Jenkins, Director, England, Midlands & East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “The Hold is a fantastic heritage project for the East of England and it’s wonderful to see that the work to ready the building for its opening is making great progress. We are excited to see the next milestones for the project ahead of opening and how people from all across Suffolk, and further afield, can discover the captivating history of the area.”