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New home for City Archives service

Lord Mayor Published: Tuesday, 21st May 2024

The city’s museum and archives collections are now in one place for the first time as the City Archives moves to The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.

In 2022 it was announced that a £1.7m investment was being made into new facilities for City Archives reaffirming Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s commitment to heritage and culture.

Work managed by contractor Overbury has included the clearance of stores within the museum and a new state-of-the-art reading room has been built in the heart of the museum. It now holds 344 cubic metres of archives and local studies material creating an integrated world-class research facility for the study of ceramics and local history.  

Council leader Jane Ashworth said: “Protecting our culture and heritage is vitally important. Moving the City’s Archives to the museum now means people can access the local history archive and museum collections all under one roof. As get nearer to our centenary year in 2025, it is fantastic to have thousands of historical collections people can view and the new reading room will only help improve access to the archive collections.”

Due to the fragile nature of the collections major work was undertaken by council teams to prepare for and manage the relocation from the former City Central Library. The relocation required a comprehensive set of environmental controls such as temperature and lighting to preserve the collections. Items moved over to The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery include:

  • 8,000 archive boxes (containing loose papers, archival volumes etc.)
  • 2,500 outsize packages and items (including maps and plans)
  • 137 Minton Design Folios (containing just over 30,000 individual designs)
  • 30,000 audio tapes
  • 30,000 books

Friends of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Archive service also helped contribute towards a bespoke counter and furniture for the new reading room.

Andrew Wood, Managing Director at Overbury said: "Working in partnership with Stoke-on-Trent City Council to relocate the archives has been a real privilege for us. The community and historical value of the project never escaped us, and that’s why we consulted with the National Archives to ensure we incorporated comprehensive environmental controls, including temperature and lighting, and the careful movement of racking slides to meet their exacting specifications and standards. This Scape-procured project guarantees the long-term protection and accessibility of these national treasures. We are proud to have played our part in their journey.”

At an event this morning (May 21) the City Archives was officially opened by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Lyn Sharpe. It will reopen to the public on Wednesday 22 May and the service is now taking bookings via email stoke.archives@stoke.gov.uk or telephone 01782 238420.

The opening comes as the redevelopment of The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery is progressing. Late last year a specialist team was appointed to bring top design expertise to the £5million re-vamp funded mainly by Arts Council England and in the coming months a public engagement exercise will start on the design proposals which will ensure the museum’s cultural offer within the city is enhanced.