West Yorkshire History Centre opens February

​Date: 25/1/2017
Ref: PR 8470

The West Yorkshire History Centre, Wakefield, is opening its doors to the public starting with a community open day on Saturday 11 February from 10.30am – 4.00pm.

The free drop-in event is open to all and will be an opportunity to explore the new centre for the first time, find out who the West Yorkshire Archive Service are and find out how they moved 35 miles worth of boxed archive collections across the city to their new home.

Throughout the day there will be free family craft activities in the Learning Zone, guided tours of the building and a chance to explore original historic documents in the new exhibition, 'A Family at War'. The exhibition follows the story of life during the First World War for a fictional local family living in Wakefield and is based on historical documents looked after by the West Yorkshire Archive Service.

As part of this exhibition, there will be a number of interesting garments on display created by textile and fashion students from Wakefield College and Barnsley College who used archive collections dating from the First World War to inspire their creative work. Additional garments from this project can be seen at Wakefield Museum.

Following the community open day the West Yorkshire History Centre will officially open on Monday 13 February. Archive staff have been working with local schools, colleges and community groups to help them explore the historical records and to develop an exciting new learning and events programme to suit all ages and abilities which launches as the building opens.

The project was funded by the five West Yorkshire councils, West Yorkshire Joint Services and £3.9m from National Lottery players, through the Heritage Lottery Fund. The History Centre is one of the main building projects forming Wakefield Council's plans to regenerate the Kirkgate area of the city as a key gateway into the city centre.

Cllr Peter Box CBE, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: "I am delighted that the new West Yorkshire History Centre is now ready to open its doors to the public. The landmark building is an important part of the regeneration of this area and Wakefield is very proud to be home to such extensive regional archives, which will preserve and showcase the history of West Yorkshire."

The archival collections held by are an unparalleled record of the history of the West Riding of Yorkshire and its communities from 1194 to the present day.

The West Yorkshire Archive Service in Wakefield is the third largest local authority archive in Great Britain comprising over 10 million documents. The service exists to make this history accessible to the public and to look after the region's heritage for future generations.

Many collections have national significance, among them the unique records of the pioneering Stanley Royd Mental Health Hospital, recently awarded international status as part of the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register.

Other major collections that will be cared for at the centre are the unparalleled West Riding Registry of Deeds made up of 12,763 volumes containing 7 million extracts of property transactions from 1704 to 1970, as well as the massive National Coal Board collection of over 2000 boxes relating to collieries and coal miners in Wakefield and the south Leeds area.

The History Centre cares for the late John Goodchild's collection which represents an unrivalled and rich source of information for local history research and contains manuscripts, books, maps, illustrations, indexes and research files covering a vast range of subjects and stories associated with local individuals and organisations.

The West Yorkshire History Centre is located at 127 Kirkgate, Wakefield WF1 1JG, and is easily accessible on foot from the city centre or via public transport.


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