A new £3.9m home for the history of a whole county

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‘Invaluable’ documents showing the county’s history will be stored in a new home in the city centre, thanks to a £3.9m grant.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) cash will see a new archive centre built on the site of former Crown House, on Kirkgate.

It will replace the Registry of Deeds building, on Newstead Road, which was deemed “not fit for purpose” by the National Archive Service in 2011.

More than 10 million records belonging to the West Yorkshire Archive Service will be stored at the new Kirkgate facility.

Wakefield Council leader Peter Box said: “This is fantastic news as we have fought for a long time to keep the archives in Wakefield.

“This announcement will deliver a further boost to Wakefield, adding yet another important attraction which will encourage even more visitors to our region.”

The records include all the court proceedings of the former county of the West Riding Court and a collection of National Coal Board’s mining records.

Coun Ros Lund, chairwoman of the joint services committee which oversees the work of the archive service, said: “This is great news that we will have an amazing new building in which to safeguard millions of records from the past – many of which are of regional, national and international importance.”

A history centre, which will provide historical activities and courses, will also be included in the building.

Richard Morris, HLF trustee and research professor at the University of Huddersfield, said: “Whether you are looking to find where your ancestors went to school or explore how industry made the area what it is today, these documents are invaluable – a treasure trove of history.

“It’s clear that they are under threat where they are now and that this new purpose-built archive is needed to ensure they will be stored safely and opened up for public use for many years to come.”

Work on the site is due to start next year and is expected to be complete by 2016.