eral folk in our community will now be looking forward to the time when they can confidently and freely visit public buildings and amenities, interact with others and return to normal life. For those who may be confined to barracks because of the coronavirus pandemic it is something to dream about. There is, however, something on the horizon, that could give local history enthusiasts something to really look forward to. It is what as being hailed as an ‘exciting project to create an innovative and sustainable archive service’ which will combine both Denbighshire and Flintshire in a new, purpose-build archive facility.
The project aims to extend and enhance the role of the archive service in delivering key objectives of the Social Services and Well-Being (Wales) Act 2014 and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. The brief explains that the project aims to use the unique resources of our heritage in a ‘ground-breaking way to engage all sections of the community from the youngest to the oldest, for those who may need support for their health and wellbeing, for those who undertake professional research, for those who research local or family history and for those who may never have considered that the archive has something to offer them.’ The intention is to lead the way nationally in on how audiences engage with archive material.
At the heart of this project is the development of a new 21st century and environmentally-friendly facility on the County Hall campus next to Theatr Clwyd thereby creating a ‘cultural hub’ for the region.
The fact is that both the existing archive buildings in Denbighshire and Flintshire are no longer fit for purpose. Both facilities are currently housed in listed buildings which were never intending for their current use and both now face storage challenges. They are expensive to maintain and difficult to adapt. Flintshire has already run out of space and Denbighshire will do so in the future. Both facilities need to address issues of how they make their resources readily accessible to local communities. The aim is to create a single shared service between the two authorities which is housed in a purpose build Passivhaus building adjacent to Theatr Clwyd with a vision of a three-year activity plan of a revolutionary archive offer to the public. The ‘Passivhaus’ approach is said to be the most cost and energy efficient option and one which is ideally suited to an archive facility which needs temperature and environmentally controlled spaces to preserve our heritage.
The vision is for the new building to act as a central hub and that, through the use of digital technology and an outreach programme, would reach out to major towns and settlements across Flintshire and Denbighshire making some archive materials available to local communities and individuals.
The very good news is that the project has made a good impression with the National Heritage Lottery Fund and it has been shortlisted for a share of the £50M Heritage Horizon Awards. The outcome will not be known until next year. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that our heritage will be better preserved as a result of a successful bid for funding.
Readers are welcome to contact the author with any news or views on the local heritage at DHealey204@aol.com or by telephoning 01978 761 523.