West Yorkshire Archives Kirklees at Heritage Quay project

THE archives of Kirklees have received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the West Yorkshire Archives Kirklees at Heritage Quay project, it was announced today. The project aims to improve access to Kirklees’ archive collections, create opportunities for volunteering, formal and informal learning and exhibitions for the first time, and to radically improve the storage and physical conditions for the collections. This work will achieved through a partnership between Kirklees MBC, West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee and the University of Huddersfield.

Thanks to National Lottery players development funding of £80,100 has also been awarded to help the project partners progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date. If successful, the Kirklees archive collections will move to the multi-award winning facilities at Heritage Quay on the University campus in 2019. The move of West Yorkshire Archive Service Kirklees to the University site will not impact on the provision of the local history service in Huddersfield Library and offers a great opportunity to further strengthen the relationship between the Archives Service, University of Huddersfield and Kirklees Libraries.

Graham Turner and Val Slater The unique and irreplaceable archive collections cover the whole of the current Kirklees Metropolitan District including Batley, Cleckheaton, Dewsbury, Heckmondwike, Holmfirth, Huddersfield, Liversedge, Marsden and Mirfield. They fill more than 26,100 boxes (some 522 cubic metres) and are composed of parchment, paper, volumes, textile samples, photographic media including glass-plate negatives, transparencies and prints. Overall the collections are important because they are unique and key sources for understanding the place and the identity of communities who have helped shape it over 850 years. Whilst the collections cover most aspects of people’s lives there are particular strengths in textiles, canals, industry, trades’ unions, womens’ rights, culture and sport.


Cllr Graham Turner, Cabinet Member Kirklees – Asset Strategy, Resources & Creative Kirklees (Arts) said: “This is a fantastic opportunity, to not only create a valuable resource, but to strengthen the relationship between the Archive Service, the University and Kirklees Libraries, which I believe is very important.”

Tim Thornton “At West Yorkshire Archive Service we are very proud to be home to the largest archive service outside of London, with nationally and internationally significant collections, spanning over 800 years” said Cllr Val Slater, Chair of the Archives, Archaeology and Trading Standards Sub-committee, West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee. “Our office at Kirklees plays an important role in preserving the unique written history of the area. But without new storage and access facilities the long-term survival of the collections could be in jeopardy after The National Archives identified our buildings as being unfit to store our irreplaceable archives. It’s great news that we have secured initial approval from HLF to seek funding to move to the university site, and it will represent a full house of new buildings for WYAS, and provide an unmissable opportunity for closer working with the University and much improved public access in existing, high quality facilities at Heritage Quay.”

Sue Bower Professor Tim Thornton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, said: “We’re delighted to be able to develop our partnerships with Kirklees and the West Yorkshire Archive Service, building on the multi-award-winning success of Heritage Quay. This will allow us to propose new activities with new archive materials involving even wider audiences in the remarkable heritage of the communities of the Kirklees area.”

Sue Bowers, Deputy Director of Operations, Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “We are delighted that this project will unite these important physical archives, and keep them on one site, in Kirklees. This support from National Lottery players will create fantastic opportunities for volunteering and allow many more people to explore the collections, and we look forward to seeing the final proposals in the near future”.

Read the Press Release here


Huddersfield Gems

Huddersfield Gems is a unique collaboration between Heritage Quay and groups from across the district. The curators are all members of the Local History Programming Group who meet here three times a year to work on creating events and activities using the University archive collections.


The exhibition aims to hint at the hidden or interesting stories of buildings (or car parks!) which are part of the everyday fabric of the town. There are plans, postcards and physical objects which all help us to delve a little deeper into this world. If you want to know even more about what you see here, the exhibition is continued online at www.heritagequay.org/huddersfieldgems

Maybe the place you live in or work at also has a hidden past? There are many other structures in Huddersfield which are amazing too. Why not tell us your favourite on Twitter or Instagram using #huddersfieldgems?

Giving archives a makeover!

With the launch of Heritage Quay just months away, we are currently very busily planning of the move of our collections from their existing (and inadequate) accommodation, to the brand new facilities of Heritage Quay that will meet national and international archival standards. And though, as you might imagine, lots of the preparatory work involved in this planning process consists of creating detailed lists of collections’ locations, a just as important element that I am currently engaged in is the preservation and repackaging of collections prior to the move.

On this subject we might sound like a broken record, but the importance of ensuring that archival records are kept in the best possible conditions really cannot be underestimated, and this is one of the most important reasons behind our current HLF project. As archivists we are in the very strange position that our primary objective of ensuring that our collections will last forever(!) is probably an impossible task when thought of in terms of such an infinite timescale! However when we talk about the timescales for preserving our collections, most archive professionals prefer to use the term ‘in perpetuity’, which we take to mean that we pass our collections onto our successors in the best possible condition, so that they are able to do the same.

Stongroom, to be repackaged!
Stongroom, to be repackaged!
Strongroom, repackaged collections
Strongroom, repackaged collections

Seen from this perspective, some of our more mundane and relatively simple tasks, such as cleaning records, removing them from dirty/decaying containers and repackaging them in acid-free archival quality materials, take on a far greater significance. Also the importance of accurately labelling and numbering records during this process cannot be underestimated, because an archival record being irretrievable poses just as big a risk to the vital information that it contains as the physical deterioration of the record itself.

Huddersfield Technical College part-time student reports being repackaged out of decaying box files
Huddersfield Technical College part-time student reports being repackaged out of decaying box files
Repackaged British Music Collection box, all neat and shiny - so satisfying!
Repackaged British Music Collection box, all neat and shiny – so satisfying!

And so these are the positive thoughts that keep us motivated as we work our way through the never-ending but vital re-packaging, re-boxing and numbering work in preparation for the big move! Not long to go now…. and so much to do!

Archives and Special Collections – where will we be in 2023?

The University was last week declared Times Higher Education University of the Year 2013 and is now looking ahead for its next 5 year strategic plan

Archives and Special Collections 10 year plan reflects the University’s Vision to be an inspiring, innovative University of international renown.

We’re proud to make our Service’s Strategy map 2013-2023 available and will report on our progress annually.