Why did Wiltshire need a new History Centre?
In the late 1990s the National Archives, which is the body responsible for inspection and advice to local authority archive services, decided that the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office was not suitable as a place of deposit for irreplaceable archives. The Record Office was based in a former mattress factory in Trowbridge, and it was suffering from an acute lack of environmental stability and a high risk of fire. Wiltshire County Council and Swindon Borough Council did not wish to risk losing the county's priceless written and pictorial heritage and generously agreed to fund a replacement archive facility.
The brand new facility in Cocklebury Road, Chippenham, near to the town railway station, does not only include a state of the art facility for the county’s and borough’s records but also the five other key heritage services; the local studies library, the archaeology service, Wiltshire buildings record, museum service and the conservation service.
Planning permission for the new Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre was given by North Wiltshire District Council’s Development Control Committee in January 2005. Work on site by the building firm, Cowlins, started on 28 June 2005.
The foundations, superstructure and roof were all in place by 6 December 2005. The building work was completed on time and within budget, in autumn 2006 and from February-October 2007 the various parts of heritage services have been moving in and preparing for re-opening to the public.
The facility opened on 31 October 2007.
The photograph opposite shows the archives being packed at Trowbridge, ready for their journey to the new facility in Chippenham.
The cost of the new facility was approximately £11 million; with Swindon contributing almost 30% of the cost. The costs compare well with like projects around the UK
Full public consultation was carried out in advance of the project and a site was chosen which was compatible to both Wiltshire and Swindon Councils.