After years of grant applying and wrangling with architects, planning departments and official bodies of various kinds and rounds of consultation with the public, Conwy Culture Centre is taking physical shape on its site by the town walls in Conwy. We hope to open our doors later on in the year.

Conwy Archive Service will move from its current somewhat dilapidated premises in a former Victorian school building in Llandudno to be a core partner service in the Culture Centre. We will be joined by Conwy Library and Conwy County’s museum collections. The Centre will also have arts and community space and a café.

The design is for a one storey building, set back from the road and incorporating a good deal of glazing and a green roof. It is hoped that viewed from the town walls, the modern building will be a discreet presence, merging into the surroundings of Bodlondeb Park. The build also has a basement floor which contains the heritage collection storage. The plan is for minimal external environmental controls and relying on environmentally friendly “passive haus” principles to store the archive collections in a stable environment.

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The Archive Service has also been much involved in working with the interpretation consultants tasked with designing the heritage displays that will showcase the archive and museum collections and this has proved to be an immense task in terms of providing research and guidance.

Since a large chunk of funding for the centre has come from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project has committed to an activity plan designed to expand and diversify audiences. The Archive Service has been involved in a number of the new sub projects which has seen us working with our Fusion officer to provide accredited training in family and house history to groups of adults who would not normally access the Archive Service and a “Stories from the Archives” storytelling programme that has reached over 900 local school children so far.

As the glass goes into the new building we are putting renewed effort into the essential activity of preparing the collections for the move. This involves checking the packaging of each item and replacing where necessary. We are also barcoding each archive container and conducting a thorough inventory as we are planning to use barcodes for location control during and after the move.

For many aspects of work on the Culture Centre project, we have been much indebted to help from our committed volunteers, whose numbers have increased as part of the activity plan. We have also been host partners to trainees from the Cultural Ambition programme, with our first trainee off to university in the autumn and our second due with us in September.

All exciting times. Ok, generally exciting times, no one can get that exercised by barcode readers! But we look forward to opening the doors at the new centre and the start of a new era where we can offer a service in fit for purpose surroundings.

Kate Hallett, Archivist & Collections Manager for Conwy

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