A new page in history

Chester History and Heritage moves home

The popular Chester History and Heritage service is preparing to move house.

The local and family history service has been based at St Michael’s Church on Bridge Street for a number of years but will be moving in January to the Grosvenor Museum.

Chester History and Heritage will be closing for Christmas between 15th December 2017 and 2nd January 2018.

The centre will then close week commencing 12th January as staff and volunteers begin the move to the Grosvenor Museum.

They aim to re-open to the public early in the spring and will continue posting on their Facebook page and answering emails while the service is closed.

Cllr Louise Gittins, CWAC Cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, said: “Chester History and Heritage provides a fascinating service both looking after and sharing our history.

“When the team re-opens in the museum they will continue to offer all of the previous services but look forward to seeing many new users.

“The museum welcomes over 80,000 visitors a year providing a far larger audience for Chester History and Heritage.

“The team are keen to widen their reach and find ways to improve access that could include bringing the service into different buildings and sharing their exhibitions with more locations across Chester.

“They will be consulting with service users to help to develop the future look and feel of the service to ensure all of the most valued resources are maintained and new ideas explored.“

Without the constraints of managing St Michael’s Church, the move will give the team more time to work on additional projects.

They already work closely with Chester Civic Trust, volunteers and owners of many historic buildings participating in the Heritage Festival, and the annual Heritage Open Days.

Cllr Gittins added: “As the Heritage service moves out of St Michael’s I’m very excited to confirm that following a short closure the building will re-open with a brand new history attraction run by Chester based Community Interest Company, Big Heritage.”

Details about this new attraction will be revealed by Big Heritage soon.

The council will retain ownership of St Michael’s Church, and the building will benefit from new investment. The surplus funds generated by the attraction will be reinvested in activities which engage people in Chester and the surrounding area.

The Chester Heritage and Visual Arts Strategy identifies the city’s unique built heritage as the city’s greatest asset: ‘the city as the stage’ helping to animate the City to bring it to life.

Big Heritage’s Dean Paton said: “We are really excited to be bringing a cutting-edge new attraction to Chester that will push the boundaries of engaging people with the past.

“It will combine some incredible digital technology with historical archives and artifacts to present the story of Chester in a whole new light.

“We intend to invest close to £1m in the project over the next 18 months, and believe our offer will be become a 'must see' for both visitors and local residents alike. We will also continue to run a visitor experience at the Water Tower on the City Walls, which will see additional reinvestment from the Big Heritage team.”

Chester History and Heritage houses material for studying local and family history. Collections include photographs, maps, oral history recordings and a local history library covering the Chester area as well as national and local family history resources.

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