The final magic box of archives documenting the history of Hull has arrived at the Humberside city’s new £10 million heritage centre amid preparations for the opening of the building in a fortnight (January 25).
The completed delivery of the 28,000 packages marks a symbolic end to a building works which began at the end of 2007. The books, volumes, documents, pamphlets, photos, paintings and maps inside them would cover the nearby Humber Bridge four times.
The building earned the largest Lottery grant ever for a UK project
"It was nearly 10 years ago that we first sat down with the university to discuss the possibility of a purpose-built new History Centre, so to reach this point is fantastic,” said Martin Taylor, City Archivist for Hull City Council.
“We can't wait to welcome the public on January 25, and thank people for their patience while our archive services have been closed."
Experts have spent 10 years planning the Centre
The city's borough archives date back to 1299, charting its maritime history and local luminaries including poet Philip Larkin, pilot Amy Johnson and politician William Wilberforce, who led the movement to abolish the slave trade.
Various locations have provided a home for the collections across the decades, including the University of Hull and Hull Local Studies Library.
Archives of Hull date as far back as the 13th century
"This project developed from a desire, shared by the University and City Council, to encourage and enable many more people to explore the archives and local studies resources of Hull in many different ways," said Judy Burg, the University archivist.
"After such a huge amount of planning and preparation, we are delighted to see the archive collections held by the University in their new home at the Hull History Centre.
"It has taken a lot of hard work and commitment from staff and volunteers, including some of our students, but to see the building finished and almost ready for opening is very exciting."
The conditions provided by local facilities have often been questioned by local experts, so the new site – designed by architects Pringle Richards Sharratt – will ensure an "atmospherically controlled" storage area, with precise temperature and humidity controls aimed at protecting the archives from deterioration. The outside of the structure is notable for its depiction of a giant tree.
"The architects responded wonderfully to our vision by designing a building which is striking, enticing and welcoming," said Burg.
"As well as giving the building a strong identity, we hope the symbol of the tree also signifies that the Centre and the heritage it houses, belongs to all."
A £7.7 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Centre was the largest ever given to an archive project in the UK.
City Mayor Karen Woods and University Vice-Chancellor Professor Calie Pistorius will officially open the building.