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Campaigners call public meeting ahead of record office refurbishment

PUBLISHED: 16:27 15 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:27 15 January 2020

Lowestoft  library and record office.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Lowestoft library and record office. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

A campaign group is set to hold a public meeting ahead of refurbishment work and historic archives being removed from Lowestoft Record Office.

SORO campaigners in Lowestoft town centre. Picture: SORO groupSORO campaigners in Lowestoft town centre. Picture: SORO group

For the past two years members of the Save Our Record Office (SORO) group in Lowestoft have been campaigning against changes to the future of the Suffolk Record Office service in town.

A public meeting will now take place on Friday, January 17 at the Stella Maris Hall in Gordon Road, straight after the group's annual meeting at 7pm.

The public meeting announcement comes as Suffolk County Council (SCC) are set to refurbish the Record Office, located on the first floor at Lowestoft Library, with the facility to be closed for a month.

Paul West, portfolio holder for heritage at SCC, said: "We are refurbishing Lowestoft Archives to create an improved space for visitors to carry out their research, enhancing their overall experience.

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"Some of the most well used collections will continue to be accessible in Lowestoft and the new space will allow visitors to view prints, engravings, glass plates and photographs digitally, along with online exhibitions and oral history sound recordings.

"Of the 1,451 collections in the Lowestoft Archives, those which are vulnerable and at risk of damage or complete loss in their current location will be housed in the new state-of-the-art facilities at The Hold."

However, campaigners have slammed the removal of local archives to the £20m The Hold, which is likely to open in the spring.

Group chairman Bob Collis said: "The National Lottery Heritage fund have now poured over £11m of lottery players cash into an Ipswich-centric project that has done practically nothing for north east Suffolk except asset strip our local archives.

"The Hold is such a blatantly obvious Ipswich city-status bid project it beggars belief."

Group secretary Andy Pearce added: "They could start decanting the archives tomorrow but we will continue to fight to expose the shocking manner in which this project has been forced through."

Of The Hold project, Mr West said: "The Hold project brings with it a far-reaching activity plan, which is transforming the way people engage with archives, bringing history to life for audiences across the county in fun and interactive ways such as travelling exhibitions, theatre performances and music."

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