Queen opens new historic archive in Falmer

Posted On 01 Nov 2013 at 1:06 pm

The Queen opened Brighton and Hove’s new official archives and historic records centre The Keep yesterday (Thursday 31 October).

It was the final engagement of the day for the Queen and Prince Philip as they made their first official visit to Brighton in six years.

Earlier they went to the West Quays Fisheries in Newhaven, the new youth hostel in Beddingham, Lewes, and the Harvey’s brewery in the town.

The Keep cost £19 million but its value is much greater. As well as being home to the official archives and historical records of Brighton and Hove, it will serve the same function for East Sussex.

The old county archive at The Maltings in Lewes had been declared not fit for purpose. Our heritage was at risk.

So work began six years ago on designing and building somewhere suitable for hundreds of thousands of documents, some dating as far back as 900 years.

Planning permission to build the new premises was granted almost three years ago. This month The Keep opens to the public.

It houses not only the county archive but about 350,000 items from the Royal Pavilion and Museums and archives from Sussex University. These include the Mass Observation Archive of social history records as well as manuscripts by two writers, Rudyard Kipling and Virginia Woolf.

The Keep may house old parchments and historical papers on its six miles of shelves but its design and technology are supremely modern. Temperature and humidity controls are crucial to preserve our past.

The documents inside include written records detailing important events, the lives of individuals and the places around us. There are maps, plans and drawings, prints, photographs and films.

Among the items being transferred with care from the Brighton History Centre are glass plate negatives and lantern slides, oral history recordings and topographical prints, newspapers, microfilms and rare books.

The library of the Sussex Family History Group will also be based at The Keep which will become the organisation’s headquarters.

The group aims to encourage people to study family history and genealogy and to preserve and publish relevant documents.

While older documents are contained on parchment, vellum and paper, the records include many more modern media, including digital and electronic records.

East Sussex County Council has led the project with the support of Brighton and Hove City Council and Sussex University.

The site, at Woollard’s Field, is in Falmer, on the edge of Brighton, close to the railway station. The council said that it boasted excellent visitor facilities.

These will cater not just for the public but also for visits by schools and voluntary organisations, societies and similar groups.

The Keep’s lecture room can hold about 150 people. And few would doubt that the 115 reading room seats in the new building will be in demand, keeping about 35 staff reasonably busy.

Some of those who previously used the Brighton History Centre campaigned against its closure as it made way for The Keep.

The council has said that it would maintain a facility for local and family history study at the Jubilee Library, in Brighton, in addition to the facilities provided at other local libraries. The solution is intended as a compromise even though it may not satisfy everyone.

  1. Hucklepickleberry Reply

    The Keep is actually in NORTH MOULSECOOMB!

    Moulsecoomb residents (as well as other Brightonians and visitors) were very proud to be part of the welcoming committee for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh!

    Please refer to the Keep as being in Moulsecoomb in future – it is part of our very unique heritage, and we are proud to have the facility within our estates of Moulsecoomb.

    For decades, the press have dismissed Moulsecoomb as being beneath mentioning, unless there is a problem in the area. Moulsecoomb has gentrified and improved vastly over the past decade, is relatively low-crime compared to the rest of the city.

    We have the beautiful Wild Park and Stanmer Park and Falmer Pond nearby, the surrounding hills and fields and is a lovely country garden estate, so please give us due credit and mention Moulsecoomb and its assets more often – it is not a word to be ashamed of!!!

  2. Hucklepickleberry Reply

    The Keep is actually in NORTH MOULSECOOMB!

    Moulsecoomb residents (as well as other Brightonians and visitors) were very proud to be part of the welcoming committee for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh!

    Please refer to the Keep as being in Moulsecoomb in future – it is part of our very unique heritage, and we are proud to have the facility within our estates of Moulsecoomb.

    For decades, the press have dismissed Moulsecoomb as being beneath mentioning, unless there is a problem in the area. Moulsecoomb has gentrified and improved vastly over the past decade, is relatively low-crime compared to the rest of the city.

    We have the beautiful Wild Park and Stanmer Park and Falmer Pond nearby, the surrounding hills and fields and is a lovely country garden estate, so please give us due credit and mention Moulsecoomb and its assets more often – it is not a word to be ashamed of!!!

  3. Mary Funnell Reply

    Members of Moulsecoomb Community Forum were very pleased to welcome the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to The Keep, Woollards Field, North Moulsecoomb, Brighton!

    The crowds gave a huge welcome to the Royal Party and we are very honoured that they have visited MOULSECOOMB!!

  4. Mary Funnell Reply

    Members of Moulsecoomb Community Forum were very pleased to welcome the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to The Keep, Woollards Field, North Moulsecoomb, Brighton!

    The crowds gave a huge welcome to the Royal Party and we are very honoured that they have visited MOULSECOOMB!!

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