Friday, 11 November 2011

West Yorkshire Archive Service news

With thanks to Beryl Evans of the Federation of Family History Societies (, as well as Jackie Depelle and Katy Goodrum, on the following news concerning West Yorkshire Archives:

The Archive Service has been working with Leeds City Council to provide improved accommodation for and access to the irreplaceable archive collections relating to Leeds District. We have explored several options for potential sites and partnerships and have costed remedial work to the Art Deco Sheepscar building. The Sheepscar building has a number of problems related to its age and construction and the National Archives has declared it no longer fit for purpose. Having explored a range of other options, none of which proved to be workable or affordable, we have now received approval from the Executive Board of Leeds CC to move out of the Sheepscar building and convert space for storage and public access at the Joint Services HQ complex at Gildersome. This option provides the best storage and access we can achieve at a reasonable cost in the immediate future. It also means that the collections currently held at Sheepscar will be located at the same site as those Leeds collections currently housed in our modern outstore at Joint Services HQ. For the first time, nearly two-thirds of Leeds archives will be accommodated on the same site.

This project will provide:

* Much improved storage conditions for collections, ensuring their preservation
* Much improved security for collections, staff and customers
* Fully-accessible, modern, customer accommodation
* Free customer parking

We are planning for the new facilities to be ready in the third quarter of 2012. There will need to be a short time when the service cannot provide a public service, while the collections are in transit. We will make information available as soon as the timetable is finalised and keep that time to a minimum.

I am pleased to be able to assure you that, in spite of the problems the building gives us, no collections have been damaged. The staff and Conservation Team continue their vigilance and interventions and will ensure that archives remain safe until we can effect the move.

Katy Goodrum
Head of Archives



  1. This move will require travel by car which is not great for the environment but the safe storage of the collections is paramount. Usefully this site is half way between Leeds and Bradford. I just wish that the Bradford records held at Wakefield could also be moved to this site to make them more accessible. Any news on safety of Bradford records from fire risk?

  2. Good to hear the collections will be safeguarded and nicely located between leeds and bradford. Any updates on the safety of Bradford archives contained in a building partly closed due to fire risks.

  3. I'm happy to be able to reassure you about the safety and security of West Yorkshire Archive Service's collections held at Bradford Central Library. Although the upper floors of the building are currently shut, this is because of concerns about the spread of any fire and exit routes, rather than about the inherent flammability of the building. The collections are stored in good conditions in our basement strongroom and they remain fully accessible to the public in our temporary, first-floor searchroom. See for opening hours and our online catalogue.
    Katy Goodrum, Head of Archives