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Historian backs campaign to save record office amid funding talk

PUBLISHED: 14:49 12 June 2018 | UPDATED: 14:49 12 June 2018

The Save Our Record Office campaign has gathered thousands of signatures Picture: NICK BUTCHER

The Save Our Record Office campaign has gathered thousands of signatures Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Archant © 2018

A Suffolk historian who used the Lowestoft Record Office for vital research has said it will “diminish the community” if the archive is moved out of the town.

Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks said he did not want to see the archive move out of Lowestoft, but funding from external sources would need to be found Picture: GREGG BROWN Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks said he did not want to see the archive move out of Lowestoft, but funding from external sources would need to be found Picture: GREGG BROWN

The Save Our Record Office (SORO) group was formed after proposals emerged to close the town’s record office and move archives to the new centre being established in Ipswich, The Hold.

More than 7,000 people have signed the petition calling for the plans to be scrapped, and has attracted the backing of high profile people such as Time Team presenter Tony Robinson.

New Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks said he did not want to see the record office move, and vowed to work with the community to find a solution to safeguarding the archive’s presence in the town.

Worlingham aviation historian Ian McLachan has joined the campaign to save the archive, and said it was vital for the community for it to remain.

“Growing up in Lowestoft, I became fascinated by the legacy of aviation in the area and my first book Final Flights entailed numerous visits to the record office,” he said.

“My intention had been to donate the original source material and other archives to the record office for the benefit of future historians.

“However, the decision to close such an important access to local history is now making me reconsider this action.”

He added: “If the town is robbed of its own records office, it will diminish the community and discourage research, leading to a dilution of local knowledge and a reduction in the town’s spirit of celebrating its past.”

Last Friday, SORO members met with Mr Hicks during the county council’s We Are Listening event in the town, presenting a cake to him in the spirit of open and friendly discussion.

Mr Hicks reassured locals that while he couldn’t confirm the future of the record office in place now, plans would be established to keep an archive in north Suffolk.

“The way we are going to take it forward is that we are going to work with the community,” he said. “The message is very clear from the residents of Lowestoft about where they feel the records office should be.”

He added: “Let’s look at the project, reach a solution, agree what is best for the community and for Lowestoft and the wider area, and then we can come up with a plan of how to fund it.”

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