No more room at the index: county archives running out of space

Norfolk's county archivist Gary Tuson. Picture: Ian Burt

Norfolk's county archivist Gary Tuson. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The Norfolk archive is fast running out of space and an expansion is required before it “becomes difficult to close the storeroom doors”, councillors have heard. 

The Norfolk Record Office (NRO) on Martineau Lane, Norwich, opened in 2003, with space for 15-years of use. 

Chief archivist Gary Tuson told a meeting of the Norfolk Records Committee this was a long-standing issue and there needed to be a solution for the 21st century. 

The exhibition of Parish Registers at the Norfolk Records Office. The Sandringham parish register sh

Baptism records of Lady Diana Spencer at the Norfolk Records Office - Credit: Archant 2013

He said: “We have done a lot of work in redesigning the space we use. We have done a lot of work around the building to make the most efficient and best use of space.” 

Labour County Councillor David Rowntree said it was fantastic to see the NRO’s work continuing in the pandemic but was concerned about the timeframe for expansion.

Mr Rowntree said: “These things do take a long time and building an extension on the records office is the practical outcome. 

“When do things get critical - the record office is a finite size - there are still collections coming in, when do we need to push the button on the new plan by?” 

Blur drummer Dave Rowntree, who is standing down as a county councillor Pic: Dan Grimmer

County councillor Dave Rowntree - Credit: Archant

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Mr Tuson agreed an extension might be the solution as there was space at the back of the building but did not wish to pre-empt the business case. 

He said: “I think 2027 is the date I’ve got when it will be difficult to close the storeroom doors. Really this is a three-year programme and at the end of the three years we need to be very clear about what’s going to happen.  

“I don't think we will have delivered it, but we need to say this is a solution and this is how we are going to fund it.” 

The committee approved four recommendations, including the start of long-term planning for the NRO. 

The committee also heard that there was a £60,000 blackhole in the NRO’s revenue budget, which Mr Tuson put down to them not being open during the pandemic.  

He said he hoped government funding would cover this shortfall and balance the budget.