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£1.6 Million to be Spent on New York Archive

Birch wins Archive contract 271113

4:09pm 27th November 2013

City of York Council has named William Birch & Sons Ltd of Osbaldwick as the preferred bidder for the £1.6m contract to build a new city archive at York Explore.

The new archive is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund-supported Gateway to History project to preserve and open up the city’s internationally-important archives to people across the city and indeed the world.

The works at York Explore will include the construction of a new state-of-the-art conservation store for the archives and a sensitive refurbishment of the existing first floor to create new spaces for people to discover the city’s extensively-recorded history. Essential work on the roof and floor will also be carried out to on the Grade II listed library building at the same time as installing a new energy-efficient heating system, repairing the roof, refreshing the layout of the ground floor and the very successful café.

The Gateway to History project received a £1.5m HLF grant in December 2012 and is one of the major public legacies of the York800 celebrations.

Councillor Sonja Crisp, City of York Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, said: “The new archive will open its doors in Autumn 2014 and will allow all of us to get hands-on with the original documents showing how York’s citizens have lived and worked in the city for the past 800 years. It’s really gratifying too that the prestigious contract to create this 21st century facility for the most important city archive outside London has been won by a local firm.”

Richard Taylor, City Archivist, said: “After three years of planning it’s so exciting that people are finally going to see work starting to open up our fantastic city archives to everyone. While new extension will be immediately noticeable, thanks to lottery players and the Heritage Lottery Fund we’re also going to have a team of staff who will work with people across the city to make sure that the archive preserves new records which show how York people get involved in their city – whether that’s through volunteering, campaigning or running a community service.”

Paul Goyea, Managing Director at William Birch & Sons Ltd, said: “As a York-based building and restoration contractor for almost 140 years, we are delighted to have been selected to complete this prestigious project that has such importance to the city. There are significant technical challenges associated with constructing an airtight building suitable for archiving important documents; however our skills developed on the Minster Library and other close-controlled environments will be extended to the benefit of this project.

“The William Birch office is situated within four miles of the new City Archive and 70 per cent of employees live within a five mile radius of the project bringing a strong local presence to the project. We look forward to working with the council and the project team in the New Year.”

Preparations for the construction work will start at York Explore in January. The work will be carefully phased to minimise disruption to the library service until mid 2014, although access to some areas will be restricted and at times there may be some construction noise. York Explore will close temporarily in mid-2014 for the most intensive phase of the building works.

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