Now that the Lowestoft Record Office as we had come to know it has closed and the start of the transfer of the contents of the strong room to Ipswich is imminent, it makes one wonder how the decision makers can justify such a retrograde policy. Are they really qualified in the preservation of local history for local people or just in administration? They seem to have lost sight of the purpose of a Record Office.
Family Tree Resources, a website assisting genealogical researchers, defines a Record Office simply as:
“Record Offices bring together collections of items and documents local to the area served by the Archive. They have specialised staff who are very knowledgeable about the items in their care, and have helped to conserve the records for future generations to enjoy.”
On the 30th anniversary of Lowestoft Record Office in 2016 the reasons for its existence were listed in the Friends of Suffolk Record Office Newsletter as:
In 1973 Suffolk County Council acknowledged the need to establish a branch of the Record Office at Lowestoft to supplement those at Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds. In 1983 County Archivist Amanda Arrowsmith cited additionally the expense and difficulty of travel to Ipswich from the North East of the County and a widespread unwillingness of owners of records in this part of the county to deposit them in Ipswich.
NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
Public transport from Lowestoft to Ipswich is still both expensive and slow. The new repository of Lowestoft records in Ipswich, The Hold, is not easily accessible by those with their own transpsort and it has just 20 parking spaces, all reserved for their staff.
The cavalier attitude of Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Archives has certainly not endeared them to the people of North East Suffolk. I believe that they will now be even more unwilling to deposit records in Ipswich than they were in 1983.
The Hold is within the campus of the University of Suffolk and is seen as a joint enterprise between the University and Suffolk County Council. It is ironic that one of the University’s faculty is David Gill, Professor of Archeological Heritage. In 2012 he won an American award for his blog ‘Looting Matters’ which advocates the return of looted material to its place of origin. I wonder if he would take up our cause?