West Sussex’s record office joins elite group of archives

County Archivist Wendy Walker, Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities Debbie Kennard, West Sussex County Council Leader Louise Goldsmith, Director of Public Engagement at The National Archive Caroline Ottaway-Searle and Lord Lieutenant Mrs Susan Pyper cut the cake.
County Archivist Wendy Walker, Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities Debbie Kennard, West Sussex County Council Leader Louise Goldsmith, Director of Public Engagement at The National Archive Caroline Ottaway-Searle and Lord Lieutenant Mrs Susan Pyper cut the cake.

West Sussex’s record office has received a national award putting it in the top six per cent of archives in the country.

National Archive Service Accreditation is the UK quality standard, awarded to a select number of record offices, which recognises good performance in all areas of archive service delivery.

Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, was joined by the county’s lord lieutenant, Mrs Susan Pyper, and other county councillors for the award ceremony on Monday night (March 18).

Wendy Walker, county archivist, said: “I am delighted that the Record Office has been awarded archive service accreditation.

“This award reflects the high standards that we seek to achieve in looking after the wonderful collections that we hold and in making them accessible for everyone to use and enjoy.

“It is also a testament to the hard work of all the staff at the Record Office and the fantastic support that we receive from our volunteers, depositors, friends and partners and from the county council itself.

“This is in every sense a joint achievement and one that I am very proud to be involved with. Being an accredited archive service will enable us to plan for the future with a firm foundation and to continue to build on our work with everyone in West Sussex.”

The Record Office, which is a licensed place of deposit for public records and is the Chichester Diocesan Record Office, houses more than eight miles of shelving containing archives dating back to 780AD. It also runs a records management service for the county council.

Collections include the great estate and family archives of the county, the Cathedral and Diocese, The Royal Sussex Regiment, the records of church and chapel, towns and villages, businesses and schools.

These archives sit alongside the records of hospitals and courts, organisations and societies, personal and family papers, as well the archives of the county council itself.

Debbie Kennard, cabinet member for safer, stronger communities, said: “What a fantastic achievement for our Record Office.

“The staff and everyone involved do an incredibly important job and I am so pleased to see their efforts recognised in this way.”

The archive service accreditation panel noted they ‘were pleased to see this effective service submitting a convincing application, which showed a strong basis for development and delivery in future, to continue to meet the developing needs of the communities of West Sussex’.

They added: “It was particularly positive to see a proactive approach to developing digital capacity, a major challenge which is recognised by the service as key to its future.”

For more information about the West Sussex Record Office, visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/ro