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Carmarthen

New home for Carmarthenshire Archives opens its doors

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With 800 years of history all under one roof, Carmarthenshire Archives has opened its doors in a new £2.2 million purpose-built facility at the rear of Carmarthen Library.

Carmarthenshire council says the new state-of-the-art accommodation is home to an extensive collection of historic documents that date from the 13th century to the present day and includes various records, maps, books, photographs, videos and sound recordings.

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It adds that with its energy-efficient design, the building minimises the energy required to maintain storage conditions and ensures that the collection remains protected even in the event of a power outage.

The building is split over three floors and includes a search room with a map table and seating to accommodate 10 people , two strongrooms with specialist shelving, a conservation suite equipped for digital preservation, an isolation room, cataloguing rooms and a cleaning room for inspection of newly arrived documents.

Carmarthenshire’s archive collections have been held outside the county since 2014 whilst the building work was underway.

The council received funding of £120,000 from the Welsh Government’s Transformation Capital Grant Scheme towards the new facility.

Invited guests including representatives from Carmarthen Town Council and the Friends of Carmarthen Archives were given a grand tour of the new building before it opens to the public on Wednesday, July 13.

They had the opportunity to view some of rare and interesting items on display including the Carmarthen Gaol Felon’s Register from 1844 – 1871, which was one of the earliest jail registers using photos for ID, and a Llanelli register of ships between 1824-1836 – interestingly the first ship in the register was built in Carmarthen and wholly owned by a female. Although women were often part owners, investing for a share of the profits, whole ownership was unusual.

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Also on display was a selection of cartoons from the 1980s by Dorrien, a cartoonist famed for his portraits of sporting figures and political cartoons, many of which were published in the Western Mail and South Wales Echo, and the county council’s first computer from 1966. Acquired for the treasury department, County Hall had to have an extra electricity supply to cope with the extra load needed!

Children from Ysgol Y Dderwen have also been tasked with designing a plaque to commemorate the opening of the new service, which will be unveiled during ‘Explore Your Archives Week’ in November, when there will be a whole host of activities and events taking place.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism Cllr Gareth John said: “I am delighted that our archives collection is now back where it belongs in Carmarthenshire, full of fascinating stories of people and places, a wealth of material in available to the public for study and research.

“This new building has been purpose-built to the highest standards and will make sure our archives are protected from all potential risks of damage or loss.

“It boasts spacious and modern accommodation providing comfortable and secure access to the collection for everyone.”

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Admission to the search room is free, but you do need to make an appointment at least 24 hours prior to your visit.

(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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