Tomorrow's Modern Boxes

Everyone knows that moves require boxes, but moving a whole Archive Service requires a lot of boxes, and of specific types too. In our very first Store Tours vlog we pointed out the stacks of newly-arrived boxes from our first big order, but since then we've had more deliveries, the contents of which are now being put to work in boxing-up (and reboxing!) exercises across our various strongrooms. These archive standard boxes aren't a temporary transportation measure either - each will be placed as-is into our new dedicated facility, which is why we're taking such care in picking the right packaging solutions for the long term protection and happiness of our collections.

That first delivery of 1000 archive boxes took a morning's work to unpack and stow safely away in the City Central Library & Archives building, and since then we've been back and forwards taking trolleys of boxes whenever and wherever they're needed. The first sizeable chunk was moved to Store E so that our volunteers could begin boxing up the pamphlets there (a work in progress when we filmed that particular Store Tour) and further batches have already been used to rebox archive material in stores B & C as well.

Recently another 16 pallet box delivery arrived, this time containing multiple sizes of boxes to help with the packaging of archive volumes. Barely was the plastic wrap off these monolithic stacks before some were whisked up to Store E to be put to work packaging up the Minton Archive's volume shelves (again mentioned in the Store Tour vlog), something we'll hopefully cover in more detail in a future post.

Thankfully not all our box deliveries are measured by the pallet, though this doesn't make them any less important. One smaller delivery, from a specialist preservation equipment company, included a tower of archival ringbinder boxes - plus matching slide storage sleeves - alongside reels of tying tape and a whole smorgasbord of weights and cushion rests that will be used to look after archive material in our new Reading Room.

Best of all, thanks to the Archive Service's conservator we also have the knowledge to make our own boxes when the need arises! At the end of a recent volunteer manual handling training session we were taken through the process of turning some flat archival board into a custom-made phase box. These types of boxes are individually crafted for each item and, ever up for a challenge, our first application of this newly-acquired skill is to give each of the Minton pattern books their own made-to-measure enclosure... that's in excess of 500 volumes if you're wondering! 😅

Posted on 3rd March, 2023

Store Tours: Episode IV - The Solon Room

Our latest Store Tours episode is also the last in the series, as we head back down to the basement level to explore the Solon Room store. Named after Minton artist Marc Louis Solon and his personal reference library - the first collection to be permanently housed in this space - it's a small but important piece of the City Archives' storeroom puzzle here in the City Central Library & Archives building. It was designed as purpose-built library and archive storage and, as you'll see in the video, this makes it a perfect fit for the octavo, quarto, and oversize items of the Solon (and Minton company) libraries. We hope you've enjoyed watching this Store Tours series as much as we have making it for you - there'll no doubt be more vlogs in the future but right now we're going to swap camera for keyboard and get stuck back in to some old school blogging 🤓

Posted on 15th February, 2023

Store Tours: Episode III - The Balcony

After taking a moment out of our Store Tours schedule to show you the City Archives' Reading Room we're getting back down to business with a circuit round the balcony area. Situated on floor three of the City Central Library & Archives building - just next to the aforementioned Reading Room and only a couple of doors away from the Store E strongroom - the balcony houses our local studies and pottery libraries as well as part of our local maps collection. As we filmed this vlog we were actually in the midst of some survey and organisation work, so you might spot the odd temporary label or even an empty shelf or two in the video, but it's all part and parcel (pun intended!) of our prep work for the move.

Posted on 8th February, 2023

The Reading Room: A Store Tours Story

We're back with another vlog, but this time we're taking a slight detour from our established Store Tours series to focus on our Reading Room instead. Some of you may have used this dedicated space in the City Central Library & Archives building to access our local studies or archive material in the past, but as of January 2023 its now closed as our move preparation ramps up further. Although we've already started repurposing the space - see the video for evidence of that! - we thought a quick virtual tour, embedded below, would be a good way to take a very last look at what we hope was a friendly and useful place to those who visited it over the years.

Posted on 1st February, 2023

Store Tours: Episode II - Store E

In our last post we unveiled our Store Tours vlog series and then took you on a virtual wander through our two basement strongrooms, "B" & "C". Today we'll be doing the same for another of our strongrooms, Store "E", which you'll find tucked behind our Reading Room on the third floor of the City Central Library & Archives building. This is the original archive store and as such has a very different feel to that of "B" & "C", with a much wider variety of shapes, sizes, and types of material found inside - there are volumes on shelves, pamphlets in folders, maps in drawers and much more besides! Come for a walk round in our latest vlog and see what we mean - it's available at the link and embedded below.

Posted on 25th January, 2023

Store Tours: Episode I - The Basement Stores

Visitors to the City Archives will of course be familiar with our Reading Room, but behind the scenes there are strongrooms and other secure areas that aren't publicly accessible. We wanted to show you what each of these spaces look like - before we inevitably write about them on the blog! - in a series of virtual tours that'll hopefully also give you a better idea of the scale of the move. In this first vlog, embedded below, we're taking you on a quick walk round our two basement strongrooms, "B" and "C". These are two of our newest stores but don't let the shiny roller racks full of uniform shelving deceive you - there's still plenty of work involved to get the collections ready for the move!

Posted on 17th January, 2023

Restricted Access Update

On Friday we welcomed our last customers into the City Archives Reading Room, found within the City Central Library & Archives building, marking the end of almost 25 years of public access to Stoke-on-Trent City Archives' collections in this particular location. We couldn't let this moment pass by without sharing a couple of photographs taken at the launch of the Archive Service back in 1998, as well as some then-and-now comparisons taken just shy of a quarter of a century apart, which you can check out below (and in the header image above too!).

Back to our update, with the Reading Room closed for the next few months access will be limited to our remote enquiry service - via email at [email protected] - until we re-open in our new home at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.

Archive Service Launch: 10th July 1998

Lord Mayor Kath Banks (centre) and Consort (left), with City Archivist Peter Foden (right)

(Left to right) Lord Mayor Kath Banks, Thea Randall, Peter Foden, Peter Vigurs, Margaret Green, Margaret Beard

Then and Now: 1999 and 2023

Posted on 10th January, 2023

Merry Christmas from the City Archives

Firstly, from all of us here at the City Archives - including Bernard the Dracaena plant, our unofficial mascot (front and centre in the photograph below) - we'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. The microsite blog will be taking a short break over the festive period but we'll be back in January with plenty more updates in the year of the move - how exciting!

Before we go, a quick update: since we announced our Restricted Access opening hours we've been inundated with requests for appointments in our Reading Room, so much so that we're now fully booked for the two remaining sessions on Friday 23rd December and Friday 6th January. If you haven't been able to book a space to visit us in person during these final weeks our remote enquiry service remains available - just e-mail us at [email protected]. Just as before, whenever our status changes we'll update both the blog and the microsite home page too.

Posted on 21st December, 2022

Restricted Access Begins

Here's a quick update to let you know we've now moved into our Restricted Access phase. The Current Status section on our home page has been changed accordingly and from there you can access a more detailed breakdown of what this means for visits and enquiries. On that page we've also included a "last updated" subheading so you can easily spot if the restrictions have changed since the last time you visited the microsite.

Posted on 5th December, 2022

Some Frequently Asked Questions

Before we get stuck into move updates and suchlike we thought we'd kick off with a quick FAQ that - along with the microsite itself! - will hopefully help answer any initial queries you might have about the move.

Why is Stoke-on-Trent City Archives moving?

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has sold the City Central Library building in which the Archive Service resides as the library no longer needs so much space and the cost of upkeep is too high, and getting higher. The big plus is that the move to The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery will bring the object and archive collections of the city together in a specialist collections building.

Why does Stoke-on-Trent City Archives need to close? (And why for so long?)

All of our collections have to be packaged, documented, and safely moved ready to be accessed in the new facility - this includes not only the archive collections in our four large strongrooms but also the Local Studies Library and Pottery Library too.

When will Stoke-on-Trent City Archives re-open?

At the time of writing the current plan is for the service to re-open in the summer of 2023, but this does depend on the progress of the building work, so it may be the autumn. In either case the microsite will be updated as the move progresses.

What access will there be while the move takes place?

For detailed information about access and enquiries we'd point you towards the Current Status section on our home page. As we move between being Open, being on Restricted Access, and being Fully Closed, there'll be different levels of access on offer and the best place to get up-to-date information will be there.

Away from the City Archive itself the City's Community Libraries - City Central Library, Bentilee, Longton, Meir, Stoke and Tunstall - all provide access to both Find My Past and Ancestry, as well as containing the Six Towns Collection, a small selection of the most popular local studies and pottery library publications, often specific to that area. Staffordshire's libraries also provide access to Find My Past and Ancestry as well as online access to The British Newspaper Archive. Further afield, Keele University Library has a local studies collection (but contact them in advance for how to access the collections), and the Victoria and Albert Museum's National Art Library includes an excellent ceramics section.

Posted on 22nd November, 2022

Looking for older blog posts, or want to link to a specific post?
Check out the The Moving Blog Archive where you'll find all of our Moving Blog posts in one handy list.