Friday, 30 November 2012

The future of the Brighton History Centre

Three years ago, following an out-of-the-blue announcement that the Brighton History Centre would close within months, a vigorous campaign was mounted, resulting in a temporary reprieve for the facility.

The BHC will, nevertheless, finally close its doors in 2013 when its rich collection of books and original documents, covering all aspects of the city’s history, will transfer to The Keep at Falmer. 

The long-awaited opening of The Keep towards the end of the year is an exciting prospect. Yet much stands to be compromised in terms of access and service quality for users of the existing specialist city centre facility. Furthermore, as long ago as January 2010, BHC users were promised a key role in helping develop family and local history services throughout the city. To date, though, such user involvement has been minimal and apparently fruitless. 

Friends of the Brighton History Centre invite all users and interested parties to an open meeting with Janita Bagshawe, Head of Royal Pavilion and Museums at Brighton & Hove City Council and other relevant Council officers at 10.30am on Wednesday 19th December in the Education Pavilion (ground floor of Brighton Museum).

The aim of the meeting is to ensure that facilities and resources for BHC users are optimised, both at The Keep and at the proposed, compensatory city centre local and family history 'hub' which - somewhere, somehow - is to be crammed into the Jubilee Library.

There remain many other outstanding questions. For example, will present BHC staff continue their exceptional service, either at the Keep or at the new hub, or indeed both.

Also unknown is the timescale for closing the existing city centre facility. Documents held at East Sussex Record Office are already being mothballed ready for transfer to The Keep, so becoming increasingly inaccessible. Inevitably, BHC users will be similarly inconvenienced in due course; they need a guarantee that this will be kept to a minimum. 

Please consider attending this meeting and do bring your own questions. 

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