Thanks to you: celebrating 25 years of National Lottery funding for heritage and projects at the Norfolk Record Office

The first National Lottery draw took place 25 years ago on 19 November 1994. Since then, £8billion from ticket sales has been awarded to more than 44,000 heritage projects across the UK through The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Norfolk Record Office, East Anglian Film Archive and Norfolk Sound Archive were able to build a new home in The Archive Centre, which was officially opened by the Queen on 5 February 2004. Since opening, The Archive Centre has received many accolades and has been described as one of the most modern archive buildings in Europe. Its facilities have enabled the NRO to develop services, including programmes of exhibitions, education and outreach, both within The Archive Centre and across Norfolk.

The Archive Centre Exterior front entrance

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the Norfolk Record Office has also been able to host and support many projects which share Norfolk’s heritage with communities across the county. We have trained volunteers and trainees, run workshops for schools, digitised and catalogued collections, hosted exhibitions and provided advice on collecting and caring for archives. Below we share a round-up of just some of the ways funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund has supported us to conserve, catalogue and share Norfolk’s archival heritage.

  1. The Archive Centre

In December 2000, a grant of up to £4,186,000 was awarded towards the construction and fitting out of a new Archive Centre adjacent to County Hall in Norwich. Thanks to this funding, the Norfolk Record Office has a fantastic, and huge, home where anyone can come to view the millions of archives stored here.

The Archive Centre Norfolk

Can you spot Norfolk County Archivist Gary Tuson as he demonstrates the scale of The Archive Centre?

2. Unlocking our Sound Heritage

The Norfolk Record Office is the Unlocking our Sound Heritage hub for the East of England, a partnership project led by The British Library and funded by a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and other charities and individuals. The project runs from 2017-2021 and as part of this the Norfolk Record Office is digitising rare and unique sound recordings from seven counties in the East of England. This includes oral histories, nature & animal soundscapes, music and news.

The Sound Engineer at the Norfolk Record Office

Digitising sound recordings at the Norfolk Record Office

3. Stories of Lynn

Access to King’s Lynn Borough’s very special collection of archives has been transformed thanks to the Stories of Lynn project. Call in to see the archivist to find out more. The KLBA are open Tues-Fri 12.30pm-4.30pm and the first Saturday of the month 10am-2pm.

King's Lynn strongroom and searchroom

The new environmentally-controlled document storage area and archives resources room at the King’s Lynn Borough Archives in King’s Lynn Town Hall.

4. Harbord of Gunton Family and Estate Papers

From 2010-2012, thanks to funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and other funding bodies, the Harbord of Gunton archive was purchased and many documents were catalogued and conserved. The archive provides a rich insight into the history of the Gunton Hall estate and the people who lived and worked there. You can read more about the project on the Gunton Archive Project blog and see the catalogue here.

Map of the Gunton Estate NRO GTN

Map of the Gunton Estate. Norfolk Record Office, GTN 3/5/2/47

5. Change Minds

In 2015, the Norfolk Record Office partnered with The Restoration Trust and Together for Mental Wellbeing to deliver the Change Minds project. People living with mental health conditions used 19th century County Asylum records to help improve their own mental wellbeing.

Change Minds poster

6. Traineeships 

From 2014-2020, 6 trainees worked at Norfolk Record Office through The National Archives’ Transforming Archives and Bridging the Digital Gap programmes. The trainees learned skills in digital preservation, digitisation and community engagement.

TNA traineeships banner

Two of the Transforming Archives trainees retrieving documents from the strongroom for digitisation and working on a school outreach event.

7. Workshops and skills sharing at the Norfolk Record Office

Every year volunteers, researchers, schools and community groups visit The Norfolk Record Office for training, workshops or to research topics for projects funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. In 2019, workshops run by our Education and Outreach team have included looking at the history of the Great Yarmouth waterways, the boot and shoe industry in Norwich, changes in crime and punishment, poor law, the history of Anglia Square and records of the Paston family.

WWI Women's Legacies volunteers

Volunteers from the ‘Norfolk in the First World War: Somme to Armistice’ project looking at original documents as part of their training on researching the roles of women during the First World War.

8. Digitisation

Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund the Norfolk Record Office has digitised archives for projects across the county. These include hall books from King’s Lynn, workhouse records for Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse and documents relating the Paston family for the Paston Footprints project.

Paston book of arms NRO MS Rye 38

Page from the Paston book of arms. Norfolk Record Office, RYE 38.

9. Community Archives: Skills, Support and Sustainability

In September 2019, the Norfolk Record Office was awarded a grant by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to support a new three-year project ‘Community Archives: Skills, Support and Sustainability’. The project will train Community Archives in digitization, cataloguing, preservation and oral history work and the Norfolk Record Office will provide the skills and support to help them become sustainable. Read the latest press release here.

Memorable moments

Over the past 25 years, many Norfolk Record Office staff, volunteers and trainees have participated in projects funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, so to close our celebratory blog Chris Tracy, Archive Specialist at Norfolk Heritage Centre, shares his most memorable moment:

Over the past three years it has been my profound good fortune to have been involved in the Change Minds project, a ‘transformative archival adventure’, which has aimed to support local people living with mental health conditions by helping them to engage with archives and take part in creative activities. Working with colleagues from Norfolk Record Office and Norfolk Library and Information Service, plus staff and volunteers from The Restoration Trust, the project’s lead partner, it has been a privilege, and truly humbling, to assist participants with their research into patients in Norfolk’s County Asylum in the 1880’s, and to lend a hand (however clumsily!) in sessions that encompassed bookbinding, poetry writing and sewing. My favourite specific memory, however, is of the participants creating their own oral history recordings: to see many of them overcome profound trepidation to literally make their voices heard ‘for the record’ was a moving and immensely satisfying experience, and something that I will never forget.

Change Minds project at the Norfolk Record Office


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2 Responses to Thanks to you: celebrating 25 years of National Lottery funding for heritage and projects at the Norfolk Record Office

  1. Pingback: Thank you, Norfolk Record Office and the National Lottery Heritage Fund – Restoration Trust

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