Update on Closure
Following investigations into the conditions of the building on the first floor of Central Library, Blackpool Council has made the decision to do a full roof replacement.
While this is great news for the future of the History Centre in the building, it does mean there will continue to be disruption to the Heritage Service while the work is undertaken. Council Property Services are still creating a full calendar of works and updates on the timetable will be published as they become available. At present it is anticipated this work and the re-opening of the History Centre will take 6 to 12 months.
The Library will remain open. This disruption only effects the first floor of the building where the Heritage Service and History Centre is located.
The key impacts of the roof replacement are going to be:
- History Centre: Will remain closed until all works have been completed.
- Newspapers on Microfilm: Limited access by appointment will be available following the relocation of the Service to temporary location before Christmas 2021
- Collections: The majority of the collections are going into deep storage outside of Blackpool and will be unavailable until the reopening of the History Centre.
- Remote Enquiry Service: There will be a limited remote enquiry service for Newspaper searches only once the service has relocated to it temporary location.
- Blackpool Museum Project: A small selection of collections are staying in Blackpool in temporary storage for use by Showtown to support the final stage of creating and building the museum displays.
What is wrong with the Building?
The History Centre has been closed since February 2020. It was closed in order to provide a storage refuge for the collections that were evacuated from permanent storage due to significant water penetration through the ceiling of the store.
The assessment and repair of the damage was completed over the summer of 2020 but by the autumn of that year it became apparent that the deterioration of the roof was much worse than at first observed and there was negative impact to the Heritage Service, Adult and Community Learning, Blackpool Central Library and the Grundy Art Gallery.
Blackpool Council Property Service undertook extensive investigations and assessments and concluded that the building is suffering from water egress predominately due to the age with penetrative damp from the guttering, flashing detailing and external pointing to the South and West elevations.
A recommendation for a full roof replacement was submitted to Blackpool Council. This work is to replace the existing roof coverings, together with pointing, lead work and guttering and this has now been approved.
Impact on Collections
Due to the extent of the works, it would not be feasible to continue to store the heritage collections within the building whilst these works are carried out. The roof coverings will be stripped and existing guttering removed thus posing a risk of water ingress during the works.
A number of options have been considered and the decision has been made to create a ‘split storage’ solution during this period of work. The Historic Collections have been divided up with a small selection of material being kept at an alternate site in Blackpool for the purpose of supporting the delivery of Showtown, the museum of Fun and Entertainment. The rest of the collections are being placed in deep storage outside of Blackpool and will be inaccessible.
While most of the collections are going to be unavailable, we have kept available the historic Blackpool Newspapers on microfilm for consultation as there is a high demand for access. These will be available to view one day a week by appointment. More information will be forthcoming on this once the service has moved to its temporary location.