The Hold - preserving Suffolk's history for many years to come

Building work on The Hold, the new home of the Suffolk record office, is now well underway.

Whilst The Hold is primarily a record storing facility, it has so much more to offer. It will be a completely accessible space - once through its front doors there’s no need for visitors to use steps or lifts.

There will be a dedicated exhibition space which will host four specially curated exhibitions per year, to encourage both young and old to interact with Suffolk’s culture and history. Most of these exhibitions will be replicated at our Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft Record Offices, but with a local twist to ensure that the whole county gets involved.

Exhibitions make up just a small portion of events that will be held in the building. A 200-seat tiered auditorium will primarily be used by the University of Suffolk but will also host conferences and talks by archivists. There is no other auditorium space with this capacity in Ipswich and it’s hoped that it can also be used by the wider community.

Another first, not just for Ipswich but for the whole of the county is The Hold’s thermal mass maintained strong room. This record storage facility spans an impressive 1650 cubic metres, spread over three floors. It will have enough space to store the records we currently hold in Suffolk and should also comfortably house further records for the next twenty years. Whereas many storage facilities rely on costly air conditioning systems to ensure records are stored at optimum temperatures, the design and construction of The Hold has resulted in it being able to maintain this with minimal intervention. Not only will this save money, but it also helps work towards our goal of being the Greenest County.

It has already been demonstrated to be incredibly effective, as initial readings show air permeability test results of 0.18 @ 50 Pascal (50 N/m2). This is one of the lowest readings ever recorded and shows that the strong room’s air leakage is well within the required standard of 0.5.

The last thing we want to do is put our records at risk, which is why there will still be rigorous dummy testing and a requirement of stable readings for at least eight weeks prior to the actual records being stored. Once safely housed, we’ll want to ensure that no new records pose any danger to those already archived. That is why the site incorporates a ‘Quarantine Room’ where new records can be treated for insects, mould and any other conditions which could spread to existing collections.

The £20m project is on target for completion by Easter next year and is set to come in on budget. The building will be part of the University of Suffolk campus and will be run by the county and the university together.

Paul West, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Ipswich, Communities and Waste said:

“The Hold is more than just a new building. It is a county wide project to engage more people in learning about the rich past of Suffolk.”