December 2019

Archive—an alternative view KATHY DANIELS looks on the bright side regarding the Archive’s potential move to Mold There are no plans to close our libraries. That much we know from the blueprints to relocate our Archive to Mold. That’s because each of Denbighshire’s eight libraries will have a role to play in linking to the new Mold-based central Archive, on a “hub-and-spoke” principle. This could significantly widen the appeal of the archive for all local residents. Some good news, then, if this helps safeguard a valuable public service, our libraries; and extend the appeal of another, the Archive. The architects of the proposal to move the Archive to Mold were able to reassure us that there were other benefits for archive researchers, not least a larger pool of staff, extended opening and more space to receive & store materials (the Gaol is running out). Denbighshire has the equivalent of 3¼ staff and opens for three days it used to be 2½). Denbighshire would have access to Flintshire’s conservation archivists, too. The resources will also be able to increase the combined archive’s digital records, enabling a single point of access online. This will mean that more records will be accessible from researchers’ homes as well as from libraries. We also know that the number of visits to Denbighshire’s archive last year was just 792 and that was surprisingly low. About half the visitors are Denbighshire residents and we would assume that their economic impact on the town was minimal. The other half, potentially, could contribute more to Ruthin’s economy but, even so, the number equates to barely 2½ visits per opening day. Now, the more concerning news. Moving the Archive to Mold will result in 70 per cent of the Old Gaol being emptied. What impact will this have on a heritage building brought back to life following considerable grants? The last thing we need is a question mark hanging over another of our heritage buildings. Even here, though, there are positives. There’s an opportunity to reinvigorate the Old Gaol, however challenging this may prove to be. There are apparently many stored artefacts that could go on display in an “expanded” Old Gaol, when and if space becomes available. Anything that will enhance the appeal of this visitor attraction should be grabbed. There’s even talk (again) of some sort of tie-in with the National Trust and we’re told there are discussions. Including Nantclwyd y Dre, enabling a partnership with the NT has the benefit of wider marketing and increased footfall. If that can be pulled off, we can expect both Nantclwyd y Dre and the Old Gaol to take off. This will also be challenging but wouldn’t that we wonderful. You need only use imagination to wonder what else could be achieved by linking Nantclwyd y Dre, the Old Gaol with the Old Courthouse and Ruthin Castle walls. Given that few of us in Denbighshire seem to bother to use the Archive, perhaps it simply won’t matter where documents are held, so long as they are well curated. But, when you consider the arbitrary way in which the former Clwyd archive was split, stitching most of it back together in a purpose-built, state of the art building with staff aplenty and better opening hours is perhaps no bad thing. It’s certainly a shame that Ruthin will miss out on a multi-million-pound investment. We’re told that this would be impossible in Ruthin. So, if not Ruthin, then it’s probably better near Mold than in some desolate corrugated shed only accessible by car and at the back end of some forlorn industrial estate where facilities are few.
Archive from 2013 Historic Interest