Archives Service to re-open to the public

The West Sussex Record Office is opening two days a week for pre-booked appointments from Tuesday 18 August.


Release date: 10 August 2020

After months of being closed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, West Sussex Record Office in Chichester is due to reopen its doors to the public.  

From Tuesday 18 August, the Record Office Searchroom will be open two days a week for pre-booked appointments.  

The Record Office will start by re-opening on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and there will be two and a half hour slots available either in the morning (9.30am-12pm) or afternoon (2pm-4.30pm).

Staff have been preparing for weeks to deliver a service that will be safe for visitors and have been looking forward to welcoming people back.

The Record Office holds archives for the county dating from 780AD to the present day and is popular with family, military and local historians, as well as students, teachers, authors and academics.

Current changes being implemented will include:

  • visitors pre-booking a slot by email and ordering documents by the previous Friday to allow for a 72hr quarantine period.
  • all visitors attending wearing a face covering unless they are exempt from doing so.
  • contact details being taken for the NHS Test and Trace scheme (these will be held on file for 21 days after the visit).
  • a two-hour closure in-between for a thorough cleaning regime. 

Duncan Crow, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Fire and Rescue and Communities, said: “It’s been a long five months since the start of the pandemic when the West Sussex Record Office, along with many other buildings and services, had to close its doors. Although Record Office staff have been able to continue to operate the service from home as far as possible, they are looking forward to welcoming visitors back so they can share the wealth of interesting archives that are situated in the building.
“There will obviously be some changes for regular visitors, but the team are doing all they can to make sure that they keep disruption to a minimum, make sure that everybody is safe and that anyone coming in and using the facilities is as confident as they can be in coming back and enjoying what the Record Office has to offer.”
Throughout the lockdown, staff have been working hard to carry out tasks to improve access to the county's history and have been involved in some fascinating initiatives.
This has included the collection of photographs, films, artworks and diaries for the West Sussex Covid-19 Community Archive in partnership with Screen Archive South East and The Novium Museum in Chichester. 
Also, on 18 August, the last episode of the West Sussex Unwrapped series will also be launched. This will include a film of Chichester in 1983 with a guided tour along the Georgian streets of the city centre. This and the rest of the series can be watched online
For more information on the changes to the Record Office’s ways of working after coronavirus, take a look at the ‘Visiting the Record Office’ page.

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