Kirklees Archives Awarded National Grant To uncover 150 years of history & Strengthen local democracy

Thousands of never-before-seen archives that tell the story of the development of places across the entire Kirklees area during the 19th and 20th centuries will become accessible to the public for the first time, following an award by The National Archives.

What’s it all about? 

The Kirklees office of West Yorkshire Archive Service (WYAS) has been awarded £40,000 by The National Archives’ Archives Revealed funding scheme to catalogue the archives of the 11 local authorities that merged to form the Borough of Kirklees in 1974, and to help local citizens use these unique resources.

The ‘Creating Kirklees: 150 years of local democracy’ project will make over 170m3 (about one and a half double-decker buses!) of archives fully and freely accessible for the public to explore and enjoy. These archives show how local councils and public services in places across the Kirklees area developed during the 1820s-1970s. Some of the many subjects covered include: town planning, public health, schools and education, child welfare, transport, water and energy supplies, cemeteries and crematoriums, emergency services, and wartime services and defence.

This exciting project will also provide plenty of opportunities for the public to get involved. Volunteers will have the chance to help transcribe, catalogue and package the unique archives. WYAS and Kirklees Council’s Democracy Service will also work together to deliver innovative events and activities that will help local citizens to use the newly discovered archives, explore how we uphold our rights and responsibilities and help people of all ages to be an active part of local democracy today.

And the ambitious aims of the project don’t stop there. It is hoped that the stories uncovered by this project will help to support the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Borough of Kirklees in 2024 and the plans to create a new archives facility as part of Kirklees Council’s Huddersfield Blueprint redevelopment programme.

Cllr Les Shaw, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Joint Committee, said:

“We are absolutely delighted to receive this award. This ambitious project will transform the accessibility of the Kirklees archives and enable every person, family and community in Kirklees today to discover archives that relate to them. We cannot wait to start sharing these remarkable archives to enrich the lives of local citizens and help them understand more about their past, present and future.”

Cllr Cathy Scott, Kirklees Council Cabinet lead for Housing and Democracy, said:

“Working with our citizens and partners to grow a stronger local democracy in our local places is a vital aim for Kirklees Council. We are delighted to be working with our archive service on this innovative project that will help local citizens discover more about our shared democratic heritage. WYAS have been very active in helping people to explore our local archives as a way of getting more involved local democracy today, and thinking about our aspirations for the future. This is a well-deserved award and we’re delighted to be working together to help citizens of all ages use these important collections to uphold their rights, scrutinize local decision-making and improve our local democracy”.

Anyone can follow the developments of the project and get in touch via the WYAS blog, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Local citizens can learn more about getting involved in local democracy.

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