Wiltshire and Swindon Archives was set up as Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office by Wiltshire County Council, in 1947, with the aim of collecting, preserving and making available to the public the archives of Wiltshire. In 1997 Swindon Borough Council became a unitary authority, and since that time Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office has had a service level agreement to provide archive services for Swindon as well as Wiltshire.
Image of the research room in the former Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office in Trowbridge
In the late 1990s the National Archives, which is the body responsible for inspection and advice to local authority archive services, decided that the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office was not suitable as a place of deposit for irreplaceable archives. The Record Office was based in a former mattress factory in Trowbridge, and it was suffering from an acute lack of environmental stability and a high risk of fire. Wiltshire County Council and Swindon Borough Council did not wish to risk losing the county's priceless written and pictorial heritage and generously agreed to fund a replacement archive facility.
The brand new facility in Cocklebury Road, Chippenham, near to the town railway station, not only includes a state of the art facility for the county and borough records but also the five other key heritage services: the local studies library, the archaeology service, Wiltshire buildings record, museum service and the conservation service.
Planning permission for the new Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre was given by North Wiltshire District Council’s Development Control Committee in January 2005. Work on site by the building firm, Cowlins, started on 28 June 2005.
The foundations, superstructure and roof were all in place by 6 December 2005. The building work was completed on time and within budget, in autumn 2006 and from February-October 2007 the various parts of heritage services have been moving in and preparing for re-opening to the public.
The photograph below shows the archives being packed at Trowbridge, ready for their journey to the new facility in Chippenham.
The facility opened on 31 October 2007. At that time, the service changed its name to Wiltshire and Swindon Archives as this is felt to be clearer to our service users.
Researchers using the new research room at the History Centre
One of seven strongrooms at the History Centre
As part of the 70th anniversary of the Wiltshire and Swindon Archives we have updated the history of our service to cover the years 1987-2017.