Former police officer and Jack the Ripper investigator joins fight to save record office
- Credit: Archant
A former Lowestoft police officer, whose research into the infamous Whitechapel murders in 1888 has made him one of the foremost experts on the subject, has hit out at the decision by Suffolk County Council to close Lowestoft Record Office.
Stewart Evans, who now lives in Cambridgeshire, was a serving police officer in Lowestoft when he began his investigative work into Jack the Ripper in the early 1970s.
Mr Evans has co-authored several best-selling books into the grisly murders and the suspects behind them.
Historical research he embarked upon in Suffolk record offices led to a string of books and meetings with celebrities such as James Stewart, Jeremy Beadle and Johnny Depp.
Referring to the planned closure of the record office and the removal of Lowestoft archive material to a multi-million pound Heritage Lottery funded facility called The Hold in Ipswich, Mr Evans said: 'It is another example of the alienation of the local populace.
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'I deplore the removal of these valuable local archives to some far-flung repository that not everyone is in a position to attend without spending much time and money to access them.
'This surely discourages the new younger generation from developing a truly hands-on skill of researching history and building their interest to a degree that they would not know should the records be moved, and that tapping a keyboard cannot replace.
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'This is typical of the modern trend of actions by local authorities doing anything to save cash and which have seemingly no interest in our history.'
Last month Suffolk County Council announced it would now be holding a public consultation over the changes, expected to start in late spring, with pre-consultation work getting under way this month.
As part of the move the council proposes to create an unmanned access point in Lowestoft, described by Tony Goldson, cabinet member for health, as a 'fun, interactive experience' which would 'enable us to deliver a wider range of archive-related events in Lowestoft, Beccles, Halesworth and Southwold.'
Bob Collis, spokesman for the SORO (Save Our Record Office) group, said the committee were still giving consideration to the consultation announcement but that members want the proposed changes reversed, as suggested by Waveney MP Peter Aldous, and taken off the table until a full independent public consultation has concluded.