Reader letter: Record office closure is cultural vandalism

A campaign to save the Lowestoft Record Office has been launched.Picture: Nick Butcher

A campaign to save the Lowestoft Record Office has been launched.Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Lowestoft Record Office has been given notice of closure by Suffolk County Council.

All records of North Suffolk and the Waveney Valley are to be moved to Ipswich. That is the plan.

The Ipswich office is to be given an injection of cash whilst the Lowestoft Office is to be closed - due to financial constraints. Hang on a minute - does that make sense? What is the logic behind that?

The logic behind that is not about logic it is about priorities. In Suffolk who are the poor relations in this reorganisation? The Waveney Valley and North Suffolk that's who.

So what is the fuss about? Can't those that want to see these records go to Ipswich instead? In theory yes. But what is it about a local record office that is unique. The answer is accessibility and of course it is specific to that area - those towns, villages and hamlets that maybe nondescript to the outsider but are valued by their inhabitants.

Whoever can remember Ackenfield the book by Ronald Blythe and Peter Hall's film of the same name will know of the endless fascination of the local history of small rural communities. Those communities need local record offices. Their histories are just as important.

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And for me this reorganisation and the loss of Lowestoft Record Office suggests that Suffolk County Council need reminding that small and medium-sized communities deserve parity in their access to their histories.

Perhaps the office has not reached its 21st century attendance targets. I hope like me you say so what - and OK we will see what we can do to encourage more folk through the door.

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However, to close such a facility is to my mind tantamount to cultural vandalism.

Finally local record offices are not just places for academics and such like. All people go in - old people researching family histories (actually not just old people doing that) young people, school groups studying history from primary and secondary schools.

So please register your views. You can sign the petition organised by SORO (save our record office). Or write to your local council or your MP.

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