Wolverhampton City Archives celebrated its 40th anniversary on Saturday.

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To mark the occasion the Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Phil Page, and Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor John Reynolds, paid a visit to the Whitmore Hill venue.

Users, friends of the archives and staff - past and present - have also been nominating their favourite items from the archives' vaults to be part of an exhibition - My Favourite Archive.

It showcases photographs, maps, documents and newspapers, as well as illustrating the variety of items kept within a high tech accredited storage area.

The archives hold almost 700 years of recorded history, and 10 of the City of Wolverhampton's iconic collections have been nominated for visitors to see.

These include Theatrical archives for the Theatre Royal & Grand Theatre, accounts from Wolverhampton Constables, the Beatties Collection, Japanning Pattern Book, Works Leaving Sunbeam and copies of the Wolverhampton Chronicle.

Councillor Reynolds said: "The City Archives is one of the jewels in our crown.

"It provides an invaluable service to Wolverhampton residents and beyond - helping to put the city on the world map through its international links.

"We have £3.7 billion of investment on site or planned in the city and a bright future to look forward to - but it is important we do not forget about our heritage - and the archives ensures our proud history is recorded and well protected."

The archives were founded in 1978 and in 2009 it became a separate entity from Central Library, moving to its existing home in the Molineux Hotel building.

The Molineux building was a family home until 1860, a pleasure park until 1889 and then in 2003, when a fire almost destroyed the building, the council launched an extensive restoration project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Advantage West Midlands, English Heritage, Wolverhampton City Council and Wolverhampton Development Company. 

The fully restored Grade II listed building retains many of the original features. Among these are the wood panelled Oak Room and ornate Rococo Room - both restored to their Georgian glory.

While the surroundings have changed radically since it was a family home, the remaining garden areas include period features such as an 18th century styled kitchen garden, box hedging parterres, yew and holly topiary and seating, providing a peaceful oasis for visitors.

Wolverhampton City Archives exists to collect, preserve and make accessible historical records relating to the City of Wolverhampton, and to secure significant modern records for future generations.

Documents available include books, maps, plans; over 30,000 photographs; records of local churches, schools and other institutions; records of the city council and its predecessors; and records of local industries, clubs and societies. 

Those who are interested in genealogy can use records including newspapers, census returns, probate records and electoral registers to find out about their family history.

My Favourite Archive exhibition runs until Tuesday 31 July and can be seen during opening times, Wednesdays (1pm to 7pm), Thursdays and Fridays (10am to 4pm) and Saturdays (10am to 4pm).

For further information about the exhibition or how to use the service for archiving purposes please call 01902 552480 or email, archives@wolverhampton.gov.uk.

  • released: Monday 23 July, 2018