Concern over Saffron Walden's town records transfer
HISTORIANS have voiced their fears about moving Saffron Walden s valuable medieval documents away from the town to a central record office. The town s archive is due to moved to the Essex Record Office (ERO) in Chelmsford so that it can be stored in a pur
HISTORIANS have voiced their fears about moving Saffron Walden's valuable medieval documents away from the town to a central record office.
The town's archive is due to moved to the Essex Record Office (ERO) in Chelmsford so that it can be stored in a purpose-built environment and a so that digital copy can be made.
Historian Martyn Everett said: "Saffron Walden is very lucky in the nature of the archival resources that survive.
"There is some concern among historians about the transfer of the archive which stems from a number of factors.
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"The first time this project was attempted it fell apart - proper sanctions must be put in place to reclaim the archive if digitisation breaks down again."
At a meeting of Saffron Walden Town Council last Wednesday, Mr Everett told members that they were the custodians of the town's ancient documents and the public must be informed what happens to them.
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The archive, which has been collected since medieval times, was last put on public display at the Uttlesford History Fair held in Saffron Walden Town Hall in March. The archive includes paintings, maps, the 15th century book of guilds and other important documents.
Currently records are stored in the basement of the town hall as well as at Saffron Walden museum.
Mr Everett told the town council that guarantees needed to be obtained from the ERO so that any part of the archive could be returned on request and historians were given access to the records during digitisation - a project that could take 18 months.
"There is a possibility that the archive will be transferred in bulk rather than in batches," said Mr Everett. "And this will deprive many local historians of access to this resource."
Town Clerk Malcolm White said he had been in touch with the ERO regarding the concerns of the town's historian. He added that the archive would remain in the possession of the town council and could be recalled at any time.