Brighton History Centre saved from closure


At a meeting of the Cabinet of Brighton and Hove City Council this afternoon, the Leader, Councillor Mary Mears, announced that the decision to close the Brighton History Centre and move resources to the Jubilee Library had been reversed.

Successful campaign
Here at My Brighton and Hove we would like to thank everyone who wrote letters, sent emails, kept up the pressure on the council, and the matter highlighted in the press and on the internet. A well loved, very valuable and unique resource has been saved.

The press release on the council website states:

Leading councillors have rejected proposals to move the Brighton History Centre and reduce opening hours at the city’s natural history museum. The moves were included among £660,000 of savings for next year from the council’s culture department. About £100,000 would have been saved by the changes.

However council leader Mary Mears has now ordered that money is diverted from any discretionary spending, such as advertising budgets, to keep the facilities operating as they are. Under the original proposals, main resources at the History Centre, in the museum building in Church Street, would have moved to Jubilee Library.  They would then shift to Falmer when a new historical resources centre called The Keep opens there.

Councillor Mears said:  “Since this was proposed the level of affection for these services has become very obvious, so I’ve taken the decision to redirect some of our discretionary spending towards keeping these centres open. We are faced with a tough financial situation so we’ve got to ensure that we are using public money wisely. I envisage keeping the History Centre where it is until The Keep opens.”

Before the successful campaign

When my husband Spooks, who is a member of the MyBH editorial team, our Chief Photographer Tony Mould and I, visited the Brighton History Centre recently, it was to meet with Paul Jordan, the Senior History Centre Officer, to talk about doing a website feature on the BHC. Little did we know at the time what a devastating blow regarding this wonderful resource was about to be delivered.

Tim Carder offers financial support
As most of you will know by now, Brighton and Hove City Council has put forward proposals to shut Brighton History Centre as part of a bid to save almost £8 million from its overall budget in the next year. Unsurprisingly there has been a ground swell of protests from all quarters. Tim Carder, the author of ‘The Encyclopaedia of Brighton’, known to all My Brighton and Hove folks as the first point of reference for all things Brightonian, has led the protests in the press. He has even offered to donate his royalties from the New Encyclopaedia of Brighton which is published next year, to a fund to keep the BHC open.

Register your support
Since the news about the proposed closure was made public, My Brighton and Hove folks have been emailing and messaging about what should be done to make the council aware of the depth of feeling regarding the situation. If you look on the Message Board, you can follow the discussion (you may need to check back on previous pages). In the meantime you can email Councillor David Smith who is the council Cabinet Member for Culture, Recreation and Tourism, and let him know your feelings.   For those of you not familiar with the Brighton History Centre, the wonderful resources it contains and the services offered look here.

Sign the epetition
An epetition to keep the Brighton History Centre has been set up on the Brighton and Hove City Council website. You will need to register as a user of the site and then will be allowed to digitally ‘sign’ the petition. Please take the time to do this, and please also circulate this link to anyone you think might also be interested in supporting the campaign to keep the Brighton History Centre open. We really need a big response to this epetition so that the BHCC are left in no doubt as to public opinion. You can sign the epetition here.

Comments about this page

  • Well done! I am glad someone is doing something about keeping this fine place open.

    By Eddie Mccabe (20/12/2009)
  • I do not live in Brighton, but I have in the past used Brighton History Centre and found it to be of inestimable value to both family and local historians. Perhaps others may consider that the records now available on-line somehow makes the the need to visit such a repository unnecessary, but I can vouch first-hand for the unique wealth and diversity of records held within the centre. On-line records may give an overview of local history, but it requires access to the likes of directories, maps, guides, newspapers, books and magazines to give a comprehensive insight into the subject. It has proved to be instrumental, time and time again, for those seeking to build a picture of life in Brighton of days gone by. Authors, visitors from far afield and locals alike have utilised these precious holdings. It will be a sad day if proposals to diminish the access to these records, in any way, are implemented. I fully support the retention of both the centre and its staff.

    By Andy Grant (20/12/2009)
  • What a waste it would be, having refurbished the old reference library so tastefully, centralising all those resources and developing an experienced staff, to throw it all away after a mere seven years. Brighton and Hove trades on its culture and heritage. This is the repository for information about that heritage and is used by researchers (like me) to write about the city’s history, which encourages cultural tourism, bringing money into the city as well as building civic pride. I’m involved in a project for next year that has applied for lottery funding with a specific aim of attracting visitors; research for the project has relied (and will rely for some weeks to come) on the BHC. If the council had any regard for the cornerstone of the city’s reputation and attraction, it would not even consider saving a few quid by closing the BHC.

    By David Fisher (20/12/2009)
  • I will certainly miss it, if they do decide to move. I believe not all researchers know that it exists. I have always found the staff very helpful. A lottery funding seems the right way to go for the people of Brighton.

    By Maralyn Eden (20/12/2009)
  • I am sure everyone who has ever used the Brighton History Centre will agree that it is a wonderful local resource, and as such should be protected rather than closed. Whilst I personally have no objection to it being augmented, improved and even resited into a more accessible, user friendly location, I strongly object to any idea of it being mothballed, even for the shortest of periods. Like many others with stong Brighton ties, I have learnt from bitter exprience, that once a valued service is removed, the experienced and knowledgable staff so important to its success will have been lost, resources rationalised or mislaid, and eventually any proposed reopening elsewhere subjected to an infinite number of postponements. Agreeing to any temporary closure is the first step on the ladder to losing it altogether.

    By Roy Grant (20/12/2009)
  • As a regular visitor to MBH I feel obliged to add an expression of general support to the campaign to retain this facility. However, I no longer live in Brighton and have never visited the centre so I cannot vouch for its worth from first hand experience. What does seem fair and reasonable is that every effort should be made to preserve the resource in a way that Brighton residents may have easy access to it. Certainly there should be no closure until a satisfactory alternative arrangement is in place. Promises of future facilities are hardly reliable: one only has to recall the cast iron guarantees offered by Brighton Council when the old Sports Stadium was closed that the future of ice skating in Brighton was assured – an assurance that turned out to be worthless. Do the right thing – get the new facility in place first!

    By David Ward (20/12/2009)
  • For me the crucial part about the Brighton History Centre is the extremely helpful staff. Particularly when I started out finding out about Local History, they guided me in a way that, I now see, was indispensible. Knowledgable, enthusasitic people who have all the resources at hand make the Brighton History Centre irreplaceable.

    By Andrew (20/12/2009)
  • I can’t believe the council want to close the Brighton History Centre down. It’s only been open a few years in its new location! I love spending time in there and won’t be able to if they move it to Falmer. We have a museum which has a couple of rooms dedicated to Brighton’s history which is brilliant, whereas the rest of the museum has very little to do with our town or our country come to that. It just seems like the Council is no longer interested in our own history anymore.

    By Carol Homewood (20/12/2009)
  • Come on you councillors. How much more of Brighton are you going to deplete? Brighton history should stay in Brighton where it belongs. Every town has its history and that is where it stays. Since doing my family history l have learnt how hard it was for them to survive, most of them came to Brighton for the promise of a new life, don’t take that away from them.

    By Sheila Jones (20/12/2009)
  • I think the Brighton History Centre is a fantastic place, and although I don’t use it every day, I always had the feeling that it was there when I needed it, in the centre of Brighton, so if I wanted to check something out I could pop in and look it up and combine it with a shopping trip. Once I get in there I can never bear to leave as I always find more information I didn’t know they had so come on Brighton Council please don’t break up such a fabulous resource with such knowledgeable people running it.

    By Elaine O'Neill (21/12/2009)
  • Do not close this valuable resource, if it goes we will never see it’s like in the city again, does money matter that much when it comes to the city’s history and people’s access to it. Please keep history in the city.

    By John Desborough (21/12/2009)
  • I grew up in Brighton but now live in Scotland. I’ve used the telephone service on several occasions. Both my parents were adopted and I was able to finally confirm the identity of my maternal grandmother through a phone enquiry to the BHC for a directory look-up. I’m also planning to visit the Brighton History Centre when I’m down south for a few days in January. My time in Brighton is always brief and subject to conflicting demands. If the resource was moved out to Falmer, as I believe is suggested, I doubt if I would have time to get out there at all. Brighton is not just a thriving, trendy modern city – to many of us it is a beloved town with our personal and family histories wrapped up in it. We want to explore and research these histories and the Brighton History Centre is too valuable a resource to be thrown away.

    By Honor (21/12/2009)
  • Dave Ward mentioned the Council’s broken promise over building a bigger and better Ice rink to replace the one they demolished. My memory is a little longer for I also remember them promising the Black Rock Swimming Pool would be reinstated once the Marina was finished. If their overall aim is as they say, “to cut expenditure,” I get the gut feeling that when the time comes, the funding won’t be there to honour this promise either. But then it will be too late!

    By Roy Grant (21/12/2009)
  • Without an understanding of history, what foundation do we have for the future? The Brighton History Centre provides a valuable service, let them carry on, please.

    By Anne (21/12/2009)
  • I should just like to add my support to try to keep The BHC open and in its current location. As a photographer for MyB&H, the service has been of inestimable value to me in researching a very large variety of projects, and were it to be moved to Falmer I should no longer be able to access its wealth of information.

    By Tony Mould (22/12/2009)
  • I totally support the call to save the BHC. It is clearly a most important resource for the MyBH group and also the many local and family historians who are its members. Saving money? Please don’t roll out that chestnut! Some things cannot be looked at in purely monetary terms – the BHC is one of those.

    By Caroline James (22/12/2009)
  • To anyone who believes Brighton history is something which can be dismissed as not relevant, please take the opportunity to join organised walks through the streets of the City with Geoff Mead, Trevor Povey, Sarah Tobias,and the many other excellent local historians who bring to life our rich heritage. As a regular visitor to The History Centre, I am deeply concerned at the proposals announced; if they are carried through it would be a disaster

    By Ian Farrell (22/12/2009)
  • As the Convenor for Short Courses in Local History and Landscape Studies,CCE,University of Sussex I would like to add to this debate. Students use this resource extensively as do I for a range of course from the level 1 10/20 week courses through their certificate, degree and post graduate subjects. I have used it extensively in writing my PhD on Brighton suburban history. For a city that considers itself cultural this proposal is scandalous.

    By Geoffrey Mead (22/12/2009)
  • I am an Old Brightonian 1940-49 and still live close enough to use the facilities of the BHC from time to time, which is extremely useful in my family history research. It would of course be a great loss to all who use its facilities. I very occasionally use the ESRO but it is so cramped and not at all user friendly, perhaps the two should combine. Different councils I know. Anyway I ask the council to think again and again.

    By David Wickham (22/12/2009)
  • Since I first posted about the closure of the History Centre on the Rootschat website, prior to the messages appearing on this website, I have e-mailed the Argus (which possibly prompted their article to be written) and Councillor David Smith and I have tried to start an e-petition (which unfortunately needs to be “vetted” by the council before they will post it), but I feel that more needs to be done. Has anyone any other suggestions of which course of action we can take?

    By Glen Robins (22/12/2009)
  • Another course of action, try the local TV and radio stations. I’m sure it would be an interest,and would reach many more people.

    By Maralyn Eden (23/12/2009)
  • I have set up an EPETITION that may be up and running already, or at least from 27 December until 1 February. I am then invited to present the petition at the council’s cabinet meeting on 11 February. I have also contacted the Sussex News address on the BBC website but so far with no response (but I shall now tell them about the epetition). Does Glen’s comment mean that David Smith is on our side or just that he knows about epetitions?

    By David Fisher (23/12/2009)
  • I come from Australia with ancestors in Brighton and am very grateful that Brighton has such a facility as the History Centre. Many people have been able to help me in my research using the resources that the Centre holds. When travelling to the UK, I visited the Centre and the staff were very helpful and had a unique knowledge of Brighton. It would be a great loss if this invaluable resource were to close.

    By Adele Maloney (23/12/2009)
  • Hello again Thought I’d just share the email I had back from Councillor David Smith in reply to my email about the closure of the History Centre.

    “Thank you for your email concerning the Brighton History Centre. Our proposal to move this service from its existing location at the Brighton Museum to the Jubilee Library will, I believe, have a number of benefits. The accessibility will be improved with an increase in opening hours for customers from 35 hours a week in Brighton History Centre to 54 hours a week in Jubilee Library. The majority of use of the Brighton History Centre is for use of online resources or microfilm and fiche resources (family history researchers), and these can be provided in Jubilee Library, together with some of the book stock. The service as it is currently run is only used by a limited group of people and those figures are in decline. The History centre is unfortunately not attracting new users or younger users and the number of visits has dropped by nearly 14,000 in last five years. We are keen to improve services and particularly to improve access. It is also important to note that we do have additional good local history resources in all of our libraries and also in Brighton and Hove Museums and Galleries. Once again thank you for your enquiry into the Brighton History Centre.”

    Looks to me like Councillor Smith has made his decision and any presentation will just be a rubber-stamping exercise. Yes, re-reading my last comment does make it sound like it was “Councillor Smith and I”. A missed comma can have such an effect on the sentence, can’t it. I should have said that I emailed the Argus and emailed David Smith, and I tried to start an epetition. Councillor Smith would probably be more likely to block any attempt to keep the Centre open.

    By Glen Robins (23/12/2009)
  • The Philistinism of this administration has no bounds.

    By Roy Pennington (26/12/2009)
  • So if I read Councilor Smith’s reply correctly, the initial aim is to relocate the Brighton Family History Centre, and its considerable resources to the Jubilee Library. I presume that includes shelves full of reference books and street directories, cabinets with microfilms and the microfiche, readers for these, computers withinternet access, collections of studies, writings, pamphlets, historical illustrations & photographs of the town, and secure vaults to house the numerous volumes of treasured books too valuable to put out on open display. Just one question and observation. Where is all this space coming from? As the Jubilee Library has never been designed for this, could the plan be to just squeeze in what they can and and at the same time evict or downsize other library services that only a short while ago the Council were heralding as magnificent new additions to Brighton’s local facilities?

    By Roy Grant (27/12/2009)
  • Yes Roy, the rubber walls that were secretly installed in the Jubilee library will really come into their own when this innovative move is completed. I cannot believe that any of the more interesting volumes will make it through such a move. The way I imagine it is that any books which were not on the shelves at head height, or the three shelves below that, will no longer be available, the only microfilms will be the parish records, and the maps will disappear completely, never more to be seen. The Brighton History Centre will become the Brighton History Corner, next to Kids Corner, just behind the DVDs! Its a sad day when this is called progress!

    By Glen Robins (27/12/2009)
  • Just a couple of observations here. David Smith talks of relocating the History Centre to the Jubilee Library – better facilities, open for longer hours, etc. And what about the experienced staff of the History Centre? Are they to be relocated to the Jubilee Library too? No, they’ll be made redundant and all their considerable and irreplacable experience gone. Mr Smith also talks about the History Centre not attracting younger people. Has he looked at the demographics for this country? The trend is not in favour of the younger but the older.

    By Ben Ammar (29/12/2009)
  • Councillor David Smith is apparently the cabinet member for Culture in Brighton and Hove. So if even he is keen to close down the centre it does not bode well and I urge all My B&H readers to sign up on the e-petition (link in Jennifer’s article above these comments). In his letter to the Argus Cllr Smith implies all the resources of the centre will continue to be available at the Jubilee Library. I think perhaps he can have little idea about the extent of those resources. Nor, clearly, does he realise that the staff with knowledge and skill to help researchers are a fundamental part of those resources and these will clearly not be available since they are to be sacked. Here is his letter to the Argus: “Readers should be clear that all the research resources of the Brighton History Centre are 100 per cent secure rather than being “scrapped” as your headline suggested. Facilities in future will be much better than they are today. However, as money is so short, it has been proposed to provide services from the Jubilee Library for two years until the new records office, The Keep, is built at Falmer. I am aware how valuable the History Centre’s resources are and they will be continuously available. One advantage is that Jubilee Library is open seven days a week. This move will save over £60,000 of taxpayers’ money with no permanent damage to services. Under those circumstances any temporary inconvenience is worth bearing. Councillor David Smith, cabinet member for culture, Brighton and Hove City Council ” Even he must know there is not a cat in hell’s chance of The Keep being ready in 2 years time when Lottery Funding has been refused, no plans yet exist and planning permission has yet to be applied for. If Brighton can’t find £62,000 for the centre how will it find the £5.2million it apparently promised to contribute to the Keep? After telling us the move was an improvement he nows seems to accept it will be an “inconveneience”. It may seem like a temporary inconvenience to Cllr Smith but the fact is that many come to family research late in life to or as the result of illness and premature retirement. For many its about resolving things that have puzzled or bothered them in their earlier life. For some the 2, 3 or 10 years that it will take to establish a permanent new home for these resources may well be longer than they have to live. They need and are entitled to continued access now.

    By Bob (30/12/2009)
  • I was going to start up a Facebook group, but ther already is one!

    By Alan Pipes (31/12/2009)
  • As a regular visitor to the History Centre (and someone who has made it his business to enquire further about this issue) there are several points I would like to challenge here. I understand that the contents of the Centre belong to the library and most of them will be rehoused there, to be looked after by experienced staff.There they will probably stay: the Library is keen to keep a good collection of resources in the city centre. Talk of materials being “mothballed” or “skipped” is complete nonsense.I have every faith that space will be found there for popular local and family history stock at Jubilee Library. The 2.5 staff at the Centre will not be “sacked” and will be offered alternative employment within libraries, in line with Council policy.(Those elsewhere in the Museum whose jobs are being deleted will not be so lucky) Savings must be made somewhere. The alternative is to close several much-loved and well-used community libraries with a loss of 4-6 staff. As Cllr. Smith points out, factors such as visitor numbers would have been taken into consideration and the Centre would have closed anyway when the Keep is built. Forget HLF funding. The Museum has already benefited from this when it was refurbished. I’ve been told that money from B&H Council towards the Keep is to continue with the arrangement it has with East Sussex County Council to provide an archive service for its records,currently stored in two off-site repositories. The Keep would also house Museum stores and will the Council will be paying for this. So – nothing to do with libraries and library budgets. In the meantime, the library like other Council departments must tighten its belt and this appears to be the solution. Without any knowledge of alternative arrangements, how can customers object in this way and allow misinformation, supposition and hearsay allow them to jump to all sorts of conclusions?

    By Tom (31/12/2009)
  • Tom, you state that it is “complete nonsense” to suggest that materials will be mothballed (no-one has mentioned “skipping” any of the material) but Councillor Smith himself says that “some of the book stock” will be transferred. This means that other stock will not. What will happen to this other stock, including documents, maps, brochures, leaflets and every other valuable resource? I can’t think of a more accurate term than the one you gave. It will be “mothballed”. You also seem to think that knowledge of looking after books equates to in-depth knowledge of local history. Yes, I agree that staff at the Jubilee Library will have a good deal of skill in actually handling books, but what do visitors (I prefer not to use the term “customers”. It sounds far too Council-ese to me) do when they come across a problem and need that little helping hand that the 2.5 staff have always been ready, willing and able to offer? I don’t think the Jubilee staff would spend half an hour rummaging around in the shelves behind the scenes for a box of documents, which is precisely the reason why these 2.5 people (and remember that they are actual people, not just statistics) are so invaluable at the BHC. It is nice that the Council has won one person over with its bland promises to maintain service, but others have had far too much experience of them to believe a single word that gets issued from Town Hall. Yes, I agree that without knowledge of the alternative arrangements conclusions can be jumped at, but the fact that the Council have a long history of broken promises and missed targets and deadlines means that it would be preferable to not allow them carte blanche to remove the Centre. Also, you seem to have a good deal of inside information. Can you tell me where are the “several much-loved and well-used community libraries” which would be closed as an alternative to the BHC? Sorry to be so negative about your comment but it does strike me as having the air of a Council issued missive.

    By Glen Robins (31/12/2009)
  • Could you advise us of your source for this information, please, Tom? What, precisely, do you define as “experienced’ staff”? What, too, do you consider to be “popular local and family history stock”? And are you sure that the alternative employment offered to the staff will be within libraries – or simply within the council? Lastly, you say that the alternative to the proposed closure of the History Centre would be “to close several much-loved and well-used community libraries with a loss of 4-6 staff.” Is this alternative documented – ie is it in the public domain?

    By Ninka Willcock (31/12/2009)
  • As a relatively recent Brighton resident and taxpayer I am appalled by this absurd decision. One of the key attractions of brighton is its local history. Once this brilliant resource is closed and its excellent staff dispersed it will be lost for years, maybe a generation. ‘The Keep’ is a fantasy in the current climate.

    By Andrew Mckinnon (01/01/2010)
  • I am taking five precious minutes out of my study time (MA Histories and Cultures UoB) to add a voice of encouragement to the staff at the centre and censure to the local council. No, do not close or move or disturb or change it except in the ways that the very experienced and helpful staff suggest or need. They know what is required to bring local history to the public and their sure touch and engaging manner would be lost in the event of dispersal. As far as items being skipped is concerned, suggest the experience of Dr Frank Gray at Screen Archive South East shows that moving collections are dangerous times for Brighton ephemera. But keep chins up – do recall the Price Waterhouse report in 1985 which recommended changes at Royal Pavilion – this came to nothing most especially due to support from staff and friends. And yes, I wouldn’t have known anything about that report had I not been in Local History this week researching an essay topic. Now I must sign the epetition and circulate the news to my fellow students. Last word to council – cut your own expenses claims before you cut my resources.

    By Jacqueline Hope (01/01/2010)
  • I’m a Brightonian born and bred and was sorry to hear about the BHC closure. I spent many a happy hour at the Local Studies Library in Church Street with its helpful staff. I wish them all the best and hope, as Tom suggests, that they will be given other library jobs. Glen mentions that he will miss the level of service he is used to at the BHC where staff spend half an hour looking for books for him. Perhaps this is why it is closing – they can’t be very busy can they? I am no longer living in Sussex and will be watching this message board with great interest.Lets hope the librarians at the Brighton Library will carry on looking after those precious books.

    By Dickie Webb (01/01/2010)
  • I am writing in support for keeping this important facility open. As a Brighton and Hove council tax payer, I feel that we should have a view and indeed a vote on whether this centre should remain open.

    By Mari Booker (01/01/2010)
  • So the Brighton History Centre is to close. David Smith blames shortage of money. How much money will he be saving by his actions? The top floor of this building will still be heated as the lower floors are to remain open, no saving there then. The research centre is moved to the Jubilee building, this surely means that the staff from the History Centre would be re deployed to deal with the extra workload, or do they intend to exploit the current staff or worse? We pay council tax and income tax to fund the likes of Museums, Libraries and History Centres that are used by the people. It is our money that is also available for all politicians expenses and I for one object to what they claim for. Is it too much to ask that the employers get a few perks too? Mary Mears wrote an article on the Councils plans for Libraries, her final sentence read thus “They are a real success story in Brighton and Hove and I intend to build upon that”. Fine words from a fine politician, or yet another politician’s fabrication?

    By Carol Marten (01/01/2010)
  • I hope that all the many people who have made comments here deploring the closure of the Brighton History Centre, will also sign the e-petition on the Council’s website, but even more importantly that they will write to Cllr Smith (cabinet member for culture), their local councillor and the Argus objecting to this proposal. This matter will be voted on later this week (beginning 4 January) so this request is urgent. Unfortunately Cllr Smith and other councillors are most unlikely to look at this website so comments submitted on it will not have any influence on the decision. The danger of opportunities like this to make comments is that people feel that they have done their bit to persuade councillors to reverse the recommendation to close the History Centre, whereas in fact they have had no influence at all. The most effective way to influence a decision is to write to Cllr Smith and your local councillor. We need to swamp them with letters and emails. Please act NOW.

    By Selma Montford (03/01/2010)
  • Thank you Selma for your contribution. You are right in that we need to swamp the council with letters and emails and also keep up the pressure in the press. The epetition is growing but needs more exposure so I will renew my plea for visitors to circulate the link, which is at the top of this page, to anyone they think can help. Just one more thing Selma, councillors, including Mr Smith, do see our pages as we circulate them – so no excuses there.

    By Jennifer Drury: Website Editor (03/01/2010)
  • TS Eliot said ‘ A people without history Is not reedeemed from time. Nor is history a pattern Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails On a winters afternoon,in a secluded chapel History is now and England’ We have a great civic history. We must not lose it.

    By Gerry McCrudden (04/01/2010)
  • I have added this to me facebook..”epetition to keep the Brighton History Centre open has been set up on the Brighton and Hove City Council website.”

    By Maralyn Eden (04/01/2010)
  • To close this excellent facility is very short sighted, the campaign to keep it open should be widely publicised. A central location is highly desirable. The existing History Centre needs better signposting and promoting in the city.

    By Bryan M (04/01/2010)
  • I – as a Brighton resident – have used the History Centre twice this year, and think it is a really helpful, valuable and interesting resource. There have always been a good number of people using its services and reference shelves whenever I have been in there – so I am surprised there is discussion about closure, and feel rather cynical about what evidence/justification is behind this move to close it. How solid are the figures behind the arguments for its closure? My look at maps and reference books was not ‘recorded use’ when I went in there. Hopefully the ground swell of support on these pages with pursuade BHCC that the History Centre is not a ‘soft target’.

    By Simon Tobitt (05/01/2010)
  • The Brighton History Centre is an essential resource to anyone researching anything about Brighton, be that local or family history. It will be devastating if it closes because the specialist staff will not be there, and because access to material will be so much the poorer that many useful projects simply will not be possible. If we want to save it, it is absolutely vital that anyone who lives, works or studies in Brighton & Hove write to or email their ward councillors on the matter. Councillors really will take much more notice of personal correspondence than an ePetition, useful though that is. If you don’t know who your councillors are then look at the council’s website and click “Council & Democracy” on LHS. Letters to The Argus are essential, too. This is the high profile issue regarding cuts at the moment. Let’s keep it in the face of the council. The final decision is on 25th February, so we need to keep it going and in the public eye for a long time yet.

    By Tim Carder (06/01/2010)
  • i look forward to peering through ” the rubber walls that were secretly installed in the Jubilee library” (referred to by By Glen Robins (27/12/2009), irrespective of the proposed titanic deck chair moves by Cllr Smith. In the meantime, I recall my niece used the centre when it was located in the music library across the road. Our future families will not forgive us for proposed move.

    By Roy Pennington (07/01/2010)
  • I started research on my family in the 80s at the Old Reference Library in Church Street, although at the time the facilities seemeed adequate for me, the staff of course did a number of things not just Family or Local History. When I heard that a specialist family history library centre was to be opened, it seemed far seeing. Although I now live in Worthing and am not able to use it as oftern as I would like, it is first class resource not just for Brighton Sussex, but for all people with a Brighton background wherever they might live, and I know that people from all over the world use it. There must be other options for saving £8 Million, I imagine much closer to home in the Town Hall. I am also sure that people might be prepared to pay a small fee on a temporary basis. To throw away a first class resource for what will be a in historical terms, a temporary financial crisis would be criminal. Please Brighton and Hove Council don’t do it.

    By Philip Wood (07/01/2010)
  • It seems to be an appallingly short-sighted and retrograde step to close the Brighton History Centre, which is of interest and use to many more people than live in the city. As a descendant of the Scutt family who built Brunswick Town, I would beg the Council to reconsider this decision and find some other way of making necessary savings.

    By Susan C. Djabri (07/01/2010)
  • Councillor David Smith comments that ‘number of visits has dropped by nearly 14,000 in last five years’. That is not surprising given the use of the Internet. However, how many Internet hits, telephone calls, email messages etc. have used the facility over the last five years? And who is to say that a reduction of 14,000 is good or bad? What is this drop measured against? If there is a drop in visits then I would have thought the council would have done a survey, found out the reason and taken corrective action. So please let us know the total use of the Centre over the last five years by all methods of visit i.e. web, ‘phone, email, in person etc. then we can all judge whether or not a drop of 14,000 is significant or not.

    By David Banks (07/01/2010)
  • The city of Brighton and Hove has a fabulous history – colourful, exciting, and interesting. To close the one excellent resource that helps develop and nurture an interest in this history, and thus does much to expand the city’s cultural life in general, would be an astonishingly retrograde step. Perhaps if money’s tight next year, the council will consider closing the museum altogether . . . and then the libraries? No, councillors stop. Stop thinking backwards, you’re in charge of a city, a place with history, and proud of it.

    By Paul K Lyons (08/01/2010)
  • The council have taken the decision to close the History Centre in order to save £62,000, as part of a plan to save £8 million from its budget next year. The Centre plays an important part in developing knowledge and understanding of our city. The Council describe the Centre on its website as ‘the place to come to research any aspect of the city’s heritage. It houses all sorts of reference material used by a wide variety of people. Among its material it has street directories, all the census material for Brighton and Hove, electoral rolls, newspapers, much of this used by people researching their family tree, an increasingly popular hobby. The staff of the Centre are friendly and knowledgeable and will be difficult to replace in any future institution. Under the proposals all four staff are to lose their jobs. As well as the loss of dedicated staff, the plans envisage the research material going temporarily to the Jubilee Library prior to their being removed to the Keep when built. Current proposals are for the Local History stock to be housed in the current Learning Centre on the top floor with the family history material being housed in the current study area on the main upper floor. A number of concerns have been expressed about these proposals. At the very meeting that the Council took the decision to close the History Centre, the Council Leader set as a priority for the forthcoming year, a commitment to ‘’protect and respect’’ the cultural heritage of Brighton and Hove, a city ‘’steeped in history’’. Closing a centre which is conveniently located in the centre of the city does not seem like a commitment to culture and history. Will the Jubilee Library have the space for all the materials and how accessible will they be? For how long will they be unavailable during the move? How many materials will be lost during the move? Current plans are for the materials to be split once they arrive. Is this the beginning of a downgrading of the provision of local history materials. How well trained will staff be? The Council claim that the materials will be in the Jubilee Library for two years. It is highly unlikely that the Keep will go through the planning process and be built in two years. Indeed has the Keep been designed? Has planning permission been applied for? The former library was supposedly to be in Vantage Point for two years, yet it was there for five years! Councillor Smith, Cabinet Member for Culture, Recreation, Tourism and Sport is optimistic at least if he thinks the Keep will be ready for use in two years. These things have a habit of slipping. How many years was Brighton and Hove Albion supposed to be at Withdean? If you are concerned at the loss of this important facility and one well used by Brighton residents past and present , please write to Councillor David Smith and/or your local councillor. You can also sign the e petition on the Council’s website:

    By Peter Crowhurst (10/01/2010)
  • Since the Albion’s new community stadium at Falmer has lost the opportunity to house some of the new City College needs, due to a lack of government grant, then the space may still be available to house the History Centre there. There will be ample parking during the week.

    By John Green (10/01/2010)
  • The Labour councillors on the city council oppose the closure of the History Centre by the Conservative cabinet and have identified funds that can be used to keep it open.

    By Councillor Warren Morgan (12/01/2010)
  • I deplore the proposed closure of the History Centre within the Museum, presumably finance led. It certainly makes no sense otherwise. This facility is a centre of excellence within the city, used by many residents and visitors. This is a city and we should be proud of this resource. Moving it to the Jubilee Library makes sense only if there is sufficient space for the whole storage, accessible there. Moving it to windy Falmer, a long bus ride outside the city centre is a nonsense. We really look to councillors for better decision making that this, and so shall they be judged.

    By Maureen B (12/01/2010)
  • Surely we could find a better way to save money – given how useless the council has been in the recent snowy weather, why not get rid of the local councillors instead of the local History Centre?

    By Robb Johnson (13/01/2010)
  • I have just proposed an idea to our trust (NHS-BSUH) in working with History centre to gain access to material for our patient memory box project- a project to stimulate those in hospital suffering with memory loss, dementia, or simply to aid recouperation and recovery with the use of familiar photographs, memorabilia. Hopefully this support from the PCT will show that the History Centre is an essential community resource and should be supported rather than disbanded to save the stated £62,000 per year.

    By Lee Hamilton (16/01/2010)
  • Lee Hamilton has a good idea. I know from experience that dementia patients are helped by the knowledge we acquire from the Brighton History Centre. My father-in-law is suffering from dementia and because of the knowledge I have gained about his early days I can relate to him and feel it is a comfort to him. Another point I would like to raise, could we not sign a sheet on EVERY visit to the BHC as we are requested to do at the East Sussex Records Office? That way we would get an accurate amount of users and not an estimated amount. As it stands, we only give a name to book fiche / film and computers. I go to look at electorial rolls, street directories and the like and am never asked to record my visit, unless there is a sensor on the door that I am not aware of. The History Centre has had a reprieve but let’s not get too excited, how long will it be before another bright spark thinks it a good idea to axe it? We need to show just how much we value this gem.

    By Carol Marten (18/01/2010)

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