Greenwich Heritage Centre: Trust left frustrated as council delays archive move

Greenwich Heritage Centre
The Greenwich Heritage Centre closed in July with less than three weeks’ notice

A Greenwich Council delay has meant the borough’s archive will not now open in its temporary home in Charlton until March, the charity that runs the archive has said.

Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust was thrown out of its home in the Royal Arsenal in July, when the council took back the Greenwich Heritage Centre for use in its £31m Woolwich Creative District project.

The trust had hoped to reopen in a temporary home at Anchorage Point, an industrial site on the Charlton riverside, this month. But the council, which owns the archive and is in charge of the move, has now delayed the opening until March.

Coming after the short-notice closure of the heritage centre, the ongoing fiasco has will mean researchers, developers and others have been without easy access to the archive for eight months. Senior figures at the trust, who have had to take the flak for the council’s actions, have not been able to hide their frustration.

The trust’s chair, former council leader Len Duvall – who is also the London Assembly member for Greenwch & Lewisham, said in a statement: “I understand and share the disappointment that will be felt by this delay particularly by our archive users. The Trustees are particularly concerned that we are able to meet our responsibility to provide access to the museum collection and archives without further delay.”

Anchorage Point
The archive is now due to move to Anchorage Point in Charlton in March

Its chief executive, Tracy Stringfellow, said: “This has been a challenging period for the trust regarding the home of the museum collection and archives which, as an important link to the borough’s past is a huge asset for our communities.

“The team are keen to resume their work and understand the further frustration that will now be felt, particularly by users of the archive. With this in mind we will be providing an interim access solution at Charlton House from the middle of January on which more detail will follow in the New Year.”

Earlier this year, Greenwich Council assistant director Katrina Delaney and cabinet member Miranda Williams apologised for the bungled closure of the heritage centre, which shut its doors with than three weeks’ notice, leaving Greenwich the only one of London’s 33 local council areas without access to its archive.

The council plans to move the archive back to the Royal Arsenal in 2028/29. At a planning meeting in October Delaney said the new centre would be “for the entire community and not one or two smaller groups”, claiming that figures showed archive users came from “a very small number of postcodes”.

Greenwich Council has not responded to a request for comment.

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