Plans for a new Archive to Unlock the Secrets of Market House

St Ives Town Council Joint Press Release  

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21 June 2023

Plans for a new Archive to Unlock the Secrets of Market House 

St Ives Town Council, working in close partnership with St Ives Archive are about to embark upon an exciting new heritage project to create an Archive Resource Centre in the centre of the town. The project’s aim is to renovate the first floor of Market House, bringing it back into community use for the first time in decades.  

The St Ives Archive, now celebrating its 27th year, was for many years located at the Parish Rooms. Following the sale of the Rooms five years ago, the Archive has operated from the Wesley Chapel in Carbis Bay, but has always aspired to return to a prominent location in the town so more people can access its wealth of important local material.  The organisation is operated by local volunteers and is self-supporting from its own fundraising activities. 

The Town Council is the owner of the Market House, a listed building built in 1832. The first-floor premises are an impressive heritage asset, retaining many original features of the old Guildhall where the Mayor and Corporation met to discuss the town’s affairs. Regular magistrate court hearings were also held, complete with original judge’s chair and prisoner cells, yet few people have had the opportunity to look inside. The building is in good shape but the upstairs rooms are in need of sensitive restoration.  

The ambition is to refurbish the upper rooms into a modern facility for reference, display and study with access for all. This will then be leased and operated by the Archive. The project will also involve the departure of the snooker club and the Council has considered this very carefully. But with the club’s dwindling membership, the community benefits of housing the Archive and the chance to restore the historic building, meant this difficult decision has been taken.  

The project will take some time to progress – the restoration work will require listed building consent for a new access.  The Council and the Archive will be working closely together over the coming months, to progress the scheme and develop a funding strategy to seek grant funding for the works.  

Councillor Tony Harris, Chair of the Finance and General Purposes Committee said:  

This exciting project will bring together the Archive’s local treasure trove and a building with a hidden history. Although the project is at an early stage, the Council is fully committed to working with the Archive to unlock the funds needed to restore this unique building for a very fitting use. We hope it will also ensure more local people have the chance to enjoy the history of the parish.” 

Lyn Burchess , the Archive Chair said:  

‘This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the  Archive a focus for the community it serves  and  also serve the wider visiting public. We look forward to working with the Town Council to make this exciting vision a reality.’ 

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