South West Wales

Historical items 'being destroyed' by mould in Carmarthen

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Media captionDr John Davies said the situation is serious

Thousands of important historical documents are being destroyed by mould because they are being kept in poor conditions, a historian has said.

Rebecca riots records and letters from Queen Victoria are among the documents being stored by Carmarthenshire council at Bro Myrddin Park, Carmarthen.

The council said a new archive consortium could be set up in the area.

Dr John Davies, former county archivist, said the council had ignored the need for specialist storage.

"I argued forcibly for many years that temperature and moisture controls were essential, but nothing was done," he added.

Bro Myrddin Park holds almost 20,000 boxes of documents and manuscripts and the council faces a bill of about £600,000 to preserve and restore them.

A meeting was held on Wednesday between Carmarthenshire council officials and historians to discuss ways of saving the documents, some of which date back to the 13th century.

The possibility of a new archive consortium being set up in west Wales was discussed - most likely a link up in Carmarthenshire between the council and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Executive member for regeneration and leisure, Meryl Gravell, said the council had faced difficulties in finding the investment needed to retain a local archive service.

Image copyright National Library of Wales

She added: "Despite historical difficulties in resourcing investment into the service, the authority has now identified significant funding to remove, clean and re-house the archive collections to an agreed timetable."

Some of the collection has been cleaned and moved to the Glamorgan archives in Cardiff, she added.

Dr Davies, who was county archivist until his retirement 18 months ago, said: "The seriousness of the situation has been highlighted by letters obtained from the authorities by Dr David Davies, historian and author, using the formal Freedom of Information demands which can't be ignored by official bodies.

"He had written 70,000 words on the Stepney family for a book marking the restoration of their Georgian home, Llanelly house, but his work came to a halt because the archives were closed because of the mould.

"When I inquired I found out about this long-running problem in the strong rooms. Original records are now said by experts to be crumbling."

Image copyright National Library of Wales