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85,000 shelves - a new home for the BBC archive

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Chris Kane Chris Kane | 14:30 UK time, Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The new BBC Archive facility at Perivale was officially opened by BBC Director-General Mark Thompson on Thursday - the culmination of a remarkable project which now means the BBC’s 90-year-old archive is housed in a fit for purpose building, preserving it for years to come.

The move to Perivale was completed earlier this year, following a seven-month period which saw 4-million items moved to the new facility. During this period the archive team had to stay open for business. Thankfully this difficult transfer period went to plan, and without a single hitch relating to the movement of broadcast critical material.

It's a remarkable achievement and Workplace's James O'Brien had a challenging role as Project Sponsor. The complicated project required not only lots of construction work but the installation of six modern film vaults over two levels providing nearly 85,000 shelves - if they were placed end to end they would stretch for 61 miles. The facility also has climate controls to ensure the optimum temperature can be achieved to keep archive materials well protected. A video clip, with more detail on the challenging project, is available for those who can access the BBC's internal website Gateway - under Technology, Distribution & Archive.

The move has been welcomed by the BBC archive team who are now settling into their new home. Windmill Road, their old base, had been in the BBC's property portfolio since the early 1960s, but the building was no longer fit for purpose.

The team are now safe in the knowledge that the new space is specifically designed to keep each format in exactly the right conditions.

May they be very happy in their new home.

The new archive facility at Perivale


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