ARCHIVISTS and contractors have been recovering hundreds of Cheshire archives damaged as a result of Sunday’s heavy thunderstorm.

The downpour flooded a basement strongroom under Chester Town Hall where archives were stored.

A foot of water soaked more than 100 boxes stored on the bottom shelves. On Tuesday these were being sent to Harwell Document Restoration Services in Oxfordshire, to be freeze-dried by specialists.

Conservators at the County Record Office were drying some of the less-affected documents, books and parchments by creating a wind tunnel at their Duke Street headquarters.

Dating back to the 17th century, the collections – stored at the Town Hall in more than 400 boxes – relate mainly to the Chester Diocese, University of Chester and ICI.

Flooding was discovered on Monday morning during a routine inspection and while the water had drained away by then, archivists were able to calculate that it must have been at least a foot deep.

The heavy rain had burst a sealed inspection cover on a drain, which was unable to cope with the rainfall volume.

It is unlikely the restored records will be returned to that basement strongroom – once used to store civic regalia – and alternative accommodation is being sought.

The record office – a former warehouse – is no longer considered fit for purpose by the national archives, and the residue of 710 cubic metres of Cheshire history is also stored at the Winsford Salt Mine, a former prison chapel and cells at Chester Castle.