LEIGH Town Hall's archives services are set to be transformed after National Lottery funding has been secured.

Wigan Council's archives and local studies service will receive more than £1.3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) which will be used to convert three vacant town hall shop units into exhibition space.

The proposals include the installation of a new cafe and conservation facilities to catalogue and digitise collections to make them more accessible.

Other shops will be be turned into specialist storage to protect the collection as well.

The plans follows the Believe in Leigh scheme which will see £5 million invested in the town and including £1 million for work to regenerate Bradshawgate and the outdoor market that was carried out last year.

Leigh MP Jo Platt said: “This is more fantastic news for Leigh and I am delighted Wigan Local Studies and Archives Service has been awarded this funding.

"The plans will provide an exciting and important offer, ensuring our rich heritage is even more readily accessible for residents of all ages and beyond.

“I support this project fully and look forward to watching it develop.”

The archive services, which moved to the town hall in 1974, is now at full capacity after four decades of collecting records and will be able to use the extra space to store more files.

It includes records from councils, hospitals, churches, businesses, clubs and thousands of donations of personal records from individuals and families.

Lord Smith said: “We are absolutely delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded us this funding. The archives are vital to our understanding of Wigan Borough’s past as well as bringing history alive for residents and visitors alike.

“This will enhance the cultural offer of Leigh, alongside the fantastic work already ongoing at the Turnpike Gallery, to bring more visitors to the borough in the coming years.”

It includes historical records of the borough which date back 800 years.

The shop units next to the town hall will be restored in line with the building's design and shop "windows" created to form part of an interpretative scheme.

Head of HLF North West Nathan Lee said: “We are delighted to support this project, which, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, will mean that more people will be able to get involved with, protect, and learn about the exciting heritage right on their doorstep.”

The HLF grant includes a two-year temporary exhibition programme with content shaped by community schemes and in partnership with the Museum of Wigan Life.

There will be activities and a learning programme with schools led by an education and engagement coordinator.

There will be a volunteering programme provided with roles for residents to get involved with duties such as digitising collections, public talks delivery, hosting visits, welcoming visitors and exhibition stewarding.