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The South East Cheshire Studies Unit is a local history resource unit based originally at Manchester Metropolitan University.
The archive has now been transferred to Crewe Library. ( N.B. The library number cannot be used as a contact. )
The leader is Margaret Spate and she can be contacted at crewefhsc.org.uk
The facility is open Mondays and Tuesdays 10am to 4pm plus 2 Saturdays per month. 
Details should be checked on the fhsc website www.fhsc.org.uk .

The Studies Unit collects, stores and researches historical material about the local area. It has small archives of documents, photographs and tape recordings.
It has a substantial quantity of nineteenth century census data, much of which is now on a computer database. These resources are useful to family historians, those researching local history and for teaching within the university.

As the Unit is Alsager oriented much of its work has been concentrated here but whenever possible this is extended to surrounding towns and villages. For example, the census database for Church Lawton has almost been completed with the help of its Heritage Society.


The census is a valuable historical source which began in 1801. It was undertaken every tenth year and attempted to record every member of the population. The documents are only available for public inspection after 100 years.

For a number of years the Studies Unit has been constructing a census database for south -east Cheshire. Our records begin with the 1851 census, a more detailed and therefore a more useful source of information than those from previous years. We hold a comprehensive collection of photocopies of the census enumerators' books for the second half of the last century covering townships in this area including Alsager, Sandbach, Rode Heath, Church Lawton and Haslington. A major data entry programme is in operation to transfer this material to a computerised database for rapid and effective analysis.

Unlike many such projects which select samples our database includes every individual record. All the information goes in plus some coding to enable rapid extraction of categorical data when required. Work is labour-intensive, the research assistant is only part-time and voluntary help is intermittent, so it has taken a long time.

Datasets are now complete for Alsager, Barthomley and Church Lawton for the 1851, 1861, 1871 and 1881 censuses and progress is being made for the 1891. Other towns and villages are being worked on at various stages.


Documentary archive

The unit collects a variety of documentary sources such as theses, deeds, personal memorabilia and ephemera. Donated material is very welcome. Copies can be made where necessary so that the original can be returned to the donor.

Photographic Archive

A photographic archive has been collected with the generous help of local residents and others whose families had connections with the area. Pictures were unearthed as far away as Canada.

Many of the photographs have been exhibited and used in publications. A booklet of pictures of old Alsager is available from SECSU.

Oral History Archive

A number of tape recordings have been collected which provide a valuable resource for history within living memory. Some of this material has been transcribed and indexed for easy access to the data. Material has been collected for Alsager, Barthomley and Buglawton.


Alsager has an active History Research Group which works closely with the South East Cheshire Studies Unit. Members of the group include retired business people and teachers, professional researchers and academics. They are currently working on a definitive history of Alsager. This will be published in time for the millennium celebrations.

We collect documents, photographs, ephemera etc. If you have anything you wish to contribute please do let us know. We shall be most glad to hear from you.

 Last Update: 11 Dec 09

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