Step Back in Time at Your Local Heritage Service

Your local archives hold unique and vital records that underpin education, heritage, business and identity. Visiting an archive can take you on an adventure – you may end up discovering much more than you imagined.

Archives are full of fascinating content to read, touch and explore. You’ll discover the stories, the facts, the places and the people that are at the heart of our community. No matter what you’re looking for, there will be something to inspire you.

Without archives, we wouldn’t know if this summer is the ‘hottest on record’, we wouldn’t have such historically rich novels and films, we wouldn’t know about the lives of our significant artists, and we wouldn’t be able to revisit controversial and compelling legal cases from years gone by.

Using the Heritage Service

Staff at our locations will be there to help with any questions and get you started with your research. There are guidelines for using any Heritage material below, these are to make sure that original and unique material is kept safe for future generations. You can take notes on a laptop or tablet but please be aware that we have limited facilities for charging these so it is best to have a full battery. We also have paper and pencils available for taking notes.

Getting Started

Research guides for our collections are available below, and staff will help to point you in the right direction. Historical research can sometimes be very time-consuming and it is not always possible to find the exact information you want – records were not always kept or created as we might like, so be prepared to spend a bit of time on your research. It is also useful to bring any notes or information you already have so you can check the details.

About Our Historical Archives

We hold records back to 1489, a wide range of books and articles on London borough’s history and hundreds of old newspapers, maps and census returns.

Records include:

  • Local organisations, such as political parties, debating societies and sports clubs
  • Local businesses, including material relating to Morgan Crucible, the builders T H Adamson and local shops
  • Local people, including family correspondence covering everyday life from the 19th century onwards, letters home from all over the world and from the trenches in the First World War, love letters, business letters and diaries of a range of local people
  • Civil parishes, which were predecessors of the borough councils, including minutes and accounts from the 16th century onwards, records of the workhouses before 1834 and rate books
  • School records for Church of England schools in the borough, including admission registers and log books
  • Building plans, including drainage applications which had to be submitted when new properties were built.


Archives catalogue


Image collection


Searchroom Guidelines

Please follow these guidelines to ensure the preservation of fragile and unique documents and the safety of your belongings:

  • Take care when handling archives – ask for advice
  • Secure bags and coats in a locker
  • Use pencils and laptops only when making notes – no pens
  • Do not bring food or drink into the searchroom – no eating or drinking is allowed
  • Ask staff before photographing or photocopying any material. Staff will advise on the purchase of photograph permits or the suitability of photocopying