Archive photograph of male and female cyclists in Hyde Park with spectators lining the route.
Hyde Park, London. Cycling as a spectator sport. Photographed between 1870 and 1900 by York & Son. © Historic England View image CC97/01240
Hyde Park, London. Cycling as a spectator sport. Photographed between 1870 and 1900 by York & Son. © Historic England View image CC97/01240

Visit the Archive and Library

We are open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. There is no charge to visit, we just ask that you book in advance.

Bookable slots are available:

  • 9:30am-12:30pm
  • 1:30pm-4:30pm

The Public Search Room is closed between 12:30pm and 1:30pm.

What can I see?

Most archive items can be made available to view, including some of our most popular collections:

  • aerial photographs
  • buildings files
  • estate sale particulars

A limit will be placed on the volume of archive retrieved for each visit.

  • Aerial photographs: up to 200 vertical photographs of a single site, or up to 100 photographs of multiple sites
  • Building files: 15 items

Other collections may have limits placed on them and some items are too fragile to handle. We will tell you when you make a booking if we’re unable to produce all the items requested.

You are welcome to use our Library (books and journals) when you visit.

Library only: If you only wish to use the Library resources, please email [email protected] to book your visit.

Public Search Room

We are happy for you to take the following to your table in the PSR and Library:

✔ pencil and paper/notebook

✔ laptop

✔ hand-held digital camera

✔ valuables

✔ a small bag (smaller than A4)

✔ mobile phone (please switch to silent and take calls in the foyer)

Please do not take:

🚫 food or drink (including sweets/gum)

🚫 large bags (A4 size or larger) coats, umbrellas etc

🚫 scanners

🚫 camera tripods/stands

🚫 anything that may mark material (pens, felt tips, newspapers)

Lockers are available to safely store your belongings.

We will provide you with gloves (latex-free) to handle archive items.

Please read the detailed guidance about handling that is displayed in the Public Search Room.

Our photocopier will be available again from 1 June 2023.

You may also use a hand-held camera to take copies of items for personal reference. From 1 June 2023 we will be re-introducing a fee for camera use and you will be asked to sign to agree to our terms and conditions.

You may not reproduce or share any copies you make.

Payment will be taken by card only.

If you would like to use one of our stereoscopes, please ask when making your booking.

Handheld magnifying glasses are available.


You must book your visit and order archive items at least 7 working days* in advance of a visit.

*Working days are Monday – Friday excluding public holidays and our closure period over the Christmas and New Year break.

How do I book?

Bookings to view archive items should be made on Eventbrite.

Book your Archive visit now

Before booking, please be sure that you know which items you would like to see. For aerial photographs you will need to ask for a search to be carried out in advance. If you are unsure whether you have the right information, please contact [email protected] first.

Please use the 'other information' box to let us know if you have any access requirements.

When you make a booking we will send you further information about how to get here and what to expect when you visit.

Terms of booking

The booking is usually for the named person only. Please tell us in advance if you wish to bring someone with you.

Please be considerate of others when you book. If you are considering booking more than four slots, please contact us before booking. 

What can I expect when I visit? 

When you arrive in Reception one of our team will collect you and take you to the Public Search Room and Library.


We aim to make our facilities as accessible as possible for all our users.

There is limited free car parking for blue badge holders on-site if you would like to book a car parking space please indicate this when booking.

The spaces are at the rear of our building. There is a path to the main entrance which is around 50 metres from the parking bays.

Our main entrance has permanent ramped access. Please use the intercom to contact Reception for access.

The Public Search Room and Library are on the ground floor and have touchpad operated doors.

There is an accessible toilet on the ground floor.

We have a hearing loop in Reception and at our Enquiry Desk and a portable hearing loop for use elsewhere in the building.

We welcome carers or personal assistants to visitors.

Assistance dogs are welcome.

Large print versions of information sheets are available on request.

If you have any specific access requirements, please contact us before your visit.

Taking a break

There is a vending machine for cold drinks and snacks in our small dining area and you are welcome to use the seats here or in our foyer to eat and drink.

There are lots of places to eat and drink in the Designer Outlet Village which is a 5-minute walk away – just ask our team for directions.

Our other services

Find out more about our search, copying and licensing services.

Archive Customer Services

  • Address

    The Engine House,
    Fire Fly Avenue,
    SN2 2EH


  • Address

    The Engine House,
    Fire Fly Avenue,
    SN2 2EH