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Home > Community and living > Archives and records service > Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service

Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service


We are the County Record Office for Bedfordshire, based in Riverside Building|, Borough Hall, Bedford, where visitors are welcome to come in and use the archives for research.

We ask that you book an appointment before visiting. Please contact us by telephone (01234 228833) or by email (|) saying when you would like to visit and an idea of what material you would like to see.  We hope to be able to accommodate your visit but may have to advise you that we may be better able to meet your needs on another day.  Whilst we don't usually request ID from our visitors, please be aware that ID may be required to consult certain records due to Data Protection laws.

Our opening hours are  9.15 - 7 Monday and 9 - 5 Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday (We are closed on all Bank Holidays). Staff are on hand to help and advise you.

If you want to prepare for your visit you can search over 85% of our catalogues| online. If you are unable to visit us in person we offer an enquiry & research service|.



Please check our Events| page for details of new talks and exhibitions!


 Opening the Archives to Bedfordshire Schools

Heritage Lottery Fund Logo 

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has been granted £82,400 by The Heritage Lottery Fund by employ a Learning Officer for three years to work with Bedfordshire schools. The officer will work in Luton for the academic year 2013-14, in Bedford Borough in 2014-15 and in Central Bedfordshire in 2015-16. The Learning Officer will work with primary and secondary schools of all types – LEA controlled, academies, free schools and private schools. If you would like more information about this exciting project please contact us|.


Follow us on Twitter!

We can now be followed on!/BedsArchives|  for regular updates of new catalogues, web pages and events. 


Objectives of the Archive Service: 

To collect, preserve and make available the documentary heritage of the historic county of Bedfordshire and its people.

What are the ‘archives’ and ‘records’ we hold and who uses them?

 ‘Archives’ are written documents which were once working ‘records’ and have come to be preserved, often after selection (‘appraisal’ as we call it), for research and/or historical purposes. They represent the recorded memory of the organisation or individual which created them but also have a wider significance in terms of the information they contain for researchers.

The Archives held by the Service span over 800 years  and come from official and private sources. They include public records, local government archives and other official papers, church records, and archives from local families, businesses, societies and individuals. We also have extensive collections of maps, pictures and newspapers. To find out more about the variety of records held here browse our Guides to Collections| , Newsletter Articles| and Summary List of our Archive Holdings.|

The Archives are available to all. Anyone who wants to see them or obtain information may visit us. Researchers can use the material directly  as visitors on-site to the searchroom| (‘the research room‘) where you can see, handle and use the original records and where trained staff will help you to find what you want and give advice on your research. People who are unable to visit can make contact |by telephone, letter, fax and e-mail and use our enquiry and research service| . Increasingly, people are able to consult our archive catalogues |on the internet. Many others benefit indirectly from the products of direct research by the use of text and images in publications, marketing and advertising, media research and reporting.

Bedfordshire Archives & Records Service actively encourages access to the records in its care. However, sometimes records are embargoed (closed) – or may not otherwise be available - for example they may contain confidential or sensitive information, and access is restricted under the Data Protection rules.

There is no admission charge for visitors, and you do not have to pay to see the archives and records we hold. You will have to pay for any copying|, and for research work |which is carried out for you by staff. See our Scale of Charges| for full details.

We are committed to exploiting the potential of information technology and the internet, particularly in eventually placing all our archive catalogues on-line| so they can be consulted and index searched by the widest possible range of users. We also have a popular online database of 19th Century prisoners| in Bedford gaol.

We have been working to bring the history of Bedfordshire's towns, villages & hamlets online in our Community Archives| section.

A records management service| was established in 1989 to serve the internal record keeping needs of Bedfordshire County Council, and since April 2009 has served the three unitary councils. Council records are a vital source for areas such as education, social conditions, house histories through the planning process and the fire service.  Records with such historic value are transferred to the archives for permanent preservation.

Since 1st April 2009 the Archive Service has been jointly funded by the three councils: Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton Borough.

Archive Service Annual Report

View our 2014 - 2015 Annual Report here|