Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service
Celebrating our Centenary Year!
The Bedfordshire Record Office, as it was formerly known, was established in 1913 by Dr George Herbert Fowler and was the first County record office in England. We hold the archives for the entire County dating from 1166 to the present day.
Congratulations to the team from Bedford Times & Citizen who won first place in our successful Centenary Quiz Night held last Thursday at the Forest Centre, Marston. Twenty three teams from around the County battled it out over eight rounds in a challenging Bedfordshire themed quiz devised by Laura Johnson, our customer service officer. Many thanks to all who attended. Check our talks and exhibitions page for details of more Centenary events..
We are based in the Riverside Building at Borough Hall, Bedford, where visitors are welcome to come in and use the archives for research without appointment at any time during our opening hours. Staff are on hand to help and advise you.
Archive Service Searchroom Opening Hours:
Monday: 9 -7
Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday: 9 - 5.
We are closed on all Bank Holidays.
If you want to prepare for your visit you can search over 75% of our catalogues online. If you can't visit and would like us to do some research for you details of our enquiry services and charges are here.
We can now be followed on http://twitter.com/#!/BedsArchives for regular updates of new catalogues, web pages and events.
Records of Bedford Gaol
This chap is one of the most notorious criminals detained in Bedford Gaol in the 19th century, Levi Welch from Luton. Only a fraction of the prisoners had their photo taken - those deemed habitual or frequent offenders - but 41,500 descriptive records of the prisoners in Bedford gaol in the 19th Century are available on our online database.
Paths to Crime
The exciting Paths to Crime two year project to catalogue and repackage the Bedfordshire Quarter Sessions Rolls from 1831-1900 is drawing to a close. The Paths to Crime blog tracks our progress!
To tie in with our centenary exhibition at Wardown Park Museum this month we take a look at the man who built the house in which the museum is situated - Frank Chapman Scargill.
Objectives of the Archive Service:
To collect and preserve, as part of a national network of archive repositories, in secure and environmentally controlled conditions, a comprehensive and evolving archive illustrating all aspects of Bedfordshire life and history including contemporary records of archival value
To encourage public and community access to the records by processing archives and producing a range of finding aids, both in hard copy and on the world wide web; providing a public Searchroom service; offering a ‘one stop shop’ service point for all enquiries about the County’s land, people and their
activities as the sole repository for Bedfordshire’s written heritage
To promote use of the archives for business (legal and administrative), educational, cultural and recreational purposes
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 enqury & 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 & Luton 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. It is hoped that all our catalogues will be on line by 2015. 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. The service has become a national leader in detailed appraisal, listing and indexing of Council archives; these are a vital 20th Century source for areas such as education, social conditions, house histories, and local history through the planning process and the Fire Service. Records with such historical 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 2011 - 2012 Annual Report here (pdf)