Bank of England Archive

The Bank of England Archive contains over 94,000 records relating to all aspects of the Bank’s history and work, dating from when the Bank was founded in 1694 to the present day.

Overview

The Bank of England Archive supports the Bank’s work today, and is open for research by appointment to visitors from all over the world.

The records in the Archive cover everything from minutes of our governing committees such as the Court of Directors to modern files on our policymaking and domestic and international work, as well as our relationship with other central banks and governments. We have a large collection of staff records and customer account and stock ledgers, which can be used to research genealogy.

The Archive includes architectural plans and drawings relating to the history of the Bank of England site, correspondence from our regional branches on developments in local trade and industry and records from our solicitors. The Archive also holds the Bank’s photograph collection, which documents the history of the building, staff and key events.

How to contact us

The easiest way to contact the Bank of England Archive is to email archive@bankofengland.co.uk. Alternatively you can call 020 3461 3388 or write to: Bank of England Archive, Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AH.

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Using the Archive 

Anyone can visit the Bank of England Archive by appointment, as long as they are doing genuine research.

We recommend that you consult our online catalogue before you visit and let us know what records you would like to see. The catalogue contains descriptions of records, rather than the records themselves.

Online catalogue

If you cannot find what you are looking for, you are welcome to contact us with a brief summary of your research and we will be happy to advise you. In the case of genealogical enquiries, we can usually check a small amount of salary ledgers or customer account or stock indexes.

Making an appointment

The Archive is open by appointment only. We are open Monday to Thursday between April and October. We are open Tuesday to Thursday between November and March. Our opening hours are 10am to 4.30pm.

Please note you will not be able to visit us between 4 and 15 November 2019. We will be carrying out our annual stocktake. But you can still contact us by email or phone during that time.

Appointments must be booked at least one working day ahead, via email or phone. We advise you to book well in advance and before making travel arrangements, as demand is high throughout the year and we cannot guarantee space will be available at short notice.

Each individual visitor requires an appointment, and appointments are for the named person only. If you are planning to visit with a colleague, friend or relative, each person will require a separate appointment. If you are unable to visit in person, you are welcome to send someone on your behalf.

ID requirements

Every visitor must provide, before their first visit, two separate forms of proof of identity, one showing a photograph (for example a passport, national identity card or driving licence) the other showing your address (for example a utility bill or bank statement). 

During your visit

On arrival, researchers must complete a user registration form agreeing to the Bank’s conditions of access.

Wi-Fi is available in the building.

The search room is open at lunchtime, though no files can be ordered between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. There is a seating area available, where visitors can eat their lunch. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own reusable bottles and cups, which they can refill at our water dispenser.
 

Self-service photography

We are unable to provide copies of documents, but researchers are welcome to use their own cameras or other devices to make copies for private or non-commercial research. Please bring your own camera as we are unable to lend you one. Stands for cameras are available. Cameras may only be used in designated areas, and after you have completed the appropriate copyright agreement.
 
Please make sure that you are happy with the quality of your images before you leave the search room, as we are unable to retake photographs on your behalf.

Access to records

As a result of changes in legislation, since 2013 it has been the Bank’s policy to make most records over 20 years old available to the public for research. The change from the current 30 year closure period to 20 will be achieved through an accelerated release of material over a ten-year period, between 2013 and 2022.
 
It is however necessary to keep some records closed for longer, for reasons of confidentiality and sensitivity. For more information see our access to records statement.

 

PDFAccess to records

As part of the annual sensitivity review we routinely release several hundred files, after the appropriate closure period has expired. A large proportion of the files, totalling over 64,000, are available to the public for research. To see descriptions of these, please use our Archive catalogue.
 

Online catalogue

Information about living individuals

Some of the more modern records held in the Bank Archive include information about living individuals. This information was gathered by the Bank through the course of its business, and is contained within records of permanent historic value and has, therefore, been transferred to the Bank Archive.

Information on living individuals will be handled according to the safeguards in current data protection legislation for archiving in the public interest. This means that the Bank applies the same standards to handling this information, except that some of the rights of those living individuals will have a limited application (see: ‘Your rights’ within the Bank of England Archive Privacy Notice above).

The Bank of England Archive permits third party researchers to digitise some of our records as part of their research. All researchers sign a declaration stating that:

  • When consulting Bank of England records of less than 84 years old, they will not record, copy, abstract, note or put in machine readable form any personal information contained within.  
  • They will not pass personal information to any third parties.
  • They agree to write and seek the permission of the Bank of England Archive before they use personal information contained in Bank of England records.       
  • They will not produce research, or any other form of communication, that identifies a living individual whose personal information is contained within Bank of England records unless express permission from the Bank of England has been obtained.
  • Their research cannot be used by themselves, or others, in such a way as to cause damage or distress to an individual identified from Bank of England records. 
  • They agree to notify the Bank of England should they believe any breach of personal information may have occurred during the course of their research.
  • These provisions also apply to any assistants that work with them.

How to get to the Bank of England Archive

The Archive is located inside the Bank of England in London. Visitors should use the main Bank entrance on Threadneedle Street, EC2R 8AH.

Visiting us

  • How we use your information

    Information we collect

    By the Bank of England Archive user registration form, and our related contact with you, the Bank of England (‘we’ or the ‘Bank’) collects personal data about you. This includes your contact details and a copy of your photo ID and a proof of address document.

    Why we need your personal data

    We collect your personal data as part of our running and management of the Archive (including managing access to materials and further queries), and as part of our overall security procedures to protect the safety and security of the Bank’s assets, people and visitors. This is necessary in the public interest, and in the exercise of the official authority of the Bank. If you do not provide the information, then you will not be able to visit the Archive.

    What we do with your personal data

    Your contact details and purpose of your visit is kept in our Archive management systems and is retained for up to 10 years, including to manage return visits, queries and claims. Your photo ID and proof of address document is kept in our visitor management systems and is retained for up to 2 years as part of our security procedures. 

    Your rights

    You have a number of rights under data protection laws.  For example, you have the right to ask us for a copy of the personal data the Bank holds about you.  This is known as a ‘Subject Access Request’. You can ask us to change how we process or deal with your personal data, and you may also have the right in some circumstances to have your personal data amended or deleted. 

    To contact us about those rights, including making a request for the personal data we hold about you or to make a complaint, please see our Privacy page or write to us at: 

    The Privacy Team
    Bank of England
    Threadneedle Street
    London, EC2R 8AH

    If you are not satisfied with our response or believe we are processing your personal data not in accordance with the law you can complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

    More information

    The Bank’s Data Protection Officer can be contacted via the details above and you can also find out more about how the Bank deals with your personal data on our Privacy page.

Digitised documents

A number of Archive documents have been digitised.

This page was last updated 30 September 2019
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