Plan your visit

Bristol Archives has reopened.

The searchroom is open on Tuesdays – Fridays, 9.30am – 4.30pm and the first two Saturdays of each month, 10am – 4pm.

All visits must be booked in advance. During your visit, please wear a face covering unless you are exempt. Do not visit if you feel unwell or have COVID-19 symptoms.

About Bristol Archives

We welcome anyone who wants to use our collections and ask for research advice. Our service is open to everyone, free of charge, but you must book an appointment to visit us.

Whether you are new to Bristol Archives or you have visited many times before, please take some time to read the information on this page before you visit us.


How do I book an appointment? 

Bookings can be made online through Eventbrite

We can also take booking by telephone on Tuesday – Friday. Please call 0117 922 4224 if you cannot use the online system for any reason.

During the booking process you will need to order the first two documents you wish to see. This ensures a prompt service for you. You can order further documents in consultation with searchroom staff during your session.

We will contact you on the telephone number you provide upon booking if there are any issues with the documents you have ordered in advance.

After booking, you will receive an email confirmation that you will need to show us when you arrive. You don’t need to print it – just show it to us on your mobile phone.

Can I change what documents I ordered after booking?

If you would like to change the documents you’ve ordered in advance, please email us at [email protected] no less than two days before your visit and we will try to accommodate the change. 

What if I have to cancel my appointment?

Please cancel your appointment via your Eventbrite booking as soon as possible so we can release your time slot for someone else.

What safety measures do you have in place?

We’ve implemented a number of changes to keep our visitors and staff safe: 

  • All visits must be booked in advance
  • We’re limiting the number of visitors each day
  • Floor markers and signage is in place to enable social distancing. Please help us by staying two metres apart
  • Our staff will be wearing face masks in the searchroom; we ask that our visitors do too unless they are exempt
  • There are perspex screens between staff and public areas
  • The searchroom is large and well-ventilated and tables are spaced apart
  • Rigorous cleaning during and at the end of each day, including washrooms
  • Provision of hand sanitiser in addition to sinks in the toilets for hand washing
Do I have to wear a face covering?

Yes, please wear a face covering unless you are exempt. Our staff will be wearing face masks to protect you.

What happens when I arrive?

You can arrive at any time during your session but please leave promptly at the end of the session. The Create Café remains closed and there is nowhere to purchase food on site. You may use the sofas in our foyer to eat a packed lunch.

We would like our customers to wash their hands with soap and water before entering the searchroom, not use hand sanitiser. Sanitiser can leave a sticky residue on your hands which may transfer to our precious documents and damage them. Please do not bring your own bottles of sanitiser into the searchroom. There are handwashing facilities in the toilets in our foyer.

After washing your hands, come into the searchroom, show us your booking and we will give you a table number. We allocate a table to you depending on the size/nature of the documents you have ordered. You will also be allocated one of our searchroom PCs to use if you don’t have a laptop with you.

To retrieve the documents you have ordered, please come to the production desk, standing back from the counter and we will give you your first item. As usual, you will only be able to view one item at a time. When you have finished with the item, place it on the return desk.

What can I bring with me into the searchroom and where can I leave my belongings?

There are lockers outside the entrance to the searchroom.

When you arrive, please put your belongings into a locker. Use the clear plastic bag inside the locker to take the things you need (laptop, pencils, paper, camera, wallet) into the searchroom. Then wash your hands! 

You can bring pencils, paper, and personal devices (laptop / tablet / phone / camera) and ID.

If you want to use the audio-visual media station, please bring your own headphones. Please leave all other personal items in a locker.

What facilities will be available?
  • Toilets and disabled toilets with hand washing facilities
  • Disabled parking spaces and step-free access
  • Public areas of the building, including our searchroom, are fully wheelchair accessible
  • Spacious reader tables, with dedicated spaces for maps and large documents
  • Free wifi and power for your laptop and devices
  • Public computers with free access to Ancestry and 19th Century Newspapers
  • A media computer for access to our digitised film and image collections. This will be allocated to you based on your document order.
  • Microform readers: many popular records, such as parish registers, are available on self-service microfiche/film. These will be allocated to you based on your document order.
  • A library of local history books
What if I want a copy of a document?

We can provide photocopies of documents and fiche for a charge in the searchroom.

You can request for documents to be digitised as per our usual copy order service.

We charge a photography licence fee to visitors who want to take photographs of material in our searchroom using any device. The current fees are:

  • £5.50 for a daily licence
  • £16.50 for a weekly licence
  • £100 for an annual licence

Please note that we cannot allow the use of any kind of scanning devices as these can be harmful to documents.

The charge does not apply to anyone wishing to photograph material they have deposited with us.

All visitors who take photographs need to complete a copyright declaration form, in order to comply with regulations. If you plan to publish your photographs in any form (including on social media), please contact us to ask for our permission. Reproduction fees may apply.

Payment for all services will be by contactless only.

Will I be able to access the reference library?

Yes, you may browse the reference library.

Will Bristol and Avon Family History Society be available to help me with my research?

The Bristol and Avon Family History Society (BAFHS) will be onsite on Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons in our education room. They will also be here on Saturday mornings when we are open. See opening times.

For further information about their opening times and how to book an appointment with BAFHS, please visit the Bristol and Avon Family History Society website.

I have material I want to deposit with Bristol Archives. Can I bring it with me on my visit to the searchroom?

Please do not bring anything you want to deposit in the Archives with you to your searchroom visit.

If you have something you want to deposit, please email [email protected] and we will get in touch to make the necessary arrangements. We will not accept any materials you bring with you to the searchroom.