Plan your visit

Bristol Archives reopens from Tuesday 8 September.

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. During the booking process you will need to order the documents you wish to see. 

If 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 come.

Have a question about your visit? See our frequently asked questions below and find out more about our reopening.

What’s new?

We’ve made a few changes to the way our staff and our visitors access and use our searchroom.

Please do not visit if you feel unwell or have COVID-19 symptoms. 

The searchroom is open between 9.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 4.30pm on Tuesdays and Fridays. We hope to increase our opening days in the future. 

Face coverings are required for the protection of yourself and others, unless you are exempt.

Floor markers and signage is in place to enable social distancing. Please help us by staying two metres apart. 

We have installed hand sanitiser stations in addition to the handwashing facilities in our toilets. We have introduced extra cleaning measures for your protection.

For more information about your visit, please see the FAQs below.

FAQs

How do I book an appointment? 

Bookings can only be made online. Please select the day and time you wish to visit from the date picker.

The searchroom is open between 9.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 4.30pm on Tuesdays and Fridays. It will not be open between 12.30pm – 1.30pm. We hope to increase the number of days we’re open in the future.

Appointment times are available two weeks in advance. This helps us to manage cancellations and respond to any changes in Government regulations.

During the booking process you will need to order the documents you wish to see. This ensures a prompt service for you and means that documents are handled safely. Visitors are limited to six documents per visit due to reduced levels of staff in the searchroom. Documents are quarantined for 72 hours after use.

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

In line with government guidance, the personal details you provide upon booking may be used to support the NHS Test and Trace process to control the spread of coronavirus. This data will be held by us for 21 days and then deleted.

After booking, you will receive an email confirmation (from Bristol Museums) 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.

Unfortunately we cannot take telephone bookings for Bristol Archives at the moment.

Can I change what documents I ordered after booking?

If you would like to change the documents you’ve ordered, please email us at [email protected] no less than two days before your visit and we will try to accommodate the change. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to change your order.

What if I have to cancel my appointment?

Please email us at [email protected] 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.
  • Visitors are required to wear face coverings unless they are exempt.
  • There are perspex screens between staff and public areas
  • 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
  • Documents, cushions and weights are quarantined for 72 hours after use
Do I have to wear a face covering?

Yes. In line with government guidance, visitors are required to wear a face covering while you are inside the building. We cannot provide face coverings to visitors.

You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. To find out about exemptions, including details of downloadable exemption cards, please visit the Government website (section 3).   

Do I need to bring ID?

Yes, we need to see some ID to help maintain our archive’s security.

What happens when I arrive?

Please arrive no more than five minutes before your appointment. The Create Café is closed and there is nowhere in the building for you to wait, or places to eat a packed lunch. We cannot accommodate groups of people gathering in our foyer.

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 by the exhibition in our foyer. 

After washing your hands, come into the searchroom, show us your booking and ID 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?

Photocopies of documents and prints from fiche will still be available but these will be emailed to you rather than a physical copy being produced. This will cost £1 per copy.

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.

If you remove a book from the shelf you cannot return it, so please take it back to your table and leave it there. Please choose carefully – we need to quarantine books after use, so other people using the searchroom that day won’t be able to use any of the books that you’ve picked up.

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

The Bristol and Avon Family History Society (BAFHS) room is currently closed to the public.

BAFHS will not be on site to help with family history research. Please try contacting them for assistance.

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.