Idea Store - Local History & Archives

Local History & Archives

Update on the temporary closure of Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives Reading Room


The Reading Room at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives remains closed to the public after a partial collapse of its ornate plaster ceiling. Repair works have begun and are scheduled to conclude at the end of July.

In the meantime we are pleased to announce that we now have access to the majority of our collections and are extending the appointment-only sessions to view material in our ground floor Education Room to three days per week, including one evening slot, and some additional Saturdays.

You will be able to book a 3 hour appointment to view items in our ground floor Education Room in which you will be able to view pre-booked items from any of our collections except maps which, unfortunately, remain inaccessible. You must provide references of the material you wish to view when booking your appointment. There will be a limit to the quantity of material that can be consulted in each session - please discuss this with staff when booking your appointment. Bookings can be taken up until midday the previous day.

We are taking bookings for sessions as follows:

Tuesdays and Wednesdays: 10:00am - 1:00pm and 1:30pm - 4:30pm
Thursdays: 1:30pm - 4:30pm and 5:00pm - 7:30pm

In addition we are taking appointments for the following Saturdays, 10:00am - 1:00pm only:

6 August
3 September
17 September

To book your appointment please contact us (email or call 020 7364 1290) stating your preferred time and date, and the references of material you would like to view.

When booking an appointment readers can book up to six individual items from across the following categories:

•    Books

•    Pamphlets (individual, or all at a given classmark)

•    Archive file or item

•    Photographs (individual, or all at a given classmark or street name)

•    Folder of press cuttings (classmark)

•    Bound newspapers/periodicals (by title and year: list of titles here)

•    Periodicals on microfilm (by title and date-range: list of titles here)

Please refer to the online catalogue ( to obtain references, and the subject guide or classification scheme for a list of all available classmarks.

Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives
277 Bancroft Road, London E1 4DQ

Phone: 020 7364 1290


All users are required to register with the service on their first visit. Please fill in the form below and bring it along with a form of ID providing proof of your permanent address.

Registration form [PDF]

Opening Times

Monday Closed
Tuesday 10am - 5pm
Wednesday 9am - 5pm
Thursday 9am - 8pm
Friday Closed
Saturday* 9am - 5pm





*First and Third Saturday of the month only


Disabled access

A ramp and lift have recently been installed and the building is now fully accessible to wheelchair users.

Room Hire

We have a Ground Floor Education Room. For further information visit the Local History Library Room Hire web page.


Local History Library


The archive collections include the records of Tower Hamlets Council and its predecessor governance bodies (dating from the 16th century) - for example minutes, rate books and correspondence files. Other notable collections include more than 8000 title deeds recording the transfer of properties in the borough, and documents relating to many local institutions and prominent individuals.
Search the catalogue


We cannot, however, undertake detailed genealogical research on behalf of enquirers. Details of professional record agents can be obtained by contacting the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives.