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Visitor Information

29 November 2021 UPDATE: Our lift continues to be out of action. There is therefore no step-free access to our first floor Reading Room. Please accept our apologies. We will update this page when the lift is back in use.

Christmas closure: we will be closed to the public on Thursday 23 December 2021. Our building remains closed over Christmas. We will re-open on Tuesday 4 January 2022.

Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives is open at the following times for visitors to our Reading Room (note our Christmas closure):

Tuesday and Wednesday 10.30am – 4.00pm

Thursday 10.30am – 7.00pm

Saturdays as follows
•    1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month, 10.00am – 5.00pm

Saturday opening dates in December 2021 and early 2022 are

4 December
18 December

1 January - CLOSED Bank Holiday
15 January

5 February
19 February

5 March
19 March

Our 19th century stone frontage is being repaired with scaffolding on our building until the end of March 2022. We will remain open during this time.

The Vanishing East End: Documentary photography from the 70s and 80s photography exhibition is open:

Monday - Friday
10.00am - 5.00pm

From November 2021 the exhibition times are extended as follows

•    1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month, 10.00am – 5.00pm
•    Thursday evening opening until 7.00pm 

Visit our what's on page for events. Keep updated on changes to our services, subscribe to our newsletter.


Accessing collections in our Reading Room

You are welcome to drop-in without an appointment but if our Reading Room tables are in use you will be asked to queue or return later.

If you are travelling to us and need to ensure you will be able to access collections on your planned visit, please email us in advance to reserve a table. Request a morning (10.30am-1pm) and/or afternoon (1pm-4pm) appointment during the times above, and we will book you in. Please allow at least two working days’ notice.

There will be a reduced Reading Room capacity with some tables for walk-ins and other tables for booked appointments.


What we need from you

You will not need to order documents in advance, however we encourage you to plan your research visit. 

  • Explore our research guides and collections catalogue to get a head start. These will help you identify items that you want to look at. If you’re not sure what to choose, email us the details of your query in good time. We will help you identify which material will be most useful. You will need to provide reference numbers for the items you would like to see when you get here.
  • For further information and to reserve a table, email Our inbox is monitored Monday-Friday.
  • Our telephone 020 7364 1290 will be answered during our opening hours.
  • If you have not already registered as a user, we will ask you to complete our registration form. Bring it to your appointment along with your ID (proof of permanent address).
  • Do not visit us if you have COVID-19 symptoms or live with someone who does. Please consult Government guidance.


How we are keeping you safe

The safety of our visitors and staff is paramount. Following the lift of COVID-19 restrictions on 19 July 2021 across England, we will be observing new government guidelines.

  • There will be a reduced Reading Room capacity with some tables for walk-ins and other tables for booked appointments.
  • Tables are positioned at least 2m from the surrounding tables. The helpdesk is fitted with a Perspex screen.
  • Readers and staff are encouraged to wear a face covering and observe social distancing when moving around the building and browsing shelves.
  • Signage will guide you through the building and encourage social distancing. 
  • Hand sanitiser will be available.
  • Toilet facilities on ground floor will be available.
  • Track and Trace: we will continue to collect relevant personal contact data on arrival from all visitors until arrangements change. This will be shared with the relevant authorities as required. Please see Government regulations.

How can I reach Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives?

Local underground and National Rail stations (external link) are open and bus services are running.

map of the area (external link)

By public transport

Nearest tube: Stepney Green (5-minute walk)

Bus Routes: 25 and 205 along Mile End Road

By car

There are a limited number of pay and display parking spaces in the surrounding roads as well as parking spaces for Tower Hamlets resident's permit holders.

Disabled access
Our building has a ramp and lift and is accessible to wheelchair users.

Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives
277 Bancroft Road, London E1 4DQ
Phone: 020 7364 1290


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accredited archive service logoTower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives was awarded Accreditation in March 2018.