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Local History - Visitor Information

Reading Room access to the archives and library

Visit us to research the history of Tower Hamlets. Most books and documents are available to consult as hardcopy originals. Many items have no digital access copy. 

You are welcome to drop in and order items during Reading Room opening hours. We are open during lunchtimes - busier times are 12-2pm. We look forward to seeing you.

Planning your first visit to our Reading Room? Please complete our online registration form

Reading Room opening hours

  • Tuesday and Wednesday 10am – 4.30pm
  • Thursday 10am – 7pm
  • 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month, 10am – 5pm

Saturday opening dates April-December 2024:

6 April

20 April

4 May

18 May

1 June

15 June

6 July

20 July

3 August

17 August

7 September

21 September

5 October

19 October

2 November

16 November

7 December

21 December

Standard opening hours
Tuesday10am – 4.30pm
Wednesday10am – 4.30pm
Thursday10am – 7pm
Saturday10am – 5pm (1st and 3rd Saturday of the month)

Onsite exhibition opening times

  • Check our Current Exhibition page and What's On page for events
  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10am – 5pm. On Monday and Friday lunchtimes, the exhibition will be closed for lunch between 1 - 2pm
  • Thursday 10am – 7pm
  • 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month, 10am – 5pm

Keep updated on changes to our services, subscribe to our newsletter.

Accessing collections in our Reading Room

You can order items described on our online catalogue during your visit. No appointment or pre-order is necessary.

If you are travelling to us as a larger group contact us in advance. Staff will be happy to discuss your visit and reserve table space.

What we need from you

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. We will help you identify which material will be most useful. Provide reference numbers for the items you would like to see when you get here.
  • Email us your query. Our inbox is monitored Monday-Friday.
  • Phone 020 7364 1290 - answered during our Reading Room opening times. The phone is not answered after 15 minutes before the Reading Room closes.
  • New user? Please complete our online registration form. Bring your proof of permanent address on your visit.

Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives was awarded Accreditation in March 2018. Accreditation is the UK standard for archive services.

Copying and reproduction services

Explore our services for details on supply and use of images from the collections including fees.


We stock a wide range of excellent books, attractive maps and postcards for sale. You can buy these onsite during your visit or order them via post.

How to find us

277 Bancroft RoadGreater LondonLondonE1 4DQ


Local underground and National Rail stations are open and bus services are running.

5 minutes walk from Stepney Green tube station and 10 minutes walk from Mile End tube station.

Bus Routes: 25 and 205 along Mile End Road

There are limited pay and display parking spaces in 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.