Bank of England Archive

The Bank of England Archive contains over 96,000 records relating to all aspects of the Bank’s history and work.


The Bank of England Archive supports the Bank’s work today, and is open for research by appointment to visitors from all over the world.

The Bank of England was founded in 1694, although records relating to the site of Threadneedle Street and the surrounding area date from as early as 1516. The records in the Archive cover everything from minutes of our governing committees such as the Court of Directors to modern files on our policymaking and domestic and international work, as well as our relationship with other central banks and governments. We have a large collection of staff records and customer account and stock ledgers, which can be used to research genealogy.

The Archive includes architectural plans and drawings relating to the history of the Bank of England site, correspondence from our regional branches on developments in local trade and industry and records from our solicitors. The Archive also holds the Bank’s photograph collection, which documents the history of the building, staff and key events.

How to contact us

The easiest way to contact the Bank of England Archive is to email Alternatively you can call 020 3461 3388 or write to: Bank of England Archive, Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AH.

Using the Archive  

Anyone can visit the Bank of England Archive by appointment, as long as they are doing genuine research.

Our catalogue is available online for users to consult. The catalogue contains descriptions of records, rather than the records themselves.

Online catalogue

If you cannot find what you are looking for, you are welcome to contact us with a brief summary of your research and we will be happy to advise you. In the case of genealogical enquiries, we can usually check a small amount of salary ledgers or customer account or stock indexes.

Making an appointment and ordering material

The Archive is open by appointment only. Our current opening hours are Monday to Wednesday, 10am to 4pm. 

Please note, the archive searchroom will be closed for a stock check from 18 to 27 November and 23 December to 1 January 2025.

We recommend that you search our online catalogue and send us a list of items you would like to request ahead of your visit. There is a daily maximum of 15 items per researcher. If you pre-order fewer than 15 items, you can still request additional items on the day, up to a maximum of 15 per visit.

Appointments must be booked at least one working day ahead, via email or phone. We advise you to book well in advance and before making travel arrangements, as demand is high throughout the year and we cannot guarantee space will be available at short notice.

Each individual visitor requires an appointment, and appointments are for the named person only. If you are planning to visit with a colleague, friend or relative, each person will require a separate appointment. If you are unable to visit in person, you are welcome to send someone on your behalf. 

Appointments are in high demand, so it is important that you notify us as soon as possible if you are unable to attend, so the space can be offered to another researcher. Please do not miss your appointment without letting us know.

ID requirements

Every visitor must provide, before their first visit, a photo ID (for example a passport or driving license).

During your visit

On arrival, researchers must complete a user registration form agreeing to the Bank’s conditions of access.

Wi-Fi is available in the building.

The search room is open at lunchtime, though no files can be ordered between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. There is a seating area available, where visitors can eat their lunch. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own reusable bottles and cups, which they can refill at our water dispenser.

Self-service photography

We are unable to provide copies of documents, but researchers are welcome to use their own cameras or other devices to make copies for private or non-commercial research. Please bring your own camera as we are unable to lend you one. Stands for cameras are available. Cameras may only be used in designated areas, and after you have completed the appropriate copyright agreement.
Please make sure that you are happy with the quality of your images before you leave the search room, as we are unable to retake photographs on your behalf.

Access to records

As a result of changes in legislation, since 2013 it has been the Bank’s policy to make most records over 20 years old available to the public for research. The change from the current 30 year closure period to 20 will be achieved through an accelerated release of material over a ten-year period, between 2013 and 2022.

It is however necessary to keep some records closed for longer, for reasons of confidentiality and sensitivity. To see our access to records statement click on 'More information'.

  • Freedom of Information

    Freedom of Information rules mean that, as a public authority, the Bank of England is obliged to disclose certain types of information, both proactively and on request. See further details on Freedom of Information at the Bank of England.

    Transfer of material to the Bank’s Archive

    Although the Bank of England’s records are not covered by the Public Records Act, material in the Archive has, in general, been freely accessible to the public after a period of 30 years. This matched the ’30-year rule’ under which Government records were transferred to The National Archives. The Constitutional Reform and Government Act 2010 amended the Public Records Act by reducing the transfer period from 30 to 20 years. As a public authority subject to Freedom of Information the Bank has followed this requirement.  In line with the policy adopted by The National Archives, the Bank has completed a ten-year programme of accelerated releases so that from 2023, records that are 20 years old will be available in the Archive.

    Access to Archive material

    Approximately three-quarters of all the files held in the Bank’s Archive are already open to the public for research. It is however necessary to keep some material closed for longer than the usual transfer period. There are a number of reasons why files may be closed, the main ones being:

    Personal information: the Bank has a statutory obligation to comply with Data Protection legislation in its processing of personal information. Archive files containing such information may be closed for a period of up to 100 years.

    Customer business: some files in the Archive contain information about the banking business of the Bank and this means that they may be closed for up to 100 years.  However in some cases, for instance where the customers are other central banks, agreements are in place for files to be opened earlier, typically after 30 years.

    Security: files may be closed where they contain information that has a bearing on the security of the Bank, its premises, or its operations, for example, banknote printing. In rare instances these records may be closed for an indefinite period. Statutory prohibitions: in some cases information may be subject to statutory restrictions on disclosure and related offences (eg supervisory information under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000).

    Information given in confidence: if information is obtained under a specific undertaking of confidentiality it cannot be released without consent.

As part of the annual sensitivity review we routinely release several hundred files, after the appropriate closure period has expired. A large proportion of the files, totalling over 64,000, are available to the public for research. To see descriptions of these, please use our Archive catalogue.

Online catalogue

Information about living individuals

Some of the more modern records held in the Bank Archive include information about living individuals. This information was gathered by the Bank through the course of its business, and is contained within records of permanent historic value and has, therefore, been transferred to the Bank Archive.

Information on living individuals will be handled according to the safeguards in current data protection legislation for archiving in the public interest. This means that the Bank applies the same standards to handling this information, except that some of the rights of those living individuals will have a limited application.

The Bank of England Archive permits third party researchers to digitise some of our records as part of their research. All researchers sign a declaration stating that:

  • When consulting Bank of England records of less than 84 years old, they will not record, copy, abstract, note or put in machine readable form any personal information contained within.  
  • They will not pass personal information to any third parties.
  • They agree to write and seek the permission of the Bank of England Archive before they use personal information contained in Bank of England records.       
  • They will not produce research, or any other form of communication, that identifies a living individual whose personal information is contained within Bank of England records unless express permission from the Bank of England has been obtained.
  • Their research cannot be used by themselves, or others, in such a way as to cause damage or distress to an individual identified from Bank of England records. 
  • They agree to notify the Bank of England should they believe any breach of personal information may have occurred during the course of their research.
  • These provisions also apply to any assistants that work with them.

How to get to the Bank of England Archive

The Archive is located inside the Bank of England in London. Visitors should use the main Bank entrance on Threadneedle Street, EC2R 8AH.

Visiting us

  • How we use your information

    Information we collect

    By submitting the Bank of England Archive user registration form, and through our related contact with you, the Bank of England (‘we’ or the ‘Bank’) collects personal data about you. This includes your contact details and a copy of your photo ID.

    Why we need your personal data

    We collect your personal data for the management of the Archive (including managing access to materials and further queries), and as part of our security procedures to protect the safety and security of the Bank’s assets, people and visitors. This is necessary in the public interest, and in the exercise of the official authority of the Bank. If you do not provide the information, you will not be able to visit the Archive.

    What we do with your personal data

    Your contact details and purpose of your visit is kept in our Archive management systems and retained for up to 10 years to manage return visits, queries and claims. Your photo ID is retained for 6 months. 

    Your rights

    You have a number of rights under data protection laws in relation to data held about you. For further information on exercising these rights, including how to contact our Data Protection Officer, view our full privacy notice.

This page was last updated 22 May 2024