Bedfordshire Record Office, known as Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service, was the first Archives in England, being established by Dr George Herbert Fowler in 1913, and is based in Riverside Building, Borough Hall, Bedford.
Their aims are to collect and preserve documents in environmentally controlled and secure conditions, to promote and encourage community and public access to these archives and to encourage use of the resources for recreational, cultural, educational or business use.
The Archive holds resources relating to the county from 1166 to the present day. Documents come from a wide range of sources, from private individuals to business and organisations.
These resources include documents, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, photographs and pictures.
Whether you are researching the history of a house, conducting research for a school, college or university assignment, tracing your family history, or studying the history of your local area, you will find the documents held useful.
The knowledgeable and helpful staff are always on hand to offer assistance should you require it.
For information regarding their opening hours and collections, please visit their Home Page and peruse their summary of archive holdings. They have on online catalogue containing information regarding approximately 91% of their holdings, the other 9% being held in their Searchroom. Their collections include:
Resources held by the Archive include:
Burial Indexes are also accessible, and include:
An on-line database of 19th Century prisoners at Bedford Gaol is accessible. An entry normally gives details about the criminal's name, age, height, hair colour, crime, dates of committal and trial and sentence. The database covers the period from 1801 to 1879, but there are gaps in the record.
You have to make an appointment before visiting Bedfordshire Record Office, and are requested to advise them of the material you wish to access so they can ascertain if they are able to accommodate your visit.
Bedfordshire Record Office is approximately 10-15 minutes' walk from the bus and railway stations. You can also use the Park and Ride service, which serves Borough Hall.
Parking at the Archive is limited, but if the car park is full, you may park across the road in Prebend Street Car Park. Prebend Street Car Park is free, but if this is full, there is a pay and display car park close to St Johns railway station in Melbourne Street.
You are able to use your own camera in the Office, but they make a charge to people taking advantage of this service. Some documents cannot be photographed because they are fragile and easily damaged.
If you are disabled, you should park near the main entrance to Borough Hall, and then ring a bell at reception to seek assistance. A member of staff will help you through the building.
A disabled toilet is accessible near to the main entrance.
If you have other mobility issues, and are at car park level, you can use the yellow box telephone at the staff entrance to contact them and to be let into the building. You are then able to use the lift to go up to the second floor.
If you are at the pedestrian footbridge level, you can use the disabled access button near to the glass doors and follow the signs to the lift to access the second floor, or you can use the intercom button near the doors to ask a member of staff to assist you.
If you are unable to visit the Archive in person, they offer a Research Service, details of which are available.
You can follow the Archive on their Twitter Account at @BedsArchives. Details of events and changes to their catalogues and web pages are communicated via this Account.
The Archive also has a Facebook page @bedfordshirearchives. Via this page, they provide information about the Archive, and respond to visitors' enquiries.
Whilst a readers ticket or ID is not normally required to visit the Archive, ID may be required if you wish to access certain records because of Data Protection Laws.