Archives service

Waltham Forest Archives and Local Studies Library have a new home

Waltham Forest Archives and Local Studies Library are moving to a new, accessible home within the borough and the searchroom is now temporarily closed whilst we prepare our collections for the move. The Archives and Local Studies Library will be relocating to Chingford Assembly Hall in Summer 2024. The official opening date will be announced closer to the time.

Waltham Forest Archives and Local Studies Library house collections which can be used to find out about the history of our borough and its communities. Archival sources include parish and workhouse records, local council minutes, school log books, business records, family and estate papers. The local studies library includes maps, local newspapers, directories, biographical publications, and business histories. You can use these resources to discover more about your family history in Waltham Forest, the history of your house or your street, or to research the lives of past residents who have contributed to the rich and diverse history of Waltham Forest.

Situated in the north of the borough, Chingford Assembly Hall was chosen as the new venue for the Archives after careful analysis, due to its increased space and level access. The Archives new home will be accessible to visitors with visual or mobility issues, in a location with good transport links to other areas in the borough, able to serve more of our residents. Waltham Forest Council engaged with current users and community groups as part of this exercise and will be reopening the Archives later this year in a space that is welcoming and available to all Waltham Forest residents, and to visitors from beyond the borough too.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is an archive?  

An archive is the unique documentation generated by historical events, business administration, legal transactions, or other past activities. It can be created in any medium (paper, digital, audio, or visual), and can be invaluable for historical research. An archive repository is a facility for the safe storage of archive collections, usually incorporating a search room to enable research visits. Local authority archives are often housed alongside local studies library printed collections.  

How will I be able to access the archive?  

Waltham Forest Archives and Local Studies Library are accessible by appointment. We will be sharing the search room opening times and booking information later in the year. There is no charge for searchroom visits.

When will the search room be open to the public?  

Once the collections have been safely and securely moved to their new home, we will be announcing the reopening date. To stay up to date on information on the Waltham Forest Archives move and the Vestry House Museum revitalisation project please sign up for our newsletter here, follow Vestry House Museum on Instagram or Waltham Forest Archives on Bluesky.

Why will Waltham Forest Archives be moving to Chingford Assembly Hall?  

Waltham Forest Council looked at different spaces and buildings to house the archive, with advice from sector leads at the National Archives. An essential part of this project was to ensure that the Archives’ new home will be fully accessible to all and will have the necessary space for a strongroom to provide secure, fireproof and environmentally stable conditions for the storage and preservation of archival material.  

Why will the Archives not remain at Vestry House Museum? 

Relocating Waltham Forest Archives to a new site makes the service more accessible to residents and users, with more space gained at Vestry House Museum for future public use.  To find out more about our plans for Vestry House Museum please see here.

How can I find out more about local history?  

Here are information sheets giving selected online resources to help with your research:

• Local and family history
• House history

You can view Ancestry UK free of charge onsite in Waltham Forest Libraries.

See this page for links to other relevant Waltham Forest Council pages and websites for local and family history societies within the borough:

https://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/libraries-arts-parks-and-leisure/arts-and-culture/waltham-forest-archives-and-local-studies-library

If you have queries about local history resources please email us at [email protected]

How do I get to Chingford Assembly Hall?  

The address is The Green, Station Road, E4 7EN. It is accessible via several bus routes that serve other areas in the borough, and is a short walk from Chingford Station, which is on the newly renamed Weaver Line from Liverpool Street. Trains stop at St James Street, Walthamstow Central, Wood Street and Highams Park and Chingford.

Will there be any other activities planned using the Archives? 

We continue to collaborate with local history societies and community advisory panels on how we can create accompanying activities for Waltham Forest residents, including engaging with schoolsand students, and hosting talks and other events.  

Will you be improving digital access?

We are applying for funding to develop a digital catalogue and for digitisation of selected holdings to enable future remote access. 

For further service updates and contact details see:

https://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/libraries-arts-parks-and-leisure/arts-and-culture/waltham-forest-archives-and-local-studies-library

For Vestry House Museum photographic collection see: https://vestryhousemuseum.org.uk/collection/photographic-collection/