Cumbria Archive Service - latest news

Coronavirus in Cumbria: documenting the pandemic in our county

Soap advert, influenza pandemic 1918

The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted on all aspects of life and is likely to have far reaching consequences for individuals, communities and the economy.

All our archive centres and libraries are closed to the public for the first time ever but Cumbria Archive Service continues its work.  We are seeking your help to assist us in recording the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Cumbria for future generations.

You can help us create a community archive of Cumbrian pandemic related records, which will be catalogued, preserved and made available for research by doing the following:

  • Write about your experience of the pandemic: this may be about single memory or event; in the form a diary over several days or weeks, or a creative piece (story or poem)
  • Take a photograph which shows how the pandemic has affected you or your community in Cumbria*
  • Produce an audio or video recording about your experiences
  • Collect leaflets/flyers/posters or similar digital content from local government, schools, local businesses, local voluntary or community organisations which provide information about closures, changes in operation, social distancing and efforts to help vulnerable people

*Please note that when taking photographs that you have the consent of any person in the image or that they cannot be identified.

We ask that material for deposit with Cumbria Archive Service should be written, printed, or digital.  All material should wholly or mostly relate to Cumbria for us to accept it.

You can deposit your material with us as follows:

Email digital files and content to (our Barrow office will collect all this material for all the county during the lockdown period).

Post written and printed material to one of our Archive Centres, or hand these over to us when our Archive Centres have re-opened.

It is important that you do not risk your own or anyone else's health whilst gathering this material. Please follow Covid-19 advice issued by HM Government and Cumbria County Council.

For further information please contact Susan Benson at Barrow Archive Centre. Email:

Barrow Archives refurbishment

Cumbria County Council is investing in Barrow Library and Archive Centre by bringing the old museum back into use as a multipurpose room for community use, improving the toilets, creating a range of meeting spaces and a new Local Studies Library.  This work started at the beginning of December 2019 and was to last until September 2020 but delays caused by COVID 19 issues mean the end date is now extended. 

Once the building has reopened parts of the library will be cordoned off at different times to allow the work to take place. This is to ensure the safety of library and archive visitors. Find out more about the Barrow Library improvement scheme.

Planned construction works and closure of Whitehaven Archive Centre, 2020

Whitehaven Archive Centre will see significant investment to create space for a wider range of County Council services on the same site, including the Library, Archives, Registrars and Community Learning. The Archive Centre will benefit from new and increased strongroom accommodation. Details and plans are still to be confirmed. We are waiting for an updated timetable for possible works. If works are confirmed, a temporary service for the public to access microfilms and local studies books will be available in Whitehaven Daniel Hay Library during this period. There will be no public access to original archives during this time. Staff will concentrate on essential collections work including backlog listing, cleaning and preservation, transfer and recording the location of collections.  

Further updates on progress on these works at both sites will be posted here and on our Twitter account @CumbriaArchives.