Latest Archive news

Changes to access at Cumbria Archive Centre, Kendal

Why are there new access arrangements?
Presently, Kendal Archive Centre is open for 4 days a week between 10am and 4pm, Tuesdays to Fridays. Researchers are required to book an appointment to visit at least one week in advance. Researchers must also order documents at the time of booking, up to a maximum of 10 items (volumes, files, bundles etc). We implemented these arrangements for a six month trial period, to be followed by a review and public consultation.  Following comments received,  we will be introducing a number of changes to access to archive collections at Kendal. These changes will come into effect from week commencing 2 December 2019 and you can reserve a table space for the new arrangements during week commencing 25 November 2019

Our proposed changes

  • The archive centre will be open 3 days a week, Wednesday to Friday, 9.30am to 4.30pm.
  • Customers will only need to give a minimum 24 hours' notice to reserve a space in the searchroom
  • A table space may be reserved up to 4pm the day before your intended visit (space is limited and we cannot guarantee that a space will be available; we strongly advise that you book as far in advance of your visit as possible to avoid disappointment)
  • Documents may be ordered on the day rather than in advance. (some documents are stored in an out store and will require a week's notice)
  • There will be no restriction on the number of documents that can be seen in a day (a maximum of two orders may normally be submitted at any one time)
  • Documents will not be produced between 11.40am to 2pm
  • The searchroom will remain open over lunchtimes subject to staff availability
  • Any lunchtime closures (12.30pm to 1.30pm) will be notified on our website and in the searchroom before 9.30am on the day of the closure.
  • Due to space restrictions we cannot support the charging of electrical devices, including laptops; please bring a charging pack with you

Further information can be found on our Accessing archives at Kendal Archives page

Reserving a space in the Archive Centre: please contact the Archive Centre by email at or by telephone on 01539 713540. 

Planned construction works and closure of Whitehaven Archive Centre, 2019 to 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 but there are currently no plans to start this work or close the Archive Centre during 2019. 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.

The Poor Law, Small Bills and Petty Finance, 1700 to 1834, Project

What is it?
Before the modern welfare system it was the responsibility of each parish to provide food, clothes, housing and medical care for the sick, infirm and old, and to support those who found themselves unemployed, or whose income was insufficient to maintain their dependants. This generated a huge amount of paperwork in the process, much of it in the form of bills and receipts or overseers' vouchers. Through itemised shop bills, we can study ordinary people who have been left out of history. Small Bills and Petty Finance 1700 to 1834 is a collaborative project between the universities of Keele and Sussex, and the archive services of Cumbria, East Sussex and Staffordshire with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Its aim is to investigate the provision of goods and services needed to keep the poor alive under the Old Poor Law. It presents an exciting an innovative approach to research by involving archival volunteers in academic historical enquiry. If you have an interest in local and family history, or are looking for new sources of information, then this project is for you.

How can people get involved?
The project is seeking archival volunteers to unfold, read and enter the contents of the overseers' vouchers at Carlisle Archive Centre into a searchable database. During the three-year project volunteers will be provided with on-going support and opportunities to contribute to its outputs including writing blog entries, developing study and research skills and learning from each other's knowledge and experience. Volunteers can work at Carlisle Archive Centre and there are opportunities for working at home. Later work on the project will explore the potential of the other Cumbria Archive Centres. Some of the Cumbrian related work is already available to view on the Poor Law website.

How much time will volunteering take?
We ask that volunteers make a flexible but regular commitment of their time. As a guide, volunteers will meet once a week, for two hours.
Where can people find out more information?
If you would like further information please email Dr Peter Collinge at who will be running the volunteer sessions at Carlisle Archive Centre, or register through the Poor Law website.

Barrow Streets: Your Photos Our Town!

Barrow Archive and Local Studies Centre would like to create a photographic record of the Borough in 2017-2018. You can contribute to Barrow Archives creation of a comprehensive and up to date photographic collection of the Borough of Barrow in Furness. We are looking for photographs of all the streets and not just prominent buildings. We would also like photographs of the inside of schools, churches, shops and public buildings.

Simply take photographs of commercial and residential streets, and notable buildings, from town centres, and suburban and rural areas in and around present day Barrow, Walney, Dalton, Lindal, Askam, Ireleth and Rampside. Please take a photograph and email it to

Attach your best photos, up to a maximum of four (or less than 35MB) to each email. Include the name of the street and buildings in the file name, and give your full name in the email. If you would like to donate printed photos from the past, or a large digital collection; or want further information on this project, email as above or call the Archives at Barrow Library on 01229 407377.

Once sufficient numbers of photographs have been received a webpage will be published. Contributors will be notified of this. Thank you for helping develop this important community resource for future generations.