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Archives Relocation Programme

In March 2022, the Archives Relocation Programme announced that the Parliamentary Archives, its collections and some associated services will be relocating from the Palace of Westminster to The National Archives in Kew.

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As an increasing proportion of the physical collection moves out of Victoria Tower, services which are dependent on access to it will need to be reduced and, in due course, paused completely to meet the timetable for the move to Kew. Some Parliamentary Archives services will also need to be tapered or modified over the coming years to enable colleagues to focus on the moves, change activities and new activities associated with the programme and transition period.

ARP has compiled the Q&A below to answer questions on tapering of services and timings of moves – at this stage we are only able to provide estimates, however, we will be providing more information on changes to Archives services over the coming months. The moves are expected to take place before summer 2025.

When will the moves be completed and how long will they take? 

Lower use collections are being moved to a 3rd party offsite storage facility which provides a retrieval service. Higher use collections will be stored at TNA in Kew. The start of moves to TNA will have a more significant impact and trigger the closure of some services whilst the moves take place.

Access will stop at Parliament and then open at TNA on dates we will communicate to the public and other external users of Archives services in due course. There will be no mixed service across both sites.  We expect all moves to be completed by June 2025.

When will TNA provide public access to PA collections?

At present, we do not have a forecast date for when TNA will start providing access to PA collections.

Which Archives services are due to be tapered? 

Our key on demand public-facing services listed in the table below. Some dates may be subject to change as the programme progresses.

Activity

Date of Closure

Search Room

April 2023 – Search Room will be closed on moves days.

January 2024 – Search Room will be open for a limited number of days per week.

By the end of June 2024 – Search Room will be fully closed (note - this date can be confirmed once the order of moves to TNA has been agreed).

Remote Enquiry Service and copying requests

By the end of June 2024 - Enquiries that require the consultation of physical records will cease at the same point the Search Room closes and will be tapered according to availability before then.

September 2024 - Enquiries which do not require access to physical records will continue to September 2024.

Responding to FOI requests will continue throughout the whole period.

Tours

Public tours stop in December 2023 with tapering beforehand if staff resource is required for ARP activities. 

Media Requests

Media requests will be considered on a case by case basis and depend on the availability of the collections.

Media Licencing

Licensing tapers in line with the copying service.  

Licensing of new copies of physical records will continue until end of June 2024. 

Licencing of existing/recycled content only will continue throughout the whole tapering period. 

Which Archive Services will continue?

Essential Collection Care and collections management activities will continue throughout the whole period.

Our capacity to facilitate loan requests from prospective borrowers in the public or private sectors, both in the UK and overseas between 2023 and 2025 (inclusive) will be severely limited. If you are a prospective borrower with a request that would take effect from mid-2025 onward, do see our loans page and get in touch.

Our capacity to work with community and academic partners between 2024 and mid 2025 will also be severely limited. If you have a proposal for a project which could be fulfilled from mid-2025 onwards, please do get in touch.

Why is the move happening?

The Victoria Tower poses issues and risks to the long-term storage and care of the PA collections, and substantial constraints on access to the collections for staff and Members of Parliament and the public. Moving the PA collections and some of its functions to The National Archives - a facility which meets the requirements of a modern archive - will ensure records are protected and more easily accessible for public users, whilst continuing to provide services to internal users.

Benefits include:

  • A long-term sustainable solution for the PA
  • The National Archives has met and exceeded its obligations under the Greening Governments Commitments.
  • The National Archives' collections are held in secure and appropriate surroundings reducing the risk to the PA collection
  • Staff and the public benefit from modernised surroundings
  • Easily accessible public areas suitable for all visitors - the building and grounds are wheelchair-friendly
  • Large research and reference rooms, a purpose-built exhibition space, large reception and refreshment area
  • Visitor car park with accessible parking bays for disabled visitors and free parking for motorbikes and bicycles
  • Space currently utilised by PA can be restored and repurposed

Find out more about The National Archives’ commitment to improving its environment performance here.

If you have further questions, please contact the Archives Relocation Programme by emailing archivesrelocation@parliament.uk.

Contact us

If you would like additional information or have other questions or feedback, please email the Archives Relocation Programme: archivesrelocation@parliament.uk.

Did you know?

The Parliamentary Archives is the oldest in the world and contains four million records, including all acts of Parliament from 1497 onwards and important historical documents such as the Death Warrant of King Charles I (1648/9), the Bill of Rights (1689), and the Great Reform Act (1832).