Saturday, 2 November 2013

London records unavailable

Have you ever arrived at an archives only to find it closed? Experienced researchers know to check the regular hours of operation; avoid the UK National Archives (TNA), closed on Sundays and Mondays. The Society of Genealogists Library is closed on Sunday, Monday and Friday. You can research at the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) on a Monday, but not on Fridays or Sundays, and only one Saturday each month.

Also look for scheduled closures. The LMA is currently closed for stocktaking until 18 November. The SOG is advertising well in advance that it will close at 4 pm on Tuesday 31st December 2013 to re-open at 10 am on Tuesday 7th January 2014. TNA is advertising only Bank Holiday closures for 2014 and these likely apply to all archive facilities.
Then there are the unscheduled closures due to unforeseen events like weather and strikes.
Some unavailability is more permanent. The Court Service have now closed the facility at High Holborn. When I first used the Principal Probate Registry it was at historic Somerset House (read Audrey Collins' recollections). You found the reference in the calendar, ordered the complete will and received a photocopy within an hour or so. It cost less than a pound. The service moved to the more modern First Avenue House, the price increased and to compensate the service declined. Now the facility is on the move again, this time to Court 38, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL. It appears the facility is a stop-gap, soon to be replaced by an online service.  
In a few days, November 8, the Colindale Newspaper Library will be no more, to be replaced by a reading room to be opened March 2014 at the British Library. Microform and online resources will be available. Newspaper originals when needed will be transported to that reading room from a storage facility at Boston Spa; 48 hour service is advertized if the item is in a condition to travel. More information at http://goo.gl/3gffv

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