Search room user guide

On arrival

  • There is an intercom on the outside of the building. The button for BT Archives is clearly marked, You will be collected by a member of the team.
  • We will ask you to complete a short visitor form before starting your research
  • Free personal lockers are available for visitors to secure their property

Finding the information you require

Research material is broadly divided into three categories; the telecommunications library (printed sources), Archives (original source documents) and visual media (photographs, films and videos). 


Many journals, reference books and other printed sources are available on open shelves.  Our online catalogue can be used to search the core collection. Books must be returned to a member of the Archives team or left on a desk after use.


Records under 30 years old are not open to members of the public under the Public Records Acts, 1958 and 1967, and BT policy. Our online catalogue can be used to search many of the archival documents. Please note that this online catalogue will soon be fully incorporated in to the BT Digital Archives launched in July 2013. Hard copy catalogues are available in the Searchroom also. Please ask for assistance if you can't find the records you are looking for. The Archivist reserves the right to withhold documents which are uncatalogued or in a fragile condition.

Photographic, film and video collections

The historical photographic collection is comprised of approximately half a million images on telecommunications themes dating to the last century. Although the catalogues for our photographics and motion content are not yet online they are accessible within the searchroom and, for the photographs, via a comprehensive subject picture library. images from our two primary photographic series are available in the BT Digital Archives.

Obtaining and using documents

Documents held by the BT Archives are in most cases unique and irreplaceable. To ensure their survival for future researchers please observe the following guidelines:

  • Eating and drinking are not  allowed in the Search room  - local catering information is available from members of staff
  • A non-smoking policy applies to the building
  • Keep documents in the same order in which they were found within the files and place them back in the correct box after use
  • Use a pencil at all times when making notes as ink cannot be removed from documents 
  • No marks should be made on documents
  • Under no circumstances can documents be removed from the search room
  • Do not lean on documents or open volumes, or write notes while resting on them
  • Support cushions are availalbe for large books or for volumes with weak spines
  • Do not stack open volumes on top of one another

Documents should be returned to the correct boxes and bundles from which they came and in the original order

Photocopies and publication

  • All documents in the BT Archives are made available only on condition that none should be reproduced or published until permission has been obtained from BT Archives who will advise on copyright, reproduction fees and appropriate forms of acknowledgement
  • Photocopies are provided at the discretion of the BT Archives and are subject to copyright restrictions. A form will require completion before commencing any photocopying
  • Customers may undertake their own copying after first checking any copyright restrictions, or that the required items are not too fragile to be copied
  • Individual documents should not be removed from registered files or other bundles of papers fastened together. Documents should be marked with a slip of paper and passed to a member of staff for copying
  • The first four photocopies on each visit are free of charge. Charges of 25p per monochrome copy and 55p per colour copy (not available on-site) apply for subsequent copies and will be donated to ChildLine, one of BT's strategic charity partners
  • The Archivist reserves the right to refuse the copying of documents that are oversize or too fragile to be reproduced without risk of damage