Cumbria Archive Service - booking a visit

Cumbria Archive Centres at Barrow, Carlisle, Kendal and Whitehaven will all re-open on Wednesday 14 April 2021, subject to Government approval in regard to Covid-19. There are now important changes to access arrangements.  Because of limited space in the searchrooms and to make sure you are safe we ask researchers to reserve a place before your visit. 

Details of these changes:

We will be open for pre-booked appointments only at Barrow, Carlisle, Kendal and Whitehaven Archive Centres from Wednesday 14 April 2021.

Our new opening times are: Wednesday to Friday from 9.30am to 1pm.

You must now book an appointment to visit our Archive Centres. A table space may be reserved up to 24 hours the day before your intended visit. Because of limited spaces in the searchrooms please contact us if you would like to bring any additional visitors with you. We cannot guarantee that a space will be available and we strongly advise that you book as far in advance of your visit as possible to avoid disappointment.

To book a place we prefer that you contact the relevant Cumbria Archive Centre by email. You may contact us by telephone but we cannot guarantee that staff will be available to respond.

Please provide a list of the documents you wish to see during your visit by emailing the relevant archive centre. This will help us to make sure your documents will be ready for you on arrival. Our catalogues webpage and online catalogue (CASCAT) can assist you finding the documents you require.

Documents can also be ordered on the day of your visit but we may not always be able to produce documents on demand due to staff availability. Please be aware that we quarantine documents for 72 hours after use for Covid-19 safety reasons. We can provide documents produced the previous day to the same user but we cannot produce documents previously viewed by another user that week.

Please also be aware that some documents are held at an outstore and 7 days' notice is required for access to these advance order collections.

  • You must wear a face covering at all times in our buildings unless you have a medical exception.
  • We ask you to provide contact details for NHS Test and Trace  on arrival. This information will be held for 21 days only.
  • You can scan with your smartphone the QR codes at our buildings to use with the NHS Covid-19 App.
  • We have issued revised document handling advice in view of Covid-19 precautions - please read before your visit
  • Please read our security guidelines and other information for visitors
  • You will now need an ARA Archives Card to see documents - there is further information below

You will now need an ARA Archives Card to see documents - CARN reader's tickets will no longer be accepted. A passport on its own is not sufficient proof of identification. 

Please apply for an Archives Card online before your visit and bring the necessary proof of identification so we can complete your application. We can complete your application quicker if you have uploaded your own photograph to the scheme online.

We regret that we will not be able to allow access to archives without an Archives Card.

You are welcome to photograph (without flash) documents using a digital or phone camera, free of charge, subject to any copying restrictions for that collection. 

You will be asked to complete a copyright declaration recording your details and the items copied.  Camera use web page.

We regret that we shall not be able to provide photocopies of documents. This is to reduce handling of both documents and cash.

If you are unable to visit the Archive Centre in person, a list of researchers is available on our website. We are also able to offer a limited enquiry service. Our Digitisation Service can undertake high quality photography of outsize or fragile documents.

When will the Cumbria Archive Centres re-open?Barrow, Carlisle, Kendal and Whitehaven Archive Centres will reopen on Wednesday 14 April 2021.
What changes will there be to public access?Users will need to book an appointment. This is to enable safe use of our buildings by maintaining social distancing. Users will also need to pre-order documents required in order that we can arrange quarantining of records after use.
What will be the new opening hours?All Cumbria Archive Centres will open Wednesday to Friday, 9.30am to 1pm. We will extend opening hours according to public demand and staff availability.
When will your normal service be re-introduced?We will resume normal opening, access and services when it is safe to do so in line with the latest Public Health Advice.
Will you do research for me or provide copies while you are closed to the public?We will be providing enquirers with 30 minutes of free research time undertaken by staff together with any associated digital copies of documents.
Am I still able to join the Archive Service while you are closed?Yes. The Archive Service will introduce the new national Archives Card when we re-open. You can sign up for the Archives Card beforehand.
Can I deposit records with the Archive Service?Yes we can now accept records. Please contact the relevant Archive Centre by email  to make an appointment to visit or complete the online deposit form.
Can I volunteer for the Archive Service?Due to limited availability we shall initially need to reserve public access for researchers. Our staff are looking to provide a number of volunteer projects which can be carried out remotely.  We will contact existing volunteers and advertise any wider opportunities.
When will regular outreach activities such as archive discovery evenings, talks and displays start again?We do not have a date when activities will start again; we will introduce our services gradually in line with the latest public health advice. Until then we are looking to extend online content about our holdings and activities.