BT Archives

BT Archives
Holborn Telephone Exchange
268-270 High Holborn
Greater London


Information on the documents, images and films held by BT Archives and how to access them.

The history of telecommunications through galleries and collections and information on Connected Earth partner museums and institutions

Education resources for teachers, parents, children and young people including 'How it works'

Search descriptions of our documents, photographs, films and objects

Browse and buy favourite photographs and images from BT Archives



Historical enquiries

020 7440 4220


020 7242 1967

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
Curator and Archivist with kiosk drawing
Library icon Study area icon

BT Archives preserves the historical information of British Telecommunications plc and its predecessors from the early part of the nineteenth century up to the present day, effectively the history of telecommunications services in the United Kingdom and from the UK to overseas. Records produced before the date of privatisation are classed as public records under the Public Records Acts, 1958 and 1967. BT Archives undertakes the company's statutory responsibilities under these acts to preserve and make available public records to members of the public after 30 years, and for this purpose has been appointed an "official place of deposit for public records" by the Lord Chancellor.

BT Archives also acts as the corporate memory for the BT Group of companies; vital historical information is preserved and made available where appropriate.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10.00-16.00.
An appointment is essential to ensure access to the building, and to reserve a study desk.

Admission charges

See 'Fees & Charges' below.

Additional info

Customers are asked to note that BT Archives is unable to undertake research on their behalf. Customers are encouraged to visit the Archives in person to make use of our well-equipped facilities to further their project.

Historical telephone directories: Near complete set of telephone directories for the whole country produced not only by BT, but also by its predecessors including Post Office Telecommunications, the National Telephone Company and other private companies. Dating back to 1880, the year after the public telephone service was introduced into Great Britain, they are of particular interest to family historians.

Post Office collections: Historical records of the telecommunications function of the Post Office and its predecessors transferred from the Post Office Archives. These papers document the development of the telegraph and telephone services up to 1980, and include records of preceding private telegraph and telephone companies taken over by the Post Office dating back to the early part of the 19th century. Finding aids to these records can now be searched over the Internet by means of the Public Record Office online catalogue at . Follow the instructions on screen, or contact BT Archives for further information.

Visual Materials Library: The historical photographic, video and film collections of BT and Post Office Telecommunications dating back to the last century. A fascinating body of records which includes not just images of old equipment, but views of engineers and telephone operators at work, old vehicles, street furniture and scenes and so forth, including many local views. Copy films, photographic prints and scanned images can be supplied to order, subject to copyright restrictions.

Other collections: A growing body of historical telecommunications material donated from within BT and by a variety of external sources. Together with the other collections they form a comprehensive resource for the study of the development of domestic and international telecommunications services and, in some cases, the internal operation of early colonial and commonwealth services.

BT's heritage artefacts are managed by Connected Earth, a partnership of eleven organisations responsible for telecommunications heritage. The collections are brought together online at and subjects are brought to life through online galleries, educational resources and People's Connected Earth where people can add their own memories and pictures concerning the history of communications,

Collection details

Archives, Science and Technology, Social History

Key artists and exhibits

  • Telephone directories dating back to 1880.
  • Historical records of the telecommunications function of the Post Office and its predecessors.
  • The historical photographic, video and film collections of BT and Post Office Telecommunications.
  • People's Connected Earth - an online collection of your memories and photographs relating to the history of communications,
Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

How it works

See inside and find out how communications technology works: the telegraph, telephone, wireless and personal computer.


  • Connected Earth


  • Connected Earth

How to obtain

Free - available online at

Connected Earth: History of the Internet podcasts (History KS 3 - Unit 1 'What's it all about?')

Through a series of podcasts on the history of the Internet students are introduced to the key issues in studying history. The feature-packed Podcast is intended to stimulate interest into further research and discussion on the history of the Internet and its development. The Timeline will help students to improve their understanding of chronology and the way one event can pave the way for another. A range of suggested activities, designed to compliment the learning, offer students a fun and interactive way of engaging in this fascinating topic. One particular activity invites students to create their communications vision of the future.


  • Connected Earth


  • Connected Earth

How to obtain

Free online resource at

Connected Earth: How has life in Britain changed since 1948? (History KS 2, Unit 13)

Our free, teaching resource supporting QCA module 13 for key stage two history contains new and exclusive activities which can be used online or independently: Text a telegram, Voices from history, and the Web quest.

The lesson support material contains facts and resources to help plan lessons including timelines, summaries of changes for work, home, popular culture, population and technology and activity support sheets.
Available at


  • Connected Earth and BT Archives

People's Connected Earth

Students of all ages can add to the history of telecommunications by contributing their memories and pictures to People's Connected Earth,
Context information about the history of telecommunications can be found in the many online galleries available at


  • Connected Earth, BT Archives


  • Connected Earth