Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archive
Library icon

Tower Hamlets local history library and archives covers the area of the present-day London Borough of Tower Hamlets; the original East End of London which, until 1965, comprised of the Boroughs of Bethnal Green, Poplar and Stepney.

If you are interested in a building in the borough, tracing your ancestors who lived here, doing a school or college project on some aspect of the borough or are just feeling nostalgic, we may well be able to help you.

Venue Type:

Library, Archive

Opening hours

Monday Closed
Tuesday 10am - 5pm
Wednesday 9am - 5pm
Thursday 9am - 8pm
Friday Closed
Saturday (fortnightly) 9am - 5pm
Sunday Closed

Admission charges

Exhibitions: Free admission
Registration
All users are required to register with the service on their first visit. Please ensure you bring a form of ID providing proof of your permanent address.

Getting there

Nearest tube: Stepney Green

Bus Routes: 25, along Mile End Road

By car
There are a limited number of pay and display parking spaces in the surrounding roads as well as parking spaces for Tower Hamlets resident's permit holders.

Local history library:

Books and Pamphlets - The local history library holds over 20,000 printed books and pamphlets dating from the 17th century to the present day. These provide extensive coverage of the many differing aspects of the recorded history of Tower Hamlets. The Library includes an important "shipping collection" which, as well as covering local subjects, includes general material relating to the history of merchant shipping.

Cuttings - The cuttings collection, which is contained in over 400 boxes, includes newspaper and periodical cuttings and articles and printed ephemera, a substantial amount of which dates from the 19th century.

Illustrations - The library holds about 25,000 illustrations, mainly photographs. There are over 80 boxes of photographs of general street scenes arranged alphabetically, while the remainder are arranged by subject.

Maps - Well over 2,000 maps and plans are held dating from Elizabethan times to the present day. The collection includes large-scale Ordnance Survey maps, street plans and some parish and estate maps.

Microfilms - The library holds on microfilm, copies of census returns for the whole Borough, from 1841 to 1891; various local newspapers from 1853; parish registers of seven of the oldest parish churches and London trade directories.

Audio-Visual Collections - About 100 sound recordings and 60 films and videos of local interest are held.

Archives:
While there are substantial holdings of archives relating to the borough, much of Tower Hamlets material is deposited elsewhere (notably at the Greater London Record Office).

Local authority records - There are extensive holdings of records of the Borough and its predecessors dating in some cases from the 16th century. These include minutes, rate books and correspondence files.

Deeds - There are over 8,000 deeds recording the transfer of properties in the Borough, which are indexed by name and place.

Other archives - In addition the archives hold documents relating to many local institutions, including some places of worship and schools, local clubs and societies, and some businesses.

Collection details

Archives, Social History, World Cultures

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
alt="LGBT+ Tower Hamlets poster"

LGBT+ Tower Hamlets Photography Exhibition & Launch event

  • 6 July — 16 September 2017

Earlier this year, we invited people who lived, worked or studied in Tower Hamlets to send us photos of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender+ life in our borough.
Come and see the results, on display in the first floor lobby! The exhibition launch features a poetry reading by Sophia Walker and free refreshments.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
alt="Mile End Vestry Hall"

History Hoppers

  • 25 July 2017 11:30am-1:30pm
  • 29 August 2017 11:30am-1:30pm

Do you enjoy looking at for old photographs, newspapers and maps?
Do you have fond memories of forgotten streets?
Are you curious about archive collections?

If so, come along to our monthly History Hoppers sessions and you'll have the chance to explore and discuss original historical library and archive sources that help to tell the story of your local area in Tower Hamlets. There's no need to book, just drop in between 11.30am and 1.30pm. Sessions are FREE and refreshments will be provided.

Last Tuesday of every month, 11.30am - 1.30 pm
Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives
277 Bancroft Road, E1 4DQ

Interested in a certain subject, area or street? Send us your requests to see particular parts of our collections titled 'History Hoppers' to localhistory@towerhamlets.gov.uk.

Suitable for

  • Any age
alt="The London Nobody Knows DVD cover"

Film night: Whitechapel 1968

  • 29 June 2017 5:30-7:30pm

In collaboration with the Survey of London we are delighted to present a screening of two contrasting documentaries featuring Whitechapel, both of which were made in the 'year of revolutions', 1968.

Georgia Brown: Who are the Cockneys Now? is a very personal look by the singer and actress Georgia Brown, returning to her childhood haunts in Whitechapel. She reflects on her own Jewish heritage and that of the area (including the Brady Club) and looks at the changing character of Whitechapel, which she celebrates as a place that has always welcomed immigrants. It features interviews with Lionel Bart, who she went to school with, Vidal Sassoon, the writer Wolf Mankowitz and the legendary Tubby Isaacs, the jellied eel man, and many other locals. There are evocative scenes of Petticoat Lane, Old Montague Street, Whitechapel Road, Black Lion Yard and Hessel Street and the streets just north of Wentworth Street, including her old school in Deal Street, much of which was soon to be demolished for redevelopment.

The London Nobody Knows, filmed in the same apocalyptic year, is described as a 'trippy documentary', presented by the actor James Mason. It is not just about Whitechapel, but includes a major segment about it, an outsider's view in contrast to Georgia Brown's.
Free, but please book in advance.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
alt="LGBT+ TH poster"

Film Shorts for Pride: A Celebration of Older LGBT Women

  • 13 July 2017 6-7:45pm

The Women Over 50 Film Festival (WOFFF) present five short films celebrating older women both in front of and behind the camera— visit www.wofff.co.uk for further info. Free event, no booking required.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Getting there

Nearest tube: Stepney Green

Bus Routes: 25, along Mile End Road

By car
There are a limited number of pay and display parking spaces in the surrounding roads as well as parking spaces for Tower Hamlets resident's permit holders.

Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives
277 Bancroft Road
London
Greater London
E1 4DQ
England

Website

www.ideastore.co.uk/en/articles/local_history

E-mail

localhistory@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Telephone

Local History Libary

020 7364 1290

Archives

020 7364 1289

Fax

020 7364 1290

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.
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