General Advice to Reading Room Users

Planning a visit to our Reading Room? This page should help you prepare for your visit.

Reference Library 

Our Reference Library is the ideal place to start learning more about motoring history. Visitors are welcome Monday to Friday from 10am to 4.30pm.

Accessing original records through the reading room

The Archive cares for a treasure trove of historic material that records the story of the British motor industry and the people who worked in it. This includes items such as business records, sales and technical literature and production ledgers. If you would like to study this material, please book an appointment to visit the Reading Room. The Reading Room is open for appointments Monday to Friday from 10am to 4.30pm.

Admission to the Reading R​​oom for the purpose of archive research is by appointment only, at no extra charge.

Before you visit:

  • Make an appointment. If you are requesting material from the Archive Store, we need a minimum notice of seven working days. We have a limited number of staff and need time to identify the material for you.

    Email to make an appointment.

You can find some of our catalogues at:

The National Archives Discovery Catalogue
- Nick Baldwin Collection Catalogue

If you are unable to find the material you are looking for on the online catalogues, please send an email and the team will advise you if it is available.

Please note that members of staff are not able to undertake detailed research on your behalf.

If you or any member of your household display symptoms of COVID-19 before your appointment, please contact us via phone or email so we can postpone your visit.

Please bring:

  • Identification. We issue all visitors attending an appointment with a Reader's Ticket on arrival, which is valid for one year. To obtain your ticket, we need you (and anyone accompanying you) to produce a form of identification that shows your name and address. Acceptable documentation includes:
    • Driving license with address (this is by far the best form of identification)
    • Utility bill or bank statement issued within the last 3 months (printouts of online bills/statements are not acceptable)
    • Council tax bill for the current year
    • National ID card with address
    • International student photo card
  • Any other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that you wish to wear for the duration of your visit. Hand sanitiser will be available to use in the Reading Room.
  • Your own pencils for making research notes. Pens are not permitted. You are welcome to make notes on a laptop but scanners are not permitted (this includes flat-bed and hand-held devices).

Copying Archive Material:

You must purchase a Digital Photography Permit from Archive staff to use a digital camera. You can order a permit when you book an appointment or buy it on arrival. This will allow you to copy archive documents (not photographic material) for research purposes, but subject to conservation, copyright and data protection restrictions.

Vehicle production records:

These records have certain access conditions that must be observed by researchers, this is to protect confidential data. They will only be available to registered users who accept the conditions of usage and complete the 'Conditions of Access to Production Records' form.