Please see below for the opening hours of all four Cumbria Archive Centres. Because of limited space in the searchrooms, we ask researchers to reserve a place before your visit.

There are some temporary changes to productions of original material at Carlisle Archive Centre from 27 March 2024

Barrow Archive Centre: Wednesday to Friday: 9.30am to 1pm; 2pm to 5pm (closed between 1pm to 2pm)

Carlisle Archive Centre: Wednesday to Friday: 9.30am to 1pm; 2pm to 5pm (closed between 1pm to 2pm, the Victorian Kitchen will be open for visitors to stay during the lunch closure but bring your own refreshments). Please also note that Reception at Lady Gillford's House will be closed 12pm to 1pm. Archive users already in the building will be able to exit the building but there will be no admittance of visitors during this hour.

Kendal Archive Centre: Wednesday to Friday: 9.30am to 12.30pm; 1.30pm to 4.30pm (closed between 12.30pm to 1.30pm)

Whitehaven Archive Centre: Wednesday to Thursday: 9.30am to 12.30pm; 1.30pm to 4.30pm (closed between 12.30pm to 1.30pm); Friday 9.30am to 12.30pm

Final productions of original documents from strongrooms: 30 minutes before lunch and evening closures 

You should 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.

Researchers wishing to visit Carlisle Archive Centre should book an appointment if they wish to consult original documents. There is no need to book if only consulting secondary sources and microfilms.

Researchers intending to use the microfilms at Whitehaven Archive Centre are advised to book a microfilm reader in advance.

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 to Barrow, Carlisle, Kendal or Whitehaven Archives 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 also be aware that some documents are held at an outstore and 7 days' notice is required for access to these advance order collections.

Final productions of original documents from strongrooms are made 30 minutes before lunch and evening closures.

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.

What changes will there be to public access?Researchers are asked to continue to book an appointment. This is due to limited capacity to maintain distancing. Users will also need to pre-order documents they require.
What are the opening hours now?These can be found in the relevant section above, on our latest news page and on the relevant webpages for Barrow, Carlisle, Kendal and Whitehaven Archive Centres.
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. We can supply any associated digital copies of documents at our copying charges. This is once per person, for an initial enquiry. Any further enquiries would necessitate a visit in person or employing the services of a private researcher. 
What do I need to have to access the archives?The Archive Service has introduced the new national Archives Card. You can sign up for the Archives Card beforehand and bring ID to complete your application.
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?Yes, we have restored onsite volunteer activities. We shall prioritise existing volunteers and look to add new volunteers when we are able. We shall publicise any wider volunteering opportunities as they become available. Group volunteer activities will be re-introduced in due course when this can be done safely.