Local studies and archives

What's available in Local Studies?

The Kensington and Chelsea Local Studies collection is housed at Kensington Central Library. It contains all the borough's material on the history of both Kensington and Chelsea, including books, newspapers, illustrations (these include prints, photographs, paintings and drawings: we also hold a large collection of maps including Ordnance Survey, parish and general maps of London), census returns, electoral registers, manuscripts, ephemera and other archive material.

Please read on for more information on our collections:

Important: If you want to see Local Studies archive records you should make an appointment;


Have you heard about our new Kensington and Chelsea in the Great War website?


Opening hours

Day Times
Monday 1pm - 6.30pm
Tuesday 1pm - 6.30pm
Wednesday 1pm - 5pm
Thursday 1pm - 6.30pm
Friday 9.30am – 12.00pm and 1pm - 5pm
Saturday 1pm - 5pm

Copying Facilities

Our book scanner is available for public use in the department. Please bring a USB stick to utilise this resource. We do not charge for this facility but reproduction fees may apply if you intend to reproduce any images.

We can scan items for the public, depending on the time frame and quantity of scanning. There may be a charge for this service.

A coin operated photocopier is available in the Reference department of the library.

Cameras are permitted in the department for research, free of charge. We have a camera stand which can be used.


Local Newspapers

These are available on microfilm and cover the dates 1855-2004 for Kensington and 1865 to 1999 for Chelsea. Print outs can be made from our microfilm readers at a charge of 20p per copy. Our department only has two microfilm readers so please phone to book a reader if you are planning to visit. We also hold back copies of more recent local newspapers such as The Kensington and Chelsea Chronicle and the Kensington and Chelsea Gazette. If you are looking for a specific newspaper and date, please ring ahead to ensure we have a copy.


Local Studies blog

Please read and follow our Local Studies blog ‘The Library Time Machine’, created and written by Local Studies Librarian, Dave Walker. The weekly blog will give glimpses into the past lives and history of Kensington and Chelsea.


Kensington & Chelsea's Great War

We’re delighted to announce that the World War One website is now up and running. You can find it at the link below, so please do log on and have a look.

You can search the material by personal stories (from the Mayor of Kensington to munitions worker Lottie Meade), by local regiments or by place to find out about the internment of Germans at Olympia or the model trench in Cheyne Walk.

We’ve been busy putting up a wealth of material, which ranges from tickets for the Army Christmas pudding fund to posters from the war-time Chelsea Kitchens. However, a big part of our website is collecting contributions from the public about life in Kensington and Chelsea in World War One so if you’ve got a fascinating family tale about the Great War or interesting photographs please log on and add your memories. We hope to make this a permanent showcase of life in the Borough during this unique period of history.