Local studies and archives

Not all of our library services will be available initially and some services will look a little different. We will be prioritising access to computers, the internet and books to best support our residents. Our online reservation system will be unavailable across our libraries, please contact the library via email or telephone if you would like an item put aside for collection and all returned items will be quarantined for 72 hours. Additional services will be expanded in a phased manner over the coming months to ensure the safety of all.

Visit our Libraries COVID-19 page for more information.

Local studies and archives online catalogue

Our local studies and archives online catalogue has more than 22,000 records, including more than 500 digitised images.

To search, select ‘Kensington and Chelsea Local Studies and Archives’ from the drop-down menu in the Repository field and enter key words into the ‘Any Text’ search field.

Material can be accessed by visiting our department. Please take a note of the reference numbers and email us at centrallocalenquiries@rbkc.gov.uk to book an appointment to visit. Providing references allows us to retrieve items in advance.

 Search the local studies and archives catalogue

About local studies and archives

Our local studies collection contains all the borough's material on the history of both Kensington and Chelsea including:

  • books
  • newspapers
  • illustrations including prints, photographs, paintings and drawings
  • maps including ordnance survey, parish and general maps of London
  • census returns
  • electoral registers
  • manuscripts
  • ephemera and other archive material

Read more about:

Visit the archives

Local studies and archives are offering a remote enquiry service until further notice.

The archive collection is housed at Kensington Central Library.

If you want to see any archive records you need make an appointment first:

Opening hours

Monday1pm to 6.30pm
Tuesday1pm to 6.30pm
Wednesday1pm to 5pm
Thursday1pm to 6.30pm
Friday9.30am to 12.00 noon and 1pm to 5pm
Saturday1pm to 5pm


Copying facilities

  • Our book scanner is free to use, but you may need to pay a reproduction fee if you intend to reproduce any images. Please bring a USB stick.
  • We can scan items for you although this will depend on how much you want scanning. We may charge you for this service.
  • A coin operated photocopier is available in the reference department.
  • You can use your own camera if you need copies for a research project.

Local newspapers

We hold local newspapers on microfilm for:

  • Kensington 1855-2004
  • Chelsea 1865-1999

If you want to view microfilm copies:

  • call us to make a booking 020 7361 3038
  • printed copies cost 20p each

We also hold some back copies of more recent local newspapers such as:

  • The Kensington and Chelsea Chronicle
  • The Kensington and Chelsea Gazette


Read our blog

The Library Time Machine is our weekly blog. It explores past lives and history of Kensington and Chelsea.

Read The Library Time Machine.

Kensington and Chelsea's Great War

Our website showcases Kensington and Chelsea’s Great War memories and local historical material including:

  • recruitment posters
  • photos
  • old documents
  • family memories of local people

Read more about Kensington and Chelsea's Great War.