The Royal Berkshire Archives

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The Royal Berkshire Archives (formerly the Berkshire Record Office) holds the archives of the Royal County of Berkshire. We look after nearly nine hundred years of the County's history.

You can explore Berkshire's past and discover more about our holdings, how to use us and see some of the treasures from our collections, just by clicking on any of the links within the website.

Thinking of visiting us? Please see our Planning a Visit Page for details on how to book for when we are open.

Got a query? Please Contact Us and we'll do our best to help you.

See our What's On pages for our latest blogs, news and events.

Scroll down to see our recent posts on X (you will need to be logged in to X to view them). You can also click on our other social media links at the top or bottom of the website.

We hope you enjoy exploring our website and look forward to helping and/or seeing you soon.

Our aim...

Royal Berkshire Archives exists to collect, care for, share and promote the rich archival heritage of the Royal County. We want to remember, celebrate and appreciate the things that make Berkshire special.

We will:

  • Acquire a comprehensive selection of archive materials for Berkshire people and places, ensuring our collections reflect past and present life in the Royal County and inspire pride within its communities
  • Provide safe-keeping for these materials through appropriate storage, collections care and information, so that the county's history is looked after sustainably for the future
  • Respond to the opportunities of providing access through technology
  • Offer worldwide digital resources and a visitor experience to explore and research the collections
  • Engage people by telling the story of the county's past, and enabling direct contact with the collections for learning and enjoyment

What we do...

Our job is to locate and preserve archives and records relating to the Royal County of Berkshire and its people, and make them available for all to research.

Part of our function is one of democratic accountability. We store the records of public authorities like councils, hospitals and courts, so that members of the public can see how decisions were made. We also have a cultural remit. We act as an historical memory of Berkshire, enabling research for business, leisure or scholarly interests. We were established in 1948, and are run as joint service for the six district councils that provide local services in Berkshire.


How it all began for the RBA

In 1939 Berkshire County Council established a Berkshire Records Committee to consider how to look after the many official and private records that were stored in the basement of the old Shire Hall in the Forbury, Reading.

The Clerk of the Council, Harold Neobard, was keen to employ an archivist as over twenty other shire counties had already established a County Record Office. Mr Neobard wanted Berkshire to be the next county to have a Record Office.

By April 1940, it was agreed to appoint an archivist but unfortunately the Second World War intervened. It was not until August 1948 that Felix Hull was appointed and started work as the first County Archivist of Berkshire.

Continue the Story of the RBA online and discover more about our history.