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Bristol Record Office was established in 1924. It was the first borough record office in the country and at the time there was only one other local record office in existence.
'B' Bond, the home of Bristol Record Office, is one of three former bonded warehouses standing in Cumberland Basin at the entrance to Bristol's Floating Harbour. It was built in 1908 during the tobacco import boom of the early 20th century. The Record Office occupies five floors of 'B' Bond's nine storeys on the western side of the building. The eastern half of the building is occupied by the CREATE Centre which was set up by the city council to promote environmental awareness.
We look after the archives of the city of Bristol and make them available to everybody. We collect and preserve records relating to the city of Bristol and the surrounding area for current and future generations to consult.
How can I access the records?
You can visit our searchroom to look at the records and ask for advice about your own research. Many of the records are available on microform in a self-service system. We have seven computers available, on which you can access:
- the Internet (including Ancestry) and
- indexes of baptisms, marriages and burials.
There are no charges for these services.
Can I deposit records?
We can look after records:
- belonging to yourself or your family or
- if you care for the records of a business, organisation, church or chapel.
This could include:
- letters or
Similarly if you know of records at risk, please contact us.
Visit our Online Catalogue to find out more more about the records we look after.
The Record Office is used by:
- family historians
- local and community historians
- students of all ages
- teachers and academics
- council officers
- press, television and radio.
Talks and tours
- Our staff visit local, family and community groups to talk about the archives. They also attend family and local history events in the area.
- Groups are invited to visit the Record Office to have behind-the-scenes guided tours.
- Talks and events are arranged in the Record Office, ranging from presentations on family history on the Internet to tracing West Indian ancestors to evenings of traditional song and dance or jazz. The unifying theme is raising an awareness of history and the evidence it leaves behind.
- Each year the Record Office takes part in the national Archive Awareness campaign and Bristol Doors Open Day.
Our educational activities include:
- the promotion of Lifelong Learning
- tours for school groups
- occasional talks and classes for all ages
- helping self-help history groups - for example, we are home to a Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society research group.
The records are kept in our strongrooms which are air-conditioned with temperature and relative humidity constantly monitored. This is to make sure the documents will survive for generations to come. Below are some of the categories of records that we keep.
These comprise of records of the city of Bristol from medieval times, together with those of other bodies.
The records of the Diocese of Bristol including:
- Bishop's transcripts
- faculty papers
- records of ordination
- estate records and
- tithe maps.
Parish registers and records
- Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials for the Archdeaconry of Bristol.
- Records of the Overseers of the Poor and churchwarden's accounts.
Public records include those of:
- Quarter and Petty Sessions
- the County Court
- the Coroner
- shipping registers and crew lists.
Gifts and deposits (loans, donations and bequests)
We also have records deposited by businesses, families and individuals who are associated with Bristol and its history.
These include the records of:
- trade unions
- societies and
- estate papers of local families, for example the Smyth family of Ashton Court.
We are always pleased to receive new deposits or to be informed when records are at risk of dispersal or destruction.
Records relating to the South Gloucestershire area
Please note that due to boundary changes over time, some records for places now in South Gloucestershire will be in the Gloucestershire Archives and others in Bristol Record Office.
Generally, Bristol Record Office holds the main ecclesiastical records for parishes currently in South Gloucestershire. This does not necessarily include records in the other categories mentioned above. There are also some parishes that were in the County of Gloucestershire, but were made part of Bristol as it grew. A guide has been produced by Gloucestershire Archives to help researchers identify where South Gloucestershire material is held.