Planning a visit

Anyone can use the Royal Berkshire Archives (RBA) and it is free to visit in person.

Our normal opening hours are 09:00 to 17:00 Tuesday to Thursday; 09:00 to 16:30 Friday. We are also open until 21:00 on the first or second Thursday of the month. We do not open on Mondays, weekends or Bank Holidays.

We suggest that children under the age of 11 are accompanied by an adult, as many historical sources require some interpretation. Please bear in mind that the searchroom has a quiet working atmosphere which is not suitable for very young children.

We aim to assist all our visitors with their research as best as we can but are unable to provide a one-to-one service.

Please also see our Contact Us page for details of other times we might be closed.

Archives Card and Day Passes

We require visitors looking at original documents to register for an Archives Card which is a national scheme allowing visitors to use one card to visit all participating archive services.

Registration needs to be done in advance of your visit which is then completed when you arrive. Full details on how to sign up and what ID is required, can be found on the Archives Card website.

If you are unable to apply for an Archives Card and wish to look at original documents, you will need to bring some form of ID with address and/or signature with you on your visit to be issued a Day Pass . This will only be valid for the day of your visit.

Your Archives Card or Day Pass will be kept on the shelf holding the records you intend to look at for the duration of your visit, so please remember to take it into the searchroom with you.

An Archives Card or Day Pass are not required for looking at library material, microfilm/microfiche or the computers, but please be prepared to show ID should you need to look at original records at any point on your visit.

How to make a booking

There are limits on how many people we can accommodate in each area of the searchroom as follows:

Original Documents

  • We have space for two visitors to look at maps.
  • We have space for up to ten visitors to look at original documents.

Please take a moment to use our online catalogue in order to find the references of the documents you wish to look at and pre-order up to six documents.

Computers - for free access to Ancestry, Find My Past (including the 1921 Census) and the British Newspapers Online Archive

  • We have space for three visitors to look at computers.

Please note that ongoing issues with access to Find My Past (including the 1921 Census) means that we cannot guarantee it will be available. FMP have raised the issue with their technical team who are looking into how to resolve it. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Microform and Library

  • We have space for up to eleven visitors to look at microfilm/microfiche and library material.

To avoid disappointment, it is advisable to book a place in advance to visit us.

We do not have an online booking facility so please contact us via email or call 0118 937 5132 during our opening hours to check that we have the sources you need and can accommodate your chosen date/time of visit.

Bookings will be made available one month in advance and we suggesting making a booking at least two working days in advance. We will not always be able to accommodate your request so please be prepared to consider alternative dates.

Please let us know as soon as possible if you wish to cancel a booking, as this will open it for someone else to take.

Please see our When you arrive page for more details on what you need to do when you get here.

Please also see our Facilities & Access page for more information on facilities and access to the building.