National Archives - Kew Tips?

Discussion in 'Research Material' started by von Poop, Oct 2, 2008.

  1. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    That's exactly what I do. But offering a professional document copying service has overheads. So although £5 a document seems reasonable, in the scheme of things that just about covers costs, if that.

    A trip to Kew is a 15 hour day, 60 quid in travelling. (With a single 30 min lunch break). Then there is time processing and delivering the images, chasing payments, bank fees, internet costs, web hosting, expensive digital cameras are knackered every few years, time developing the website and finding work, etc.

    For every day at the archives there is at least another day on admin. Most of my time goes on correspondence, rather than copying documents. And I'm rubbish at correspondence!

    And when you're sick or on holiday then no income.

    There is a reason why TNA charge over £1 a page to copy a document, with a £8 fee for estimates.

  2. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

  3. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    It seems to me that if they were able to catalogue the archive more effectively, giving rough page-counts or even weight(!) in the description of each 'document', then researchers would be able to plan accordingly.

    Like most of you, I choose documents 'blindly' and have been stuffed by inaccurate descriptions and mis-filed paperwork multiple times.

    One 'War Diary' came in at over 900 pages, while another (post ww2) was two page of unfilled foolscap.

    If we better knew what they held, we'd better be able to make decisions on what and when to order.
    Skoyen89 and Aixman like this.
  4. idler

    idler GeneralList

    It's clear now: attendance is falling so make researchers attend twice to do the same amount of work. Then call it 'efficiency'.

    Making people think twice about whether it's worth going is not going to help, I imagine.

    And, yes, you can see up to 40 documents in a bulk order, but only just as the lighting in the map room is even worse than downstairs...
  5. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I don't suppose it would be particularly difficult to interface a scale to the returned docs scanner to acquire the data and add it to the catalogue. Then I remembered this is the civil service.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
    CL1 and Charley Fortnum like this.
  6. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Yes Dickens long ago defined the chief purpose of the CS as being to find reasons why things should/could not be done. He invented a special department for this - the Circumlocution Office
    CL1 likes this.
  7. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    I expect this lot do not read The Daily Telegraph out of choice.

    The National Archives' Board - The National Archives

    Coincidentally, Lesley Cowley O.B.E. was appointed as the first Non-Executive Chair of the DVLA in October 2014, and the previous Keeper of The National Archives, Oliver Morley, moved to DVLA to be Chief Executive in November 2013. In March 2018 he left, and is now at the Pension Protection Fund.

    Mr. Morley defends his role at the DVLA here:

    DVLA disputes £400m revenue loss following abolition of tax disc
    timuk likes this.
  8. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

    Saw this mentioned on another Forum

    Construction works begin soon for new learning spaces - The National Archives
    "Friday 31 January 2020
    We will begin construction of two major new learning spaces within our first floor reading rooms from Monday 10 February.

    We will do our best to minimise disruption while the works take place behind the hoarding, but researchers working in the first floor reading room and library may still experience some noise disturbance. Work is due to complete in June 2020.

    If you are planning to visit our reading rooms within the next few months, we encourage you to order your documents in advance to ensure that we reserve a seat for you."

    The link within the text says "In the document reading room, 72 seats (nine tables) will be temporarily removed, along with some camera stands"

    papiermache likes this.
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Nine years I've been going to the National Archives and with the exception of Lib Reports my price of 10p per page has remained unchanged, despite increased fuel costs and new parking charges. I'm quite sad really that after all this time I'll have to put my prices up because of something out of my control and I suspect many folk will not be ordering this little oddities and unexpected finds anymore within series like CAB 106, WO 106, WO 197 and so on.
    It costs me close to £100 now in fuel costs, parking and food to visit TNA, then there's admin time the following day. A £5 minimum fee would potential be £120 if all 24 files were thin, my minimum fee is going to have to be greater than this for the service to continue.
  10. AndyBaldEagle

    AndyBaldEagle Very Senior Member

    Just tried to put in a Bulk Order but their link keeps taking one back to the same page! Got some assistance from the Chat lady, then once I have done all that and put in my order for 40 x WO 416 documents, get an email to say they don't produce this series as a Bulk Order, and it should be visible on the Bulk Order page (which I couldn't get to initially). I am allowed however to order 12 up front!!! So 12 odd ones, or 40 odd ones, what's the problem?

    I have now asked the question when that changed as they produced them for me on my last visit.

    Unfortunately the service is becoming really poor now and I might have to curtail my visits to when I absolutely need to. For me it is a very early start, on a branch line now too, and having to travel across London in the rush hour does not do my stress any good at all!

    The whole reason I go on a 10 hour day is to make the most of the day, but since they have reduced the ordering time etc, and the time it takes some documents to arrive, has meant on my most recent visits that I have finished by 4.30ish and then have a cross London journey and wait for a 9 pm train!

    It will soon become pointless in going, especially with the maximum of 24 documents per person each day!! It's a pity they did not consult prior to bringing this in, even as a trial. No doubt the figures they quote are going to make them reduce the services further!!!!!

    P***ed off of Essex:banghead:

    PsyWar.Org and papiermache like this.
  11. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    I don't think anyone will object - I've always been grateful for your service. That's so long as your prices don't get near the TNA's prices of £8.40 to find the file and then £1.20 per page.

    Incredibledisc and CL1 like this.
  12. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    Andy They notified me on 17th December that they were adding WO 416 to the list of file Groups that it would be no longer possible to submit bulk orders for. Prior to that I’d been doing bulk orders for this series on a fairly regular basis. Today it took me all of 25 minutes to do my permitted advance order of 12 files from this series. Thankfully I had some other work to do that made my day worthwhile
  13. AndyBaldEagle

    AndyBaldEagle Very Senior Member

    But after April, it will take less than an hour then to complete the maximum daily limit of 24!! I am not travelling 130 miles round trip to do that an hours work!!

  14. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Kew executives expect readers to complain to their MP about the service at Kew, and I think that some academic users will have done so, given the anger this has aroused.
    Go to the Kew website, then go to the foot of the first page, click "A to Z", then go to "U" for "User Advisory Group." There was a User Forum but Kew pulled the plug on that last February, minutes are still available to read.

    Here are some quick links for the UAG:
    The UAG were told about the changes in December 2019. For the minutes see here:

    For the UAG Terms of Reference see here:

    You could contact one of the user advisory group delegates: see here:
    User Advisory Group delegates - Get involved
  15. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    The reading room has had a third of the room closed off since last August pending this building work. In that time, apart from partitioning the room, nothing has happened. And despite them saying some tables would be made available again quite quickly.

    At busy times they have ran out of seats for readers arriving in the afternoon.

    The building work seems totally unnecessary and more waste of public money, especially as they are unable to provide their previous level of service to readers.
    papiermache likes this.
  16. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Sadly, WO 416 is a series I will no longer be copying for customers. Just not cost effective even if I charged £10 per card.

    No doubt one of the ancestry big boys has already done an exclusive digitisation deal on them anyway.
  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    and I got a stone strike on the way home so I’ve now got a £100 bill to replace a windscreen. Yesterday my day started at 3.05 am, I set off for Kew at 3.45am. I left Kew at 6.35pm and arrived home at 10.50pm - that’s almost a 20hr day and I’ve only just sorted the images into files. Tomorrow I have to email everyone an invoice. Then ship the files once payment is received assuming I don’t have to chase any payments and fingers crossed no one decides they don’t wNt to pay me.
  18. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member


    They appear to have stopped doing any work on reviewing and releasing these files when they reached the letter M. Just checked and in the last week they have opened just 4 records from this Series, all of which appear to have been as a result of FOI requests providing evidence of death (I was responsible for one of these and two of the other cards related to the same individual - so one FOI for this person!). I must, however, congratulate TNA on their speed of response. I submitted the evidence of death and received notification the following day that the record had been opened.
    brithm and PsyWar.Org like this.
  19. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    This feels like a metaphor for a more general malaise.
    papiermache likes this.
  20. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Nicely put.

    Curiously the Non Executive Directors of Kew ( paid £400 per day for an estimated 20 days a year ) may have been meeting but their Meeting Summaries have not been revealed since they met on 19th June 2019. Perhaps they have all protested at the document ordering changes and have been held in the Archives, being fed on old sandwiches and cold sausages from the breakfast menu. They are, after all, the usual suspects ?

    The last Executive Team Update was published in November and I rather think their updates will not reappear. See last meeting minutes here:

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