National Archives - Kew Tips?

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

  1. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Can't get my head round the logic: if their 'traditional audience' is 'senior', why would footfall decrease because they are senior? Obviously, we'll die off but there ought to be more seniors coming through to replace us. Or are they predicting permanent changes in the behaviour of students that might bump up the average age of visitors?

    If they reconstituted a service that meant those from the provinces could guarantee a fully productive visit, perhaps we might be encouraged to turn up?
    papiermache and Charley Fortnum like this.
  2. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Does anyone have a floor plan of the reading room as it is currently setup? I'm due to visit again and want to be sure my seat allocation has a proper camera stand. I did request one but trying to confirm it with TNA is proving 'difficult'...
  3. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Recent ( May 2021 ) estimates for Kew are at the link, with more sentences: ".... to provide the Select Committee with an explanation of how the resources and cash sought in the Main Estimate will be applied to support "Archives for Everyone", The National Archives’ four- year strategic priorities, and to fulfil our Public Task."
  4. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Gary, I went about a month ago and got there to find that I had a little arm camera stand. The help desk were tremendously helpful when I tentatively asked if I could move to a proper stand and it was all sorted within a couple of minutes. Computer says no, but nice people say yes.

    So whatever happens, do ask to move if you need a proper stand.


    papiermache likes this.
  5. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    I think maaaaaaybe this is supposed to refer to COVID and older people being more cautious?
    papiermache likes this.
  6. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member


    Yes, the same happened to me on my last visit and they did move me...but I don't want to risk it, especially having travelled for hours and shelled out a small fortune to get there. I really don't know why they still don't have the "Do you need a camera stand?" on the booking form - most of the people that were at the "proper" camera stands weren't using them anyway.

    My assigned desk is MR019 which doesn't sound like a standard one - maybe of of the normal 'free' desks?

    papiermache likes this.
  7. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Gary, that looks like you have a map room booking rather than the first floor reading room.

    papiermache likes this.
  8. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    I've not been to Kew since November 2019 so I don't think I'm qualified to comment on what the Chief Executive says to the Culture etc. select committee. I have no visits planned, and wish everybody who goes there the best of luck, and stay safe.

    Until September 2015 Kew came under the Ministry of Justice, until this statement was made:

    " Machinery of Government changes: Data protection policy; Information Commissioner’s Office; The National Archives; and, Government records management policy

    Statement made on 17 September 2015

    Statement UIN HCWS209
    Statement made by

    Mr David Cameron
    Prime Minister
    Witney Commons

    This written ministerial statement confirms that policy responsibility for data protection policy, sponsorship of the Information Commissioner’s Office, and sponsorship of The National Archives will transfer from the Ministry of Justice to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and that responsibility for government records management policy will transfer from the Ministry of Justice to the Cabinet Office. These changes will be effective from 17 September. The Lord Chancellor's responsibilities under the Public Records Act 1958 and associated legislation will therefore be transferred as necessary to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport."
    PsyWar.Org likes this.
  9. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member


    That's what I thought but it isn't according to this:


    PsyWar.Org likes this.
  10. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    That's an odd one Gary. Perhaps they're using the map room as overflow from the reading room?
  11. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Yeah, maybe but I booked it weeks ago when there were still a lot of spare seats.

    I'll have to try the chat again and see if I get someone a bit more helpful.
  12. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Update on access to the archives.

    For anyone that uses the tube to get to Kew a section of the District Line will be closed 4th to 12th August.

    Between Wednesday 4 and Thursday 12 August 2021, there will be no service between Edgware Road and Aldgate via Victoria on the Circle line and from Earl's Court to Aldgate East on the District line.

    On the weekend of 7 and 8 August, the planned closure on the District line will also be extended from Earl's Court to Hammersmith, Kensington Olympia, Wimbledon and Edgware Road

    TfL issues travel advice ahead of essential maintenance on Circle and District lines


    Aixman and gash hand like this.
  13. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Just an update to my visit.

    I did manage to contact someone at the TNA on Thursday who informed me that MR019 was indeed the map room and yes, it would definitely have a camera stand (as you know they put them on the desks if you need one). Happy that I wouldn't be wasting money and considerable time I arrived on Saturday (late after the seemingly near collapse of the British railway system) only to find I was no longer assigned this seat but 44B - you've guessed it one without a camera stand.

    After asking to be moved I was told there were no other seats with camera stands available - despite there being over 50% of the allocated ones unoccupied, I guess they could have been booked. The young guy on the desk wasn't exactly helpful and I had to be particularly insistent that he checked the map room as well. And of course there were loads of desks free and I was moved. MR019 was free as well when I got there. :rolleyes:

    Points of note if you have an SLR or similar:
    • You can book eight weeks in advance and request a seat with a camera stand - makes no difference, they just ignore your comments.
    • The seat you are assigned on booking is not the one you'll end up with.
    • You need to be pretty insistent to get a move as, certainly in this case, the staff may not try particularly hard.
    • According to the staff they have no control over seating allocation.
    • Whoever at the TNA has decreed 'all seats have camera stands' knows nothing about cameras, stands or has ever photographed documents at their institution.
    • They will allocate 'proper' camera stands to researchers who are not using a camera of any kind.
    I understand they are removing restrictions going forward but I feel they may keep the same automated booking system rather than the previous one that asked for a camera stand seat and where the staff actually read the comments.
    PackRat and Aixman like this.
  14. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    I visited on 7th and 8th July and asked for a proper camera stand and the same seat in the comments. Got the camera stand on Day 1 but not on Day 2 so went to the desk and they changed me. Plenty of space free and the longer hours/ top up files allowed which seemed to work well - it changed on Day 2. Can now order up to 24 files for a day in total so getting back to normal and wortha trip from West Wales.
  15. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    The issue I have is that outcome (moving seat) is not guaranteed as I (almost) found out on Saturday - no spare desks. I don't think that is acceptable if you've spent a considerable amount of money and time travelling especially after specifically requesting and confirming a camera stand. The guy's attitude on the desk was 'it is nothing to do with us'.
    Chris C likes this.
  16. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    Gary Agree that it should be capable of being organised in advance. Just glad it is getting closer to normal.
  17. hutt

    hutt Member

    Visited Kew yesterday. The desk I had booked a few weeks ago with a camera stand had been changed as a result of the easing of restrictions but my new desk didn’t have one. Fortunately the very helpful member of staff spent a while looking for something but in the end had to put me in the glass room immediately in front of the enquiry desk.
    However, to reiterate the comments about the camera stands. They are little more than flimsy anglepoise type arms and I suspect would struggle to hold a DSLR type camera. In addition, they move easily so just touching the shutter would result in a slight reposition. Fortunately I can control my GX80 from my phone So all was ok.
    Overall a worthwhile trip with good adherence to social distancing.
    Only spoilt by the shutdown of the Richmond to Stratford line when I left at the end of the day!
    Gary Tankard and papiermache like this.
  18. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    No more directors' and non-executives' minutes found but the Kew Annual Report 2020-2021 available here:

    See page 16:

    " We began a multi-year project with the Ministry of Defence to transfer their collection of 9.7 million Armed Forces personnel files. These records are of national significance and are internationally unique. The first deliveries arrived at Kew in February 2021 and are expected to continue until 2027. By incorporating these records into the national collection, we are acknowledging the service, sacrifice, honour and pride of our service personnel and reflecting the values that sit at the heart of our nation’s stories. However, a transfer of this magnitude brings with it not only opportunity but also risk and challenge, including the cost and logistics of safeguarding these records and, in time, making them available to the public."

    Can Kew find a larger typeface than this ? Answers on a postcard to The Keeper, Kew.

    Screen Shot 2021-07-31 at 10.41.54.png
    AB64 and Gary Tankard like this.
  19. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Wonder how much they paid for that?
  20. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    I filled in a criticism/suggestion form on the TNA website. My comments have been 'passed onto management' but not sure I'll hold my breath. If everyone who has this issue does something similar maybe they'll take action. You'd think the desk staff would feedback as well.
    hutt and dbf like this.

Share This Page