Visiting Archives may become v.expensive, New Charges Northamptonshire(England).Precedent?

+7 votes
In England and I think Wales, there is statutory free access to some records now in archives held by the local authority but I doubt any law says how easy or how much access there should be.

Northamptonshire faced with large cuts to funding have decided to limit  the hours for free access, to 9-1 Tues to Thursday plus, in the Summer months, 1 Saturday a month, 9-4pm.  0utside that time there will be a prohibitive charge of £31.50 an hour.  

( that means a weekday visit to those Archives for anyone not living locally will be either too short to be of value, given that many people, especially if using public transport, won't be able to arrive at 9am;   or extraordinarily expensive)


Where one council goes, will others follow?
in The Tree House by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (352k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
I know they are facing budget problems since the govt cut funding, but I'd have at least thought they could have had two mornings and two afternoons a week, plus a saturday a month all year round.

Lobbying sometimes works!  They have backed down!  (​at least for the time being)


3 Answers

+6 votes
Ordinarily,Ancestry,Find my Past,My Heritage,would buy these records.

But some places keep the records to enhance there income.Tell me what

your looking for,need birth date ,where,who married,all you know,Some

are held by Churches also.What church they belonged to.
by Wayne Morgan G2G6 Pilot (917k points)
I'm not looking for anyone Wayne. Its a matter of concern to me and I would have though anyone who makes use of local authority archives in the UK.

.As you say archives in England already  supplement their income by selling images (not the originals!) of the more frequently used  records  to Ancestry and FMP . Personally,  I feel that this is  justified since it enables such records to be viewed by a much wider public and also stops older records being damaged by overuse.  My Ancestry cost for UK records is £14 a month which I don't feel is excessive. But these records are just a tiny proportion of those contained in local authority and other archives.

 It  will  make  historical research in Northamptonshire  more difficult  and expensive unless living within an easy distance of the archives.  In consequence I suspect there will be less usage and another reason to  reduce opening hours further.

England has a good tradition of research into local and family history which will be at the very least curtailed if other local authorities follow this ones example. . If I were living in Northamptonshire, I might well feel  I would have to withdraw from the MA in  local history for which  I have recently registered .

 By comparison, to the £31.50 an hour for access in the non free hours,  the archives at Chatsworth house (not owned not by the public but by the  Duke of Devonshire) costs £25 a day to visit. Their hourly charges for research done by their archivists  is £25 an hour which is  less than Northamptonshire is proposing to charge just  for access.
+8 votes
Who on earth is going to pay that?

Probably needs a test case to check legality.
by anonymous G2G6 Pilot (257k points)
+3 votes
I am sure they will quickly realize they are not increasing their cash flow with such outrages a charges. Sometimes you can gain free access with a membership. That would be less expensive if you are expecting long term use of the repository.
by George Churchill G2G6 Mach 8 (86.9k points)

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