The Archive

Wednesdays and Fridays
10:30 - 16:30
First floor of The Postal Museum

Essential information

  • Visits are by appointment only. There is no access to The Discovery Room without a confirmed appointment.
  • We’re able to offer up to three places per session on a pre-booked basis for access to original (archive) and library material.
  • You can book for the morning or afternoon session, or both.
  • The museum’s café is in the Welcome Space on the ground floor. There are no picnic facilities on site.
  • Please contact us in advance if you wish to consult museum objects or philatelic material (such as stamps).
  • You can order a maximum of 10 items per morning or afternoon session (20 items per day), across archive and library holdings.
  • You will be able to use your own smartphone / camera to take photographs (the use of a flash is not permitted).
  • We may not be able to produce certain material due to access restrictions, condition, and size. You’ll be advised if this applies to your material before the appointment is confirmed.
  • We can help you use our online catalogue by email, but we must have all document references at least three  days before your visit, otherwise your booking will be cancelled and offered to someone else.

In the coming months, we may adjust our processes and opening times in response to feedback from researchers and staff.

We ask everyone planning a research visit to the Discovery Room at The Postal Museum to help us ensure everyone’s safety by committing to our Coronavirus Visitor Charter.


You are welcome to visit as a new researcher. We will ask for proof of ID to issue you with a Discovery Room User Card. Please start the application form before arrival onsite, and send (a signed scanned copy) to us, or bring this with you when you first visit.

In addition to this, we recommend you register separately with our collections catalogue, so you can save items ahead of your visit.

Book an appointment

Advance booking for The Discovery Room is essential.

  • Appointments are offered on a first come, first served basis.
  • They must be booked at least three days in advance.
  • To complete a booking, you’ll need to identify the exact reference numbers of the documents (and related material) you wish to consult – up to a maximum number of  10 items per session.
  • Once you have reserved a slot, we’ll email you to confirm your appointment. Please do not visit us if your appointment has not been confirmed directly by us.
  • If you are unable to use your booked slot, please let us know as soon as possible. We may not offer further slots to ‘no shows’ if no notice is given.
  • Depending on demand, we may limit the number of available slots to repeat researchers.

To book an appointment, select the session that you would like to book below.

When you arrive

  • We’ll check your name on our list of researchers for the day. You will then be assigned a table number and locker. Please have your User Card ready for inspection. If you are a new user, you will go to the reception desk to be issued with a User Card.
  • You can leave your bag and coat in your assigned locker in the Discovery Room, removing any items that you may need during your visit (laptop/phone/pencil/paper).
  • You can use the ground floor toilets at any point during your visit. Please wash your hands thoroughly before entering the room and throughout your visit.
  • Hand sanitiser will be available throughout the building. Please wait until your hands are dry before touching any items.

Viewing items

  • Your documents (and any related material) will be waiting for you on a trolley beside your designated table. Please consult them one at a time and put them carefully back on the trolley when you’ve finished with each one.
  • Document supports and weights are available. Please take these to your desk and leave them on your assigned trolley at the end of the day. Please do not use any space other than what you have been assigned.
  • Please handle documents with care and respect throughout your visit. Staff are invigilating for the safety of researchers and documents.
  • We are happy to provide practical advice during your visit, but unfortunately won’t be able to offer detailed research advice.


Measures are in place to ensure that the Discovery Room, along with the rest of the museum is a safe place for visitors and staff. You can see some of the measures we have introduced on our museum Visit us page.

Other changes we’ve introduced include floor markers, temporary signage, and adjusting the number of users and staff in the Discovery Room at any one time.

As of 19 July 2021 it is no longer a legal obligation for the museum to take part in NHS Test & Trace. Visitors will have the option to scan a QR code using the NHS Test and Trace App at the entrance to the museum.

Please read our Privacy Policy for more details. We will record contact information through the Discovery Room’s User Card system, which is used to ensure the security of our collections. 

We advise all visitors to wear a face covering unless they are exempt. Discovery Room users should wear face coverings throughout their visitDiscovery Room staff will be wearing face coverings.

We have worked hard to make the Discovery Room as safe as possible, following all government guidance. If you decide you feel comfortable visiting, we look forward to seeing you. If you choose not to, you can still explore our collections and stories online or contact the Archive Team with your enquiry.  Staff will continue to answer telephone, email and letter enquiries, and the amount of research that can be carried out by staff has been extended from 15 to 30 minutes.

We are not currently able to welcome groups to The Discovery Room, due to capacity restrictions caused by Covid-19, and are only able to accommodate three researchers at a time.

If you need someone to accompany you when you visit, they will also need to book an appointment slot, so that we can manage our capacity safely. If you need additional support for your visit, please contact us via [email protected] and familiarise yourself with our Accessibility page.

If you can't visit

We understand that not everyone can physically visit The Postal Museum, but we want to make the archive as accessible as possible. Our staff will do their best to answer general queries.

Distance Research

We cannot undertake research on your behalf, however there are independent researchers who can do the work for you. The National Archives have a guide on finding a researcher.

Distance Copying

The Postal Museum has its own digitisation studio. If you require any copies of material then contact [email protected]

Family History Research

Some of the work researching the employment history of your ancestors can be done online, through Ancestry. Find out more about researching Family History.

  • Family history

    The Postal Museum is the definitive place to find out about past postal employees.

    Read more
  • Archive collection

    The Postal Museum looks after over 400 years of postal heritage, including the archive of Royal Mail Group PLC, and Post Office Ltd.

    Read more
  • Online catalogue

    Our online catalogue contains more than 120,000 records describing the files, objects, stamps, posters, photographs and other material in our collections.

    Read more