Library Services


Access and facilities

Information for users visiting UCL Special Collections, including access arrangements, our location and contact details.


Information for visitors

The majority of collections are now housed temporarily at The National Archives in Kew, Richmond, and are available to users in a dedicated Reading Room.

The Reader Services and Enquiry Team for UCL Special Collections is now based in the South Junction of the Wilkins Building (for contact details see below).

In the UCL Master Plan vision, the plan is to bring UCL Special Collections back to UCL in central London to a refurbished facility which will allow UCL staff, students and visitors greater access to the collections, with increased scope for use in taught courses, public outreach and showcase exhibition programmes. Find out more about UCL's Master Plan.

Access arrangements

As before, UCL Special Collections remain reference only. It is important that prospective users make an appointment with UCL Library Services first to consult the collections at The National Archives.

You can do this by phone, e-mail or post. Please see our contact details below.

Please quote the collection name, reference number or shelf-mark of the item(s) you wish to see. Anyone who has a need to consult the collections will be admitted (please see the terms and conditions for access).

As Special Collections reader spaces at The National Archives are limited, it is important to arrange your appointment at least two weeks prior to the date of your proposed visit.

If for some reason you are unable to attend your appointment(s), we politely request that you notify us ahead of time. This is to help ensure that we can accommodate all requested visits and provide an efficient service.

If you are not already registered as a UCL Special Collections user, you will need to complete an application form for access to manuscripts and archives, and you will be given an accreditation letter, confirming the date of your visit and items reserved - which you will need to take to The National Archives on the date of your appointment. Please contact UCL Special Collections for further details.

As well as the accreditation letter, you will need to take with you photographic identification: your UCL ID if you are a UCL member, a current UK Driving Licence or a valid passport.

The UCL Reading Room at The National Archives is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 09:00 to 19:00, and on Wednesdays and Fridays from 09.00 to 17:00. The UCL Special Collections Readers Services and Enquiry Team can be contacted between Monday and Friday from 09.30 to 17:00, except on public holidays and during UCL closures over the Christmas and Easter periods. Please do not hesitate to contact the Team if you have any questions.

On arrival

On arrival at The National Archives please leave your coat and bag in the lockers on the ground floor. Place your research materials - notes, pencils, digital camera, etc… into one of the clear, plastic bags provided, and head upstairs to the Start Here desk on the first floor.

At the Start Here desk, staff can help you familiarise yourself with the UCL Special Collections reading room at the National Archives and how to use the facilities.


UCL Special Collections users have a dedicated Reading Room at the National Archives at Kew, Richmond. Appointments must be made at least 2 weeks in advance of your proposed visit - Please see access arrangements above.


The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU.
For sat navs use the postcode TW9 4AD (Bessant Drive).

Rail / Underground

The nearest Tube station is Kew Gardens (zone 3) on the District Line, Richmond branch. The journey from central London takes around 40 minutes. The National Archives is 600 metres (a 10-minute walk) from Kew Gardens station.

Kew Gardens station is also served by the London Overground from Stratford in east London, passing through Highbury and Islington, Gospel Oak, West Hampstead and Willesden Junction. The station is a short walk from The National Archives. See London Overground timetables.

Other convenient railway stations for The National Archives are Richmond and Kew Bridge, both on the mainline into London Waterloo via Clapham Junction. Kew Bridge station is approximately a 20-minute walk from The National Archives, while Richmond station is one Tube stop away (or a 10-minute bus ride on bus R68).


The R68 bus route (from Hampton Court via Richmond) terminates by the entrance to The National Archives. Other routes stopping nearby include:

  • 65 (Ealing to Kingston via Richmond), alight on Kew Road near Victoria Gate (15 minute walk)
  • 237 (Shepherd's Bush to Hounslow Heath via Chiswick), alight at Kew Bridge (20 minute walk)
  • 267 (Hammersmith to Fulwell via Brentford), alight at Kew Bridge (20 minute walk)
  • 391 (Fulham to Richmond via Hammersmith), alight at Sandycombe Road near Kew Gardens station (10 minute walk)

Contact details

Enquiries should preferably be sent by email to spec.coll@ucl.ac.uk or by phoning 020 7679 7827. Written enquiries should be sent to our postal address (below). We aim to answer all enquiries as quickly as we can, but cannot undertake lengthy research. 

Postal address

Special Collections
Library Services
University College London
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT


020 7679 7827