Answering the call of the past

We’ve been with Britain from the Industrial Revolution, through to the smartphone revolution. These archives tell our story. Our story begins in 1846 with the world’s first telegraph company and continues with BT today. 

Visiting us

Our archives don’t just tell the story of the world’s oldest communications company, they provide a fascinating insight into social changes over the past 175 years. 

Through our extensive collection of advertising and marketing materials, you’ll catch glimpses of how all our lives have changed. You’ll marvel at our unparalleled library of phone directories. And you may (occasionally) gasp at our trove of documents showing how communication technology has moved from the novel to the ubiquitous. 

Unfortunately, due to Coronavirus restrictions our archive remains closed until further notice

Location

BT Archives

Third Floor, Holborn Telephone Exchange

268-270 High Holborn

London

WC1V 7EE

  • British Rail: City Thameslink (Holborn Viaduct entrance)

    Underground: Holborn (Piccadilly and Central Lines), Chancery Lane(Central line) or Farringdon (Circle or District Lines)

    Bus routes: (High Holborn) 8, 242, 25, 501, 521 (Holborn Kingsway) 1, 68, 91, 168, 171, 188, 501, 505, 521, X68

    By car: NCP Car Parks at: Holborn, Museum St WC1; Brunswick Square WC1; Russell Court, Woburn Place WC1; Caxton House, Cowcross St, EC1; Cardinal House, Cowcross St, EC1; Bloomsbury Square Car Park, WC1 

Our digital archive and catalogue

Can’t visit in person? Go digital.

The BT Digital Archives is our online research resource, the result of a £1 million collaboration between BT Heritage, Coventry University and The National Archives to digitise a core part of BT’s archive collection from 1846, almost half a million photographs, reports and items of correspondence preserved by BT over the past 167 years. Not everything has been digitised, but the entire collection can be searched. If what you want to see hasn’t been scanned, you can note the finding number and make an appointment to visit us.

Our heritage policies

We have specific policies for heritage. They explain how we look after our information, objects and historical materials.

Each policy is available to download as a PDF below. 

Significance of our archives

The National Archives has accredited BT Archives as meeting national archives standards. Our collections are acknowledged by UNESCO and Arts Council England as being internationally significant and an important part of the UK’s cultural and scientific heritage. 

Archive Service Accreditation

Arts Council England Designation Scheme

UK Memory of the World Register