Lambeth’s Archives turn over a new leaf

4 December 2023

Written by: Lambeth Council

News and announcements

Lambeth Archives’ new home on Brixton Hill will be a safe space for its collection of historic documents and close to Brixton town centre.

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Lambeth’s Archives turn over a new leaf

Lambeth Archives’ collection of historic documents and images is moving, shelfload by shelfload, to its new home on Brixton Hill. It’s just a few doors from the council’s Civic Centre and Town Hall, the Black Cultural Archives and Brixton town centre.

The doors will open to the public and to professional researchers and historians in January 2024.

The precious documents are being moved 250 boxes at a time, using acid-free storage boxes and electric vans to make the transport stage more environmentally friendly.

Public space

The new Archives building has three times more public space for research, with museum-style display cabinets to display selected treasures from Lambeth’s collection. Its new Olive Morris Room will be the Archives’ combined education room and gallery space. The name commemorates both Olive Morris House which was previously on the site and the fact that Lambeth Archives holds the papers of local activist Olive Morris, which are a major resource for the study of recent Black history.

Safer storage

More than 3km of empty shelving in Lambeth Archives, Brixton Hill

More than 3km of empty shelving in Lambeth Archives, Brixton Hill waiting for the precious collection of documents to be moved

In the Minet Library, the Archives’ old home, the collections had been stored in a dozen separate small storage areas. By contrast, the Brixton Hill building has a single enormous strongroom providing over two miles (almost 3.25 km) of shelves for storage and giving at least 15 years accrual space for future collecting.

Heat and cold

All archives physically preserve their paper documents from decay by controlling the temperature and humidity, typically by using fans, de-humidifiers, and air conditioning units – which also lead to high fuel bills and an increased fire risk

Lambeth Archives will use an energy-saving “passive” solution. The strongroom has been built on a massive concrete slab that generates its own inert microclimate, maintaining a constant environment. This means that we no longer have to run expensive plant to manage the temperature and humidity.

Fire safety

The loss of many major archives – such as Norwich Archives in 2004 – has been due to electrical fires. With no electrical plant in the strongroom and with power shut down in the strong room at night, the Archives has minimised that risk. In addition, a Gas-Suppression system (using a mix of Argon and Nitrogen gas) has been installed. This suppresses any outbreak of fire without taking all the oxygen out of the atmosphere.

More information

For information about remote access to collections while the move goes on and our ongoing services see