• Reference
  • Title
    County Record Office
  • Admin/biog history
    The County Records Committee of Bedfordshire County Council was set up in 1898 'to advise the council as to the preservation and safe custody of County Documents and Records.' The County Record Office is deemed to have begun in October 1913 when Dr George Herbert Fowler became chairman of the Records Committee and the muniment room began to officially collect material on deposit from owners outside the council in line with the recommendations of a1912 Royal Commission report. Rules for searchroom visitors were introduced in 1914 and by early 1914 the office had all the policies and procedures in place that later became recognisable as those of a local government record office. The Beds CC Yearbook of 1923/4 described the duties as 'the reception and custody of the County Muniments, and control of the Muniment Rooms and their staff.' In 1930 the title of the service was changed from the County Muniment Room to Bedfordshire County Record Office. In 1938 its main duty was described as 'the proper custody of the records of all County Authorities; to this it has added the collection of old documents bearing upon the history of Bedfordshire, which are consulted almost daily by students of history. Its attempt to put into practice the recommendations of a Royal Commission, for the formation of Local Record Offices, has now been followed by numerous other counties.' Fifty Years' Work of the Beds CC. Dr Fowler continued as chair of the records committee and very actively involved in the running of the record office until failing health forced his retirement in late 1939. He died on the 15th August 1940 in his 79th year (see Patricia Bell's article in the Bedfordshire Magazine). The Yearbook of 1950/1 'To exercise and perform all the powers and duties of the Council in relation to the reception and custody of County Muniments and the control of the Muniment Room. Yearbook 1953/4 'To exercise and perform all the powers and duties of the Council in relation to the reception and custody of County Records and the control of the County Record Office, and the management of The Green and Moot Hall, Elstow. In 1974 the functions of this committee were assumed by the new Leisure Committee but not long after the County Record Office became part of the corporate body of the council reflecting its wider corporate responsibilities such as the provision of a records management service for the semi-current records of the council. The running of the Moot Hall remained with Leisure Services. In 1997 Luton Borough Council became a unitary authority and entered into a joint arrangement with Bedfordshire County Council for the provision of the Record Office. To reflect this the service became known as the Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service. In 2009 Bedfordshire County Council was abolished and two new unitaries were formed - Bedford Borough Council, who became the host authority for the service, and Central Bedfordshire Council, which entered a joint arrangement for the provision of the service. In 2015 the title of the service was shortened to Bedfordshire Archives & Records Service. From 1898 - 1938 the daily running of the service was the responsibility of the Clerk of Records. In 1946 this role was renamed County Archivist. The position of County Archivist was removed from the staff structure in 2009 but was reinstated in the service restructure of 2014. In 2013 the Record Office celebrated its centenary with a year long programme of activities. In 2021 the archives service was split from the semi-current records management service as the records service continued to sit at the corporate core while the archives service was moved to join the cultural services of libraries and museum. In 2023 Records management was rejoined with Archives under Culture and Heritage.
  • Scope and Content
    Some of the CR category has been used by the service for its own administrative files. Access to these files is restricted under data protection and only the series level appears on the database. Other categories, such as those relating to the County Records Committee are not restricted and are listed down to item level.
  • Archival history
    Over the years the CR category has been used for semi-current filing as well as archival material. There have been several attempts (notably in 1989, 1994 and 2016) to sort the collection and make it more coherently an archive of the county record committee and the county record office and this has resulted in some destruction of some series and changes to references. Some of the collection remains in active business use and should not be considered as archives available for public research.
  • Level of description