Service Charter

Our Service Charter provides a summary of the services we provide and sets out the standards of service you can expect from us. It also tells you how you can help and what action you can take if these standards are not met.


  1. Our Aims and Objectives
  2. National Standards
  3. Acquisition and Preservation
  4. Access to Information
  5. Visiting Us
  6. Access Restrictions
  7. Copies
  8. Outreach
  9. Charges and Payment
  10. Information about our Service
  11. Tell us how we are doing
  12. Should things go wrong
  13. How to contact us

1. Our Aims and Objectives

The service identifies, collects and cares for archives and publications that are the evidence of Cheshire communities’ lives past and present. We deliver access for all to our collections for information, learning and enjoyment and work to make sure archives survive so that future generations will be able to do the same.

To achieve this, we will

  • select and preserve the official record of the decisions and actions of the Boroughs of Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East
  • locate, collect and preserve archives and records relating to all aspects of the development of Cheshire and its communities
  • acquire a comprehensive range of printed and secondary materials relating to all aspects of Cheshire
  • actively promote and encourage their use by providing equal and unbiased access to the sources and to information about them through all available means
  • work in partnership with our users and depositors, societies, individuals and organisations to stimulate interest in archives and local studies, improve access and help in the long-term preservation of the materials in our care
  • keep and review regularly our business continuity plan so that we can respond to unexpected events to ensure this service is maintained as far as possible


2. National Standards

The Service

  • is an Accredited Archive Service and approved as a place of deposit for public records, as a repository for manorial and tithe records and by the Dioceses of Chester and Liverpool for parish and diocesan records
  • has adopted the Public Services Quality Group: Standard for Access to Archives (2008)
  • conforms to relevant standards, best practice and ethics for collections care and conservation including: 
    • BS EN 16893: 2018 Conservation of Cultural Heritage – specifications for location, construction and modification of buildings or rooms intended for the storage or use of heritage collections
    • BS 4971: 2017, Conservation and Care of archive and library collections
    • BS EN 15999-1:2014 Conservation of cultural heritage. Guidelines for design of showcases for exhibition and preservation of objects. General requirements
    • Icon Ethical Guidance (2020)
    • Archives and Records Association – Code of Ethics (February 2020)
  • arranges, catalogues and indexes records in accordance with current national and international professional standards


3. Acquisition and Preservation

We locate, select and collect archives, photographs and other material relating to the history of the County of Cheshire and to the life and work of the people of Cheshire.

  • We select and preserve the official record of the decisions and actions of the Boroughs of Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East to provide democratic accountability and other records according to our collection policy.
  • We select records donated or deposited according to our appraisal policy.
  • We can advise you of a more appropriate repository if the material offered to the Service falls outside our collection policy.

Please tell us if you know of any archives, photographs and other material relating to Cheshire which are of historical interest, particularly those which might be at risk (for example, when a business has closed).

We acquire printed and other secondary material relating to all aspects of the history of Cheshire, and access is provided at the Record Office and through Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East libraries.

  • We constantly seek new publications, both printed and electronic, relating to the history of Cheshire to ensure that we hold a comprehensive Local Studies collection.
  • We also seek out-of-print material relating to the history of Cheshire.

We ensure long term preservation of unique archival material by

  • storing records in secure strongrooms to provide favourable environmental conditions and protection against fire, flood and theft
  • monitoring storage conditions and conserving damaged documents
  • digitising certain documents to increase and facilitate access to information whilst saving wear and tear on the originals
  • providing a public Searchroom where original material can be consulted under supervision to ensure the safety of the records
  • giving advice and training on handling techniques
  • having an Emergency Plan which provides guidelines of the procedures to be followed in the event of a flood or fire
  • providing guidelines for the exhibition of archives

We can advise private owners of archives on their conservation and storage.

Service to owners.

  • All depositors and potential depositors are given a copy of our Terms of Deposit.
  • Depositors are supplied with a records receipt and agreement and reference number for items at the time of deposit. A full receipt can be issued on request. Records are accessioned and descriptions published on the online catalogue within one month. We will tell you if it will take longer than this.
  • Identity of donors or owners is not routinely revealed to users; questions of special access, permission to publish etc are handled through this office.

We encourage donations of original records to the service, talk to us and ask us for a copy of our 'Adding to the Archives' leaflet. If you own records that are deposited with us, please keep us informed of any changes of address or ownership.


4. Access to Information

Access to information is available to all, free of charge.

Please note that we make charges for some services such as photocopying.

We will help you understand the range of our holdings and assist you to identify whether we hold material relevant to your enquiry. We

  • provide guides, catalogues, indexes, publications and databases to help you identify relevant material
  • make available guides and indexes to our holdings in our Searchroom, online, and in Cheshire libraries
  • continue to update our collections information as new items are received

Our searchroom team is trained in customer care and will explain our services and help you to plan your research.

  • Our replies to your enquiries will have a contact name, address and telephone number.
  • You will receive a response within 10 working days to email or postal enquiries and telephone enquiries that cannot be answered immediately, and we will let you know if it is going to take longer.
  • When speaking to you we will give you our names.
  • All staff wear name badges which include their job title.
  • All staff undergo induction training and regular ongoing job-related training.

Research into sources we hold can be done by

  • visiting the Searchroom and carrying out research in person, free of charge
  • consulting our most used collections published through our website and with external partners such as Find my Past
  • a member of the team in response to a short specific enquiry and for a short search fee
  • employing our Research Consultant to do extended research into the records on your behalf for a fee.

We try to make information about the Service available to all.

Please ask if you need help to understand it or require it in a different format.

We are unable to

  • do all your research for you. We will provide advice, guidance and assistance
  • guarantee that we can answer all your queries. The records you want may not have survived or may be subject to access restrictions. If we do not hold the relevant documents we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

Tell us accurately and concisely the information relevant to your enquiry.

Please treat all members of staff with courtesy.


5. Visiting Us

We provide a public Searchroom, which is open for a minimum of 32 hours per week, with some weekend opening.

Contact us in advance of any visit to book a place and pre-order items if you know what you need to see.

Check this website - the visiting us page has information about what to expect and how to get the most out of your visit.

We display our Searchroom rules prominently. Please help by reading these when you arrive.

We try to make our Searchroom accessible to all.
We provide

  • a hearing loop
  • a disabled parking space by prior arrangement
  • access all on one level.


Please mention in advance any accessibility arrangements that will help you make the most of your visit so that we can make every effort to put those arrangements in place.

The Searchroom has suitable conditions and facilities for viewing original archival material and secondary sources.
We provide

  • tables for viewing original and printed material
  • power points for public use
  • a range of microfiche and microfilm readers
  • free Internet access
  • free access to some subscription sites including Find my Past and Ancestry.

Our Searchroom staff will

  • show you how to use the Searchroom
  • provide advice and guidance in how to use the guides, catalogues, indexes and equipment
  • provide assistance in identifying relevant sources
  • help you order documents and give guidance on handling techniques
  • explain how to order copies.


Staff must supervise the public area at all times and this may restrict the amount of assistance available – we hope you will understand and bear with us.

We retrieve original documents you request from our strongrooms and bring them to the Searchroom.

  • Items held on site can be requested on demand during published document production times
  • Documents stored offsite will be produced within 5 working days.

Talk to us in advance to check that the documents you require will be available.


6. Access Restrictions

We will inform you of any access restrictions on records

  • We will note these in the catalogues where possible.
  • Our professional staff are trained to explain and advise on relevant legislation, particularly around data protection.


Please talk to us if you require access to any restricted records.


7. Copies

We undertake to provide copies of documents, subject to any legal, physical or copyright restrictions.

  • Copies will be supplied within 10 working days. We will tell you if there will be a delay.
  • If an item cannot be copied we will advise you of other possible methods of copying such as the provision of a certified transcript.

Please talk to us about your requirements.


8. Outreach

We promote the Service and raise awareness of Cheshire’s recorded heritage by

  • giving talks to groups and to students
  • providing workshops and training sessions
  • supporting Cheshire's communities to celebrate their heritage
  • attending local history days and events.


9. Charges And Payments

  • A list of all our charges is available on this website and on request

We offer a choice of payment methods.

  • Payment can be made by cash, sterling cheque or postal order. 
  • We accept most credit/debit cards in the searchroom and for telephone payments.
  • You can pay online for many of our services.


10. Information About Our Service

We issue information about the Service through all available channels, to reach potential as well as current users.

  • We produce a range of leaflets about our services, policies and the sources we hold. These are distributed to libraries, family history societies, Register Offices, and other public outlets.
  • We keep our website up-to-date.
  • You can subscribe to our regular newsletter delivered by email.
  • You can follow us on our social media channels.
  • Details of income and expenditure are published in the annual CIPFA Archive Service Statistics.


11. Tell Us How We Are Doing

We monitor and publish our performance against standards set for the Service.

We gather views of users by

  • taking part in the National Survey of Visitors to British Archives organised by the Public Services Quality Group
  • carrying out surveys on specific areas of the Service.


Please comment on our standards of service verbally, by letter/email or using 'How did we do today?' forms and our comments book available at the Record Office.

We publish responses to comments and results of surveys and performance monitoring.

  • These are displayed in the public Searchroom and on our website and reported in the Newsletter.


12. Should Things Go Wrong

If things go wrong we will acknowledge the problem, make sure we have understood and apologise if we are in the wrong.

If you are unhappy with our work or we have not met our standards, please

  • talk to a member of staff when the problem arises. Staff will handle complaints and comments as quickly and effectively as possible
  • alternatively, use our feedback form
  • Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East residents can contact their local Councillor at any time.

We will respond within five working days.

We may not be able to do what you want (for legal reasons, for preservation reasons, or because our resources will not allow it) but we will listen to you and explain the reasons for our actions.


13. How To Contact Us

There are a number of ways in which we can be contacted.

In person:

Cheshire Record Office
Duke Street

Write to:

Paul Newman
Archives and Local Studies Manager

Cheshire Record Office
Duke Street

Telephone: 01244 972574

Email the Record Office