Our archive collections

What we hold

Search our catalogue | Search our databases | 

The Cheshire Archives and Local Studies Service has in its care many thousands of records, some dating from as far back as the 12th century.

You can access our catalogue online and it’s also worth searching Discovery hosted by The National Archives.

 These records include:

Hidden Histories

We know that it is difficult to use archive catalogues and collections to discover some histories. We have three online digital exhibitions that are the result of our efforts to research them using our collections knowledge.

Our local studies collections

The main collection of published works from the 16th century onwards is held in the Cheshire Record Office.

This material includes:frog going wooing

  • Books and pamphlets covering all aspects of Cheshire life such as history, geography, religion, education, and local industry.
  • Maps including historic county maps and Ordnance Survey maps. Some maps are available on The National Library of Scotland website. We have compiled a list of maps (PDF 181KB) relating to Cheshire on this website. 
  • Trade directories of Cheshire businesses and residents, some individual town directories.
  • Newspapers held at the Record Office in print and/or microfilm can found in our Newspaper Index (PDF 4.01 MB).
  • Journals and periodicals such as Cheshire History and Cheshire Life have been indexed and can be searched using our catalogue.
  • Photographs of people, places and events can be viewed on the Cheshire Image Bank.
  • Prints and drawings illustrating buildings, towns and notable people from the 17th century.
  • Township packs contain an abridged history of townships in Cheshire.
  • Special collections include our Civil War pamphlets, Randolph Caldecott and Lewis Carroll collections. Details can be found on our catalogue.

To find out what is held in your local library, go to Local Studies.


Search Databases




  • Cheshire First World War Servicemen's index (Spring 1919 Absent Voters). Absent voters list of service men (and women) eligible to vote in WW1. Includes names, addresses and some service history.
  • Cheshire wills, 1492-1940. Wills of Cheshire residents proved in Chester can be searched  and ordered through our online shop (select 'Wills' under Item type). You can also search for Cheshire wills and download copies on Find My Past
  • Overleigh Cemetery. Volunteers compiled this index of names, biographical details and grave numbers for 60,000 people buried in Chester at Overleigh Cemetery, 1850-1950. For help on using the database, please watch the instructional video shown above. 
  • Rolls and registers of freemen,1747-1925. The index to the rolls and registers can include place of residence, occupation and if an individual became a freeman by birth, apprenticeship to a trade or by order of the City of Chester Assembly.  
  • Railway staff registers, 1869-1950. Index to the registers of four railway companies, covering parts of Cheshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Wales. 
  • Crewe railway works, c1890-1928. Records of employees at Crewe railway works
  • John Ramsbottom presentation volume. Includes the names of all employees of the Locomotive Department of the London and North Western Railway in 1871. Please note that there is a charge for downloading images from the volume.
  • Chester city gaol registers, 1808-1865
  • Cheshire military records, 16th-19th centuries. With 21,000 names taken from a range of records relating to military service
  • Runcorn Crew Lists. With 30,000 names of owners, masters and crewmen of every ship registered in the Port of Runcorn between 1863 and 1913


  • Trade directories. A database of Cheshire trade directories, 1781-1840 is available. We have also made a set of scanned, searchable images of 19th-20th century trade directories available
  • Neston building plans 1868-1950 and Widnes building plans 1866-1942 - please note the information from these old databases is due to be published in our online catalogue. Please contact us if you need a search before it is available there.



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Curiouser and Curiouser: Stories from our Collections

Photo exhibitions on Flickr