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St Pauls from the Thames, early 20th Century

St Paul's Cathedral from the River Thames in the early 1900s. (Reference CCS 029).

The archive of the City of London is one of the oldest, most complete and wide ranging civic archives in the world. Dating from 1067, with a Charter of William I, the collection traces the history of the City through a thousand years of governing the square mile, encompassing periods of civil war and national unrest, the Great Fire of London, and the growth of metropolitan London.

The City's unique role in national life with its traditional ceremonial role and emergence in the twentieth century as a leading local authority is documented here.

The history of metropolitan London can be traced through the archive of the Middlesex Sessions of the Peace, both administrative and judicial, from the sixteenth century. LMA also has records for the various bodies set up in the nineteenth century to run the capital - the Metropolitan Water Board, the Metropolitan Buildings Office, the School Board for London and the Metropolitan Asylums Board. Our 100,000 volume library began life over 100 years ago with the Metropolitan Board of Works.

In 1889 the County Councils of London and Middlesex were established and we hold the records of these councils from 1889 to 1965. The County of London was formed from the metropolitan areas of the ancient counties of Middlesex, Kent and Surrey (Central London).

In 1965 the London County Council and the Middlesex County Council were abolished and the Greater London Council was formed, taking in further areas of Kent and Surrey, as well as parts of Essex. LMA has official records covering the much larger area of Greater London from 1965 to 1986, including records of the Inner London Education Authority. Information on the Greater London area can also be found with the London Borough local archive services.

These archives give evidence of the City of London and the London wide government's ability to influence the framing of national legislation and initiatives as well as providing a matrix for local government in the rest of the UK.

Guides and sources

Information leaflets

Capital County. [LMA reference: GLC/DG/PRB/11/010/001]
This film made in 1951 for the London County Council (LCC) provides a history of its growth and a survey of its work. It shows how the LCC affected every aspect of life in London at the time and features a brief history of London. This film is available on our YouTube page or in the Mediatheque at LMA.

Going Greater. [LMA reference: GLC/DG/PRB/11/016/007]
Narrated by Michael Aspel, this film from 1965 shows how the redevelopment of London through the new powers of the Greater London Council will improve the services provided for Londoners such as new roads and traffic schemes, houses and homes, health and welfare services, education, emergency services, parks and sports areas and arts centres. This film is available in the Mediatheque at LMA.

Related sources

London's Pulse is a major digitisation project by the Wellcome Library showcasing the work of the Medical Officers of Health. Their yearly reports from 1848 to 1973, detailing the health of Londoners, are now searchable via the Wellcome Library website.

27 March 2012
Last Modified:
14 June 2019