Changes to library opening hours

Harold Wood will close at 3pm on 24 February 2024.

Local studies library


Local Studies and Family History Centre, Central Library, St. Edwards' Way, Romford  RM1 3AR

01708 432392

Opening hours

  • Monday: 10am - 1pm and 2pm - 4pm
  • Tuesday: 9am - 1pm
  • Wednesday: Closed
  • Thursday: 1pm - 4pm and 5pm - 8pm
  • Friday: 9am - 12noon and 1pm - 4pm
  • Saturday: Every second Saturday of the month, 10am - 1pm and 2pm - 4pm

About our local studies

Local studies is part of the Havering Library Service and is situated on the first floor of the Central Library in Romford.

If you are interested in Havering's history, want to start tracing your family history, find an old newspaper report, information about your house or street in the past, a photograph or other illustrations of Havering's buildings and historical events we may be able to help you.

Appointments and bookings of equipment

A selection of books and journals about the history of Havering and Essex are available for browsing, as are specialist titles for family history.

An appointment is needed to carry out research requiring access to items not held in the local studies room.

Please contact us to discuss your requirements before visiting.

To use microfilm or microfiche please book the microfilm reader/printer.

Two computers with dedicated access to the internet for local studies and family history researchers are available. It is recommended that you book these in advance by telephoning 01708 432392 during opening hours.

A current Havering Libraries card or identification is required for access to the internet.

Our collections

Rate books covering the period 1839 to 1968 (incomplete) are a useful tool for local and family historians.

Whilst the majority of volumes relate to the Romford district, there are twentieth century volumes for Hornchurch, Rainham, Cranham and Upminster. 

  • Pigot's 1834
  • White's History Gazetteer and Directory 1848 and 1863
  • Post Office Directory 1855 and 1859.
  • Kelly's 1878 - 1937
  • Earliest Romford, Hornchurch and District 1936, 1938 and 1956
  • Havering area residential and business telephone directories from 1956
  • Almanacs, directories and town guides dating from the early twentieth century as well as local Chamber of Commerce Yearbooks and Official Guides to Havering and its predecessors
  • Essex Times (microfilm) 1866-1937
  • Romford Times (microfilm) 1913-1968
  • Hornchurch and Romford Express (microfilm) 1969-1979
  • Romford Recorder (microfilm) 1934-present
  • Hornchurch and Upminster News (microfilm) 1936-1965
  • Hornchurch and Upminster Echo (microfilm) 1965-1974
  • Havering Echo (microfilm) 1974-1980 

The illustrations collection includes around 5,000 photographs, prints, paintings and slides.

Alfred Bennett Bamford’s prints of the local area at the end of the Victorian era are particularly interesting, whilst the photographic collection illustrates life in Havering over the past century.

It is usually possible to provide copies of items from our picture collection for a small charge, subject to condition and copyright.

This collection is primarily post 19th Century and covers many aspects of life in the Havering area. Standard 18th and 19th century histories of Essex, as well as early histories of the Havering area are available.

A pamphlet collection includes periodical articles, official reports, guidebooks, news-cuttings, some sale catalogues and ephemera.

A specialist collection of Family History titles is available for reference.

Also available are the publications of the Local and Family History societies active in Havering and practical guides, indexes, bibliographies and periodicals for Local and Family History. Our core collection can be found on the library service catalogue.

Facsimiles of historical maps of Essex including Chapman and Andre 1777 are available as well as Ordnance Survey Maps of the Havering area at various scales.

The collection includes Edward Gotto’s 1853 Map of Romford, Havering and Romford Parish Map 1845, Hornchurch Parish Map 1812 and 1849 and the Upminster historian Thomas Lewis Wilson’s copy of the Upminster Tithe Map, 1854.

The collection includes a number of Local Authority planning maps reflecting the development of Havering in the twentieth century and some architect plans.

Census 1841-1901 are available on microfilm/fiche for the London Borough of Havering.

Please book microfilm/fiche readers in advance.

UK Census 1841-1911 is available free in the the Central, Hornchurch and Upminster Libraries through and

FindMyPast vouchers can be purchased from Local Studies and Family History Centre, Hornchurch and Upminster libraries.

  • General Register Office index to births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales 1837-1950 (microfiche) and 1837-2006 through and which are available free in Central, Hornchurch and Upminster libraries
  • London Borough of Havering Cemeteries and Crematoria burial records are being added to the website DeceasedOnline
  • Crow Lane Cemetery burial index 1871-1953 (CD-Rom)

Please book microfilm/fiche readers in advance.

Electoral Registers are viewable by appointment

  • Romford Constituency 1938 and 1939, then from 1956.
  • Hornchurch Constituency from 1947 and Upminster Constituency from its formation in 1971.
  • Between 2003 and 2014, only the edited public register is available
  • From 2010 the constituencies are Hornchurch and Upminster constituency, Romford Constituency and Dagenham and Rainham constituency.
  • Since 2014 the Local Studies Library no longer receives a copy of the electoral register.
  • Romford Rural District Council from 1895–1936
  • Minutes and reports for the London Borough of Havering from its creation in 1965

Also minutes for preceding authorities in the borough including:

  • Commissioners of Paving and Lighting 1819 -1851 (incomplete)
  • Romford Local Local Board of Health 1851-1895
  • Romford Union Rural Sanitary Authority 1872-1894
  • Romford Urban District Council from 1895-1937
  • Romford Borough Council from 1937-1965
  • Hornchurch Urban District Council from 1926-1965
  • Parish Council Minute Books for Cranham, Hornchurch, Rainham, Upminster and Wennington (various dates)

The following are available on microfiche or microfilm . Dates are for earliest and latest. Coverage varies for individual ceremonies. Some transcripts and indexes are available to 1850.

  • Cranham, All Saints baptisms, marriages and burials mid C16th to mid C20th
  • Havering-atte-Bower, St. John the Evangelist christenings, marriages, banns and burials mid C17th to early C20th
  • Hornchurch, St. Andrews baptisms, marriages and burials mid C16th to late C19th
  • St. Andrew’s Church, Hornchurch, burial index 1576-2000 (CD-Rom)
  • North Ockendon, St. Mary Magdalene baptisms, marriages and burials late C16th to early C19th
  • Rainham, St. Helen & St. Giles baptisms, marriages banns and burials 1570 to mid C20th
  • Romford, Congregational Church, Bethel Chapel baptisms 1812-1837
  • Romford, St. Edward the Confessor baptisms, banns, marriages and burials mid C16th to mid C19th
  • Romford, Wesleyan Chapel baptisms 1835-1837
  • Upminster, Congregational Church, Upminster Hill Independent Chapel baptisms 1801-1837
  • Upminster, St. Laurence baptisms, marriages and burials mid C16th to early C20th
  • Wennington, St. Mary and St. Petermid C17th to mid C20th

Please book microfilm/fiche readers in advance.

Hornchurch: A Good Name Endureth 
Year: 1952 
Audio: Sound 
Picture: Black and White  
Duration: 22m 38s 
Collection: London Screen Archives 
Description: A digitised video featuring Hornchurch and it's development from approximately 1952

Development of Romford and Romford Market
Year: 1965 - 1969
Audio: Sound
Picture: Colour
Duration: 13m 18s
Collection: London Screen Archives
Description: Film recording the re-development of Romford in the Sixties

Romford Traffic Problems
Year: 1962 
Audio: Audio starts 1 minute in 
Picture: Black and White  
Duration: 8m 32s 
Collection: London Screen Archives 
Description: A digitised video featuring Romford traffic and it's problems

Romford Carnival 1952 
Year: 1952 
Audio: Sound 
Picture: Black and White  
Duration: 2m 38s 
Collection: London Screen Archives 
Description: A digitised video featuring Romford Carnival in 1952

Romford Carnival 1992 - Havering greets Europe. 
Year: 1992 
Audio: Sound 
Picture: Colour 
Duration: 8m 12s 
Collection: London Screen Archives 
Description: Havering greets Europe 1992 showing floats, and marching bands walking past Liberty II Shopping centre and Dolphin Leisure Centre in Romford.

This years activities - 1946 
Year: 1946 
Audio: Silent 
Picture: Black and White  
Duration: 26m 23s 
Collection: London Screen Archives 
Description: A portrait of the horticultural activity of the Romford Smallholders Society






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