BBC Information & Archives

Parallel name: 

BBC Sound Archive


201 Wood Lane
W12 7TP
United Kingdom


Archival sound recordings at the BBC are held within the Information & Archives department which manages the central radio, television, music, image, written archives and the heritage collection of artworks and artefacts.The BBC began making sound recordings in 1931 for production and broadcasting purposes. Most broadcasts were live and never recorded, but a process for selecting and cataloguing some recordings developed from the late 1930s. All national ('network') radio has been captured and held since November 2008. Other categories of recordings include selected unedited material, sound effects and accent, dialect and traditional folk music of the British Isles. There are more than 350,000 hours of radio and other audio recordings on most physical legacy formats (coarse groove and vinyl discs; 1/4" analogue tape; audiocassettes, etc). Extensive preservation and digitisation programmes have transferred approximately 40% of sound recordings to .wav and .bwav files. Supporting recorded sounds, the Written Archives Centre at Caversham, Berkshire provides academic and professional researcher access to the BBC's historic business papers and production documents and hold essential primary sources on the history of BBC radio.

Opening Times: 

Sound Archive: No direct service or facilities for the public (see below); Written Archives: Weds-Friday by appointment.

Access conditions: 

Research access to the Sound Archive is provided by agreement with the British Library via its Listening Service at St.Pancras in London. Commercial Enquirers and requests for third party use should refer to Motion Gallery provided by Getty Images on behalf of BBC Worldwide Ltd. the Access to the Written Archives is by appointment only, with one month's notice recommended to secure a place and for files to be retrieved and reviewed for release in advance.

Contact name 1: 

Archive Policy Team

Email 1: 

Contact name 2: 

Simon Rooks

Email 2: