Prior to their amalgamation with Westminster in 1965 the former London Boroughs of Paddington and St Marylebone maintained their own archives and local studies collections. In 1995 the City of Westminster Archives Centre opened, bringing together for the first time the archives and local studies collections relating to Westminster, Paddington and St Marylebone. The collection covers centuries of Westminster’s history, with the oldest item dating from 1256. It is extremely diverse and includes original hand-written documents, audio-visual material, printed books, photographs, watercolours, maps, plans, prints and drawings. Of particular note is the Ashbridge Collection, an exceptionally comprehensive private library collection relating to St Marylebone, bequeathed to St Marylebone Borough Council in 1943.

The Archives Centre is the Diocesan Record Office for south Westminster and all of the parish registers for the area south of Oxford Street have been deposited here. Among the fine and varied collection of business records are those of important firms such as Gillows of Lancaster (later Waring and Gillow), Jaeger and Liberty plc. Included among the records of Westminster City Council is an extensive collection of material on the organisation of Civil Defence during World War Two, incorporating a bomb map, incident reports and photographs.

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