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The fifteenth annual report and accounts for The National Archives have now been published.

We are a non-ministerial department, and the official archive and publisher for the UK Government, and for England and Wales. We are the guardians of over 1,000 years of iconic national documents, expert advisers in information and records management, and a cultural, academic and heritage institution.

We fulfill a leadership role for the archives sector and work to secure the future of physical and digital records. Our collection is accessible to everyone all over the world.

This year’s annual report and accounts mark the third year of achievements for Archives Inspire, our ambitious, audience-focused strategy. Archives Inspire sets out how we are thinking and organising ourselves differently to meet the needs of each of our major audiences, and to face our biggest challenge – digital.

Read a selection of our 2017-18 highlights and achievements by clicking through the tabs below.

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We provide expert advice and scrutiny, ensuring that the record survives and thrives

● We accessioned an unprecedented number of public records in 2017-18: a total of 74,551 over the course of the year. We also released a wide variety of government records to the public:

● Nigel Lawson’s Private Office papers from his time as Chancellor of the Exchequer

● Foreign and Commonwealth Office files on the Spandau Allied Prison in Berlin, and the imprisonment and death of Rudolf Hess

● Cold War espionage material from the 1960s, including those charting the defection of Kim Philby and the Profumo Affair.

● We further developed our Information Management Assessment (IMA) programme, working with government to raise standards in information management. We also launched the online IMA Self-Assessment Tool to assist government organisations in examining the effectiveness of their approach to information and records management.

● As part of our legislation publishing services, we published 56 new Acts and 2,075 new Statutory Instruments on and in print, and applied 71,239 amendments to legislation on the website. 95.5% of Acts on are now fully revised and up to date.

Find out more in our annual report and accounts.


A glimpse at some of the millions of government records stored at The National Archives UK


We work to inspire new ways for people to use and experience our diverse collection

● We opened a stunning new 250-capacity event space in spring 2017, which has since been used for film screenings, lectures, performances, conferences and choirs.

● In addition to our Archives at Night lates, we offered new flagship events as part of our What’s On programme; approximately 500 visitors came to Kew as part of Open House London, and our Time Travel Club day launched a new series of events aimed at children and families.

● We continued to provide opportunities for young people to engage with our collections in creative ways. Somme Tales, a student animation short film based on our First World War records, won the international MEDEA Award for Best User Generated Content, beating over 100 entries from more than 26 countries.

Find out more in our annual report and accounts.


Our new state-of-the-art events auditorium, The Domesday Theatre, can accommodate up to 250 guests

Archives sector

We are an effective leader and partner for the archives sector, to sustain and develop the nation’s collection

● We successfully applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund funding for our new trainee programme, Bridging the Digital Gap. More than £720,000 will go towards recruiting 24 trainee digital archive technicians. This application marks a big step towards growing the necessary digital expertise, and in diversifying talent throughout the sector, as well as entry routes into the profession.

Archives Unlocked was launched in March 2017, and is our strategic vision for the archives sector. The final theme of the vision’s action plan is to ‘demonstrate the impact of archives’. To help us achieve this, we developed a series of impact seminars relating to the ambitions of Archives Unlocked – ‘Trust, Enrichment and Openness’ – to identify a set of outcomes that services can measure. We also commissioned a sector training event, ‘Measuring Impact, Exploiting Data’, which will help services to demonstrate the importance of the work undertaken by the sector.

● To help UK archives catalogue and unlock the potential of their collections, we launched our new funding programme, Archives Revealed. This programme has a total funding of £825,000 over three years: £300,000 from The National Archives, £300,000 from The Pilgrim Trust and £225,000 from the Wolfson Foundation.

Find out more in our annual report and accounts.

Archives sector

Our vision for the archives sector, Archives Unlocked, was launched at the Southbank Centre Archive Studio, Royal Festival Hall in March 2017


We’re focused on advancing knowledge through exemplary academic liaison and outstanding interdisciplinary research

● We are a primary partner in the international research project to digitise and catalogue the Prize Papers – around 160,000 undelivered letters seized from captured ships, in the 17th-19th centuries. This massive project, led by The University of Oldenburg, and funded through the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities, will receive €9.7 million and take 20 years to complete.

● We continued to be pioneers of preservation and conservation research, sharing our findings at conferences and through publication in peer-reviewed journals. We worked closely with the British Standards Institution, the European Committee for Standardization, and the Institute of Apprenticeships on the further development of training and standards, regarding the conservation and storage of archival collections.

● An expanded academic events programme saw us deliver our first Summer Lecture Series (sponsored by The Friends of The National Archives and supported by the Royal Historical Society), which hosted high-profile academic speakers and over 450 delegates.

Find out more in our annual report and accounts.


Around 160,000 undelivered letters were seized from ships captured by the British in the wars of the 17th to the 19th centuries. Some of these letters are still unopened


We have made important changes to the ways we think and work, in order to become a digital archive by instinct and design

● We moved our 120-terabyte web archive to the cloud, making it one of the largest cloud-based archives in the world. We also improved access to this important collection by widening the types of records we are able to capture.

● We partnered with the University of Surrey on their research project, Archangel, launched in 2017. The project seeks to ensure the long-term sustainability of digital archives through the design, development and trialling of transformational new distributed ledger technology

● It is a challenge for archives to recruit digital expertise. However, this year, in collaboration with Ada, the National College of Digital Skills, we recruited five new digital apprentices for a two-year programme.

Find out more in our annual report and accounts.


Interior of a digital tape library


Core financial tables 2017-18

Download accessible versions of Table 1, Public spending and Table 2, Administration budgets.

Summary of public records transmitted to The National Archives

This report is produced annually. It provides a summary of the public records transmitted to The National Archives from various sources. It gives a brief description for each piece, including the dates covered.
Download the summary of public records transmitted to The National Archives 2017-18.

Exercise of delegated powers conferred on the Secretary of State by the Public Records Act 1958

This report is produced annually. It gives details on how The National Archives has exercised particular powers delegated to our Chief Executive and Keeper by the Secretary of State. These documents provide information on:

● approval given for the transfer of public records between The National Archives and places of deposit, in either direction

● the appointment of approved places of deposit for public records with specific local relevance or particular specialist and administrative requirements, which are held outside The National Archives

● approval given for the presentation of public records that have not been selected for permanent preservation at The National Archives to other appropriate bodies.

Download the Exercise of delegated powers 2017-18.

Staff engagement survey

Read the results of our staff engagement survey in the Transparency section of our website.

Accounting officer system statements

Alongside our annual report and accounts, HM Treasury ask that government departments prepare Accounting Officer System Statements. Visit GOV.UK to find out more about them.

Read The National Archives Accounting Officer System Statement.

Reports and accounts in the UK Government Web Archive

See reports and appendices from previous years in the UK Government Web Archive: 2012 to 2016 and 2009 to 2012.


The National Archives' main front entrance