About Us


Our main collection is The Bus Archive which is contained in a separate website.

We have around two million Vehicle Registration Records and the information from these is available to the public.

We have a reference library and original records on Railways, Canals and Other Holdings.


We follow professional standards in the preservation of material, including PD5454 (standard for the storage and exhibition of archive materials). Cataloguing is carried out according to International principles (ISAD) and we use low- or non-acid materials. Our long-term goal is to gain accreditation under The National Archives scheme.

Kithead History

The Trust was set up in 1989 under the leadership of the late John Birks, a lifelong transport enthusiast and a senior director in the National Bus Company (NBC). With the privatisation of NBC in the 1980s, its records and those of its subsidiaries were under threat of destruction, having been declined by the then Public Records Office. The establishment of the Trust saved this important body of records – often dating back to the nineteenth century – and became our “core collection”.

Throughout its first 25 years, Peter Jaques served as Secretary alongside trustees Derek Potter and Paul Addenbrooke.

To this core collection has been added a significant amount of archive and library material – including the historic library of the Department of Transport in the 1990s, and records from many transport operators, manufacturers, statutory authorities and local and central government.

We have been the beneficiary of significant grants for the expansion of our buildings from:

David Beaman,
Garry Charles,
Arthur Townsend OBE and
Andrew Vernon.

Contributions towards the installation and maintenance of climate and humidity control have been made by Stagecoach Holdings and National Express Group.

In April 2018, the collections of the Kithead Trust became part of The Bus Archive.