Historic collections - our resources

Bromley street and trade directories

The directories date from the mid-18th century. Originally aimed at commercial travellers, they contain general descriptions of a town and its communications. Many details are included: they list churches, schools, inns, prominent individuals in the area, residents, shopkeepers and other traders. They often contain advertisements from tradesmen.

Directories have various geographical coverage, from town directories, through county directories, to directories covering more than one county.

Typically, street directories for a town generally have sections as follows:

  • A general description of the town
  • General information e.g. postal information, administration, public establishments, places of worship, schools, societies and institutions, etc.
  • An alphabetical listing of streets and roads, detailing the main occupier of each property; this section also indicates from between which houses other streets lead off
  • A commercial directory, alphabetically arranged
  • A list of private residents, alphabetically arranged.

Used together with large-scale historic maps, street directories are a powerful tool to identify where individuals resided, and may resolve confusion where addresses have been re-numbered at some stage in their history.

How to find a street directory 

Some of our directories are available online. These are in searchable PDF format.

You can view a detailed list of our street directory holdings.

Historic collections

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Tel: 020 8461 7170

Central library, High Street, Bromley, BR1 1EX