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Conservative Party Archive: Conservative Central Office - Organisation Department


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The papers comprise:

  1. Organisation Department: Office Administration, 1960-1984
  2. Chief Organisation Officer/Director of Organisation: Correspondence and Papers, 1959-1981
  3. Deputy Director of Organisation: Correspondence and Papers, 1977-1984
  4. Circulars, 1945-1983
  5. Liaison with other areas of the party organisation, 1948-1975
  6. Reviews of the Party Organisation, 1911-1968
  7. Party Membership, 1946-1988
  8. Party Finance, 1943-1974
  9. Monitoring of other political parties, 1947-1983
  10. Party Conferences, 1962-1988; 1997
  11. Organisation Department: Component sections, 1942-2000
  12. Campaigning and Elections, 1946-1989
  13. Subject files, 1945-1980
  14. Legal Affairs, 1964-1973
  15. Correspondence, 1937-1967
  16. Training, 1973-1999
  17. Technology and Equipment, 1981-1988


  • Creation: 1911-2007, n.d.


60.94 Linear metres (358 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

Access to records relating to the Legal Officer and legal cases require permission from Conservative Central Office.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries, Conservative Party Archive [followed by shelfmark, e.g. CCO 500/1/1].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

CCO 500/1-67

Collection ID (for staff)



Papers of the Conservative Party's Organisation Department and its successors, 1911-2007, including papers of the Chief Organisation Officer and Director of Organisation.

Biographical / Historical

By far the largest, and oldest component of Conservative Central Office (CCO), was the Organisation Department, which dated back to 1911. The Organisation Department was responsible for the state of readiness of the Party organisation throughout the country. In addition to the staff based at CCO in London, there were 11 area offices corresponding to the Provincial Areas of the National Union, each office being staffed by a Central Office Agent (otherwise known as the Area Agent), with deputies, available to advise the constituencies.

The Organisation Department was something of an umbrella body, acquiring responsibility for agents, Conservative trade unionists, local government, speakers, education, the Overseas Bureau, Young Conservatives, students, personnel, the Small Business Bureau, and legal affairs, as the work of Central Office expanded. At various times these sections have been elevated to the status of Department reflecting changes in emphasis within the Party, but then later reintegrated back into the Organisation Department; for instance, the short-lived Community Affairs Department, which existed under its own director from 1975 until 1980.

The Organisation Department came under the direct responsibility of the Principal Agent (from 1930, known as the General Director). Following a review of the Party organisation undertaken by Deputy Party Chairman Lord Stanley in 1927, the Principal Agent was assisted in this by a deputy, known as the Chief Organisation Officer. Following the abolition of the post of General Director in 1966, this post was re-named Director of Organisation. Ultimately, one of the Party's vice-chairmen, appointed by the Party Leader, has responsibility for the Party organisation.

In common with all areas of the Party's headquarters' organisation, the Organisation Department has seen many changes over the course of its existence. Between 1980-1985, it was known as the Organisation and Community Affairs Department. From 1985-1989 it was known as the Campaigning and Training Department, and since 1989 it has been known as the Campaigning Department.

Principal Agents/General Directors, 1868-1966:

  1. 1868-1874: Sir John Gorst
  2. [1875-1880]: ?
  3. 1881-1882: Sir John Gorst
  4. 1982-1884: Sir George Christopher Trout Bartley
  5. 1885-1903: Richard Middleton
  6. 1903-1905: Lionel Wells
  7. 1905-1906: Alexander Haig
  8. 1906-1912: Percival Hughes
  9. 1912-1920: John Boraston [Joint from 1915]
  10. 1915-1920: William Jenkins [Joint]
  11. 1920-1923: Sir Malcolm Fraser
  12. 1923-1924: Sir Reginald Hall
  13. 1924-1926: Herbert Blain
  14. 1927-1928: Sir TJ Leigh Maclachlan
  15. 1928-1945: Sir Robert Topping
  16. 1945-1957: Sir Stephen Piersenne
  17. 1957-1966: Sir William Urton

Chief Organisation Officers/Directors of Organisation/Campaigning:

  1. 1931-1939: Marjorie Maxse
  2. [1940-1947]: ?
  3. 1947-1955: TF Watson
  4. 1956-1966: CFR (Rex) Bagnall
  5. 1966-1976: Richard Webster
  6. 1976-1988: Sir Anthony Garner
  7. 1989-1992: John Lacy
  8. 1992-1998: Tony Garrett

Custodial History

The archive of the Conservative Party was established as a source for academic study at the Bodleian Library in 1978 by an agreement made between the University of Oxford and the Conservative Party, and brought together surviving historic papers of the Party previously held in various locations including Newcastle University Library and the former Conservative Central Office in Smith Square, London. Since 1996, ownership of the archive has been vested in the Conservative Party Archive Trust. The archive includes records from all three areas of Party organisation: parliamentary, voluntary and professional.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Conservative Party.

Conservative Party Archive: Organisation Department
Original catalogue by Emily Tarrant, 2004. Revised and expanded by Simon Mackley, Annaliese Griffiss and Abigail Spokes in 2020-2021.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom