Conservative Party Archive: Area Offices
Material relating to the work of the Conservative Party Area Offices.
- Creation: 1886-1987
Language of Materials
Oxford, Bodleian Libraries, Conservative Party Archive [followed by shelfmark, e.g. ARE 1/1/1].
Collection ID (for staff)
Papers of the Conservative Party Area Offices, 1886-1987, including minutes, reports, accounts and correspondence.
Biographical / Historical
The Conservative Party's provincial organisation has been based on 26 'areas', mostly corresponding to two or three counties, since the 1997 General Election. Prior to this date, the Party's structure was based on eleven larger Areas, such as North Western or Southern, and it is this structure which is reflected in the files held in the Conservative Party Archive.
Each area had an Area Office, serviced by an Area Agent, one or two deputies and occasionally other officials, all appointed by Central Office. Indeed the Area Offices were technically part of the party's central organisation, and they existed not only to serve the National Union's Area Councils and committees but also to extend the professional and central organisation of the party into the areas.
The National Union organisation within each area was headed by the Area Council, comprising MPs, candidates, area officials, representatives from each constituency and constituency agents. The Area Council generally met once a year, and most area business was conducted by the Area Executive and Finance and General Purposes Committees. In addition there were a number of Area Advisory Committees which complemented those at national level and co-ordinated similar advisory committees within the individual constituencies. In some areas, in addition to the area structure, there also existed a number of County Divisions or Federations, again with their own committees.
The records of these National Union Area bodies comprise the larger proportion of the Area Office papers which have been received into the Conservative Party Archives. Only a very limited amount of the material produced by the Area Offices in their role as branches of Central Office appears to have survived. In one or two cases the Area Office archives also contain the minutes of the area committees of the National Society of Conservative and Unionist Agents.
Please note that papers from individual constituency associations are not held in CPA but have been retained by association offices or transferred to local libraries and record offices.
Each Area Office archive has been allocated a primary reference code as follows: 1. London; 2. Northern [Vacant]; 3. North Western; 4. Yorkshire [Vacant]; MU. Midland Union; 5. East Midlands; 6. West Midlands; 7. Eastern; 8. Home Counties North (now part of London); 9. South East (Home Counties South East); 10. Wessex; 11. Western; 12. Wales and Monmouthshire.
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.
- Conservative Party Archive: Area Offices
- Finding aid prepared by Emily Tarrant
- Language of description
- Script of description