Central Office of Information
formerly the Ministry of Information
...Educating the people
Ministry of Information Poster

Remember those public information films of the 1960s and 1970s?

Producing the messages was the Ministry of Information, and later the Central Office of Information.

Image: Poster from the World War II campaign (1939) "Keep Calm and Carry On." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Keep_Calm_and_Carry_On_Poster.svg
| EXIT | Introduction | MIN | Crown Film Unit | COI | Telephonist Leaflet | Links |

The task of reassuring the masses and advising them of the responsible thing to do, in times of crisis, should naturally be delivered by the Government, which was exactly the remit of the Ministry...

Ministry of Information

From 1939 to 1945 the Ministry of Information was responsible for publicity and propaganda in aid of the war effort providing news and press censorship, both at home and abroad.

The Crown Film Unit

Producing well known classics such as 'Night Mail' the GPO Film Unit was established in 1933. In 1940 it was renamed the Crown Film Unit following its transfer to the Ministry of Information.

Central Office of Information

On 1st April 1946 the Central Office of Information (COI) took over many of the responsibilities which were previously the remit of the Ministry of Information.

Under the direction of departmental ministers and answerable to Parliament, the COI was concerned with overseas publicity, cultural, educational and trade operations.

  • In Scotland COI operated via the Scottish Information Office, reporting to the Secretary of State for Scotland.
  • In Northern Ireland through the Government Information Service.
  • In Wales through a Welsh Office at Cardiff.
To promote long term education, information films were part of the output of the Central Office of  Information. John Grierson, previously of the GPO Film Unit, was Controller of Films at the Central Office of Information in London (1948-1950).

In May 1972 the COI was placed under the control of the Civil Service.

On the 31st March 2012, the COI finally closed its doors.

Quote from the website: "Over the past 66 years, COI helped to produce highly-effective government communication and marketing campaigns that became part of the UK's collective consciousness."

A newly restructured Government Communication Network (GCN), a professional body within the Civil Service, is taking on some of the activities.

Quote from the website: "Government communication is entering a new chapter to help us meet the twin challenges of continuing to deliver excellent communication programmes while playing our full part in helping to reduce the deficit."

On 7th May 2012 ITV1 screened 'Britain Beware' an Ade Edmondson (The Young Ones) presentation of a batch of 'COI' gems.

Telephonist - A COI  produced Leaflet

The Central Office of Information not only produced the public information films of the 60s, 70s and 80s, but also careers advice, in partnership with other agencies.

Judy works as a telephonist in a busy exchange. She was trained by the Post Office...

Image: A Central Office of Information leaflet from 1977, courtesy of Andrew Roberts.

Click each page to enlarge the image (opens in new window).

Telephonist page 1 Telephonist page 2 Telephonist page 3 Telephonist page 4 Telephonist page 5 Telephonist page 6


PIFs (Public Information Films at 625 Andrew Wiseman's TV Room

Search records at The National Archives

Design, images and text compiled by © Light-Straw. Page last updated June 2015 revision. Checked May 2021.

 All logos and trade marks are the property of their respective owners and are used on the Light Straw site(s) for review only. Students and researchers are recommended to make their own independent enquiries as to the accuracy of the information contained therein.