Our journey in Nigeria started in 1944 with the intent to promote cultural relations between Nigeria and the UK. This we continue to accomplish through programmes and services in Exams, English language, the Arts, Education and Society.

All our work in Nigeria is helping build a safer and more prosperous future for the Nigerian people.

To appreciate the future, it's important to look back on the past. 


1944 – 1969

The first Representative of British Council Nigeria, Norman Lloyd-Williams arrived in Lagos in December 1943

The official launch date of British Council in Nigeria on 8 June 1944. The old Exhibition Hall on the Marina was lent as a temporary premise to the first British Council West Africa representative, Professor W.M. Macmillan; which was called the ‘British Council House’ with over 1000 members swiftly enrolled.

The Council leased 7 and 9 Customs Street to house the Council centre and offices, and the new Lagos Public Library (funded by the Colonial Government and formed by combining the Council’s Lagos Library with various independent library collections) and a Children’s Library in 1946

Nigeria gained independence on 1 October 1960; In advance of this, the Council was asked to run the Public Library Development Scheme – a continuance of our existing policy. Five grants were provided by the British Government for this purpose in 1960.

£34,000 and £12,000 respectively were granted to Eastern and Northern Nigeria by the British Government for the establishment of libraries in Port Harcourt and Kaduna in 1962

1970 - 1994

The Benin centre closed permanently in 1970

The Port Harcourt library closed in November 1975

The Council’s activities became focused on educational and technical development projects between 1970 - 1980.

The remaining libraries were all closed in 1979 but the Council maintained her offices across the country.

The libraries in Lagos, Kaduna and Kano were re-opened in 1988

The Council started utilising electronic and online communications to provide access to her services in 1990.

1995 - 2019

British Council opened the Abuja office in 1998, closed the Kaduna office to the public in 2000 due to proximity to Abuja and moved into her current Abuja premises in 2001

Cathie Stevens became first female Country Director in 2000.

HRM Queen Elizabeth visited Nigeria as part of British Council’s 60 years anniversary in Nigeria in 2003

The British Council Lagos office at 20 Thompson Avenue, Ikoyi Lagos was commissioned by the then Lagos state governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu on 15 November 2005.

British Council closed her library services in Nigeria in 2010

We founded the Lagos Theatre festival in 2013. It grew into one of the top 15 theatre festivals in the world and transitioned into an independently managed festival in 2018.

HRH Prince Charles visits Nigeria and meets with stakeholders in the creative industry in 2018