British Council is the world’s leading cultural relations organisation with more than 80 years of history and more than 100 offices across the world. So did it really come to Bulgaria as late as 1991? This was indeed when we opened our office on Tulovo Street but our history in Bulgaria began much earlier.
Join us on a short journey back in time to discover some curious, unknown facts.
1939 - One of the first overseas offices of the British Council
The first overseas offices of the British Council opened in 1938. The Bulgaria office followed just a year later, in 1939, with Henry L Littler serving as the first representative.
The early years
Initially Littler was based at the British Legation, but eventually moved to Gueshoff House. The British Council (called the British Institute at the time) worked with Bulgarian-British associations and the English Speaking League. During 1940 the office remained open, despite great difficulties of World War II. Wartime did not diminish the popularity of the English language courses the Institute offered.
In 1941 the Defence Ministry advised the British Council to withdraw from Bulgaria and the office suspended all activities. Nevertheless, the fact it had remained open for so long was considered extraordinary.
Reopening and closure
After the war an office was re-established in 1947, with W Lynndon Clough as the representative. The first activity was to distribute books and periodicals, and teach English language. However these were difficult times and the office had to close in 1950.
1991 - A new beginning
Cultural relations between Britain and Bulgaria developed slowly but surely. Towards the end of the 1980s the British Council expanded its work in Bulgaria significantly which led to the reopening of our local office.
British Council Bulgaria, as we know it today, was established on 18 February 1991 when the governments of Bulgaria and the UK signed a bilateral agreement for the creation of cultural centres.