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British Steel Archive Project

Monday, 31 January 2011

On Friday the British Steel Archive Project celebrated its successful launch in Middlesbrough. The project was an ambitious scheme to catalogue and celebrate the heritage of the steel industry on Teeside, which is still very visible today. The project involved the development of close working partnerships between a variety of different stakeholders to create an ongoing and sustainable improvement to a collection that was sitting in uncatalogued boxes. Although this wasn't a Scottish project (though some of the companies involved did have long-standing roots in Scottish industry) the planning and execution of it were very impressive, and it should stand as a model of what can be achieved in the business archives sector.

Through basing the work at Teeside Archives, the project has improved and enhanced existing facilities (including a new website and CALM catalogue) and set in place a structure, including a volunteer and friends scheme, that will ensure the initial work on the collection can be carried through to completion. I was also impressed with the outreach work performed in schools across the area. Attendance and participation levels were also much greater than anticipated (almost double the initial estimates)

All of which would not have been possible without an initial assessment of the value of the collection by David Powell, the then BACS Surveying Officer, that allowed Dr Joan Heggie (the project leader) to successfully apply for Heritage Lottery Fund money. Congratulations to Dr Heggie and her team on the completion of an impressive and valuable business archives project.


Weir celebrates 140 years of innovative engineering

Thursday, 27 January 2011

From Shrewdd News: Weir celebrates 140 years of innovative engineerin...: "2011 marks the 140th anniversary of FTSE 100 engineering company, The Weir Group PLC. It was in 1871 that brothers George and James Weir set up the engineering firm of G & J Weir and joined the booming industrial scene in the west of Scotland at the height of the great Victorian era of industrial innovation."

The records of G & J Weir are held privately and the University of Glasgow holds the records of William Douglas Weir.  Details about both collections are available here.


Capturing the records of failed businesses

Saturday, 22 January 2011

The Scotsman reported last Thursday that record numbers of Scottish businesses are failing.  News like this makes the strategy even more relevant as its important for us to build strong relationships with the liquidators and insolvency companies to ensure that the important records of failed business are not lost as well.

One of the actions for the implementation group this year is to contact insolvency practitioners and inform them of the strategy and create a network of contacts so that archivists can work with them to capture important business archive collections.


Case Studies - Business Archives as Business Assets

Friday, 21 January 2011

As part of the launch preparations we were fortunate to get eight great case studies that covered a wide variety of business sectors and organisations. We prepared postcard versions of them featuring an image and quote from the full study.

The eight case studies available to download on the Business Archives in Scotland website are:

We'll be adding to them throughout the year to create a resource that is of use to businesses and archivists in showing them the best examples of business archive collections being used as business assets. 


Strategy Launch

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Today is the launch of the National Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland!

As readers of this blog will know the Strategy has been developed by the Business Archives Council of Scotland and the Ballast Trust, with the support of the National Archives of Scotland and the Scottish Council on Archives.

It aims to make business archives in Scotland valued, representative of economic activity and innovation and accessible to all in order to ensure the survival of the nation’s important business records and industrial heritage.

Historical records are a unique and powerful business asset and the implementation of the Strategy will help businesses to promote, manage and exploit their archives and records effectively.  We have eight case studies which provide great examples of business use of archive collections.

We've prepared postcard packs featuring our eight case study organisations;
  • Tennent's
  • The Scottish Business Archive
  • G. L. Watson & Co. Ltd
  • Diageo
  • The Ballast Trust
  • Capturing the Energy project
  • Lloyds HBOS
  • The Sir Basil Spence Archive at RCAHMS
You can read the case studies here.

Each attendee will be getting a launch pack which has a copy of the strategy and postcard pack as well as leaflets from some of the organisations involved in developing the strategy.


Business Archives in 2010 - December

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Diageo celebrated it's 20th anniversary.  In 1990, United Distillers Ltd established an archive which was one of the first in the industry.  Today the Diageo Archive holds records relating to more than 1500 brands past and present, from those long established such as Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky, Smirnoff Vodka and Tanqueray Gin to more recent innovative brands such as Baileys Irish Cream.. The collections span 402 years of history with brands such as Bushmills Irish Whiskey having heritage and history dating back to 1608 and they tell the rich histories of these brands as well as distillery sites, companies and people.

The Archive is commemorating it's anniversary by creating a bespoke display showcasing the wealth of materials held by Diageo.  This display is being used to raise awareness of the Archive as a business asset within Diageo as well as the colourful and rich history of Diageo’s brands by travelling to various sites within the business. The Archive is used as an asset to support the business in a variety of ways through brand passion and integrity, product innovation, brand building, media activity, launches & PR events, design & gifting, and protecting legal & intellectual property.


Business Archives in 2010 - November

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Guardians of Heritage
The New York Times rans a series of articles about luxury brands and how they use their archives.  It was a great example of the many different ways business archives can be assets and demonstrated the value of safeguarding business heritage.

The overview is here and discusses how business archives and archivists can reinforce key marketing messages, perpetuate brand myths and create PR narratives with UK examples from Pringle and a case study on Liberty - whose prime users are their fabric design studio and the company are keen to use the archive for brand heritage but not be enslaved by it.


Saville Row archives

Monday, 17 January 2011

The BBC had a programme on its Inside Out London show tonight about the archives of Saville Row.  You can see a clip here and I'm hopeful that the full programme will appear on iplayer soon.

**Update** its available here until the 25 January so get watching.

Just watched it and the programme looks at the archives of Henry Poole & Co. Ltd and Gieves and Hawkes and stresses the value that the different archive collections hold if correctly interpreted for modern tailors who can benefit from past knowledge allowing them to continue to provide those unique skills.  It is a great example of business archives being great business assets.


Scotland's Hundred Oldest Companies Update

It's been a busy month, but currently the project wiki is up and running, and the BACS officer is more than happy to field any comments or questions either through the discussion pages of the wiki, through this blog, or via email.

So far I've identified and contacted the archival institutions that hold records of the oldest limited companies (see the wiki for more specific details). The plan over the next couple of months is to contact those companies whose records do not appear to be in an archive at present. Hopefully the project will be able to increase the visibility and accessibility of these resources, and help their holders to make the best possible use of them.


Business Archives in 2010 - October

United Turkey Red Co. Ltd

As part of Black History Month, the University of Glasgow's Archive Services held an exhibition entitled 'Vale of Leven to Hills and Valleys of South Asia – Copying Designs and Images of the Sub-Continent.'

On display were the Turkey red fabric made in Scotland, which was exported to Asia for use as saris, sarongs and shawls. Designs included abstract, geometric, floral, animal, or imitated local patterns. Each was created for a specific market and every bundle carried a colourful label giving insight into local customs, beliefs and scenery.

United Turkey Red Co. Ltd was by far the largest firm in the bleaching, finishing, dyeing and printing industry in Scotland. It was formed during the 1890s, growing naturally out of a number of occasional associations between dyeing firms in the West of Scotland, set up to deal with difficulties encountered by the industry as a whole. The collection of records contains administrative, staff, financial and production records.


Business Archives in 2010 - September

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Glasgow University Archive Services

The University of Glasgow Archive Services put together this great video about their collections. It includes information about the the Scottish Business Archive and some of the 400 collections this contains.


Business Archives in 2010 - August

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Pringle of Scotland
In the year of their 195th anniversary, Pringle held a 'day of record' at the site of their former factory in Hawick. It is part of an appeal to the public to help it create an archive of its 195 year history.  A review of the day appears here.

Excise Records
The NAS announced that a letter from Robert Burns was discovered in a collection of papers belonging to a Commissioner of the Scottish Excise.

Glenmorangie Company Ltd
Glenmorangie celebrated 100 years in Colorado with a series of events.  The celebration is based on an Operations Register, 1908-34 held by the archives that provides details of customers’ orders for Glenmorangie single malt Scotch whiskies during that period, and the recipes for the different expressions of Glenmorangie that were created to suit the customers’ preferences.

The Register included details of orders for Glenmorangie placed by the famous Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Colorado, beginning in 1910 and continuing until business was disrupted by the First World War.

[Image copyright of Glenmorangie]

Colorado is a key market for the brand in the USA, and information about Glenmorangie’s historic links with Colorado gleaned from the Register and from other sources was used as the cornerstone for a publicity campaign and a series of promotional events entitled “Glenmorangie: 100 years in Colorado”.  The campaign culminated in a100th Anniversary Gala Dinner at the hotel in August 2010, attended by some of Denver’s leading business and political figures, and the ledger was flown first-class to the US to be displayed in a special display cabinet throughout the month.
Financial Times
The Financial Times ran an article about the benefits of business archives and the advantages of employing a professional archivist. The news is not all bad. It commented that "in defiance of the downturn, businesses as diverse as Bulgari, Marks and Spencer and Audi are using milestone anniversaries to celebrate their heritage. Other companies are delving into their archives to learn from past recessions, inspire new products and arm lawyers with evidence to win trademark disputes."  Read more here.

BAC Cataloguing Grant Winners - Full steam ahead
The Business Archives Council announced that the winning applicants of the BAC cataloguing grant for business archives were to be the Dorset History Centre (Dorset County Council) for cataloguing of the archives of Cosens of Weymouth, Paddle Steamer Company (ref: D/COS), and the National Railway Museum for cataloguing of small railway engineering and business collections.


Business Archives in 2010 - July

Friday, 14 January 2011

Royal Bank of Scotland Group
UNESCO announced the inaugural inscriptions to its new Memory of the World (UK) Register, which included the Royal Bank of Scotland's records of the Company of Scotland trading to Africa and the Indies, also known as the Darien company.

The inscribed archives relate to the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies. Dating from the 1690s, they tell the story of a failed Scottish attempt to build a trading colony at Darien, in present-day Panama. The scheme’s catastrophic failure prompted an economic collapse that was instrumental in forcing Scotland towards political Union with England, finally enacted in 1707. As a result the archives are uniquely significant in documenting the economic circumstances underlying the foundation of modern Scotland.


Business Archives in 2010 - June

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Tennent's Lager celebrated a 125th anniversary with a series of advertisements based on their heritage and the work of Hugh Tennent.

More videos can be viewed on their website and youtube channel.

The University of Glasgow Archive Services hold the collection on behalf of the company and details about it can be found here.

Canongate Books
Canongate announced a partnership with the University of Dundee to create a 'living archive' of their business records.  The University's Archive Services will work with the company and Jamie Byng, Publisher and Managing Director of Canongate Books said that "having the expertise and knowledge of the University’s Archive Services to help us record and document our past, present and future is a generous gift and a wonderful opportunity."  More details about the project here.


Business Archives in 2010 - May

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

BT PLC launched Telefocus - their new BT Archives Image Gallery containing over 1,000 historic BT Archive images from the 1860s onwards.  This image gallery is the first time the images have been open to the public online.

They also got 10 experts to explain why the images that make up part of the Archives are so significant. Social history specialist, Professor Jack Lohman, Director of the Museum of London, Dr. Tilly Blyth, Curator of Computing and Information at the Science Museum whose specialty is telecommunications and design expert Professor Teal Triggs, at University of the Arts London have been chosen as leaders in their respective fields.

Each expert has selected their own personal top 10 images from the BT Telefocus photo gallery, explaining why these images are so significant in illustrating the progress and innovation within their respective fields. These selections and their rationales can be viewed here. Members of the public can also upload their own 10 favourite images onto the website.

Barings PLC
The Baring Archive hosted an exhibition called re:Searching: playing in the archive.  This exhibition was the result of a collaboration between the Baring Archive and the University of the Arts London and enabled artists and researchers to select artefacts in the archive to create a new piece of work in response to them.

Although it is current practice for artists to produce work in response to collections and archives, re:SEARCHING is unusual in that the artists are reacting to a financial archive which is more often used by historians. Practitioners responded to a range of items, including a sketch by Sir Thomas Lawrence of Sir Francis Baring, the firm’s founder; the prospectus for the financing of the Louisiana Purchase; Russian bearer bonds (which ceased to pay interest following the Revolution); and material relating to the Buenos Aires Water Supply & Drainage Company.

The Baring Archive comprises the business papers of Baring Brothers & Co, latterly known as Barings PLC. It is among the finest archives of a financial institution and contains material of international significance dating from the founding of the firm as a partnership of merchants in 1762 to its acquisition by ING in 1995, by which time Barings was a global investment bank.


Business Archives in 2010 - April

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Capturing the Energy
The Capturing the Energy project marked its 4th anniversary with a seminar and film evening in Aberdeen.  The project was established to promote wider recognition of the technical and cultural importance of the offshore oil and gas industry to the UK and its business partners include Total E&P, Shell, BP, Mearns & Gill, Conoco Phillips and Oil and Gas UK.

The project has worked to encourage companies to make provision for keeping the most important records as their operations evolve, ensuring that they can be safely stored, in an archive repository, so that they can be made accessible for current research, both within the sector and in the wider community, and for future generations.

BAC Cataloguing Grant
The Business Archives Council announced the availability of a £2000 cataloguing grant in support of the National Strategy for Business Archives (England and Wales). The aim of the grant, in funding the cataloguing of a business collection in either the private or public sector, is to:
• provide financial support for institutions/businesses that manage business archives
• reach collections that have not yet been prioritised but have potential academic or socio-historical value
• create opportunities for archivists, or para-professionals/volunteers to gain experience in listing business collections
• make more business collections accessible


Business Archives in 2010 - March

Monday, 10 January 2011

The Ballast Trust
Was awarded archive pace setter status* for our project to create electronic catalogues using the Archvists' Toolkit for cataloguing the technical records of the Montague Smith collection of railway drawings and plan.

Further information about the project is availble on their blog and you can read about the other pace setters here.
*The Archive Pace Setter scheme aims to encourage innovative projects within the UK archive sector. It is led by the National Council on Archives in partnership with a range of strategic bodies working with the archive sector including the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, The National Archives, the Scottish Council on Archives, the Society of Archivists and the Welsh Assembly Government. The scheme runs from October 2009 to April 2013 and successful organisations are required to demonstrate that a specific project will deliver the following outcomes:
  • new users are encouraged to use their service and archive users have access to new ways of engaging with archives
  • and/or record keeping is improved through new methods of management and collections care.
  • archive services will have demonstrated their adherence to good practice in relation to project planning, management and evaluation


Business Archives in 2010 - February

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Barclays Bank PLC
The Times ran a story about Lewis Carroll's bank account and the personal revelations they contain about his spending habits.  The bank accounts are part of the collections held by Barclays Group Archives and demonstrate how dry accounting and financial records can have more to reveal.


Business Archives in 2010 - January

Saturday, 8 January 2011

2010 was a busy year for business archives in Scotland and the UK, there were many examples of companies using their heritage for marketing and product innovation, a new cataloguing grant scheme for business archives from the BAC and the development of the Scottish Strategy.

In the run up to the launch of the strategy in 12 days, I'll be posting a review of each month here starting with January.

Stoddard Templeton
The University of Glasgow announced that they had secured funds from the National Archives Cataloguing Grants Scheme to catalogue the design archives of Stoddard - Templeton.

 The design archive is a record of the complete carpet-making process from initial design drafting, through the agreement of colour and pattern, to manufacture and sale, and was the product of Scotland’s leading carpet manufacturers, James Templeton & Co Ltd (est. 1839, Bridgeton) and Stoddard International PLC (est.1862 in Elderslie).

Updates on the project can be found on their blog and images from the collection on their flickr pages.

Macmillan & Co Ltd and Longman Group Publishers
Another two business archive collections also received an award from the same cataloguing grant, the Macmillan and Longman publishing archive collections held at the University of Reading.Special Collections.


About This Blog

This blog will provide information about the development of a National Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland. It will also be used to provide general updates about Business Archives in Scotland.

This blog is written by Kiara King, the Ballast Trust archivist. Updates on the Data Mapping Project are written by Cheryl Brown, project officer.


The Business Archives Strategy for Scotland was published in August, read it here. Keep an eye on the blog for more news about business archives and the strategy's implementation.

You can also contact us at any time with thoughts and contribute your comments to the blog!

Contact us

Please contact us if you have any comments or suggestions.

Kiara King (Ballast Trust Archivist)