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Case Study: The Ballast Trust - Understanding Technical Records

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Ballast Trust is a charitable foundation that provides a rescue, sorting and cataloguing service for business archives with an emphasis on technical records such as shipbuilding, railway and engineering plans, drawings and photographs.  Since its establishment in 1987 it has processed technical records on behalf of national and local archive repositories and museums and played a crucial part in the preservation of many business archive collections.

The postcard created for the launch shows a scene from the Joiner's shop at Lithgows, Port Glasgow where the Trust initially operated for nearly 4 years processing over 100 tons of material related to Scott Lithgow Ltd.

(click image to enlarge)
During processing the records continued to have business value and Scott Lithgow benefited from the organisation and management of the collection to allow them to answer legal and historical enquiries and settle administrative issues. The records are now held by Glasgow University Archive Services where they serve a variety of academic, enthusiast, and personal research purposes being one of the fullest collections from Scottish shipbuilding. It covers a period of over 120 years, spanning over 150 linear metres of storage and treasures include correspondence from a Confederate paddle steamer captain about blockade running during the American Civil War, nineteenth century photograph albums and a series of yard manager diaries.

The full case study is available here.

Today the Trust continues to believe business collections are essential in understanding Scotland’s rich industrial and economic past and that technical records provide important contextual information to aid in the understanding of these collections. We can support businesses and archive services to make the most of their business collections and improve their understanding of technical records through guidance, advice and our processing service based on many years of experience in handling such material.


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)