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Survey Work for the 'Scotland's 100-oldest Companies Project'

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


Two very different companies allowed me access to their records within the last week for the 100-oldest Companies project.

The first was the Edinburgh Crematorium Limited, who allowed me to survey the surviving records of the Leith Cemetery and Cremation Company. These records consist of a small, but perfectly formed, collection going back to the company's foundation in 1887.

Though the business is not well-known outside of Leith, its story is an interesting one of local people addressing a local need for a cemetery, which they then ran until increasing overheads prompted the sale to Edinburgh Crematorium in the 1960s. You can find more in my entry on the project wiki here. I looked through the records on site in the peaceful surroundings of the Lodge at the entrance to Seafield Cemetery in Leith.

The second was KPMG, who gave me access to the records of a company formed at much the same time, the Quays group. Interestingly the company started life as the Cathcart Cemetery Company, though by 1910 they had become Alexander Holdings, the holding company of the first Ford Motors sales dealership in Edinburgh. In 2000 it became Quays Group, a property investment company operating in Poole, until it went into administration in 2004.

Sadly, unlike at Seafield Cemetery, there was little of historic value left in the Iron Mountain store where KPMG, as company administrators, hold the records. There is more detail on the project entry.

However it was interesting to compare and contrast what survived from two companies that started with very similar aims, yet whose paths took markedly different turns down the road.

(Photo of Seafield Cemetery sourced from here)

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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.

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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.

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Kiara King (Ballast Trust Archivist)
Kiara.King@glasgow.ac.uk

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