Posted by: kbenoy | May 9, 2012

Archivists delve into business history treasure trove – Press Release

This is a press release about the Taking Account of our Past project that nicely summarises the work completed so far. I have added some extra links and images.

Archivists delve into business history treasure trove

Friday May 4 2012

Archivists are delving into Wolverhampton’s past with the help of more than 200 boxes of material which has been described as a historical “treasure trove”.

Records belonging to Smith, Son and Wilkie, a chartered accountancy firm which was based in the city, are being catalogued by Wolverhampton’s Archives and Local Studies service as part of an 18-month project which is unlocking the history of dozens of local businesses.

Taking Account of our Past began in July and is being supported by the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives.

It has already unearthed information on many local businesses, including lock makers Benjamin Walters and Co, brick manufacturers Adam Boulton, the Stockless Anchor Company and The Side Welders Association, both ironmongers, Wednesfield Motor and Cycle Garage, John Hickman and Sons (Sawmills) Ltd, Queen Square Syndicate property developers and Priestfield Iron and Brick Co.

Records relating to a number of butchers, including Thomas Evans and Sons, Wolverhampton Wholesale Butchers, Evans, Campion & Blakemore and the Wolverhampton and District Butchers, Hide, Skin, Fat and Wool Co Ltd, are also included.

As well as business records, the collection which archivist Kimberley Benoy is working her way through contains a wealth of information on local families including the Loveridge, Mander, Wilkes, Reynolds and Wilkie families.

Heidi McIntosh, City Archivist, said: “The Taking Account of our Past” project is a huge piece of work – the records of the Wolverhampton & District Butchers, Hide, Skin, Fat and Wool Co Ltd alone fill 14 boxes and chart the progress of the company from its incorporation in 1886 to its liquidation in 1973.

“One single volume contains the details of over 300 shareholders, including their names, addresses and occupations, so from a historical point of view they are a real treasure trove.

Register of Members and Share Ledger

“The collection also requires quite substantial conservation work, and we have been fortunate in receiving support from the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust to help us with this work.

“Papers relating to the Mander family in particular have been stored in very damp conditions, meaning the papers are delicate and damaged.

A volunteer cleaning a letter from the Mander Collection

“This conservation work is being carried out alongside the cataloguing to ensure the records are available for access on completion of the project this December.”

As part of the project, the Archives and Local Studies service wants to speak to as many people as possible about their memories of some of the businesses in the collection.

Heidi said: “We’d love to find out as much as we can about all of these businesses and families, and we’d urge anyone who has any information about them to get in touch so that we can make this important archive as detailed as possible.”

Anyone who would like to find out more, or who would like to share their memories, is asked to visit here or contact Kimberley Benoy on 01902 552902.

She will also be giving a talk about her work at the Wolverhampton Civic and Historical Society on Tuesday June 12 2012.

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