An industrial soap opera: The last Minute Book of Pascoe Grenfell and Sons

Director's Minute Book, Grenfell Collection LAC/45/A20 (Credit: Richard Burton Archives, Swansea University)

Director’s Minute Book, Grenfell Collection LAC/45/A20 (Credit: Richard Burton Archives, Swansea University)

This Director’s Minute Book is an industrial soap opera full of the trauma and tribulations of a once mighty force in world copper trading.

One of the things good bookshops do is invite staff to post short reviews of books they have enjoyed reading.

Often scrawled in their own hand, the invitation to share in someone else’s book joy is made even more compelling. And so inspired by this the archivists at Swansea University’s Richard Burton Archives invited researchers, staff and students to declare for public display their ‘favourite document’.

The display aimed to highlight the treasures held at the archives (of which there are literally thousands). Recently bereaved of regular access to my beloved copper archives, I think Head Archivist Elisabeth Bennett took pity on me and asked me if I would choose and write about my favourite document. [Yes, get excited.] Continue reading

Victorian Excel: Swansea and Cornwall Ticketing documents

I learned a lot about historical business records from the Richard Burton Archives at Swansea University, largely due to their resident expert in Business Archives, Stacy Capner who has also driven the innovative Wales Powering the World Project. I discussed my approach to business archives, very much that of a material culture historian who is interested in charting the journeys and transformation of materials and objects, at The Bottom Line, a Business Archives workshop held in Swansea in January.

While undertaking a survey of copper archives in Swansea The collection with which I became most familiar was the Grenfell Collection (LAC/45). Pascoe Grenfell and Sons (PG&S) was one of the premier players in the global copper business from 1830 until their liquidation in 1892. As as result of their assiduous record keeping much of their business remains documented in several archives. In addition to Swansea, collections can also be found in Buckinghamshire and Bangor. Bangor University Archives holds a collection of records pertaining to the previous incarnation of PG&S, Williams and Grenfell. This collection contains an exceptional set of documents called Ticketings. Continue reading