Manuscripts and Special Collections

Heavy Industry and Transport


Manuscripts and Special Collections has acquired several small collections of business records relating to manufacturing in heavy industries and transport, especially on waterways. These have come through several routes, including via academics as part of their research, or transferred by third parties responsible for the arrangements after the companies had ceased trading.
Plan of the intended canal from Cromford to Langley Bridge, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire; 1789 (Ref: Pl E12/11/16/1)

Engineering, Iron and Oil

These companies, none of which are still operating, are a small representation of the East Midland's heavy industrial heritage, particularly ironworking, with one larger collection of papers relating to oil and petrochemicals. The bulk of the records date from the late 19th to mid-20th century and although are predominantly of local interest, they show the international trade links to Europe, Africa and South America.

The archives for all the businesses are incomplete, although in the case of Stanton Ironworks, more comprehensive archives are held in Derbyshire Record Office. Financial records, such as accounts, balances and invoices, are the best-represented series, and large runs of correspondence also survive. The least well-represented documents include minutes and technical drawings and industrial processes.

  • Records of Pillatt and Company Limited, Ironfounders, Stapleford, Nottinghamshire, 1896-1956 (catalogue record
  • Copies of records of the Stanton Ironworks Co. Ltd and the Staveley Coal and Iron Co. Ltd, 1863-1939 (catalogue record). These records were acquired during research conducted by University of Nottingham academic  Dr Stanley Chapman for 'Stanton and Staveley: a business history', copies of which are available through the library's online catalogue.
  • Records and Correspondence of A. Ransome and Company Limited, Saw Mill Engineers and Iron Founders, Newark, Nottinghamshire, 1855-1931 (catalogue records)  
  • Account book of Jabez Ride, blacksmith of Mugginton, Derbyshire, 1919-1926 (catalogue records
  • Papers of Dr Georg Tugendhat, industrialist and economist, concerning the Manchester Oil Refinery Limited and related interests, 1929-1964 (catalogue record)

Shipping and canals

The larger rivers of the East Midlands have been navigable for centuries, and attempts were started in the eighteenth century to improve or construct smaller waterways. Many references to navigation and commercial waterways transport can be found within the records of the Water Collections and those of aristocratic families and estates. The major landowners of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were interested in such matters because they provided a transportation route to their estates for supplies in and goods out. Construction works affected the value of their lands, especially if being carried out by a third party requiring access or ownership of land. Many estate holders invested in the canal companies, so whilst we don’t have extensive business records, we do have some copies of share certificates, reports and other materials sent out to investors.

We do not have any archive material relating to the Adelphi Canal, the short private canal constructed to connect the Adelphi ironworks at Duckmanton, east of Chesterfield, to a main road leading to the Chesterfield Canal.

Our holdings include:

  • Deed of settlement of the Boston and Wainfleet Steam Navigation Company, 1836 (catalogue record
  • Landing book of the Cromford Canal Company, Derbyshire, 1825 (catalogue record)
  • Shipping register, later used as a scrapbook, 1799-1851 (catalogue record)

Within the Estates Collections: 

    • Bundles of papers, mainly concerning Derby Canal (especially in relation to freight charges for coal, and railroads), mostly belonging to William Drury Lowe (except Dr E 67 which belonged to Robert Holden), 1787–1835 (catalogue record)
    • Papers relating to the Melton Mowbray Navigation Company and the Derby Canal Company (catalogue record
    • Printed annual report of Bridgewater Navigation Company; 6 Feb. 1878 (catalogue record

Industrial Photography Collections

These collections predominantly consist of photographs, although there are a few other documents that help to put the images in their industrial context. The photographs represent a variety of industries in the East Midlands, including textile manufacturing, mining and the waterways.

  • Research papers of Dr David M. Smith (b 1936), geographer, comprising photographs of industrial sites in the East Midlands, 1959-1962 (catalogue record)
  • Photographic records relating to the Nottingham boat building firm of H.J. Chapman, 1930-c.1975 (catalogue record)

Next page: Textiles, Lace & Hosiery

Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
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