Engineering archive preserved for posterity

Posted on 12 Mar 2013

A vast archive of documents, photographs and films spanning 150-years of Lincolnshire’s engineering history has been preserved with help from engineering group Siemens.

The Ruston Hornsby (Siemens) Archive contains material revealing the central role played by Lincolnshire companies in England’s industrial heyday during the 19th and 20th centuries. Much of the archive has never been seen by the public before.

The collection includes documents dating back to the formation of Ruston, Proctor and Company in 1857 and details the company’s evolution through various incarnations, up to the Siemens acquisition in 2003.

The project to secure, catalogue and display the archive is being led jointly by heritage specialists and enthusiasts from Siemens, Lincolnshire County Council and the University of Lincoln.

The material was stored in a warehouse at Siemens’ Firth Road site in central Lincoln but needed to be moved because of the re-location of the company’s Service business to new premises at Teal Park. Work to secure the collection and prepare it for removal began in 2010.

The materials have now been transferred safely into the repositories of Lincolnshire Archives. Film materials have been moved to the Media Archive for Central England based at the University of Lincoln.

Councillor Eddy Poll, executive member for cultural services at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “This nationally significant archive will help recognise the contribution we’ve made to engineering around the world. The next step is the cataloguing of the material and identifying the most significant items.”

The archive includes around 150 cine film reels, mainly 16mm and 35mm film, more than 200,000 black and white photograph negatives, plus thousands more glass plate negatives and slides, and around 500 journals and reference books in a variety of languages, some dating back to the nineteenth century.