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Business Archives

Miners at work, unknown colliery c 1900. South Wales Miners Museum Collection, West Glamorgan Archive Service

From the 18th century, through to the mid 20th century, Wales was a major industrial centre. Its landscape and rich mineral deposits assisted with the world's industrial and domestic needs for coal, copper, iron, steel and tin plate.

Businesses have huge impacts on a local, social and cultural level. The need to transport materials across the country, and to export them abroad, led to improvements of the railway infrastructure, bridges and shipping. Wider effects included the growth of towns, the construction of worker housing, developments in education and the impact of trade unionism.

Within Welsh public archive services there are a number of important business collections which provide outstanding examples of Wales’ thriving industrial past. They detail global exports of fuel for ships and trains, the production of metal for war and industry, and technological advances in processes such as smelting and mining. They tell the tale of entrepreneurs who weathered storms to keep their companies going, diversified as the requirements for heavy industry changed, and were at the forefront of innovation.

Recent business archive related projects in Wales:

Business archive projects

Steel archives of Wales

Research potential and highlights from collections:

Business archives for family and local research

Business archives for academic research

Student work with business archives

Spotlight on collections - South Wales

Spotlight on collections - Mid/North Wales

Useful links for businesses: 

Guidance for businesses

For up-to-date news on business archive projects and collections in Wales, see the blog An Industrious Past