In pictures: Archive of engineering history is saved in Lincoln

A vast archive of documents, photographs and films spanning 150 years of Lincolnshire’s engineering history has been preserved for posterity in Lincoln.

The Ruston Hornsby (Siemens) Archive contains nationally significant material revealing the central role played by Lincolnshire companies in England’s industrial heyday during the 19th and 20th centuries. Much of it 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, including Ruston and Hornsby, Ruston, Ruston Gas Turbines, Alstom and latterly Siemens.

The material was stored in a warehouse at Siemens’ Firth Road site in central Lincoln but needed to be moved because of the relocation 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 (MACE) based at the University of Lincoln.

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.

Professor David Sleight, Dean of Public Engagement at the University of Lincoln, said: “Once catalogued, it is anticipated that selected items from the archive will be digitised to make these important records accessible for researchers and the public locally, nationally and internationally. We pay tribute to those who carefully stored these records away over many years. We already know so many retired engineering workers who are keen to help, their collective memories will be vital to catalogue this archive before it is too late.”

Frank Carchedi, Director of Quality at Siemens in Lincoln, was instrumental in the project. He said: “The documents, plans, photographs and films contained in the archive are not just important to understanding the legacy of engineering in Lincolnshire, they provide an incredibly detailed account of how the industrial revolution in Britain was experienced by the people at its centre.”

Councillor Eddy Poll, Executive Member for Cultural Services at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “The next step is the cataloguing of the material and identifying the most significant items. A team of volunteers with knowledge of our industrial heritage will be needed to help with this, so if you think you can help please get in touch.”

People with a passion for industrial history or knowledge of Lincolnshire’s engineering past can volunteer. Basic training will be provided by heritage experts from Lincolnshire Archives. For volunteering to help catalogue material in the Ruston Hornsby (Siemens) Archive, contact Dr Mike Rogers on 01522 552029 or via email.