Business Records as a Resource

GMCRO’s greatest strength lies in those records which reflect the area’s industrial inheritance. By far the largest archive is that of the Manchester Ship Canal Company, which occupies over 2,500 linear feet of shelving. Business records are a goldmine of information for historians of all kinds.

Manchester Ship Canal Company

The shareholders’ address books of the Manchester Ship Canal Co (Reference B10/) give us the names, addresses and occupations or status of manchester_ship_canalapproximately 38,000 people each year. They begin in 1908 and carry on until 1964. Among the more interesting aspects of these records is the large proportion of women who owned shares, as well as the wide variety of professions mentioned – joiners, jewelers, clerks, solicitors, machine printers, gardeners, plumbers, bricklayers, and blacksmiths are just a handful – and which reflect the enormous interest which the Ship Canal created (and the hard work of the canvassers). The addresses are not only local, either, as there are many records of people from outside the city and indeed outside the country. The address books can be used in conjunction with the register of shareholders, the registers of transfers of ordinary shares, and the dividend books. See also the article on shareholder’s address books

One group of employees whose activities can be examined are the Ship Canal Pilots. Formed in October 1895 the Pilotage Committee consisted of the Manager, his assistant, the Ship Canal Superintendents, and 8 licensed Ship Canal pilots. and was concerned solely with the administration of the pilot service along the Canal. At the meeting on 27 August 1907, for technical reasons the Committee was dissolved and a new Committee constituted.

The first Resolutions of the new Committee concerned the Appointment of Secretary, Meetings of Committee, Expenses of Committee (5/- to each member except the Chairman and Deputy Chairman and the 2 members representing the Steamship Owners for each attendance in addition to railway expenses), Examination Sub-Committee, Examination of Pilots (and the fee of £2.2.0d for each examination), Age of Pilots (between 24 and 45 years), Classification of Pilots holding Canal Licenses etc. Other Ship Canal records of interest to the family historian include the accident registers and the registers of probate.

Manchester Stock Exchange

This archive contains details of membership applications, elections of members, membership lists and copies of the annual reports and accounts of the stock exchange.

Horwich Works

Generally speaking, personnel records tend not to survive in any great amount. One exception to this at GMCRO is the personnel records of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Works at Horwich (Reference A18/). These include accident registers, accident compensation payments, and staff history cards. The latter give details of occupation, date of starting work, reason for leaving, fines, injuries and pay advances. They have the added bonus of being arranged alphabetically by surname.