The Pearson archives reflect the wide-ranging and worldwide works carried out by the firm, and include contracts, specifications, and plans, together with costings, accounts, deeds and other legal documents, company correspondence, drawings, and photographs. Of particular interest are the first Lord Cowdray’s working papers.
Contract documents show the way in which particular projects were undertaken, and follow a set pattern, but not all projects include all types of papers, namely:
Contract and supplemental agreements, conditions, tenders, specifications, and schedules
Orders to commence
Certificate of completion
Contracts for equipment and stores
Company history and activities are reflected in a series of “Chief’s” notebooks, c.1880–1926, and diaries, notebooks and company documents, c.1875–1925, about such matters as oil fields and oil refining; a book of instructions, prices and general notebooks; Mexican political matters, 1911–1927; notebooks about topics such as reports, costs, instructions to staff, and general notes, including those of Sir W.D. Pearson; other company employees’ notebooks; Sir E.E. Pearson’s files and books, and private letter books of S Pearson and Son, 1883–1897.
Papers dealing with international oil and mining propositions, explorations and petroleum companies include information about particular projects that took place between 1855 and 1935, namely a summary of events (known as a history) of negotiations, geology, estimates and expenditure, operations, methods of prospecting, and maps. There is also a series of records describing work with various petroleum companies, such as Canadian Eagle Oil, Mexican Eagle Oil, and Anglo-Mexican Petroleum Company, 1907–1949 which include letters patent, agreements, financial records and reports, trust deeds, and staff charts.
Other areas of work represented in the archive include harbour dredging, barges, construction of docks, ports and sewers, dams and irrigation, mining, road companies, Channel Islands airways, and newspaper interests, namely Westminster Press, Ltd.
Of particular interest is material relating to the Channel Tunnel; Chinese railway schemes; Cowdray Hospital (memoranda and correspondence, articles of association, trust deeds, opening ceremony, photographs, and plans); British Railways, for example the Great Northern and City Railway, and the Great Western Railway; flooding protection work; water supply and reservoirs; Severn Tidal Power Scheme; a report on British Army labour organisation in France, 1918; particulars of staff, British and foreign, on some projects, for example in China, Chile, and Fiji; obituary albums of Viscounts and Lady Cowdray.
The archive also includes publicity about the company, including negative publicity in the press, marketing material, and magazine articles.
Photographs are included with most of the subject files and notebooks, and in addition there are 135 photograph albums containing approximately 12,500 photographs covering the period 1891–1960, including the following subject areas that reflect the company’s international civil engineering work: Mexican oil refineries, depots and companies; subsidiary companies; floating craft and ships; Dover defence; collieries; dams; Pearson offices; miscellaneous Pearson projects; Blackwall Tunnel II and III; railway, harbour, dock, and canal works, including British works; Gretna Munitions Factory; Peking Syndicate Railway, which includes images of Imperial China before the cultural revolution; water works and reservoirs; Brickendonbury, the home of Sir Edward Ernest Pearson; the Forth Bridge.
A film of Mexico is available on video cassette in the Science Museum Library, London, which includes images of people, crowds, harbour, and railway scenes.
41.00 m (178 boxes, 20 loose volumes, 135 photograph albums)
- The collection is available for public consultation in our reading room at Wroughton in accordance with Science Museum Library and Archives Policy.
- System of Arrangement: