The Pearson archive reflects the wide-ranging construction and civil engineering works carried out by the firm first in the UK and then worldwide.
Pearson’s engineering works included bridges, railways, tunnels, docks, harbours, waterworks, sewers, irrigation, dams, oil prospecting and refineries. The company also had interests in newspapers, aviation, electricity schemes, mines and land companies.
In the UK, Pearson worked on various regional railways; docks and harbours in Dover, Hull, Liverpool, Southampton, Cardiff, Seaham and London; Blackwall tunnel; East London Waterworks; reservoirs in Littleton and Silent Valley, Severn Tidal Power schemes, Channel Tunnel reports and West of England Electric Investments. Pearson was involved with an explosives factory in Gretna, a tank factory in Chateauroux, defence of Dover and involvement with the Air ministry in WWI. The archive also documents the loss of oil tankers during both world wars.
Pearson’s international works include railway schemes in China, Columbia, Haifa-Baghdad, Tehuantepec, Spain and Portugal; New York tunnels; Malta dry docks and breakwaters; extensive civil engineering works in South America; and the Blue Nile Dam and irrigation. Lord Cowdray founded various petroleum companies, such as Canadian Eagle Oil, Mexican Eagle Oil, and Anglo-Mexican Petroleum Company to conduct oil explorations and extraction throughout the world.
Many of the files include a ‘history’ or summary of the work or negotiations in a particular country. Files typically contain contracts, specifications, agreements, correspondence, reports, accounts, labour schedules, press-cuttings and publicity material, maps, plans, technical drawings, geological assessments, notebooks and photographs relating to the firm’s civil engineering work throughout the world. The archive also contains many of the first Lord Cowdray’s notebooks, diaries and personal correspondence as well as obituary albums for him and Lady Cowdray.
Some photographs are included in the subject files and notebooks. There are also over 100 photograph albums covering the period 1891 – 1960 in series P and Q. They include images of Mexican oil refineries; floating craft and ships; Dover defence; collieries; dams; Pearson offices; Blackwall Tunnel II and III; Gretna Munitions Factory; Peking Syndicate Railway; water works and reservoirs; Brickendonbury, the home of Sir Edward Ernest Pearson and the Forth Bridge. The photograph albums are listed separately and available in the Reading Room.
A film of Mexico is available on video cassette which shows images of people, crowds, harbour, and railway scenes (A/3/4).
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.