Ballast Trust Week

Last week Glasgow University Archive Services were lucky enough to spend some time over at the Ballast Trust, based in Johnstone which is just a 15 minute train journey away from Glasgow.


Some of the places that Ballast Trust has rescued records from

The Ballast Trust  provides a processing service for archives that takes in and sorts collections. Their particular focus is on technical records from heavy industries: plans, drawings and photographs. The work they do is incredibly important in preserving this area of history. Many of the records they take in would have otherwise been thrown away or left to rot in a dusty attic (the evidence of the latter was found last week in some drawings which came complete with bits of roof). It also provides the sector with invaluable expertise that aids archivists in the understanding of complex technical drawings and plans.

Glasgow University Archive Services works closely with the Ballast Trust and this is an important link for us because the business archive has an emphasis on the records of heavy industry. The Ballast Trust holds some of our records that are waiting to be processed and catalogued. Therefore the decision was taken to spend a week there to get to grips with some collections that we hadn’t previously had the opportunity to really look at.

The week had a successful start when more than 170 diesel plan bundles were reshelved. The photos show what an impressive feat this was and how much better the plans look now:

2013 NBL Diesel Plans Moved

As well as reorganising things, some collections were listed so we could better understand what we held. Several boxes of propeller drawings were box listed; noting the date, number, company and propeller diameter of each drawing. Some drawings were fairly old, dating back to the 1930s whilst others were more modern designs. Interestingly some of the older designs had been copied for later use, demonstrating the longevity of some designs. Even an untrained eye couldn’t fail to be impressed by the design of some of these propellers.

2013 Strang Propellers Boxlisted

Collections were also fully catalogued and appraised. The Robert Harvey Sugar Machinery collection was completely catalogued, along with the MacKenzie & Niven plans. Among collections which were appraised were; the Ferguson Shipbuilding plans, Hunslet Barclay and some negatives from Scotts.

2013 Clifton Baird repackaged

In addition to all this we managed to clean and repackage many items, the Clifton & Baird collection (left) in particular was looked at by our conservator.

The week at The Ballast Trust has been hailed as a success; collections have been appraised, listed, sorted, organised, repackaged, conserved, preserved, moved and generally understood much better than they had been before.

If you would like to see all the wonderful things that happen at the Ballast Trust, their doors will be open this Sunday, 15th September, between 10.00 and 16.00.

Categories: Archive Services

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1 reply


  1. Future archive |

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