Case Studies

Appraising the Archives

Safety in the Trawl Fisheries and Merchant Shipping Industry: An Appraisal of the Archives.

Grant awarded: £10,000

Timeframe: 2018-2019


Project overview

Researchers from the Blaydes Maritime Centre of the University of Hull proposed to appraise the archival holdings of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s Heritage & Education Centre, as well as records held in selected repositories in east central and north east England (from the Humber to the Tyne). The focus of the appraisal is on material relating to the safety of vessels, seafarers, fishermen, passengers and cargoes.

Two contrasting perspectives frame the work. First, examination of primary sources generated and preserved by Lloyd's Register, an organisation engaged primarily in enhancing safety at sea; and assessment of archival material created for various purposes and maintained in the collections of provincial record offices, such as regional newspaper accounts of losses at sea. Second, the investigation embraces source materials relating to the distant-water trawl fisheries and the merchant shipping industry.

In considering the various archival materials generated by these different, yet related, activities, the team are testing the evidential quality of a range of primary sources relating to safety in the fisheries and merchant shipping over the long term. This is essentially a scoping exercise, designed to help prepare the ground for a large-scale research investigation into the evolving provision and significance of safety at sea since c.1850 -- a project that is being developed by Hull's maritime historians and will greatly benefit from collaboration with HEC colleagues.

Project progress

Preliminary findings from the initial appraisal and discussions at a workshop in June 2019, concluded that the HEC archive has huge potential, which cataloguing would help to unlock. A wide variety of projects could be informed by the archive, in some cases complemented by other collections, which could give new insights into aspects of merchant shipping, shipbuilding and marine resource extraction from the eighteenth century to the present.

A full report for HEC, and a short article, or 'Research Note', is being prepared ready for submission to an academic journal.