The archives looked after by the Heritage and Education Centre hold a plethora of documents, a percentage of which are currently on loan to the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. For some time the Heritage and Education Centre has been keen to digitise some of its collections so that they can be more widely accessed by the public. The archival documents are used to inform the public, as well as researchers on a number of topics, including trade, economics, naval histories, engineering, shipping, ship development and design, safety at sea, risk assessment and understanding, as well as personal histories. The intention is that digitisation will increase and promote access whilst assessing conservation and ensuring digital preservation for the future. The Archive is divided into collections based on their function. The most important of these include the:
- Ship Annals
- Wreck Reports
- Register Books
- Yacht Registers
- Wreck Books
- Personal Collections of various employees
- Employee “Bibles” i.e. lists
- Corporate Documents
- Photograph collections
Part of the material that we are currently digitising for the pilot project are our ship annals. These are comprised of documents related to Lloyd’s Register and the ships they were surveying during the 19th century, including ship surveys and reports, machinery surveys, correspondences, tests, plans and indentures. All of these documents can help to build a more complete picture of ship histories, as well as the people behind them. The intention is to have the catalogue online, along with high quality digital representations of the documents so that they can be used from all over the world.
The wreck reports, despite their name are actually very similar to the Ship Annals. These are actually all from the 20th century and they are called “Wreck Reports” because at this time, Lloyd’s Register started adding a record of the ship being disclassed at the end of her time with LR. This could mean she was moved to a different classing society, broken up, retired or wrecked, amongst other things.
The Register Books
These are perhaps the most famous part of the collection. The Register, published 1764-66, 1768-71 and then annually since 1775, records the details of merchant vessels of the world. Since the 1870’s Lloyd’s Register (LR) has tried to include all merchant vessels over 100 gross tonnes, regardless of classification.
See Lloyd’s Register’s Heritage and Education Centre for more information.
LR’s Register of Classed Yachts was a similar publication for yachts, which itself ceased publication in 1996, with special editions in 1999, 2000 and 2002.
We hold brief records of casualties to ships dating from July 1890. These show the date and position of sinking, voyage, cargo carried (where known) and the nature of the casualty, i.e. wrecked, foundered, lost, broken-up, etc. During the Second World War and up until 1977, Lloyd’s Register maintained Wreck Books, the only copies of which are held in the Heritage and Education Centre library.
We also hold collections from previous employees, which include scrap books, newspaper cuttings, photographs, notebooks and correspondences etc.
Information, by year, on employees at Lloyd’s Register and the ports they worked at.
There are many of these relating to the various aspects of running Lloyd’s Register. They include documents like the various committee minutes and presentation books.
Lloyd’s Register Foundation also holds collections of photos. These can relate directly to Lloyd’s Register’s history, such as images of employees and offices or it can relate to the ships classed by LR.
The Heritage and Education Centre also has a vast research library for maritime engineering, which has become a home for orphan libraries after the adoption of the IMarEST (Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology) and the majority of the RINA (Royal Institution of Naval Architects) libraries.