To coincide with the launch in 2011 of the National Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland, the Business Archives Council of Scotland announced the start of a project to find the records of Scotland’s hundred oldest surviving limited companies.
The limited company has allowed Scottish businesses and community groups to flourish and grow beyond the lives of their founders, and become important entities in Scottish life in their own right. The companies formed under the 1856 Companies Act were independent and influential actors in Scottish history, and their archives are a valuable resource for historic research. The records can also be utilised by the companies that hold them to add prestige and depth to brand names and as a source of product innovation. Currently 20% of FTSE 100 companies employ archivists to enable them to best exploit their records and archives.
The central aim of the project was to identify the record-holdings of the oldest companies still registered at Companies House in Edinburgh, and produce an online guide detailing the company’s history and its surviving records. These companies range from large multinational firms and makers of famous brands to small production companies and community groups, and represent Scotland’s proud and diverse business tradition. Some collections are already in archives, but many of the companies (whether active or inactive) appear to have no store for their historical records.
The project was carried out by the then Surveying Officer Dave Luck and it was an exciting opportunity to celebrate existing business archives collections, and to discover and secure the future of records of historical value. The completion of the Scotland’s 100-oldest Companies Project saw a 200 page report and statistical spreadsheet published by BACS.