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South Wales archives to join collection of worldwide historically important documents

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: June 24, 2014

Sir Winston Churchill

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ARCHIVES from South Wales are to sit alongside the Domesday Book and Winston Churchill's papers in a project which collects documents of historical importance from across the globe.

The Unesco Memory of the World programme is building a list of documents of specific historical or cultural significance and the UK register features the writings by Britain's wartime leader, as well as the death warrant signed by Parliament that cost Charles I his head.

Now, 8,000 engineering drawings from the Neath Abbey Ironworks and other documents and drawings held by West Glamorgan Archives in Swansea Civic Centre will join them on the register, following a special ceremony in Edinburgh.

They date from 1792 to 1882 and are detailed and finely drawn, reflecting the high standards of work for which the foundry was famous.

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Kim Collis, county archivist, said: "The collection is a rare survival which shows the contribution of South Wales to Britain's industrial revolution and to the spread of British mining technology to the rest of the world.

"It's a recognition of the cultural significance of the Neath Abbey Ironworks collection and its remarkable survival when so many similar records have been lost during the decline of the South Wales iron industry.

"By implication, the award can also be seen as a tribute to the entrepreneurship of the Neath Abbey Iron Company and the skill of the workforce at Neath Abbey who produced such high quality engines during a period when Britain was the workshop of the world."

The collection includes plans for mine pumping engines, for ships and railway locomotives.

The Neath Abbey Iron Company was at the forefront of development of steam engines for the South Wales coalfield, building its first railway locomotive in 1829 for use on the Sirhowy tramroad in Monmouthshire and its first marine engines in 1822 for the paddle steamer 'Glamorgan'.

The award was made at a reception in Edinburgh hosted by the Scottish Council on Archives and the Unesco Memory of the World UK Committee.

Also inscribed in the programme was the Hepworth Cinema Interviews (1916) at the National Screen and Sound Archive Aberystwyth.

The interviews by Cecil Hepworth, on of the pioneers of cinematography, feature well-known people of the day 'talking' to the camera about the First World War, which was under way at the time.

The only other Welsh archives in the programme are the Peniarth Manuscripts and an early film on the life of Lloyd George, both held at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.

Swansea News

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