‘Wales Showing Our Metal’ funded by the National Cataloguing Grants Programme and Welsh Government, and ‘Forging Ahead’ funded by National Manuscripts Conservation Trust, have increased access to records of the major steel works in south and north Wales, as well as papers of the main trade union, giving a comprehensive insight into different sides of the industry.

The projects were led by Richard Burton Archives at Swansea University, where academic staff are keen to address the lack of recent work on the history of the steel industry in Wales.

Wales Showing Our Metal

The partner archive services benefited from cataloguing and detailed conservation work. Alongside this, volunteers gained skills through training, making a valuable contribution to a cleaning and re-packaging programme. The projects have involved the following collections:

  • Iron and Steel Trades Confederation
    Richard Burton Archives, Swansea University
    • British Steel Collection
    Glamorgan Archives
    • Brymbo Steelworks records
    Flintshire Record Office and Wrexham Archives & Local Studies

The success of this collaboration led to it being featured as a case study in King’s College London ‘The Art of Partnering’ a cultural enquiry into the ‘role partnership plays in enabling publicly funded cultural institutions to enhance the quality and diversity of their work’.

The collections featured in this project also relate to other important holdings across Wales, which opens up opportunities for further partnership and community engagement work between all ARCW member services. Making these collections accessible lays the foundations for exploring new avenues for research and developing cross sector partnerships.