Don’t overlook those old company magazines

The Victoria County History makes use of a wide range of sources in our attempt at a new history of local communities. One of the forgotten aspects of Chesterfield’s claim to be the ‘Centre of Industrial England’ was the amount of in-house magazines produced by locally based companies for their employees. They can make an excellent source for both local, company and family history. Many are available in local studies libraries.

We feature just a few examples on this page. Our first is the front cover of January 1962’s Staveley News. Produced by the Staveley Iron & Chemical Company, the cover shows ‘…one of Staveley’s stockyards has as a background the neat block which houses Foundries laboratories and offices and the research department. Just behind are the roofs of foundry buildings…’

The second is Trebor Sharps’ Working Together, from Winter 1973. The front cover features Chesterfield’s ‘Maeve McGoaty at the hopper that feeds the wrap machine wrapping Trebor mints.’ In addition to the Chesterfield facility, at this time the Trebor group had factories at Woodford, Forest Gate, Maidstone and Stratford, their own printers (who printed the magazine) and overseas distributers. Their magazine covered all these locations.

The spring 1967 edition of Broad Oaks magazine (from Markham & Co., Chesterfield), featured the previous December’s Christmas party, an annual feature at many companies.

Broad Oaks was the magazine of the Markham & Co. Ltd., named after their engineering works at the bottom of Hady Hill. Like most other company magazines, it not only featured latest corporate news, but also such things like social events, sports and employee news. Our third extract is from the magazine of spring 1967. It’s a page showing the children’s Christmas party – an annual event at many companies during the period. We wouldn’t use this type of information in VCH, but it does seek to outline the ‘other things’ lost that the closure of large employers in the Chesterfield area and elsewhere has resulted in. Also lost were numerous sports-grounds and welfare facilities. The Staveley company and GKN were particularly noteworthy examples in the Chesterfield area of facilities that are no more.

In-house employee magazines can be an excellent source for tracing the development of local companies. For the family historian, many also contain photographs and other information on long-serving employees, even marriages and deaths. Take our final scan from the same January 1962 Staveley News. It features the retirement of three employees. One wonders if this photograph or the information in the article has survived or is available anywhere else?

January 1962’s Staveley News was not unusual in marking the retirement of long-serving employees. Leslie Brelsford, one of those featured here, was from a well-known Brimington family and went on to write a history of the Royal British Legion in Brimington.