The company records of W H Allen, it’s successors and related companies, were deposited with the Bedfordshire and Luton Archives Service between 1986 and 2004 by arrangement with the company.
The collection has mainly come direct from the Queen’s Engineering Works offices, having always been in company hands, however some material had passed into private hands when employees left the company and took their own files with them.
In the 1980s a small group of ex-employees got together and deposited material in their possession, on the understanding that this material would be amalgamated with the material deposited by the company. The notes made by these employees have been useful in helping to catalogue, not only their items, but also others within the collection.
The collection remains the property of Rolls-Royce. It is understood that some material has been retained by Rolls-Royce for business purposes.
To view the Index Pages for the W H Allen archive at the Bedfordshire and Luton Archive website ‘click here’
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The collection is incomplete. The company does not appear to have employed anyone in the role of records management and there does not seem to have been a consistent company wide approach to records.
The date range for material is 1860 – 2000. The period up to1968 has the best coverage. After 1977 and the formation of NEI it is presumed that many records would have been created and held by the group head offices. While the first order, prime cost book and draft catalogue still exist it is apparent from notes written in 1946 that many of the early records had been lost prior to 1939.
Deposits of records from particular departments were sometimes caused by departmental changes or office moves. This means that some departments, notably the electrical and publicity departments, and some periods of time are better represented than others. However, most of the company’s long history is represented in some form. Apart from registers of pupils, students, apprentices from the 1890s to the 1930s there are extremely few personnel records.
A large proportion of the deposited material originated in the publicity and marketing department therefore the collection contains large quantities of publications and photographs. Promotional films have been transferred to East Anglian Film Archive as Bedfordshire and Luton Archives is not equipped for this type of material.
Approximately 200 architectural and technical drawings document the development of the works.
In spite of the sporadic and incomplete nature of the collection it has been felt worthy of retention as the only means available of documenting this important local company.