History or just story-telling?

In 2007, local author John Payne published his own account of 'the rise and fall of a Bath company', a personal history of the city's engineering firm, Stothert and Pitt. We reviewed the book in RH18 and invited John to reflect upon the process of writing 'industrial history' or 'business history' as 'community history'. For, as he suggests here, there would seem a world of difference between most academic accounts of commercial change, and the sort of approaches taken to the subject by people for whom working for the firm had been formative. What is the relative value, he wonders, of personal histories of the workplace?

Bristol and the iron trade in western Britain in the eighteenth century

During the eighteenth-century, Britain was the hub of the international market in iron. Although the British Isles could boast a well-established domestic iron industry, native ironmasters were unable to meet the rapidly growing demand for iron in the major metalworking districts of the Midlands and the north. As a result, large quantities of bar iron had to be imported from the Baltic to meet the shortfall. Much of this iron, destined for the West Midlands, was shipped through Bristol. In this article, Chris Evans looks at Bristol’s iron trade through the business records of Graffin Prankard, a Bristol merchant who played an important role in this commerce in the first half of the eighteenth century.