Thursday, 7 May 2015

Guildhall Business Library Part. 1

To be frank for a moment, this blog doesn't have any real direction as such, other than to try to be interesting - note the word “try”. One thing I did not want it to be was a dry blow by blow account of the mundanities of my attempts at researching the kind of things I set out in the introduction. So, here is a blow by blow account of the mundanities of my half-arsed and haphazard attempts at research which I conducted yesterday. My reason for posting this is that I thought it might be helpful to anyone wishing to do some sort of historical business research in the UK.

As some of you may know I have been spending quite a bit of time down the National Archives, which is where I spent the first half of my day trying to gather up a few loose ends to finish my research there. This left me with 6000+ Images/photos over the course of my time there and I still have to sift through and make notes for a lot of it. Ultimately, this has been time consuming but an overall very rewarding process.

Yesterday, I finished with just enough time spare that I was able to go to Guildhall business library in the centre of London. At Guildhall you can find research aids for historical business research as such as a complete set of London Trade directories (which you are not allowed to photograph, although, you can photo other books), a complete set of Stock Exchange Yearbooks, access to a database for the complete Times and Financial Times newspapers up until 1985 and some very helpful research assistants/librarians.

The first thing I did was to use the trade directories to ascertain what addresses were listed and for what periods. Being a bit pushed for time and only really concerned about TIE (Programmes) Ltd as they seem the hardest part of TIE to get details on I decided to start there. Although, I do know from some documents I saw in the NA (National Archives) that they were operational as early as 1964. Unfortunately, the trade directories for 1965 and 1966 only had listings for TIE and its sales division both registered at the address 21 Sloane Street. From this, I think it’s reasonable to infer that the Programmes subsidiary would have operated from 21 Sloane Street. I know this may seem blindingly obvious to some but if I were happy with guessing I wouldn’t have travelled all that way to view dusty documents in order to gains answers and hopefully some hard facts.

Next I tried looking at the stock exchange yearbook for the same period and drew a blank. So neither TIE nor any of its subsidiaries was floated on the stock market, meaning that they are harder to trace. If I had had more time I would have checked the year 1989 to make absolutely sure as David Stirling died in 1990 and the main body of TIE was dissolved the same year, although, official dissolution came in 1994. TIE (Sales) Ltd was dissolved in 1999 and official dissolution didn't come until as late as 2007. Which meant that they spent a limbo period under the care of the Colin Turner Group who were International Media Representatives and Marketing Consultants. I know this because I was able to acquire the company records from companies’ house as TIE (Sales) Ltd were dissolved in the last 20 years. Those, of course, are not working records but do show us the abbreviated accounts, the name of directors and dissolution dates, as well as the law firm who handled the legal proceedings. Any working records would have been left in the care of the current director at the time of dissolution and probably disposed of.

I believe I am correct in saying that The Public Records Office at the NA does accept the records of certain types of companies but often these documents are simply thrown out or have to find another home. Historically important companies (such as BP or the ITA - Independent Television Authority) may end up in a university library. Since Microfilm became the preferred format of record keeping in 1974 more has been kept but that combined with the fact that TIE doesn't appear to have been floated on the stock market at any point does leave them in a bit of a black hole.

However back at Guildhall, there were also other reference books there I could have used to see who was a director of whatever company and any other directorships over other companies they may have had. Pushed for time, I decided not to take this option and instead elected to access their newspaper database. The Financial times yielded nothing, but the Times offered me six different articles that mentioned ‘Television International Enterprises Ltd’. So thankfully the day wasn't a total wipe-out.

Well if that hasn't cured your insomnia then get ready for another narcoleptic assault as I detail my findings in Part 2 of this post.