More great websites
The National Records of Scotland’s research guides include a general one covering crafts and trades which can be found at nrscotland.gov.uk/ research/guides/ crafts-and-trades. The National Archives’ guides also cover general topics including apprentices and business records ( nationalarchives.gov.uk/ records/looking-for-person/other- occupations.htm).
Although there’s not a huge amount specific to metal working, the landing page for Ancestry’s occupational record sets at ancestry.co.uk/cs/uk/occupations-alta lists collections such as Railway Workers (1833-1963) and Civil and Mechanical Engineer Records (1820-1930) detailing 100,000 names.
The Findmypast equivalent is at bit.ly/1BKfVlb, and you can also trawl a range of occupational sets on thegenealogist.co.uk by clicking the full list of Diamond Databases via the ‘ Why Subscribe?’ box.
Cheshire Record Office has various databases on its website, including one that is based on 15 surviving registers of employees of the railway works at Crewe. You can access it at archivedatabases.cheshire.gov.uk/archivesandlocalstudies/ search.aspx?archiveid=1.
Available for free at archive.org is Industrial Biography: Iron-workers and Tool-makers (1864) by Samuel Smiles, a comprehensive biography of important industrialists of the era.
Those with Northern Irish roots can try PRONI’s dedicated directories site at streetdirectories.proni.gov.uk. Another little Genuki gem is Stan Cook’s Gunmakers & Allied Trades Index which can be found at genuki.org.uk/big/Gunmakers.html.
Other sites of note are the Institution of Mechanical Engineers ( imeche.org/knowledge/library/archive); the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers Library ( mininginstitute. org.uk); Union History ( unionhistory.info); the People’s History Museum’s Study Centre ( phm.org.uk/ archive-study- centre); the Working Lives Research Institute ( workinglives.org) and liverycompanies.com, which includes useful links to ancient London Livery Companies.
For more general advice there’s the FamilySearch occupations wiki ( familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/ England_Occupations), Historical Directories ( bit.ly/1HqmpLy), where you can search by firm, business, related trade or individual and the Working Class Movement Library ( www.wcml.org.uk) which includes an online catalogue containing archival material such as trade union records, personal papers and records of organisations.
The People’s History Museum’s Study Centre can be a useful resource
The National Records of Scotland’s site has a Crafts and Trades section