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Ruston & Hornsby Project

Lincolnshire’s industrial heritage.

Lincolnshire Archives has been awarded £98,100 by the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project relating to Ruston and Hornsby of Lincoln.

This page contains information about the project, and will be added to as work progresses.

Heritage Lottery Fund Logo

A vast archive revealing 150 years of Lincolnshire’s unique industrial heritage is to be given new life thanks to a £98,100 grant to Lincolnshire County Council from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Up to 150,000 photographic negatives, 150 reels of cine film and the recorded memories of former workers are all to be digitised, catalogued and made available online in a project of national significance.

Councillor Nick Worth, executive member for culture, said:
“Lincolnshire’s heritage as an industrial powerhouse has left an extraordinary mark on our local communities. This project puts the spotlight on that legacy, which played a huge role in Britain’s history as the pioneer of invention. It also ensures our local story is protected for the future and never forgotten.”

The photos and films form part of a huge collection showcasing the history of Lincoln-based engineering firm Ruston and Hornsby, which became part of Siemens in 2003.

The archive spans the company’s 150 years, offering a rare and detailed insight into Lincolnshire’s manufacturing heyday and Britain’s industrial revolution.

Throughout that period, Rustons and Hornsby’s engineering feats saw it capture worldwide fame.

A leader in the manufacturing of turbines and engines since 1857, the company later became the largest British builder of aero-engines during the First World War. It created the conflict’s 1,000th Sopwith Camel, as well as 2,750 planes, 3,000 aero engines and the era’s largest bomb.

Many of its products, as well as detailed schematics, are recorded on original photographic negatives and cine film, but are starting to decay.

“Many of the negatives are on acetate, which has a limited lifespan. This project will transfer the originals into digital format, helping to preserve these important pieces of social history before they’re lost forever. It will also make them available to both researchers and the public all over the world,” said Dr Mike Rogers from Lincolnshire Archives.

Volunteers from local communities, the University of Lincoln and Bishop Grosseteste, as well as retired and current engineers, will begin the digital transfer in September using specialist equipment at Lincolnshire Archives.

They will also carry out interviews with Ruston and Hornsby’s former employees and their relatives, recording their memories for posterity and helping to bring the past to life.

All digitised and recorded data, much of which has never been made public before, will be freely available for all to see on the Lincs to the Past website. The project is expected to take 18 months.

Frank Carchedi, Director of Quality at Siemens in Lincoln, said: “The items contained in the archive are not just important to understanding the legacy of engineering in Lincolnshire - they provide an incredibly detailed account of how the industrial revolution in Britain was experienced by the people at its heart.”

The Ruston and Hornsby archive was collected and looked after for many years by the firm’s then information officer Mr Ray Hooley. Their permanent preservation was secured in 2012 thanks to a partnership between Siemens, Lincolnshire County Council and the University of Lincoln. That project saw the collection’s photographs re-housed in Lincolnshire Archives and films re-located to the Media Archive for Central England at the University of Lincoln, which now owns the entire Ruston and Hornsby archive.

The Negatives

The Ruston and Hornsby collection, housed at Lincolnshire Archives, contains extensive documents, publications, photographs and microfilms relating to the history of the company, its products, and its employees. For further information please view the Download at the bottom of the page.


Please follow the links below to view extracts of some of the films relating to the Company and its products which have been digitised by MACE (Media Archive for Central England) as part of the Ruston and Hornsby project. DVDs of the full films, and many others, can be viewed by appointment at Lincolnshire Archives or at MACE (see www.macearchive.org/ for details). The current catalogue of DVD contents is in the Downloads section below.


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Customer Notice: Viewing images and Online Ordering

As of January 2021, Adobe Flash Player is no longer supported and therefore browsers are disabling and blocking the software for security reasons. Lincs to the Past can still be used as a catalogue to search our collections for documents of interest, but you will be unable to browse through our digital image collections or view photographs. We are aware of this issue, and work is underway to make the contents of Lincs to the Past available by other means. We aim to complete this project during Summer 2021.

Thousands of object records are still available to view on the website and images can be ordered offline. For instructions on how to place an order please visit the 'Buy Images' page. Please do not use the online ordering system. For any queries about ordering digital images please email archive.copies@lincolnshire.gov.uk

Members of Lincolnshire Libraries can access a number of online resources that may be of use. For more information please visit Lincolnshire Libraries. We apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused.

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Lincolnshire's heritage is a rich, diverse and precious legacy. Your donations will be used to improve your visit through better exhibitions, increased digitisation and conservation work. Your generosity will help to preserve and keep vibrant our heritage for future generations. Thank you for your support.

Last updated: 10 May 2016

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