Dorset History Centre holds records for various kinds of businesses, including brewers, solicitors, architects and more. Our business archives include the internationally recognised ceramics firm Poole Pottery and Britain's first garden centre, Stewarts of Ferndown.

Records held at Dorset History Centre were used in a BBC4 programme entitled 'Britain's Oldest Businesses' which told the story of Balson's, butchers of Bridport. Archives held at the History Centre demonstrated that the business was in existence in 1515.

Most of the collections described below can be searched using our online catalogue.


Solicitors' collections can contain a wealth of information including property deeds; sales particulars; marriage settlements, correspondence and other papers.


Dorset History Centre holds several architects' collections, the largest of which is for Crickmays and Partnership (ref: D-CMY), originally G R Crickmay of Weymouth, for whom Thomas Hardy worked for a time.

Other examples

Poole Pottery: As well as standard business records this archive collection also includes huge numbers of stunning individual designs for Poole pottery products.

Stewarts of Ferndown: The Stewarts plant nursery business has the honour of being Britain's first garden centre, which was established in Ferndown in 1955, after the company's owner, Edward Stewart, saw similar centres whilst travelling around America and Canada.

Cosens of Weymouth: The Weymouth shipping company, mainly remembered for its fleet of pleasure cruise paddle steamers, had a number of different business interests during its 150-year history including mast making; yacht building; transporting coal and ice and property management.

Eldridge Pope and Devenish: Two significant brewing archives relating to prominent Dorset companies, replete with photographs, brewing books and accounts.

Our Business Archives leaflet, sponsored by the Dorset Archives Trust, explains how to deposit your business archives at Dorset History Centre.

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