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Curator's Blog - Just How Old is the Museum's Oldest Document?

The Museum's oldest document

14 August 2017

1670 to be exact.  It forms part of the archive collection of Archibald Kenrick & Sons which can now be accessed on-line.  Although written before the company was established, it is included in the collection because it is a good indicator of what was on the land before the Kenrick factory was built.

Established in 1793 in West Bromwich, Archibald Kenrick & Sons quickly became a major manufacturer in cast-iron holloware and ornate door furniture, producing such things as pots & pans, door knockers, irons, baths and (later on) furniture castors.  Over 200 years of business activity   produced an enormous amount of paperwork which now comprises the newly re-catalogued 1200 item archive collection, now accessible on the National Archives’ website.    

Consequently, the Kenrick archive collection perfectly complements the Kenrick object collection, but it is also a collection in its own right. By looking at your average Kenrick door knocker we can work out who made it by examining the maker’s mark. We can probably get an idea of when it was made by scrutinising the design or examining the materials that it was made from, but the object has no indicators to tell us who made it, how much they were paid to make them, how much it cost to make them, who they were sold to and for how much.  Did Great Uncle Henry really work at the Kenrick factory in 1850 - what did he make there and how much was he paid to do it?  Just what were former Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain’s and John Major’s connections with the Black Country? The answers will be found in the archives.  The collection includes apprenticeship indentures, accounts ledgers, patent certificates, trade catalogues and over 100 years’ worth of advertising material.

The collection is housed here at the Museum but can be publically accessed in its entirety on the National Archives website via



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