Paxman Archives
and Photographic Collection

The Paxman Archive Trust (PAT)

The Trust was established by Deed in December 2006, with the willing agreement of MAN Diesel Ltd (now MAN Energy Solutions UK Ltd), which acquired the Paxman business in 2000. As at February 2023 the Trustees are Andrew Phillips (Chairman), Richard Carr (Secretary and Treasurer), Don Meiklejohn, Ian Drake and Phil Channon. Andrew Phillips wrote the definitive history of Paxman up to 1922 and is preparing a second volume on the subsequent history of the company. Richard Carr, who worked at Paxman for 15 years, created this website and maintains it. The three other trustees each worked for the company for more than 40 years and thus have an in-depth knowledge of the company and its products. Don Meiklejohn has a detailed knowledge of the company's heritage engines. Until 2022 Ian Drake was Chief Design Engineer and Phil Channon was Technical Sales Manager of the Paxman business at Colchester. Each of the trustees has an active interest in preserving Paxman's history and contributes to the work of the Trust on a voluntary unpaid basis. Very sadly, two of the Foundation Trustees, Alex Walford and Mike Gipson, are no longer with us but each contributed enormously to the work of the Trust.

The primary object of the Paxman Archive Trust, as stated in the Trust Deed, is "To preserve and maintain for public consultation the historic papers, records, photographs, catalogues and other documents" of the Paxman business.

The PAT is constituted as a charitable trust but does not have the assets and income to be eligible to apply to the Charity Commissioners to become a Registered Charity.

Paxman Archive Material

Prior to 2007 substantial quantities of Paxman archive material, including minute books, catalogues and correspondence, were deposited from time to time by the company, on loan, with the Colchester branch of Essex Record Office (ERO). Sadly, Essex County Council closed the Colchester Branch in March 2007, as a cost-saving measure, and the whole ERO operation is now based at Chelmsford.

Under a Deed of Assignment dated 28th February 2007, MAN Diesel Ltd assigned to the Paxman Archive Trust ownership of all the material previously deposited by Paxman, on loan, with the ERO. (Other Paxman material deposited with the ERO by private individuals remains in their ownership or that of the ERO, depending on whether it was loaned or donated.)

Since 2007 the trustees of the PAT have garnered a considerable additional quantity of Paxman archive material, including company records, catalogues and photographs. Most of this has now been deposited on loan with the ERO so that the collection is stored and accessible to the public, under controlled conditions, in one location. Requests to view any of the material should be made to the ERO at Chelmsford.

The Essex Record Office is at Wharf Road, Chelmsford, CM2 6YT.  Telephone: 01245-244644.
Email:  Website:

Catalogues of material held by the ERO can be viewed on the ERO's SEAX (Essex archives online) system. To see what Paxman material is available (excluding material not yet catalogued) go to and do a search on Davey Paxman.

Lower down this page are details of the PAT's very large photographic archive and its archive of engineering drawings.

Order Records

The Paxman Archive Trust holds seven old Paxman (copy) order books covering the period from 24th April 1874 to 4th October 1934. These books contain only short summary details of the entries which were made in the order books proper. For each order entry there is generally an order number, the date the order was received or entered in the book, a brief description of what was ordered, the register or works number of the item, who it was for, where it was sent, and the date it was despatched from the factory. The records are not complete in every respect but do constitute an invaluable source.

Please note that, except for very early orders, there is an important difference between the order number and the works number, the latter being the one which appeared on the maker's plate. If the order or works number of a Paxman engine or boiler, or its year of manufacture and customer's name is sent (using the feedback form on the contact page), we can usually find the relevant entry and will be pleased to confirm details given in the order book. The records exist only in paper form and as there are literally thousands of entries we do not have the resources for doing a broader, less defined search which might span several years. The books and the orders they cover are summarised in the table below.

BookRangeOrder/Contract NoOrder DateReg or Works No
1From:93924 Apr 1874 
To:338712 Oct 18895330
Note: Entries are blank for Orders between No 2874 of 16 March 1887 and No 3123 of 18 July 1888
2From:338814 Oct 18895331
To:577931 May 189910339
3From:578029 May 189910340
To:809613 Sep 190614041
4From:809713 Sep 190614042
To:1154902 Apr 191217578
5From:1155003 Apr 191217579
To:1418813 Dec 191920218
6From:1418915 Dec 191920219
To:1673321 Oct 192722763
7From:1673421 Oct 192722764
To:1844904 Oct 193424479

The original order books contained much more detailed descriptions of each order, in some cases including sketches. One of these, Boiler and Engine Order Book No 7 (not to be confused with Book 7 in the above table), has been preserved and is in the Paxman archive. It contains very detailed information on orders from No 3124 of 18th July 1888 to No 3544 of 2nd June 1890. Inside the front cover is a note by Frank Cansdale who was associated with the Order Department from 1897 to 1950. The note, dated January 1950, reads as follows:

"This Order Book No.7, follows on from Order Books numbered 1 to 6. (These earlier books are either lost or in too bad a condition for re-binding)
This Book has been preserved as a specimen of how the Orders were entered and the values at that period, July 1888-June 1890.
Order Books reached to No. 45, covering years 1890 to 1941 (50 years) but due to their bulkiness and condition into which they had deteriorated it was decided to scrap.
The last Order actually recorded in Order Books was Order No. 19816, April 1941, thereafter Record Cards were started and are now in use.
It must not be assumed that up to the year 1941, 19816 orders had been received, for many of the older orders covered a multiple of engines or boilers &c. as many as twelve engines or boilers being made to one Order Number.
Today, every product has a separate Order Number."

Full details of many orders have survived in microfilm form. To the best of our knowledge microfilm records are available for order number 2909 (c.1887) and subsequent orders placed up to the 1930s and possible the early 1940s. Surviving microfilms are being scanned into digital images by the Internal Fire Museum of Power in West Wales and the Museum will hold the scans in its collection.

Details of most orders for Davey Paxman's Vertical Heavy-Fuel-Oil engines and Heavy Duty Diesels are available on this site on the page Oil Engine Listing - 1920s & 1930s. The list covers nearly 500 engines and includes some of Paxman's first Vee form engines, the VRA and VRB, introduced in 1936 and 1937 respectively.

MAN Diesel & Turbo UK Ltd used to hold at its Colchester offices the diesel engine order books for the period January 1938 up to the time of the site's closure. Access was restricted for obvious reasons and is at the sole discretion of the Company. The details of some orders, particularly more recent ones, are of course confidential. As at 2005 there were six of these books:

Order Book 1.   January 1938 to June 1947.
Order Book 2.   June 1947 to August 1951.
Order Book 3.   July 1951 to March 1961
Unnumbered   March 1961 to September 1970
Unnumbered   August 1970 to February 2002 (but excluding orders for the VP185 engine range)
Unnumbered   All orders for the VP185 engine range

It will be seen from the above that one or more order books, covering the period October 1934 to December 1937, are missing. The book(s) has presumably been lost or destroyed but there is a possibility that microfilm records of the relevant orders have survived.

A Paxman order book which we found in December 2005 contains details of boiler orders received between 1940 and 1965.

Personnel Records

The Paxman archive includes four large bound registers that record details of individuals who commenced employment with the company. The periods covered by these registers of 'new starters' are as follows:

1. 21st August 1929 to 12th August 1941
2. 18th August 1941 to 29th December 1947
3. 5th January 1948 to 5th July 1954
4. 12th July 1954 to 17th October 1966.

The registers record for each new starter: Surname, Christian Name, Check Number, Occupation, Shop, Date of Starting, Date of Birth, and Address.

An interesting project for someone would be to research these registers in detail, not least because they cover the 1930s, the World War Two years, the immediate post-war period and the years when the numbers employed by Paxman peaked at a little over 2,500. A proper analysis would reveal, among other things, the range of different occupations to be found in the business from the 1930s through to the mid-1960s and the many places from which people travelled to work with the company.

No other personnel records, apart from these 'starters' registers, appear to have been kept until 1942 when Mr H C Lawrence was asked by Edward Paxman to establish a Personnel Department. Mr Lawrence designed some basic forms to be completed by all employees. One can only conclude that this system of record-keeping remained very basic and was not adequately maintained. When Peter Myers was appointed General Manager in 1974 he found that there were over 3,000 names on Paxman's payroll, many of whom no longer worked for the company, even including some who had died. The company had their employment record cards but there was no method of ensuring these were updated when people left. To address this shortcoming the then Personnel Manager, Hugh Kerr, introduced a new paper-based system.

By the time I joined the Personnel Department in 1985 there was a proper personnel file for each employee. Each file contained the individual's personal details and recorded their employment history with the company. These files were kept in locked filing cabinets which were housed in a secure records office, only accessible to authorised members of the Personnel Department. When an individual left the company, his/her file was transferred to a secure 'leavers' records' storage area. A computerised personnel information system was introduced by David Holborow, the then Personnel Manager, in about 1984. A system of computerised personnel information was maintained at the Colchester site certainly up to the year 2000. In 2003 the number of people employed on the Colchester site (Paxman and Regulateurs Europa) fell from about 300 to 150. It was probably during this year that Colchester's Personnel function and personnel records were gradually transferred to MAN's site at Stockport.

The Paxman Photographic Archive

Trustees of the Paxman Archive Trust (PAT) were fortunate in being able to rescue the Company's collection of thousands of photographic negatives which were destined for the rubbish tip. The collection of approximately 11,000 glass-plate negatives and 4,000 celluloid negatives constituted a photographic record of Paxman products, manufacturing facilities, events and people from the late 1890s to the 1960s. The glass-plate negatives have now been deposited with the Essex Record Office (ERO) at Chelmsford. However, it has been agreed with the ERO that all enquiries regarding the relevant photographic images should be handled by the Paxman Archive Trust. Advice on making such enquiries appears below.

The late Mike Gipson, a former PAT trustee, undertook the colossal task of scanning all the above-mentioned negatives and photographs as digital images in JPG format. A truly phenomenal achievement for which we will ever owe Mike a great debt of gratitude. The archive is thus preserved for posterity and images can be made available for study and publication when required. Mike also undertook the considerable task of creating indexes of the Paxman photographic archive, in Excel spreadsheet format. Four of his indexes were based on surviving Paxman photograph registers. A fifth was created from scratch as neither the relevant register or negatives appeared to have survived. Mike also put together some useful explanatory notes about the registers and these notes form the next section of this page. We do recommend that you read the notes before viewing or searching the spreadsheet which contains the five indexes on five separate worksheets. The spreadsheet file is available as a download from this page, as explained in the section headed Excel Spreadsheet Indexes below.

The PAT's image archive also includes photographs from other sources, such as albums and catalogues.

Paxman Photograph and Negative Registers - Explanatory Notes

Two major registers of photographs and negatives were kept by the Company. These have survived and are now in the Paxman Archive Trust collection.

1. Negative Register Book One, Nos 500 onwards(the 'Blue Book')

The register is handwritten and, although entitled 'Nos 500 onwards', actually contains 23 records for numbers prior to 500. It runs from the year 1898 to 1955.

Numbers run from nominally 500 to 1,199, after which they suddenly jump to 2,000. The way the numbers are entered in the register suggests this was a simple case of numbering error by whoever allocated the numbers. No later notes accompany these omissions, nor is there any attempt to re-use the missing numbers later on in the book. The numbers run up to 3,005.

For entries 500 to 915 the identifying number is called the 'Negative number'. From 916 onwards it is called merely 'Number'.

Details entered under 3,006 to 3,048 are crossed out and the sequence starts again at 3,006 on the next page. From this second 3,006 entry the numbers run to 5,618, at which point the book ends. From the second 3,006 entry, a second column appears which is headed 'Negative number'; the first number column is still headed 'Number'.

The spreadsheet version of this 'Blue Book' register is the worksheet with the tab name 'Series 1 Photos'.

2. Negative Register(the 'Leather-Bound Register' - covering the period from 1939 to 1958)

The register has two numbering columns: the first headed 'Index Number', the second 'Negative Number'

The register starts from number 1 in the 'Negative Number' column and is very sparse until number 500. Where details have been entered for some entries prior to 500, they are more or less the same as those appearing in the 'Blue Book'.

Details for entries 500 to 1,020 are not so sketchy and again follow the 'Blue Book'. The descriptions, however, are less detailed than in the 'Blue Book'.

From 1,020 to 2,457 the lines are blank. However, from 2,458 virtually full details return. This carries on up to 3,041 when again the lines are blank until negative number 3,103 is reached, at which point this numbering system stops.

NOTE: It appears that these numbers up to 3103 are the same series as in the 'Blue Book'.

Following a blank page a new numbering system starts. This again has the two columns 'Index Number' and 'Negative Number'. Here the entries start at number 1 in the 'Index Number' column. The date of number 1 is 1938-9. The details are full, including the negative numbers.

This continues right through to index number 2,089 (circa 1947) when the column 'Index Number' stops consecutive numbering and changes to dates. The Negative Numbers continue and are consecutive. This system of numbering now continues through the rest of the book until negative number 8,035 (circa 1958) when, almost at the end of the book, it finishes with a double underlining and a note saying: -

This system now discontinued 4-9-58. N.B. separate registers started as under
 a. Engines
 b. BGE (i.e. Boiler & General Engineering, including filtration plant.)
 c. Research
 d. General

The spreadsheet version of this 'Leather-Bound Register' is the worksheet with the tab name 'Series 2 Photos'.

Three of the four separate registers started in 1958 have survived and are held by the Trust. Neither the 'BGE' register, nor the relevant negatives, appear to have survived. Details of the four registers are as follows:
Engines (E): The register runs to 1979 but the negatives are not available. Prints of a limited number of the photographs recorded in the register have survived, in binders of photographs previously used by the Engine Sales Department. Mike Gipson scanned these prints as JPG images. The spreadsheet version of this register is the worksheet with the tab name 'E - Engines'.
BGE (B): As in the case of 'E' above, a limited number of prints in punched-leaf binders have survived. Some pictures go up to the 1970s. Mike has scanned these prints as JPG images and the spreadsheet index of the scanned images is the worksheet with the tab name 'B - Boilers Filters Etc'.
Research (R): Although the register has survived, the whereabouts of the relevant photographs is unknown, if they still exist. They would probably be of very limited interest, being mainly of component failures. There is no plan to create an electronic version of this register.
General (G): The register runs to 1976. Because of the large number of surviving negatives, it has been impractical to scan all of them as JPG images. The spreadsheet version of this register is the worksheet with the tab name 'G - General'.

Excel Spreadsheet Indexes

The Excel spreadsheet file containing the five indexes was scanned for viruses before being uploaded to the server. However, accessing or downloading the file is entirely at your own risk and no liability can be accepted for any loss or damage arising. To download the file, which is approx 2.8MB, right click on this link - PaxmanPhotoIndexes2012.xls - and save to disk.

The five indexes are on five different worksheets. After opening the spreadsheet, each index can be accessed by clicking on the appropriate tab near the bottom of the window. The indexes and their tab names are as follows:

Tab NameIndex Description
Series 1 PhotosIndex of entries in the 'Blue Book' register, up to 1943.
Series 2 PhotosIndex of entries in the 'Leather-Bound Register', starting with entries dated 1938/39.
E - EnginesIndex of entries in the 'Engines' register which runs from 1958 to 1979. The negatives recorded in the register are not available (probably lost or destroyed). However, prints in surviving publicity photograph binders have been scanned and JPG images of these are available.
B - Boilers Filters EtcIndex of images relating to the Boiler & General Engineering Division, scanned from surviving publicity photographs in binders. Mainly images of boilers and filtration plant. Some pictures go up to the 1970s.
G - GeneralIndex of entries in the 'General' register which runs from 1958 to 1976. It has not been practical to scan all the negatives because of their large number.
  1. To avoid potential confusion arising from the different numbering systems and duplicated numbering in the original registers, entries in the above indexes are colour-coded.
  2. Where no photograph has been found to match a register entry, the entry line is left uncoloured to indicate that it is not available.
  3. Where the index reference is italicised this indicates that the number is not in the registers but the picture(s) has/have been located elsewhere in the archive. The number and/or description has been created to enable them to be viewed. Extra information gained subsequently is also italicised.
  4. In the archive we have available also:
    1. A series of 132 photographs, internal and external, which were taken circa 2005, just before any work commenced on demolishing the old part of Standard Works, on the north side of the Hythe Hill site.
    2. A series of 576 photographs which were taken at various stages of the demolition of the old part of the Works in 2005 and 2006.

Requesting Images

Individual images are available on request, at the Trust's discretion and subject to observance of the Trust's copyright. The Trust makes modest charges for this service. Charges are based on the amount of work and costs involved in supplying the requested image(s), and include a donation to the Trust's ongoing work. We would ask that requests are kept within modest limits as the Trustees are unpaid volunteers with other commitments.

Requests for images should be sent to Richard Carr - see contact details on the Contact page. Please provide the information listed below. It is essential to quote ALL identifiers, so that the relevant photograph(s) can be correctly identified and supplied.

  1. Name
  2. Postal address
  3. Telephone number - preferably landline rather than mobile
  4. The purposes for which the image(s) will be used - especially if there is an intention to publish, whether electronically or in printed form, and whether commercially or otherwise.
  5. Worksheet Name - i.e. Series 1 Photos / Series 2 Photos / E - Engines / B- Boilers Filters Etc / G- General.
  6. Index Column Colour
  7. Number in the coloured index column of the relevant entry.

At our discretion, we may be able to supply one or two preview images, which will be smaller sized, compressed and watermarked versions, for approval before an order is confirmed. Images will only be despatched, whether as email attachments or on CD, on receipt of full payment.

Engineering Drawings

The Paxman Archive Trust holds a collection of Paxman engineering drawings. The following have been scanned as JPG images. (The links below are to sections of this site with information about the relevant machinery, not about the images.)

The PAT also has records of drawings on Barchro negatives for:

These drawings, together with other Paxman drawings, are also held on 35mm film reels. These have been deposited with the Essex Record Office at Chelmsford.

Unfortunately very few drawings for Paxman portable steam engines and steam traction engines have survived.

Drawings Requests and Enquiries

Requests for, and enquiries about, images of drawings should be sent initially to Richard Carr - see contact details on the Contact page. Requests should include the following information:

Page updated: 24 Feb 2023 at 14:39