Merchant Navy Treasures

The Newall Dunn Collection – Progress and Volunteering
Some of you will have visited our introductory exhibition to highlight the Newall Dunn Collection earlier this year. For the purposes of this small scale display we were only able to show items from three companies, but we were delighted that so many of our visitors enjoyed this glimpse of things to come.







From the Port Line folder of large photographs




The Newall Dunn Collection offers a rich and diverse photographic and ephemera resource for Merchant Shipping history; a treasure trove of material from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first century. It is a rich source of information on cargo vessels and shipping companies as well as passenger services covering everything from ocean liners to pleasure boats and tugs.
Converting a privately held collection into something users can find on a library catalogue and view in the reading room involves organisation and effort. Each folder of material needs to be arranged, analysed and recorded before being re-packaged and labelled. We hope that the work we are doing will make the riches in this collection accessible to all – whilst taking care of it for the future. This is a challenge, but one we are happy and privileged to accept.










Just some of the material when it arrived at Guildhall Library










Staff and volunteers at Guildhall Library have been busy listing and ordering material and then carefully transferring it into conservation grade folders and sleeves. Over five hundred information files, going back to the early 1930s, have now been listed on a spreadsheet, re-housed and labelled. These files are in two series: shipping companies from Aberdeen to Zim and subject folders. The latter is wide ranging, covering such themes as figureheads, hospital ships, lightships, railway steamers and propellers. Types of material include news cuttings, journal articles, press releases, deck plans and sketches.



The Prince Line information file before listing and re-housing







Some content from the Bibby Line file






An example of the large photograph collection before listing and re-packaging



The collections of small and large photographs are under way. Like the information folders these are largely arranged by shipping company with some sections ‘by subject’.





The new folders on the shelves



We are very grateful for the work of our volunteers who have contributed so much toward bringing this collection to library users. Without their generosity we would not be able to release material for many years to come. Would you like to join us? We need your help; you do not need to commit to more hours than you are comfortable with. Some volunteers give a regular morning or afternoon, others do a full or half day as and when they can. If you think you may be interested, contact us at without obligation.
The Newall Dunn Collection will be available to order in stages, as we complete and catalogue the various series. We are not ready yet but keep an eye on our blog and other social media platforms for updates.

Jeanie Smith, Assistant Librarian, Guildhall Library.




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