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Board Meeting Papers, Secretariat [William Cooper & Nephews / Cooper, McDougall & Robertson]

Jan 1920 - Jun 1971
Part of
Wellcome Foundation Ltd
  • Archives and manuscripts

Collection contents

About this work


These are the papers retained by Hill, Pell and Wardley, the Secretaries to the Company. They refer mainly to the Board Meetings of the Company, called William Cooper and Nephews, Ltd. from January 1920 to September 1925, and Cooper, McDougall and Robertson, Ltd. from October 1925. In addition to the papers of the Board Meetings there are some additional papers which may or not be directly related to the Board Meetings, but which have nevertheless been included in the Sub-series.

As there were relatively few papers for the Board Meetings during 1920-21, the papers for these first two years have been grouped into two Items. From 1922 however the papers for each month are much greater in quantity and complexity, and so each month is an Item in the SubSeries. Typically each Item contains the papers for the Board Meeting of that month, and any other additional papers. However in some months there are variations to this pattern. For example, in some months there are more than one Board Meeting; in August there is very often no Board Meeting as the Directors of the Company tended to go on holiday.

The number of papers which have survived for each Board Meeting can vary from Item to Item. For much of 1920-21 the only evidence that many Board Meetings took place is the Agenda. In general however the quantity and complexity of the Board Papers does develop over time. For example there are Managing Director's reports from November 1920; reports for Sales, Finance and Production from March 1921; minutes for William Cooper and Nephews (Australia) Ltd. from October 1921. From January 1920 to August 1926 the minutes for William Cooper and Nephews Ltd./Cooper, McDougall and Robertson, Ltd. are missing from the papers. The assumption is that these became the signed copies and were removed from the Secretary's set of papers. [The signed copies of the minutes remained with the Company and were transferred to the company that purchased Coopers, after the merger of Glaxo and Wellcome in 1995]. From September 1926 however there are minutes for Cooper, McDougall and Robertson, Ltd.

The three main types or classes of records which have survived for the Board Meetings are Agendas, Reports and Minutes. These are described in much greater detail below. These are described as 'regular' or 'semi-regular' items, as they formed the core of each Board Meeting. Typically the papers for a particular Board Meeting would include an Agenda, followed by reports from Directors/Company departments and Subsidiary/Related companies, and minutes for both Board Meetings of the main Company as well as Subsidiary/Related companies. Normally the reports and minutes included in the papers for a particular Board Meeting are for the previous month, though sometimes they can be dated up for more than one month before the meeting.

In addition there are also irregular or non-regular items included in some of the Board papers, such as letters and memoranda. These are sometimes related to the issues discussed in the Board Meetings, but sometimes they are seem to be entirely separate. These are listed individually at Item Level, and are described as irregular/non-regular items or additional papers.

The Board Papers for the Second World War years, covering the period January 1940 to December 1944, are missing (these would fall between WF/C/E/1/214 and WF/C/E/1/215). There is no definite information explaining what happened to them. It could be that they were lost or destroyed; the papers they were printed or written on could have been recycled as part of the national war effort, a practice common at the time.

The kind of information described in each of the reports and their potential uses for research are described in detail below. The approximate covering dates are given for when the reports and minutes occur in the Sub-series are given, along with the reference numbers.

The following is a reference guide to some of the overall features of the Board Papers:

Products referred to in reports include Dip (Powder, Paste and Fluid), Weedkiller, Worm Tablets, Foot rot, Carbolic Soap.

Berkhamsted, Kelvindale

Countries covered in the Board Papers include:
Africa - South Africa
Australasia - Australia (Sydney), New Zealand
Europe - Bulgaria, France, Spain
North America - USA (Chicago)
South America - Argentina, Brazil, Patagonia, Uruguay (Montevideo)

It is worth noting that although the non-regular or irregular papers in the Board Papers contain details of various subjects which can be surmised from their titles or catalogue descriptions, the reports in general and the Managing Directors' reports in particular contain a wealth of information and analysis which may not be obvious from their titles alone, for example information covering areas such as business strategy and also relating to topics such as Coopers Powder Dip. In order to overcome this problem, from March 1952 (WF/C/E/1/293) onwards, the descriptions for the Managing Director's reports include details of the subjects involved in the reports. Similarly the descriptions for the Board Minutes of Cooper, McDougall and Robertson, Ltd. contain details of the individual Minutes from September 1926 to July 1927 (WF/C/E/1/56-66) and also from March 1952 (WF/C/E/1/293) onwards.


The typical Board Meetings of William Cooper and Nephews, Ltd. and Cooper, McDougall and Robertson, Ltd. consisted of the following types of records. Note that the company developed considerably over the period included in the SubSeries, and hence the nature of the Board Meetings and the records involved changed considerably over time. The three main types of regular or semi-regular records are:

1. The Agenda
2. Reports
3. Minutes


This lists the time and location of the Board Meetings, as well as the planned content of the meetings. Not every item described on the Agenda necessarily has Board Papers which correspond to it. Nevertheless the major types of records such as reports and minutes have generally survived. The Agenda has served as a rough guide for organising and arranging the Board Papers for each meeting. However sometimes it has been necessary to adapt the order to suit the meaning and context as well as the physical organisation of the records.


The reports became a regular part of the papers for each month. They are listed below with general date ranges (there may be occasional months within these ranges where there is no report submitted). They are also listed with the reference numbers to which the dates refer. As a general point the reports for a particular month are included with the papers for the following month, as they were normally discussed at the Board Meeting for the month after they were created. Occasionally however reports are included in the papers for a Board Meeting more than one month after they were created. The period which the reports cover also varies. Normally they cover a period of one month, however sometimes they cover a period of more than one month, typically a bi-monthly report.

Each report title is listed with details describing the report and the function of the person, business section or subsidiary/related company that created it. Sometimes the title of the report changes or varies, which can be for several reasons. In some cases it is because the role of the person, department or business that created it has changed or developed. For example, the reports from the sales manager develop over time in to separate reports for both home and export sales. In some cases the different name can just reflect a change in language or culture, for example the change from 'Propaganda' report to 'Publicity' report; sometimes it can just reflect changes in convention of the person creating it or of the secretary who organised the papers. Where there are these changes, the different titles are indicated with approximate covering dates.

The reports have been listed in terms of subject areas, for example 'Managing Director/Central Administration', 'Sales' or 'Finance' for the sake of clarity. Each list of reports begins with a brief discussion of the role or function of the person, department or business that created them, as well as describing the type of information they contain and their main potential uses as archival sources.


The structure of the Managing Director's reports varies from month to month, however a number of common subject headings emerge. These include UK, Overseas, Other Business Sections within Coopers, Subsidiary Companies of Coopers, and General (miscellaneous).

Often throughout the series other individuals send reports to Board Meetings in place of the Managing Director, and so the reports carry different titles. These include the Acting Managing Director, the Joint Managing Director, the Deputy Managing Director and the Assistant Managing Director.

This section also includes any reports that appear to be related to the Managing Director, or to the general administration of the company, such as the General Manager, the Secretary and the Central Registry. From December 1922 to December 1925 the General Manager takes over from the Managing Director the role of submitting reports to the Board Meetings. In addition to the other managers described above, he sends reports to the Managing Director. From March 1924 onwards, these other managers address their reports to the General Manager, rather than the Managing Director. For the period January 1945 to May 1946 the Board Papers include the report from the Overseas Subsidiary and Associated Companies. After May 1946 these are amalgamated into the Managing Director's reports. The reports of the Cooper Technical Bureau are also amalgamated into the Managing Director's reports after Dec 1929.

Managing Director:
Feb 1921 - Oct 1922 (WF/C/E/1/2-11)
Jan 1926 - Jul 1932 (WF/C/E/1/48-125)
Jan - Dec 1945 (WF/C/E/1/215-223)
Apr 1946 (WF/C/E/1/227)
Jul 1946 (WF/C/E/1/230)
Apr - May 1947 (WF/C/E/1/238-239)
Report for 1946 (WF/C/E/1/239)
Jul 1947 (WF/C/E/1/240)
Mar - Jul 1948 (WF/C/E/1/247-251)
Feb - Jul 1949 (WF/C/E/1/257-262)

See also:

Acting Managing Director:
Nov - Dec 1929 (WF/C/E/1/94-95), Nov - Dec 1930 (WF/C/E/1/106-107)
Sep 1936 - Nov 1937 (WF/C/E/1/175-189)

Joint Managing Director:
Dec 1937 - Jul 1939 (WF/C/E/1/190-209)
Oct - Nov 1939 (WF/C/E/1/212-213)

Deputy Managing Director:
Jan - Nov 1946 (WF/C/E/1/224-233)
Jan 1947 (WF/C/E/1/235)

Assistant Managing Director:
Feb 1947 - Feb 1948 (WF/C/E/1/236-246)

Overseas Subsidiary and Associated Companies Report:
This runs as a separate report from Jan 1945 - Apr 1946 (WF/C/E/1/215-227). However after then it seems to become amalgamated into the Managing Director's Report.

General Manager:
Dec 1922 - Dec 1925 (WF/C/E/1/13-47)

Sales Assistant to the Managing Director:
Nov-Dec 1939 (WF/C/E/1/213-214)

Report by Mr. E. H. Williamson to the Managing Director:
Feb 1922 (WF/C/E/1/4)

Report of the Directors to the Shareholders for the year ended 1948:
Apr 1949 (WF/C/E/1/259)

Sep 1928 (WF/C/E/1/80)
Jul 1947 (WF/C/E/1/240)
Mar 1948 (WF/C/E/1/247)
May 1948 (WF/C/E/1/249)
Sep 1948 (WF/C/E/1/252)

Central Registry (Quarterly):
Oct 1935 - Oct 1939 (WF/C/E/1/164-212)

This section includes reports for Home and Export (Overseas) Sales. These cover monthly totals by product with previous year comparison given, and also running totals for the current year. Reports are both for years as a whole and for months throughout the year. They analyse sales by product and by country. From March 1921 to January 1924 there is a single report which covers both Home and Export. However after February 1924 there are two separate reports for Home and Export. From Nov 1939 the names of these reports change to Home Trade Manager and Export Manager respectively. The other reports in this section cover Household, Industrial and Agricultural sales.

Sales (Home and Export):
Mar 1921 - Dec 1923 (WF/C/E/1/2-24)

Sales (Home):
Feb 1924 - Oct 1933 (WF/C/E/1/26-140)

Sales (Export):
Feb 1924 - Oct 1939 (WF/C/E/1/26-212)

Home Trade Manager:
Nov-Dec 1939 (WF/C/E/1/213-214)
Jul 1947 (WF/C/E/1/240)
Sep 1948 (WF/C/E/1/252)

Export Manager:
Jul 1947 (WF/C/E/1/240)
Mar 1948 (WF/C/E/1/247)
May 1948 (WF/C/E/1/249)
Sep 1948 (WF/C/E/1/252)

Household Sales Manager:
Mar 1948 (WF/C/E/1/247)

Industrial Sales Manager:
Mar 1948 (WF/C/E/1/247)

Agricultural Sales Manager:
Mar 1948 (WF/C/E/1/247)

The reports from this section titled 'Finance' cover annual accounts, financial situation, summaries of financial position, and taxation. Note the absences of Finance reports between June 1922 and February 1925 - the Agenda refers to a separate agenda for finance, yet no separate agendas or reports exist within these collections of papers.

It seems that from the end of 1939 onwards these 'Finance' reports are phased out and replaced with reports from 'Accounts' and the 'Comptroller and Chief Accountant's Department'. There are also reports dealing with shares, namely the 'Share Transfer Committee' and the 'Transfer Report', which dealt with shares, transfer deeds, requests and share certificates.

Mar 1921 - May 1922 (WF/C/E/1/2-7)
Jan 1923 (WF/C/E/1/14)
Feb 1924 (WF/C/E/1/26)
Mar 1925 - Jul 1939 (WF/C/E/1/38-209)
Oct 1939 (WF/C/E/1/212)

Aug - Dec 1939 (WF/C/E/1/210-214)
May 1948 (WF/C/E/1/249)
Sep 1948 (WF/C/E/1/252)

Comptroller and Chief Accountant's Department:
Jul 1947 (WF/C/E/1/240)

Share Transfer Committee:
Jul 1927 - Nov 1939 (WF/C/E/1/66-213)
Jan 1945 - Jun 1946 (WF/C/E/1/215-229)

Transfer Reports/Share Transfer Reports:
Feb 1947 - Jul 1949 (WF/C/E/1/236-262)

The reports titled 'Production' in this section cover output statistics by site, including costs, stocks, and product advertisements. There are also reports which cover areas relating to production such as the 'Works Manager' and the factories.

Mar 1921 - Dec 1939 (WF/C/E/1/2-214)

Works Manager/Works:
May 1922 - Jan 1924 (WF/C/E/1/7-25)

Factory Liaison Officer:
Jul 1947 (WF/C/E/1/240)
Mar 1948 (WF/C/E/1/247)
May 1948 (WF/C/E/1/249)
Sep 1948 (WF/C/E/1/252)

Berkhamsted Factory Manager/Berkhamsted Factory:
Jul 1947 (WF/C/E/1/240)
Mar 1948 (WF/C/E/1/247)
May 1948 (WF/C/E/1/249)
Sep 1948 (WF/C/E/1/252)

Chadderton Factory:
Jul 1947 (WF/C/E/1/240)
May 1948 (WF/C/E/1/249)
Sep 1948 (WF/C/E/1/252)

Kelvindale Works/Kelvindale Factory:
Jul 1947 (WF/C/E/1/240)
Mar 1948 (WF/C/E/1/247)
May 1948 (WF/C/E/1/249)
Sep 1948 (WF/C/E/1/252)

Examples of work include publications, advertising, exhibitions, and educational visits. The reports in this section cover the three related areas of 'Propaganda', 'Publicity' and 'Printing'. 'Propaganda' seems to have been an earlier name for 'Publicity'; from June 1930 there are separate reports for 'Publicity' and 'Printing'.

Oct 1922 - Sep 1926 (WF/C/E/1/11-56)

Propaganda and Printing:
Oct 1926 - Feb 1930 (WF/C/E/1/57-97)

Publicity and Printing:
Mar 1930 - May 1930 (WF/C/E/1/98-100)

Jun 1930 - Dec 1939 (WF/C/E/1/101-214)
Mar 1948 (WF/C/E/1/247)
May 1948 (WF/C/E/1/249)
Sep 1948 (WF/C/E/1/252)

Jan 1934 - Dec 1939 (WF/C/E/1/143-214)
Jul 1947 (WF/C/E/1/240)
Mar 1948 (WF/C/E/1/247)
May 1948 (WF/C/E/1/249)
Sep 1948 (WF/C/E/1/252)

Information in these reports included experimental reports, minutes, and bank balances. During 1923, there are occasional reports from the Cooper Technical Bureau in Roodekop, Transvaal, South Africa. The Cooper Technical Bureau in general worked on research and development. Reports tended to focus on the development of specific products, such as CDP (Cooper Powder Dip). They discuss topics such as the development and adaptation of products for certain locations and legal/regulatory frameworks. They normally conclude with an analysis of letters received and despatched, requisitions received from the Cooper organisation, and a statement of accounts. Experimental reports, as the title would suggest, discuss experimental work carried out on various products, including controlled experiments. From December 1929 however reports from the Cooper Technical Bureau are no longer circulated to the Directors, but instead all important items are included in the Managing Director's reports.

Cooper Technical Bureau (General and Experimental):
Dec 1921 - Nov 1929 (WF/C/E/1/2-94)

Cooper Technical Bureau - Roodekop Transvaal:
Mar - Oct 1923 (WF/C/E/1/16-22)


Kerol Ltd:
Reports sent from the manager of Kerol Ltd. to the Chairman and Directors, dealing with topics by country and product.
Nov 1921 - Feb 1924 (WF/C/E/1/2-26)

Anglo Peninsula Mining and Chemical Co/Arsenic:
Reports on Pintor Mine and Arsenic Position (from late 1923 referred to as 'Arsenic Reports').

Anglo Peninsula Mining and Chemical Co./Arsenic
Mar 1922 - Nov 1923 (WF/C/E/1/5-23)

Dec 1923 - Oct 1929 (WF/C/E/1/24-93)
Jul - Oct 1930 (WF/C/E/1/102-105)

McDougall and Yalding Ltd:
Reports regarding agricultural trade.
Aug 1925 - Nov 1926 (WF/C/E/1/43-58)

Cooper, McDougall and Robertson, Ltd. Yalding:
Note that this report may be related to the reports for 'McDougall and Yalding Ltd.' above.
Nov 1926 (WF/C/E/1/58)

Cooper, McDougall and Robertson (Scotland) Ltd:
Oct 1925 - Jul 1927 (WF/C/E/1/45-66)

William Cooper and Nephews Ltd, Chicago/Chicago:
Sep 1923 - May 1925 (WF/C/E/1/21-40)

T Bigg Ltd:
Jan - Feb 1921 (WF/C/E/1/2)

Morris, Little and Son Ltd:
Jul 1947 (WF/C/E/1/240)
Mar 1948 (WF/C/E/1/247)


Export Agencies Department/Export Agencies:
Nov-Dec 1939 (WF/C/E/1/213-214)
Jul 1947 (WF/C/E/1/240)
Mar 1948 (WF/C/E/1/247)
May 1948 (WF/C/E/1/249)
Sep 1948 (WF/C/E/1/252)

Shipping Manager/Shipping:
Jul 1947 (WF/C/E/1/240)
Mar 1948 (WF/C/E/1/247)
May 1948 (WF/C/E/1/249)
Sep 1948 (WF/C/E/1/252)

Agricultural/Dip & Agricultural:

Nov 1933 - Feb 1939 (WF/C/E/1/141-204)

Agricultural/Dip Agricultural:
Mar - Oct 1939 (WF/C/E/1/205-212)

Dog Products/Dog Remedies:
Nov 1933 - Dec 1939 (WF/C/E/1/141-214)

Disinfectants/Disinfectants and Soaps:
Nov 1933 - Dec 1939 (WF/C/E/1/141-214)

Horticultural/Horticultural (Yalding):
Feb 1934 - Oct 1937 (WF/C/E/1/144-188)

Mar - Oct 1927 (WF/C/E/1/62-69)

Mr. G. Theobald/Resins Division:
Mar 1948 (WF/C/E/1/247)
May 1948 (WF/C/E/1/249)
Sep 1948 (WF/C/E/1/252)

These generally focus on development of the company and its products. Initially the focus was on developing a list of Sundry Articles, moving on to areas such as trading policy and publicity.
January 1922 - September 1923 (WF/C/E/1/3-21)

Process Development Officer:
Mar 1948 (WF/C/E/1/247)
May 1948 (WF/C/E/1/249)
Sep 1948 (WF/C/E/1/252)

Yalding Laboratories:
Jul - Aug 1926 (WF/C/E/1/54-55)

See also:

Yalding Report:
Jan 1930 (WF/C/E/1/96)
Jul - Dec 1930 (WF/C/E/1/102-107)
Yalding Branch - Annual Report, for year ended 30 Sep 1934:
Dec 1934 (WF/C/E/1/154)

Technical Service Department:
Feb - Nov 1926 (WF/C/E/1/49-58)

Scientific and Technical Department, Manchester:
May 1925 - Nov 1926 (WF/C/E/1/40-58)

Apr 1927 - Dec 1939 (WF/C/E/1/63-214)

General Buyer:
Jul 1947 (WF/C/E/1/240)

Ottery Mine:
Jun 1924 (WF/C/E/1/30)

Sarawak and Derris:
Sep - Nov 1925 (WF/C/E/1/44-46)

Traffic Delays Committee:
Apr 1927 (WF/C/E/1/63)

Watts Ltd:
Sep 1947 (WF/C/E/1/241)



Directors' Meetings/Board Meetings:
(*Note - the papers for Jan 1927 contain minutes for both companies, William Cooper and Nephews Ltd. and Cooper McDougall and Robertson Ltd)
Sep 1926 - Nov 1939 (WF/C/E/1/56-213)
Jan 1945 - Jul 1949 (WF/C/E/1/217-262)

Annual General Meeting of Shareholders:
Apr 1930 (WF/C/E/1/99)
Mar 1934 (WF/C/E/1/146)
Apr 1936 (WF/C/E/1/170)
Apr 1937 (WF/C/E/1/182)
Apr 1938 (WF/C/E/1/194)
Apr 1939 (WF/C/E/1/206)
Jul 1946 (WF/C/E/1/230)
May 1948 (WF/C/E/1/249)

Annual General Meeting:
Mar 1932 (WF/C/E/1/121)
May 1948 (WF/C/E/1/249)
Jun 1949 (WF/C/E/1/261)

Extraordinary General Meetings:
Jan 1949 (WF/C/E/1/261)

Managers' Committee Meetings:
Sep 1923 (WF/C/E/1/21)
Nov 1923 (WF/C/E/1/23)


William Cooper and Nephews (Australia) Ltd:
Board (very irregular)
Oct 1921 - Feb 1928 (WF/C/E/1/2-73)

Shareholders Meetings
Apr 1922 (WF/C/E/1/6)
Apr 1924 (WF/C/E/1/28)
Jul 1925 (WF/C/E/1/42)
Apr 1926 (WF/C/E/1/51)

Cooper Technical Bureau (Board):
Mar - Apr 1922 (WF/C/E/1/5-6)

Alex Robertson and Son Ltd. (First Directors' Meeting and Statutory Meeting):
Feb 1927 (WF/C/E/1/61)

Cooper, McDougall and Robertson, Ltd. S. A. (Proprietary) Ltd. (Board):
Feb 1928 (WF/C/E/1/73)

Cooper, McDougall and Robertson, Ltd. (Scotland) Ltd. (Directors' Meeting):
Jul 1927 (WF/C/E/1/66)

McDougall and Robertson Ltd. (Directors' Meeting):
Sep 1927 (WF/C/E/1/68)

McDougall and Yalding Ltd. (Directors' Meeting):
Sep 1927 (WF/C/E/1/68)

Morris Little and Son Ltd:
Dec 1927 (WF/C/E/1/71)

PVC - Productos Veterinarios Cooper SA, Argentine subsidiary.


Jan 1920 - Jun 1971

Physical description

96 boxes, plus 1 o/s box Loose papers


The papers are grouped according to month and arranged chronologically. Within each month's set of papers the items have been arranged according to the agenda, as far as is possible. Extra papers have been listed at the end.

Items 526ff are loose items which may once have formed part of the monthly sequence and have subsequently been removed or which form part of a separate filing sequence. For simplicity, they have been grouped together under broad headings.

Ownership note

Please see main WF collection description (ref. 'WF').

Appraisal note

Duplicates have been removed where there is more than one identical copy of the same record. Drafts have only been retained where they contain significant information.


  • English

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