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Records and archives
We occasionally get enquiries from those researchers into geneology as to whether antecedents were members of the Company or other information if they were involved in the the leather trade or Bermondsey in general. Rearchers are best served by approaching the ‘Southwark Local Studies Library and Archive’ (http://www.southwark.gov.uk/info/200161/local_history_library) which has lots of parish and local rates records as well as the local National Census returns.
Unfortunately, our Records seemed to have disappeared when the Tanners Company ceased to be a practical effective regulator or trainer as was required in its Charter. Partly the result of the 1835 Municipal Corporations Act which abolished membership of any guild which was felt by Parliament to restrict trade and partly because the training of apprentices was becoming part of the technical education movement in the Victorian era. Furthermore. the Charter limited the amount of capital the Company could raise so that projects probably inititiated by the members had to be undertaken through an investing company structure with its own member shareholders. In the 1830s the leading Tanners simply formed a joint-stock company to build their propriertorial ‘Leather Market’ on Weston Street and again in the 1870s did the same for their ‘Leather, Hide and Wool Exchange’. They presumably distributed the sale proceeds of the properties after 1912 when the Exchange closed. It may be that any records that existed did not survive the closure and sale of the Exchange, which the upper floor was the Club association of the trade. We could find no records in either the Southwark or Metropolitan - previously Guildhall – Archives.
However, by that point they had long replaced work based apprenticeship with the technical college of the Herold Institute which became the Leathersellers College. Socially, by that time, the Bermondsey Tanners had become sufficiently ‘upwardly mobile’ to be admitted to the exclusive Leathersellers Company. Continuity of title is that tanners in the metropolis were always ‘Bermondsey Tanners’.
The Tanners Company of Bermondsey