About Michele Blagg

Michele Blagg (BA(hons), MA, PhD) is a visiting Research Associate at King's College London, at the Institute Of Contemporary British History (ICBH). As part of a collaborative doctoral award granted by the Art’s and Humanities Research Council, she was based at the Rothschild Archive, London. Her doctoral research focused on the Royal Mint Refinery, operated by N M Rothschild & Sons between 1852 and 1968, and how it adapted to the changed London gold market. Her areas of interest are in financial and business history with special regard for the actors and networks located in the London market. Her publications include 'The Royal Mint Refinery, a Window onto the London Gold Market' LBMA, Alchemist, 71, 2013; 'Gold Refining in London: The End of the Rainbow, 1919-20’ in Sandra Bott (ed.) The Global Gold Market and the International Monetary system from the late 19th century to the present (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013); ‘The Royal Mint Refinery, a business adapting to change’ in Business Archives Council, Sources and History, (2010). She teaches on the ICBH MA in Contemporary British History and assists with the Witness Seminar Programme. She sits on the Business Archives Council Executive and is involved in the annual ‘Meet the Archivists’ workshop held in the City that aims to explore ways in which research students can identify and use business records in a variety of different research fields.

Time for reflection….

I feel so very lucky. Tomorrow is graduation day.  This time last year I was handing in my completed thesis and nervously awaiting the date and outcome of my viva. The dreaded day arrived at the start of April and by some miracle I passed without correction! This was the highest point in my life (obviously not on the same level as becoming a mother twice) but there on things I have slaved over. A year on and I am so very happy. Still chasing my dreams. I have a new project, my kid’s are doing ok, my grand-daughters are rays of sunshine and my husband is riding his bike!

Thoughts of celebration made me reflect on the low points as well.  We had a bit of a hiccup last year with Trev’s health but all is back on track now. His contract position was turned into a permanent NATO post. Having applied for the position, and being selected, he then had to undertake a medical as part of the joining routine. He failed this (Trevor is one of the fittest, healthy eating my body is a temple people I know!) and he was referred to his own GP. (Trev has never had a day’s illness until the month prior to the medical he underwent an emergency appendectomy 2 hours after reporting to A&E). It transpired that his heart was twice the normal size and subsequently he was under the knife 2 weeks later (would have been the same week but we had to sort life out/plus he had to do a final bike ride of 60 miles just in case!). By the start of September he had had a mechanical valve replacement (he now tick’s like a grand-father clock which is oddly reassuring ), a graft to his aorta and various tubes sorted. Scary stuff especially when the cardio guy told us he was a ticking bomb! As you can imagine we feel extremely lucky! We were fortunate to have private health care and all the insurances kicked in! The hospital in St John’s Wood was more like a top hotel, the staff were wonderful and the surgeon was top in his field of non-invasive surgery. Trev did have to be opened up the front but the skill of the surgeon meant he only broke two ribs and not his whole sternum! The 5 hour surgery turned into 10hours so I was pacing the floor a little that day. After 2 days in intensive care they had him up and walking the next day. He was in for a further week and then home. Through all of this he has been marvellous. His determination and strength were amazing (I would have curled up and not wanted to move). His whole focus was to get back on his bike! He went back to work at the start of November, passed the medical and joined NATO properly this month. More importantly he is back on his bike and going for around 80 miles at a time (MAD!). If he can do that and not keel over he can get back to washing up duty.

As I said tomorrow is my graduation day. My parents are coming down to London and we are all staying at the Savoy this evening (I have walked past this on the Strand every time I went to uni and always said I would eat there on my graduation day!) we are booked in for afternoon tea, dinner and lunch tomorrow after the ceremony…..  I feel extremely lucky. We will be celebrating the extreme highs of last year, me gaining my Dr’s and Trevor being alive,  we will try to push thoughts of the extreme low’s and the darkest hours to the back of our minds …



Lone Ranger, our actions impact on others!

I felt like the Lone Ranger this morning. Rolled out of bed and down to the carpark at my local train station. For the past 4 months it has been parking hell as updates to the station have meant that the four big port-a-cabins dumped in the carpark take up around 75 spaces.  Unless you are there before 8:30 you will struggle to find a space. Image my outrage when this morning, having challenged the man who parked next to me using TWO spaces, only to be told that he would not straighten up and use one space because ‘someone might damage my car if they parked next to me’…  How I stopped myself from keying all panels of his car I do not know!

After cramming my way aboard the train to Euston, only to stand for the 25 mile/30mins journey, I had the pleasure of watching a smartly dressed lady devour a banana then stuff the discarded skin into the tray attached to the seat in from before closing the said tray back up again, YOU WOULDN’T SHOVE THE SKIN DOWN YOUR SOFA AT HOME (I HOPE) SO WHY WOULDN’T YOU WAIT UNTIL YOU GOT OFF AND FIND A BIN!!!

Finally arriving at Euston, and choosing to walk to The Stand instead of battling on the tube, I was greeted by a wall of cigarette smoke….  I’m sure that the millions of pounds it has taken to develop the area outside Euston Station could have been better spent on a glass dome to house these people that are trying to kill themselves (yes I am an ex-smoker!).

This morning I saw how selfish people can be, our actions have an impact on others!





Blog practice timeline

Just playing around in an IT Session


Sprung off the Springboard into the unknown…..

I am in mourning after yesterday’s final session of the KCL Springboard Women’s Development Programme. The course began in October and each month I set aside one whole day and invested in ME.

Over the course of the programme I have reviewed my qualities, evaluated my skills, celebrated my strengths, set new goals, directed my assertiveness, rediscovered my positivity and ability to deal with pressure, networked and managed my image and visibility. My journey has made me face WHO I AM and the person I would like to become. The best part of all is that this came just at the right time in my life. Having completed my PhD, and immediately having to deal with a life threatening illness for my husband, I felt lost. Through the programme I found encouragement from a talented, diverse, honest and wonderful group of women. My new mantra is  MAKE IT HAPPEN!

The lovely Dr Emma Williams, of EJW Solutions Limited, has been our trusted guide and ensured that we completed the exercises, set goals and explored ideas shown in our workbooks (I applaud her ability to stop a group of women in full flow chattering & laughing so that we reached the end). In addition we heard the experiences of a variety of past participants of the programme and received  some wonderful insightful and inspiring talks form Women who already Make it Happen; from Doctors to Vice Principals.  These talks have been highly motivational, ALL presenters have been open and honest about their experiences and perhaps more importantly ALL have offered support and advice.

So what next? I now call many of these lovely women friends. We plan to meet again, which I will certainly try hard and Make it Happen! We genuinely bonded and learnt from each other. Every month we were eager to find out if we had faced up to and dealt with any difficulties or troubled areas in our work/home lives and if these had improved. I for one am a much happier person now than l was last October. I believe that the programme, and my new friends, have contributed to my present state of mind.

So a big well done to the Training and Development department at King’s College London for commissioning this course. If you are a female and a  KCL post grad or early career researcher it is worth booking a place :-



<a href=”https://plus.google.com/115830823839874131632″ rel=”author”>My google+ account</a>




I hate asking for help, but sometimes needs must!

As a child of the 60s (very late 60s!) I was a bit scared (change that to petrified) of technology. To be honest most of it goes straight over my head. I am married to a techno geek who seems to know EVERYTHING but never quite has the time, or the patience, to explain, using simple language, what I want to know.  To be fair it has always been easier just to let him do it for me….  Well not anymore!  I MUST learn how to do things for myself.

The first part of my plan started today I ASKED FOR HELP! Something that doesn’t come easy to a control freak….  Geoff, the wonderful person who is in charge of my Language of Access group at King’s College London, arranged for some extra help from IT wiz, and guru, Rory. Not being married to Rory helped!  He didn’t shut the lid of the laptop on my fingers when I got it wrong. He listened to what I felt I needed to be able to propagate my blog, and then very calmly explained where I had gone wrong and what I actually needed to do. My brain was in overdrive and in order to remember what I was taught I need to use it and practice (SORRY YOU ARE GOING TO BE INUNDATED with posts). Once I got my head around the backroom stuff and that the admin of the blog being like a big filing cabinet I was off…..  My understanding of my blog has increased 300%. Can’t wait to add my timelines / mapping / and linking stuff. Bring on my next session and let me show the younger members of our group that finally the old fart isn’t as useless as she looks

Why do I need this course?

Well it is designed to help me make my research more visible and it hasn’t cost me a penny!

Course details

The course is funded by the AHRC and offers a series of workshops. Under Geoff’s guidance, he is attached to King’s College London Archives, which has teamed up with the Royal Institution, Courtauld Institute of Art and Wellcome Library to provide training and interdisciplinary discussion that will explore how you can make your research accessible to wider audiences.

The practical skills training  I am receiving, and some of the tricks of search engine optimisation, should make my research more visible on Google.  I’m just about to explore the potential of Linked Data – a new web technology that promises to transform access to research in the years to come.

I am getting hip and down with the kids and actually, although I would never admit this to my husband, I am rather excited by the endless possibilities of promoting ME and my work and enjoy delving into this new virtual world.




Let Her rest in peace, HMS Edinburgh and her cargo of gold

Let Her rest in peace, HMS Edinburgh and the salvage of her cargo of gold is a projects that came out of research for my recently published thesis. It didn’t make the final draft of the thesis, and as no research is ever wasted, I decided to revisit the event and examine the salvage operation, role of government and locate any of the salvaged gold bars. At present I am turning my research into a journal article, seminar paper and public presentation.

My Christmas present to myself was to spend time reviewing the primary sources located at the Rothschild Archive, the National Archives and the Bank of England Archive and rereading literature and media reports surrounding the sinking and latter salvage operation. There is also a website for the crew and families of those who served on Her which contains some valuable insights. http://www.hmsedinburgh.co.uk

My deadline is the end of February for the article, and I will be presenting the paper to an academic audience on the 4 March 2014. The public lecture date is still to be fixed….

I welcome any interest in my research of this event, especially the areas that I still have to work on, @Imperial War Museum archive; @foreign office; There are gaps in the research and I need to think about Anglo-Russian relations which is a giant black hole at the moment!


Copyright: first appeared in: Sunday Times 8 Aug 1981.

Copyright: first appeared in: Sunday Times 8 Aug 1981.

Epic Fail, Life got in the way….

All good intentions of catching up and sorting out my website over Christmas went out of the window over the Christmas break. I did have a look at some of the useful links but failed to understand most of the content. As a child of the 1960s I believe that I need to up my game plan and have sought help in getting the site in to some shape so that I can then stop worrying about the fine points and just blog!

On a positive note I have read nearly all my literature for my Edinburgh paper. The downside is that I have more questions that need to be answered before I put pen to paper. The deadline for the article is over 2 months away so I will have to squeeze some research and writing in around my new role!

I have just started a new project for the London Bullion Market Association recording the Voices of the London Bullion Market. It is a 12 month project and I am really excited to finally get started. I will be able to draw on knowledge gained during the 4 years studying the gold market for my PhD and hopefully lead to a future position looking and studying the gold markets.

Go me!

Life got in the way!

Not quite sure where the time goes….  but I’m back again. Today was a good day as they go. Went to my ladies group.  What an uplifting bunch they are. I’m sad that we only have one more day planned for January at which time we graduate from the course.  There is talk of keeping in touch and getting a bite to eat etc.  I hope it happens as the group is very diverse and they challenge and make me think about about life and where I am going….. all very heavy.  This is the first time ever that I don’t have a plan. I am in free-fall.  My new project is due to start on the 1 January 2014. I’m waiting to dot and cross the final contract and the excitement is rising. It should last for a year!

I’m all ready for the Christmas break.  Pressies all wrapped and dispatched. Food shopping down and turkey ordered. Eurotunnel booked and I will be heading home next weekend. A mixture of relaxing and writing planned during the break.  I have pushed myself to get all my research done towards the Journal article that I have been asked to write / which also doubles for my seminar paper (with a few tweaks).  I’m nervous about presenting to a room full of people that I respect but hope they will enjoy the topic, which I find fascinating……

Off to put the Xmas tree together and get some sleeppppppp…….


What a week!

Monday I found myself running around London this week from one event to the next.  It started with a short hop to London on the Eurostar from Brussels before heading into a City archive where I have been asked to review some bullion records: a great start to the week!

Tuesday afternoon I attended a Witness Seminar that looked at the Role and Functions of British High Commission in Pretoria held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  An amazing line-up and a great insight into behind the scene operations and what it takes to get things done! I was highly impressed with Dr Sue Onslow (Institute of Commonwealth Studies) who chaired one of the sessions and also Dame Nicola Brewer, until very recently she was the British High Commissioner to South Africa since June 2009. Nicola gave a great performance and a frank and honest insight into her contribution during her time in office. I came away and having researched her achievements feel that I would put her on my list of ‘movers and shakers’ I could learn a lot from!

Wednesday saw me at King’s College London for an evening lecture by Vernon Bogdanor on ‘Britain in 1914: What would you have done?’ A great orator and it made me realise how much I already know and have retained about the origins of the Great War. This tied in nicely with the three conference paper outlines I had been asked to draft, which will take weeks of prep to prepare should I get any of the gigs next year!

Thursday I lived it up, more records to go through and some interesting bits and bobs put into the old memory box to be pulled out later. I had a nice email to say that my request to see some important closed archival papers for a Journal article I am writing had been granted, it’s not always what you know but who supports your request. PM I attended a glitzy awards ceremony at the HSBC in Canary Wharf. Lovely people, lovely venue, well deserved winner…..  I meet an interesting fellow there and arranged for coffee in the New Year as I want to learn more about his research project (more to follow on this later!)

Friday after a day fingering through papers I hopped back on the Eurostar and headed back to Belgium for a well earned rest!

Meet the Archivists – 28th November 2013


The BAC’s archive workshop for new researchers.

Fancy exploring treasure troves of untapped historical sources? Want to find out how you can use business archives in your undergraduate, masters or PhD research?

The Business Archives Council has held five one-day workshops in recent years where students could meet the archivists and find out how! The next one will be held on Thursday 28th November 2013 at Barclays (Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London).

The workshop aims to explore ways in which new research students can identify and use business records in a surprising variety of different research fields. Participants will be able to explore the vast and varied materials available at many of the UKs major and minor business archives.

Following a successful formula from previous years, the day will commence with an archives skills workshop run by eminent academic historians, followed by a buffet lunch, where participants will be able to meet the archivists. The programme is:

10:00-10:30 Registration

10:30-11:00 Alex Ritchie, National Archives: Introduction

11:00-11:30 Dr Valerie Johnson (TBC), National Archives: What’s the use? Your research and business archives

11:30-11:45 Break

11:45-12:15 Dr Roy Edwards, University of Southampton: Where to begin? Searching for primary sources in business history

12:15-13:00 Practical session and round-up

The morning session will be chaired by Dr Mike Anson, Bank of England Archive

13:00-14:30 Sandwich lunch around the archive expositions: a chance for researchers and archivists to meet

Archives wishing to participate should contact james.mortlock@hsbc.com

Students wishing to register should contact M.J.Aldous@lse.ac.uk