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<b>The Collen Archive</b>
<b>TCD MS 11482</b>
In September 2014, the Library of Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, began a one-year project to catalogue and preserve the Collen Archive. The Archive, together with project funding, was generously donated by Collen Group Limited. It contains historic company records dating from c 1879 to 1987; these include thousands of photographs and negatives, over fifty volumes of financial records, minutes, copy letters, and some personal research papers.
A bespoke monogram plaque, incorporating the letters 'CB' (Collen Brothers) and miniature heads of the brothers John and Thomas Collen, illustrated their pride in the family business.
The Collen business experienced many changes during the early 20th century. John Collen’s death in May 1921 marked the end of an era for the family. Developments on the national stage, including two World Wars, the Easter Rising and the partition of Ireland, changed the environment in which the company operated. In 1949, it separated into two branches. Collen Brothers Limited continued to trade in Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, in the Republic, the brothers Standish and Lyal, both graduates of the School of Engineering at Trinity College Dublin, led the newly formed Collen Brothers (Dublin) Limited.
In the 1970s, the introduction of precast prestressed concrete Double Tee beams marked another new departure for Collen, and its subsidiary, Cretestone Limited. The Double Tees were manufactured off site, thus reducing turnaround time; they could withstand heavy loads and had a large span to accommodate large open interiors.
Other projects completed by Collen at Dublin Port included the construction of new quay walls, container ferry terminals, and commercial buildings. These schemes were facilitated by a new system for the production of caissons (watertight retaining structures), conceived by Collen engineers.
The industrial estate at Tallaght attracted a number of high profile companies including Irish Biscuits Limited (formed by the merger of W.R. Jacob’s and Boland’s).
The Swiss pharmaceutical firm Sandoz also acquired premises at Tallaght.