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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/B/207-09

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1864 - 1977

Level of description: sub-fonds

Extent: 30 linear metres

Name of creator(s): Bombay Burma Trading Corporation Limited xx Burmah Trading Company Limited


Administrative/Biographical history:

Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited (BBTCL) was founded in 1863. Originally called the Burmah Trading Company Limited, its name was changed shortly after its foundation. The corporation was formed as a public company to take part in the developing teak business by taking over the assets and rights in Burma of William Wallace, the eldest of the six Wallace Brothers. From 1863 until the 1950s, A F Wallace, the senior resident partner of Wallace and Company was its chairman, and Wallace and Company largely directed its affairs. Its head office was in Bombay, but its initial operations were in Burma (Myanmar) and branch offices were opened in Rangoon and Moulmein in the 1860s or 1870s.

It expanded its operations into Siam (Thailand) in 1884, Java in 1905-6, South India in 1913, North Borneo in the late 1940s and East Africa in 1955. Its trading interests (some operated directly, others through subsidiary or associated companies) were in teak (and later other timbers too), and in other commodities including rubber (from ca.1907), tea and coffee (from the 1930s) and tapioca (from 1954). For eighty years was, the BBTCL was the single largest teak company in the industry, marketing over a third of the world's teak supplies. The fortunes of the company rested heavily on teak trade from Burmese and Siamese forests. The corporation was a dealt a blow in 1942 when the Japanese invaded Burma and Siam, bringing teak production to a halt.The timber trade declined in the mid 20th century and later the company's main business was in manufacturing and Indian tea plantations, established since 1913.

A major part of Wallace Brothers' business was to act as the London agents of the BBTCL, developing markets in the United Kingdon and continental Europe for shipments of timber and providing finance to bring the cargoes from the Far East.

Wallace Brothers also purchased machinery and equipment in London on Bombay Burmah's behalf. In practice, however, since the Wallace family were the senior partners in Wallace and Company of Bombay, who in turn were managers of Bombay Burmah, Wallace Brothers were more than Bombay Burmah's London agents. Until the 1950s, Wallace Brothers had the power to exercise control over Bombay Burmah's policy and operations. In the late 19th century Bombay Burmah's dividends and staff pay were decided in London, and until ca. 1960 its senior (European) staff were selected and appointed there.

Bombay Burmah had the following subsidiaries and associated companies:
Amalgamated Saw Mills Limited
Anamallais Ropeway Company Limited
Bombay Burmah Plantations Limited
East India Rubber Corporation Limited
Joint Timber Company Limited, Thailand
North Borneo Timbers Limited
Rangoon Mining Company
Sumatra Petroleum Company
Thai Tapioca Limited


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Wallace Brothers concerning Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited, including memorandum and articles of association; board minutes; annual reports and accounts; agreements; papers relating to shareholders; correspondence; financial records; and papers relating to branches in Rangoon, Moulmein, Bangkok and Borneo.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Records arranged by MS number, assigned during cataloguing at the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section.

Break down of references:
Timber production in more than one country (CLC/B/207/MS40278 - CLC/B/207/MS40320)
Burma (CLC/B/207/MS40321 - CLC/B/207/MS40365)
Salween timber (CLC/B/207/MS40366 - CLC/B/207/MS40372)
Siam/Thailand timber (CLC/B/207/MS40373 -CLC/B/207/MS040407)
North Borneo (now Malaysia) (CLC/B/207/MS40408 - CLC/B/207/MS40438)
Timber Andaman Islands (CLC/B/207/MS40439 - 40443)
Singapore (Malaya) Timber (CLC/B/207/MS40444 - MS40445)
shipping (CLC/B/207/MS40446 - MS40455)
exports (CLC/B/207/MS40456 - MS40468)
ship/boat building in Burma dockyard (CLC/B/207/MS40469 - MS40472)
elephants (CLC/B/207/MS40473 - MS40481)
sawmills (CLC/B/207/MS40482 - MS40490)
plywood )CLC/B/207/MS40491 - MS40493)
furniture (CLC/B/207/MS40494 - CLC/B/207/MS40497)
opposition firms (CLC/B/207/MS40498 - MS40510)
Burma Oil, concrete and asbestos cement (CLC/B/207/MS40511 -MS40515)
tea and coffee estates (CLC/B/207/MS40516 - MS40602)
staff (CLC/B/207/MS40603 - MS40630)
premises (CLC/B/207/MS40631 - MS40637)
photographs (CLC/B/207/MS40638 - MS40641)
history (CLC/B/207/MS40642 - MS40649, MS40913 - MS40915)
subsidiaries (CLC/B/207/MS40651 - MS40742)

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

48 hours notice required for access

PLEASE NOTE: Permission to access records less than 45 years old should be sought from the depositor.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright held by the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

These archives were deposited as part of the archives of Wallace Brothers; deposited in Guildhall Library in 1974-6. The deposits were converted to a gift in 1988. Between 1988 and 1991 additional gifts of material were made to the Library. All were previously stored at the London office of Wallace Brothers, and all but a few of the papers were either created there or received there in the course of business. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.


DESCRIPTION NOTES Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Added January 2014

Coffee trade | Food trade | Trade (practice)
International trade | Trade
Rubber industry and trade | Manufacturing industry | Industry
Tea trade | Food trade | Trade (practice)
Timber merchants | Merchants | Mercantile personnel | Personnel | People by occupation | People
Trading companies | Companies | Enterprises

Personal names

Corporate names
Bombay Burma Trading Corporation Limited

Java | Indonesia | South East Asia
Mumbai | Salsette Island | Maharashtra | India | South Asia
Rangoon | Myanmar | South East Asia
Thailand | South East Asia