Welcome toThe Rothschild Archive'swebsite

Sources for business history: catalogues of bank files

Sources for art history: Catalogue of the pictures of Alfred de Rothschild 1901

Sources for yachting history: Plans for Nathaniel von Rothschild's yacht Veglia 1905

Sources for natural history: Walter 2nd Lord Rothschild and his zebra carriage: c.1910

Sources for global financial history: Map of lines of the Brazil Railway Company: c.1920

Sources for business history: index cards to bank files

Sources for social history: Rothschild Hospital Paris: 1920s

Sources for business history: detail of a Rothschild bond coupon

Sources for architectural history: Halton House: 1890s

Sources for the history of travel: Lionel de Rothschild's tours of Spain: 1909

Sources for local history: Tring Park: c.1900

Sources for Royal history: shooting party with Edward Prince of Wales: 1893

Sources for political history: Lionel de Rothschild: first Jewish MP: 1858

Sources for sporting history: St Amant winner of the Derby: 1904

Sources for local history: gardeners at Aston Clinton: 1899

Sources for Rothschild family history: Lionel de Rothschild's yacht Rhodora: 1927

Sources for London history: entrance to New Court: 1965

Sources for design history: plans for Lionel de Rothschild's Rolls-Royce: 1930

Sources for business history: Rothschild gold bars produced by the Royal Mint Refinery: 1930s

Sources for business history: letters of August Belmont Rothschild Agent in New York: 1860s

Exhibition - 'If you see Sid...Tell him!'

3: Privatisation

The Conservative Government came to power in the spring of 1979, with a manifesto commitment to seek greater private participation in what were then huge state-owned industries. The word 'privatisation' is believed to have been coined by David Howell, one of Margaret Thatcher's confidantes early in her premiership. The entire privatisation programme of successive governments developed out of this manifesto commitment. An early champion of the policy was Nigel Lawson, who served as Secretary of State for Energy before becoming Chancellor, and was in charge of the early privatisations that took place under the Department of Energy.

In 1986, the Government turned to Rothschild to undertake the huge task of selling British Gas. Rothschild had already acted for governments in this capacity, in 1971, advising on the sale of investments in the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation, in the mid-1970s advising the Labour Government on participation in the oil industry, and, in 1984 advising the first Conservative administration on the sale of the first tranche of British Telecom shares.

The intense promotional campaign in 1986 featured TV adverts in which characters urged each other to "Tell Sid" about the chance to buy shares at 'affordable' prices. This was a deliberate strategy aimed at encouraging individuals to become shareholders, expanding share ownership to create, in the words of Prime Minister Margraret Thatcher, a "share-owning democracy".

And who was Sid? Rothschild legend has it that 'Sid' – meant to represent the man on the street – was the name of one of the post-room clerks at New Court. The real Sid passed away in 2016.

New Court - the London home of N M Rothschild & Sons Limited in the 1980s

New Court - the London home of N M Rothschild & Sons Limited in the 1980s