Edgar Morton and his partnership have left a very substantial archive that comprehensively documents his work as a consulting engineering geologist from the late 1920s to his death in 1973. It also records the work of his company, Edgar Morton and Partner, which continued to practice into the 1990s. Thus the archive includes a considerable quantity of material relating to work undertaken by his colleagues C.W. (Bill) Isherwood and Peter Rowe. It should therefore should be consulted in particular alongside the archive of Rowe, also held at the John Rylands University Library (ref. PWR). The JRUL also holds the substantial archive of Morton's mentor at Manchester, Sir William Boyd Dawkins (ref. WBD). Together the Morton, Rowe and Boyd Dawkins archives constitute a source of national importance for the history of geotechnical science and civil engineering in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Section EMP/1, Personal and Biographical Papers, is slight. There is a little information about Morton's life and work but the largest group of material (EMP/1/C) relates to Morton's holiday home at Rudyard Lake, Staffordshire, which he acquired in the mid 1920s. There is also a little material relating to Morton's professional affiliations, chiefly with the Institution of Water Engineers.
Section EMP/2, Notes and Drafts, chiefly comprises drafts and associated material for lectures and publications by Edgar Morton. There are notes for his university and evening course lectures at Manchester in engineering geology and applied geology for engineering students. These incorporate notes taken by Morton as an undergraduate, lectures by and correspondence with Sir William Boyd Dawkins and other earlier material (EMP/2/A). The section also includes draft chapters prepared for an intended textbook on 'Engineering Geology' (EMP/2/B) and material assembled by Morton for his D.Sc. application (EMP/2/C). Morton's widespread lecturing and writing activities outside the University are well documented. In the 1920s and 1930s Morton frequently attended meetings of the British Waterworks Association, often presenting papers at them. The files at EMP/2/D include documentation of Morton's contributions to the meetings (both in terms of papers and discussion). Other lectures and publications are documented in a sequence of lectures, talks and publications material, 1925-1954 (EMP/2/E). Audiences for lectures ranged from local bodies such as the Manchester Microscopical Society and professional societies such as the Institution of Civil Engineers, to national trade organisations including the Central Association of the Lime and Limestone Industry of Great Britain. Publications of note include a series of articles on building stone for The Quarry Managers' Journal in the early 1930s, and contributions to The Water Engineer's Handbook & Directory, 1932-1938. Also documented in this section are two radio broadcasts from 1925 and 1926: 'What a water tap means' and 'Cave hunting in Derbyshire'.
Section EMP/3, Consultancies, is by far the largest in the collection. It offers extensive documentation following, in varying degrees of detail, the development of Morton's consultancy work from the 1920s. The section includes work carried out by the company Morton established, Edgar Morton and Partner, which continued in practice after his death in 1973 and covers work undertaken into the early 1990s. It is divided into four series: Public Water Supply; Private Water Supply; Foundation, Stability and Construction Problems; and Planning and Mineral Workings.
Public Water Supply (EMP/3/1-225) covers Morton's extensive consultancy work on public water-supply projects in Britain. It comprises files relating to over two hundred public water-supply projects with which Morton (and his company Edgar Morton and Partner) was involved as a geotechnical engineering consultant. Morton was working at a time when the water industry in Britain was required to meet a rapidly increasing need for assured supplies of water for domestic and industrial use. After the Second World War local authorities had been given greater powers to build and extend reservoirs and search for potential new sources of supply. Morton and his company, Edgar Morton and Partner, were much in demand in advising on public water supply. He himself was involved with more than one hundred and fifty dams and reservoirs throughout Britain, many being long-term projects with Morton advising on different aspects of investigation, design, construction, litigation and site monitoring over many years. The largest bodies of material relate to the construction and development of Grimwith Reservoir for the Bradford Corporation Waterworks (later Yorkshire Water Authority); the Roadford, Colliford and Wimbleball Reservoirs (South West Water Authority); and the Foremark Reservoir and Carsington Reservoirs (Severn Trent Water Authority). Significant amounts of material occur also for the Isle of Man Water Board (Sulby, or Druidale, Reservoir Scheme, and others), the North West Water Authority, the Staffordshire Potteries Water Board, St Helens Corporation, Buckinghamshire Water Board, Nottingham Corporation, Portsmouth and Gosport Water Company, North Devon Water Board (the Meldon Reservoir Scheme) and the City of Cardiff Corporation Waterworks (Llandegfedd Scheme).
Not all the public water-supply projects for which Morton was acting involved reservoirs and dams. Morton was also concerned in the construction of pumping stations, sewage works, water treatment works and other such water supply projects. Morton gave advice to many local authorities on water sources, often subterranean, for augmenting the public water supply, protection of gathering grounds, new well sites, etc., and advised on borehole licence applications. The majority of the material dates from the 1930s to the early 1990s, although in some cases, where a related project or the same local authority was involved, the working papers incorporate earlier William Boyd Dawkins material, dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and used for background engineering and geological information. Others represented in the papers include colleagues in his consultancy, Professor Peter Rowe (1922-1997), Charles William (Bill) Isherwood (1924-2006) and John Scriven.
While most of Morton's hydrogeological work was concerned with public water supply, he also acted as a consultant for private cases, from the supply of drinking water to individual farms to the industrial-scale water requirements of major companies such as Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) and Whitbread Breweries. These Private Water Supply cases are presented at EMP/3/226-EMP/3/404. The bulk of the material relates to Morton's support of applications to bore for water under Section 14 of the Water Act, or opposition thereto, and to general advice on the augmentation of water supplies from local sources. Much relates to sites in the North-West of England, though there are also cases from the Midlands and southern England. Little of the material post-dates Morton's death in 1973, although there is significant material relating to water supplies for British Nuclear Fuels' Chapelcross Power Station, 1978-1991 (EMP/3/255).
The series Foundation, Stability and Construction Problems (EMP/3/405-EMP/3/588) documents a wide range of consultancy activities of Edgar Morton and Edgar Morton and Partner, principally focused on issues of site assessment. The types of client and the nature of projects vary considerably, although geographically there is a concentration in the English counties of Lancashire and Cheshire and in North Wales. Projects include cases of subsidence, resulting from both coal mining and salt extraction; sewerage schemes, particularly relating to land stability; investigations of the suitability of sites for refuse disposal; power plant developments, both fossil fuel and nuclear; and housing developments. There is particularly voluminous coverage of Edgar Morton and Partner's involvement with the Glasgow engineering consultancy Babtie Shaw and Morton on the A890 Strome Ferry by-pass, a particularly challenging engineering feat which was to require ongoing inspection and remedial work (documented to 1996), and the M90 motorway. Work was also undertaken for a number of public authorities. Those best represented are the British Electricity Authority/Central Electricity Generating Board (site investigations and ash disposal for power stations), Lancashire County Council (M62 motorway), Manchester Regional Hospital Board and the North West Gas Board (Bradford Road gasworks in Manchester and other sites). Also of note is material relating to Trinidad Leaseholds, investigating possible oil storage sites immediately prior to and during the early years of the Second World War, and the Inquiry into the 1966 Aberfan disaster. Edgar Morton and Partner material postdating Morton's death includes, for example, projects undertaken for the North West Water Authority (site stability at Giant's Seat, near Bolton), Rhuddlan Borough Council (main drainage scheme), UK Atomic Energy Authority (geological implications of sites for nuclear waste) and the Welsh Water Authority (Bangor sewerage scheme). As well as such large-scale concerns, Morton also acted for small companies and individuals, including subsidence claims affecting individual homes.
The final series, Planning and Mineral Workings (EMP/3/589-EMP/3/665), brings together material relating to advice given by Morton (and Edgar Morton and Partner) on planning issues (usually site investigations, planning appeals and public or local inquiries), and consultancies on mineral workings - generally sand, gravel and brine extraction. Much of the material is similar in nature to work undertaken by Morton in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s documented in section EMP/4, Research Interests and Minor Consultancies. Furthermore, as both planning and mineral workings often impinged on water supply or had site stability implications, so there is considerable overlap with material elsewhere in this section. There is a geographical concentration on Cheshire, as the largest bodies of material relate to the Cheshire Brine Subsidence Compensation Board and to Cheshire County Council, with advice on brine subsidence problems, planning applications, inquiries and appeals, and sand and gravel workings.
The section EMP/4, Research Interests and Minor Consultancies, brings together Morton's files on small consultancies not included in EMP/3, together with research material. The material has been grouped together by broad area where possible and the section is arranged in an alphabetical sequence. The bulk of the consultancies date from the 1920s and 1930s, with a geographical concentration in the counties of Cheshire, Derbyshire and Lancashire, and many relate to Morton's expertise in determining the properties and qualities of stone. Thus there is material relating to Road Stone (EMP/4/H) including work for the Ministry of Transport and the British Standards Institution; Silicosis (EMP/4/J), mostly relating to Morton's analyses of the silica content of stones, evidence given in silicosis compensation cases and reports for the Sandstone Industries Compensation Fund; and Stone Testing for quarry owners 1927-1964 (EMP/4/O). Morton also undertook site investigations, advising quarries and landowners on the geological nature and mineral possibilities of their land (EMP/4/K). Other areas covered include the legal background to water supply (EMP/4/Q/2), with particular reference to underground water (EMP/4/P).