Shell-Mex and BP Archive

Scope and Content

The Archive comprises: Press advertisments which form the bulk of the Archive's holdings, 1910-1972; lorry bills, which are large format colour posters which were displayed on the sides of distribution lorries, 1920-1939, 1950-1954; photographs, mainly black and white of vehicles, offices, depots and installations, petrol stations, advertising displays and SMBP activities; dealer literature consisting mainly of printed booklets which were sent to dealers as promotional aids; original artwork ranging from large oil paintings to small pen and ink drawings relating to the lorry bills and press advertisments. Well known artists were commissioned by the company to produce series of humourous advertisements. Artwork by Rex Whistler, John Piper, Claudio Guercio, E. McKnight Kauffer, A. Freisleben, R Jackson, E Saunders, Edward Bawden, Barnett Freedman, Nicholas Bently and many others is included in the collection. The Archive includes records for Shell-Mex and BP, Anglo-Persian Oil Company, Royal Dutch-Shell, Power Petroleum Company, Dominion Motor Company ,and National Benzole Company products.

Administrative / Biographical History

Shell-Mex and BP Limited (SMBP) was formed in 1932 when the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC, now BP) and Royal Dutch-Shell decided to merge their United Kingdom marketing operations. APOC held 40 per cent and Shell 60 per cent ownership, reflecting their respective market shares. SMBP acquired the Power Petroleum Company and the Dominion Motor Company in 1934, and the National Benzole Company in 1957. Each brand continued to be marketed separately throughout the existence of the joint company. The parent organisations de-merged their United Kingdom marketing operations in 1976.

Reference: GB 1566 SMBP


The Archive is arranged by document type.

Access Information

All advertising material is open to research. An appointment is required to view the records. Please contact staff for more information.

Acquisition Information

This collection was deposited in 1975 by Shell-Mex and B.P. Limited.

Other Finding Aids

A paper catalogue to item level is available for public use in the searchroom.

Conditions Governing Use

Copying of material is permitted at the discretion of BP Archive.


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

The repository also holds the papers of the BP Archive, two other jointly owned subsidiary companies: Kuwait Oil Company Archive, and the Iraq Petroleum Company Archive, and the papers of the wholly owned subsidiary the Burmah Oil Company Archive.

The repository holds a significant collection of books relating to the oil industry.