Saturday, March 31, 2012

Benham & Sons Ltd.

John Lee Benham established an ironmongery business at Portman Square, London in 1817. The company's main interests were in gas light fittings and the production of various types of baths. In 1824, Benhams expanded by establishing a showroom and factory in Wigmore Street. Gradually the business became more focused on cooking equipment and less on baths and light fittings.

In 1872, Benham's sons—William, James and Frederick—joined the company, which took the name Benham & Sons Ltd. Shortly afterwards, a second factory was established in Manchester. The company participated in the International Exhibition of London 1851 and 1871, Paris 1867, and Vienna 1873, exhibiting a range of cooking apparatus for residential and commercial applications. In the 1880s, the firm had commissions for the furnishing and fitting of globe lighting and stoves for large institutions such as workhouses and infirmaries, as well as the refreshment rooms at Middlesbrough railway station.

Benham & Sons Ltd. expanded further in the early part of the 20th century with the acquisition of several premises in Wandsworth, London. During the Second World War, the company manufactured a variety of gun and munition parts.

Benham & Sons Ltd. was managed by five successive generations of the Benham family until it joined the Glover & Main Group in 1960. Glover & Main became part of Thorn EMI in 1965. In 1979, Benhams merged with James Scott & Co. Ltd. of Oldham. As Scott Benham Ltd., the company was taken over by the Swedish company, Electrolux in 1987.

From 1851 London Exhibition Official Catalogue

by Mark Matlach

William Tarn & Co.

William Tarn & Co. was a large department store in the Elephant and Castle district of Southwark, London. The business seems to have begun as a drapery shop c. 1799. In 1841, William Tarn & Co. is listed in a London Directory as "silk mercer, linen draper and general house furnisher."

By the 1870s, the company had expanded to become a huge department store. There were departments for silks, velvets, furniture, haberdashery, millinery, boots and shoes, furs, carpets, and suits. The store was the largest retailer in Elephant and Castle—a thriving shopping area at this time—known as "the Picadilly of south London."

William Tarn & Co.'s Illustrated Catalogue published c. 1890-1900

by Mark Matlach

Monday, March 19, 2012

S. Cavander & Company

S. Cavander & Co. was a tobacco company which was established in London in 1775.

The company is best known for its cigarette brands “Army Club” and “Navy Cut”. Advertising campaigns for these cigarettes adopted themes of nostalgia of wartime camaraderie and male culture.

In the 1920s the cigarettes were sold in elaborate tins made of pressed copper. In 1961, the business was taken over by the Godfrey Philips cigarette company, whose main factory is now in Mumbai, India.

by Mark Matlach

Rudge-Whitworth Ltd.

Rudge-Whitworth Ltd. was a bicycle and motorcycle manufacturer that resulted from the merger of two bicycle manufacturers in 1894, Whitworth Cycle Co. of Birmingham and Rudge Cycle Co. of Coventry. By 1897, Rudge-Whitworth Ltd. was manufacturing 25,000 bicycles a year and had gained a reputation for producing beautifully made machines with many clever and unique features.

In 1911 the company diversified into motorcycle production. The first motorcycle to be manufactured was a single-cylinder F-head, 500 cc bike. Rudge-Whitworth also produced the first detachable wire wheel and became known for its innovations in engine and transmission designs and its racing successes.

In 1935 the company was taken over by EMI. The business was moved to Hayes, Middlesex four years later and ceased to manufacture motorcycles. EMI soon decided that cycles were not for them and Rudge-Whitworth was sold on to Raleigh in 1943.

Advertisement 1897

I have only seen the Rudge-Whitworth overprint on SG 421 as shown.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, March 11, 2012

James Shoolbred & Co.

James Shoolbred & Co. was established as a draper's shop in the 1820s and evolved to become one of the first great department stores in London.

James Shoolbred opened his drapery business at 155 Tottenham Court Road, London. He soon purchased the properties on either side of his shop. The enlarged premises included a haberdashers and a carpet warehouse, as well as expanded accommodation for the stock of textiles, which included wool, silk and linen.

James Shoolbred & Co. began to design and manufacture its own furniture in 1870. The furniture, along with other interior accessories, was displayed in a series of catalogs that the company produced every year. The catalogs were so detailed that many were used as pattern books for customers to copy the latest London furniture styles.

James Shoolbred & Co. catalog, 1874

By the 1880s, the company had expanded to such an extent that the business had to move to premises that functioned as an early department store. The new store proved popular from the start. Customers were impressed by the detailed displays of interior decorative schemes. Furniture, textiles, carpets and various accessories would be laid out as they would be seen in a real interior. This made it much easier for customers to perceive what their purchases would look like outside the constraints of the department store.

James Shoolbred & Co. did not survive the financial crisis of the late 1920s and ceased trading in 1931.

Shoolbred overprints are known as late as SG 357, the 1d issue of 1912.

by Mark Matlach
and Michael Behm

Charles Arkcoll

Charles Arkcoll was a wholesale grocer in Maidstone, Kent. Pigot's Directory of Kent 1824 lists the company as "John Arkcoll, 121 Stone Street, Maidstone. Grocer and Tea Dealer."

By 1858, Charles Arkcoll is head of the business. Melvilles Trade Directory of this year lists the company as "wholesale grocer and cheesemonger."

By the end of the 19th century, Charles Arkcoll was the biggest importer of cheese from Holland in the UK. The cheese was stored in the company's warehouse in Borough, London before being transported to Maidstone.

It appears that Arkcolls continued until at least 1968, remaining at the same premises in Maidstone throughout its history.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Young & Marten Limited

In 1872, William Young established a business as a building and decorating merchant at 5 Romford Road, Stratford, in East London. He was later joined by Harry Holdich Marten to form the company of Young & Marten. As well as selling building and decorating materials, Young & Marten manufactured joinery and leaded light windows. The company had railway sidings at Stratford for the transport of building materials to its warehouse in Grove Crescent Road.

The business became Young & Marten Ltd. in 1900.

Young & Marten Ltd. Romford Road in the 1930s

A trade catalogue from the 1940s shows that Young & Marten Ltd. sold lead pipes, glass, tiles, iron railings, light-fittings and timber, as well as a wide range of hardware products. The business had expanded to include branches in Brentford, Leytonstone, Walthamstow, and Southend.

Young & Marten Ltd. traded until at least the early 1970s. At some point the Stratford store was demolished and the site is now occupied by the Ibis Hotel and Stratford Library. The warehouse in Grove Crescent Road has been converted into an apartment block.

by Mark Matlach