Sunday, May 26, 2013

Raymond Way Motors Ltd.

Raymond Way Motors Ltd. was a car dealer in Kilburn, London from c.1949 until 1973. Before becoming a car dealer, Way had a variety of careers. He had been a racing car driver, RAF pilot, Lloyds underwriter, boxing promoter, radio motoring correspondent, and fairground barker, before starting his car business a few years after the end of the Second World War.

Raymond Way Motors was noted for its heavy use of advertising. Way's press advertisements were minor works of literature, promoting an almost permanent sale at the showroom. Way would also buy famous people's cars, which generated some acid one-liners that bought him yet more publicity. Of Winston Churchill's Daimler limousine he said, "I bought it because I thought I might find a cigar stub under the carpet." In 1952, Way purchased Field Marshal Hermann Goering's armoured, bullet-proof Mercedes car at auction for just over £1000. However he couldn't resell it and finally loaned it to the Montagu Motor Museum. Under the pressure of such relentless promotion the company grew and expanded. Branches were added and in 1951 a motorcycle showroon was opened in Willesden Lane. At its peak Raymond Way Motors was selling 2000 cars per year.

In the early 1960s Way sold his company to Oxford Motors for £650,000, but the venture was unsuccessful and he repurchased the firm in 1967 for £400,000. Way finally sold out to Moon Motors in 1973 for £750,000.

Goering's car, purchased by Raymond Way in 1952

by Mark Matlach

U. B. OF S. LD (Union Bank of Scotland)

The Union Bank of Scotland was established as the Glasgow Union Banking Company in 1830. It was the first of a number of joint-stock banks set up in the city at that time. The Bank's business grew rapidly between 1836 and 1843, primarily as a result of amalgamations with other Scottish banks. In consequence of these mergers, the Bank changed its name in 1843, becoming the Union Bank of Scotland. The name change reflected the Bank's new national status, both in terms of its geographical reach and its impressive balance sheet. The 1850s were a period of expansion for the Bank. By 1857 the Union Bank of Scotland had 97 branches – more than any other bank in Scotland. A London office was opened in 1878.

In the 1920s the Bank was in financial difficulties. Its fortunes were inextricably linked with the rise and fall of heavy industry. It had lent extensively to this sector, which lurched from crisis to crisis for much of the inter-war period. Despite these troubles, a grand, new head office was opened in 1927 at 110 St. Vincent Street, Glasgow.

The Union Bank of Scotland merged with the Bank of Scotland in 1955. The St. Vincent Street building became Bank of Scotland's chief office in Glasgow. Today, the Bank of Scotland is part of the Lloyds Banking Group.

Union Bank of Scotland, 110 St. Vincent Street, by the architect James Miller

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Millington & Sons

Millington & Sons was a stationery manufacturer in London from 1824 until 1932.  The company was the originator of the well-known Basildon Bond brand of writing paper and also manufactured envelopes, note papers, pads, and account books.

The company evolved from the business of William Leschalles, a paper and rag dealer in Bishopsgate, London in 1824. Later Millington's became a major manufacturer of envelopes through the introduction of the first high-speed rotary machines in the UK. In 1896 the company purchased a batch of machine glazed Manilla paper which had failed to meet its intended specification but was excellent for strong, cheap envelopes for which there was an immediate and expanding market. Another major line, introduced  in 1905, was the OUTLOOK envelope made using an exclusive license for the UK from an American company. With these envelopes the address, printed on the correspondence within, could be seen through a window of transparent material. A factory was built in Tottenham, north London, to meet the growing production requirements of the company.

Millington & Sons created the Basildon Bond brand of stationery in 1911. A group of company directors were meeting to discuss the introduction of a new brand of writing paper. They were staying in a country house in a small village in Berkshire and one of the matters arising was a name for this new paper brand. The name of the country house was Basildon Park, which the directors decided to use for their new writing paper.

Millington's main competitor was John Dickinson & Co. In 1918 Dickinson purchased part of the share capital of Millington & Sons and took over the Basildon Bond brand; in 1932 the whole company was acquired.

by Mark Matlach

C. Tanqueray & Co.

The Tanqueray family were originally silversmiths and left France for England early in the 18th century, where three successive Tanquerays became rectors in Bedfordshire. In 1830 Charles Tanqueray, then aged just 20, broke with family traditions and rather than become a clergyman, established a distillery in Vine Street, in London's Bloomsbury, then an area noted for its spa water.

Tanqueray experimented with many possible ingredients before finally producing the key balance of ingredients and Tanqueray London Dry Gin was launched. London Dry Gin is made by means of double distillation of grain. Botanicals are added during the second distillation. The Tanqueray recipe was a closely guarded secret, although it is known to contain four botanicals thought to be juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, and liquorice root.

Charles died in 1868 and his son Charles Waugh Tanqueray took over the company. Charles Waugh quickly built on his father's success, particularly in export markets where he promoted the brand through a network of international agents.

In 1898 Charles Tanqueray & Co. merged with another gin distiller, Gordon & Co., to form Tanqueray Gordon & Co. Following the merger all production was transferred from the Vine Street Distillery to Gordon's Goswell Road site in Clerkenwell. From that time onwards Tanqueray gin was heavily promoted in the United States and this remains the brand's largest market to this day. In 1922 Tanqueray Gordon & Co. joined the Distillers Company which was acquired by Guiness in 1986 to form United Distillers, which would go on to become Diageo, the world's largest producer of spirits. In 1998 all production of Tanqueray gin was moved to the Cameron Bridge Distillery in Scotland. Diageo currently sells approximately 2 million 9 litre cases of Tanqueray gin a year.

by Mark Matlach

Arnolds Ltd.

Arnolds Ltd. was a department store situated on Regent Street in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.  Following a devastating fire in 1919, the store was rebuilt. In c.1978 Arnolds Ltd. was acquired by Debenhams plc. The site of the store in now occupied by a row of smaller shops.

Arnolds Ltd. following a fire in 1919

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Oetzmann & Co.

Oetzmann & Co. was a furniture manufacturer and retailer in London from 1848 until at least 1947. From 1848 the company was advertising as "cabinet makers, decorators and complete house furnishers." Oetzmann's had extensive trade and manufacturing premises on Hampstead Road and a furniture store on Tottenham Court Road in London's West End.

Apart from furniture, the store also sold bedding, carpets, china and glass and drapery. The furniture sold by Oetzmann & Co. was considered "middle of the road", neither too traditional nor too modern, emphasizing price over quality and generally catering to the lower-middle class clientele.

Advertisement, 1903

by Mark Matlach

Lewis Berger & Sons Ltd.

In 1760, a young German colour chemist named Louis Steingenberger emigrated from Frankfurt in Germany to London. In 1766 he established a dye and pigment making business in Shadwell, east London under his anglicized name, Lewis Berger. Berger had perfected a new process for making the colour Prussian Blue. Considering that it was the colour of most military uniforms at this time, the pigment assumed great importance and the new company a great boost. The firm expanded rapidly, moving to larger premises in Homerton in 1780 and establishing a City office in Well Court in 1785. By this time Berger was selling 19 different pigments, as well as black lead, sulphur, sealing wax and mustard.

Lewis Berger died in 1814 and two of his sons, John and Samuel, took control of the company which was incorporated as Lewis Berger & Sons Ltd. in 1879. Following a period of mismanagement during the closing years of the 19th century, the business was sold to an American paint manufacturing company called Sherwin Williams, thereby ending the direct involvement of the Berger family in the company.

In 1960 a merger with Jenson & Nicholson Ltd. created Berger, Jenson & Nicholson Ltd. A number of subsidiary companies were formed in the UK and overseas over the following years. In 1970 the company was taken over by Hoechst AG, the world's largest chemical company, of Frankfurt, West Germany. Berger's, it could be said, had returned home. In 1981 the business became Berger International Ltd. and was the holding company for the whole Berger group which manufactured and distributed paint, resins, wood preservatives, industrial sealants, household chemicals and wallcoverings. There was a total of 35 companies and divisions running 46 factories in 25 countries, employing 10,000 people.

Lewis Berger & Sons Ltd. factory and offices at Homerton in 1880

by Mark Matlach

William Walker & Sons Ltd.

William Walker & Sons Ltd. was a manufacturer of leather belting and other leather accessories. The company was founded in 1823 by William Walker in the Lancashire town of Bolton. The original tannery was in King Street and the output was chiefly clog and shoe leather. Walker saw great potential in the manufacture of belting for driving the new machinery in cotton mills and engineering works that were springing up throughout Lancashire. Operations were transferred to Ridgway Gates Tannery in 1828. Rose Hill Tannery was opened in 1850 and grew to become one of the largest and most efficient tanneries in the UK and William Walker & Sons Ltd. became one of Bolton's major success stories. The company made high-grade leathers for a wide range of products including shoes, handbags, belts, hats and briefcases.

In c.1970 William Walker & Sons Ltd. was acquired by another leather merchant called the Barrow Hepburn Group plc. The Rose Hill Tannery was closed down in 1978 and in 2008 it was demolished.

The Rose Hill Tannery in 2007

by Mark Matlach