Sunday, September 28, 2014

EEB / C (Eastern Electricity Board)

The Eastern Electricity Board (EEB) was formed in 1948 as part of the nationalization of Great Britain's electricity producers, legislated by the Electricity Act 1947.

The board had a variety of commercial overprint patterns; the ones of interest here are the EEB/C patterns. The main EEB/C patterns are:

  •  Small letters (1.6mm high), widely spaced. These appear on sideways watermarked stamps from SG 488a to 613ab.
  • Medium letters (2.0-2.2mm high), tightly spaced. These appear on stamps with normal and sideways watermarks from SG 518a to 613ab, and the unwatermarked SG 727.
  • Large letters (2.8mm high), tightly spaced. These appear on stamps with normal watermarks (SG 579 and 613a) and the unwatermarked SG 726, 727, and 736.
Those patterns are read with the stamps on their right side. However, the 2.8mm high pattern is also known read from its left side.

Based on receipts I have, the "C" could refer to the Chilterns sub-area (small letters pattern on SG 506a, dated 14 September 1954) or  Cambridge (medium letters pattern on 573 or 573a, dated 24 May 1966). It seems that the EEB/C patterns may have been used interchangeably with the more common E.E.B. patterns--in addition to the receipt from May 1966 just mentioned I have an E.E.B. pattern on SG 573 to the same address dated 25 May 1965.

by Michael Behm

References: Electricity Act, 1947

Sunday, September 21, 2014

W M G B (West Midlands Gas Board)

The West Midlands Gas Board was formed by the Gas Act of 1948. From their use of commercial overprints on SG 488, we can infer that they started using overprinted stamps on receipts soon after being established.

There are two main patterns:
  • The W M/G B pattern is a sans-serif font that is known in two font sizes:
    • The 2.8mm pattern is known on SG 488, 506, 506a, 518, 518a, 543, 543a, 543b, 543bd
      573, 573a, 579, 613, 613a, 726, 727, and 736.
    • The 2.0mm pattern is known on SG 573a, 613ab, and 727.
  • The W. M./G. B. pattern has a typewritten appearance and also is known in two font sizes: 
    • The 2.5mm pattern is known on SG 506, 518, 543, 543b, and 573.
    • The 2.2mm pattern is known on SG 488, 506, 543, and 543b. 
It is very difficult to distinguish between the 2.5mm and 2.2mm patterns by font size alone, but the letters in the 2.5mm pattern are spaced 2.5mm horizontally while those in the 2.2mm pattern are 4.25mm apart.

by Michael Behm

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Scholl Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

William M. Scholl was a pioneer of foot care in the United States. In 1904 he invented and patented an arch support and founded the company Dr. Scholl's to sell it. Scholl's skill was not limited to his ability to design patented footcare products, but also in his ways to become innovative and inventive in marketing his company. Scholl initially distributed his products via shoe retailers, demonstrating the medical advantages of his designs by using a skeleton of the human foot. To expand his enterprise, Scholl employed salespeople whom he paid more if they studied and passed a podiatric correspondence course.

In 1908 Scholl's brother Frank joined the business. William despatched him to expand the company in Europe, and in 1913 Frank opened the company's first retail store in London called the Scholl Manufacturing Co. Ltd. The London store was a great success and in 1928 William Scholl opened his first retail shop in the United States. By the early 1960s, there were around 100 Dr. Scholl's shops in the United States and over 400 overseas.

William M. Scholl died in 1968 at the age of 86, with over 1000 patented footcare products to his name. Following his death, Scholl's family sold the company to Schering-Plough. In 1984 Schering-Plough sold the global brand and non-U.S. operations to British company SSL International, who today manufacture footwear and foot care products in China distributed under the Scholl brand.

William M. Scholl (1882 - 1968)

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, September 7, 2014

G. B. Kent & Co.

G. B. Kent & Co. have been manufacturers of brushes since the 18th century and are one of the oldest established companies in Britain. Kent Brushes, as the company is now more commonly known, manufacture a wide range of brushes for hair, body, clothes, make-up, teeth and shaving. The company has held a Royal Warrant consistently for nine reigns, beginning with King George III, and today makes over 250 different brushes, exporting to 52 countries worldwide.

The business was established by William Kent as W. Kent & Co. in London in 1777. The firm became G. B. Kent & Co. from 1854 to 1900 when George Barton Kent took control of the enterprise. George presided over a massive expansion in the range of products and the quantity of items sold. By the end of the 19th century the firm was making so many bone-handled toothbrushes that they were using the leg bones of 600 bullocks a week.

The company became G. B. Kent & Sons Ltd. in 1900. During the First World War, Kent made hundreds of thousands of brushes for the War Office. A soldier's kit included a hair, tooth, shaving, cloth, shoe blacking, shoe polishing, and button brush.

The Kent family continued to run the company until 1932 when Eric Cosby, of Cosby Brushes Ltd., took control of the firm. In a top secret operation during the Second World War, Kent made shaving brushes in which maps and compasses could be concealed for forwarding to overseas British prisoners of war to enable them to find their way home in the event of escape. The work was carried out in a special locked and windowless room at the Kent factory with access allowed only to a chosen few.

In 1984 the company headquarters were moved from London to Apsley, Hertfordshire, and remain there to this day.

Kent were prolific users of perfins throughout their history, however I am aware of only two overprints used by the company :

Received for / G. B. Kent & Co. /........./  £.......  (h4a) (IRL)

Received for / G. B. Kent & Co.                         (h2a) (IRS)

George Barton Kent

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A. Boake, Roberts & Co. Ltd.

A. Boake, Roberts & Co. Ltd. was a firm of manufacturing chemists, established in 1869 when Irishman Arthur Boake founded a company in Stratford, east London, to produce brewing chemicals. Boake invented a product for clarifying wine, which he sold successfully in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Boake ran the company alone until 1876 when Francis Roberts joined him in partnership. In 1888 the business became A. Boake, Roberts & Co. and in 1897 it was incorporated as a limited liability company. The firm began to manufacture flavouring essences and to distill essential oils. This evolved into the manufacturing of perfume and flavour chemicals. In 1935, for example, the company published the second edition of A Handbook for Ice Cream Makers. The company expanded greatly in the 1940s and 50s and factories were established in Walthamstow, Waltham Forest, Rainham, Letchworth and Widnes.

In 1966 A. Boake, Roberts & Co. Ltd. joined forces with Stafford Allen & Sons and W. J. Bush & Co. to form Bush Boake Allen. By the end of the 20th century, sales for the company had reached $470 million. In 2000 an American company named International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (I F F) purchased Bush Boake Allen for $970 million, making I F F the largest flavour and fragrance producing company in the world. Boake's original factory in Stratford was demolished and cleared for the 2012 London Olympics.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Wright, Layman & Umney

In 1860, William Valentine Wright, with partners  Sellers and  Layman, opened a small wholesale druggist and chemist business at 11 Old Fish Street Hill near St. Paul's Cathedral in London. In 1866 the company developed Wright's Coal Tar Soap, which was to become a hugely popular brand of antiseptic soap that is still being sold today. The soap was made from liquor carbonis detergens, the liquid by-product of the distillation of coal to make coke; the liquid was made into an antiseptic soap for the treatment of skin diseases.

Sellers retired in 1876 and Charles Umney was taken into partnership, and the company's name was changed to Wright, Layman & Umney. At this time the firm was described as wholesale and export druggists, manufacturers of pharmaceutical and chemical preparations, distillers of essential oils, manufacturers and proprieters of Wright's Coal Tar Soap and other coal tar specialities.

William Valentine Wright died in 1877 and two of his sons, Charles and Herbert, subsequently joined the company. By 1898 Charles Umney had taken over the management of the coal tar soap section of the business. In 1899 Wright, Layman & Umney became a private limited company and moved to larger premises in Southwark. In 1909 the firm became a public limited company and was regarded as one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the country.
 In the late 1960s, the Wright's Coal Tar Soap business was taken over by LRC Products Ltd. who sold it to Smith & Nephew in the 1990s. The soap is now made in Turkey for the current owners of the brand, Simple Health & Beauty Ltd. based in Solihull and is called Wright's Traditional Soap. As European Union directives on cosmetics have banned the use of coal tar in non-prescription products, the coal tar derivatives have been removed from the formula, and replaced with tea tree oil as the main anti-bacterial ingredient. Despite this major variance from the original recipe, the new soap has been made to approximate the look and smell of the original product.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, August 17, 2014

T. Bradford & Co.

Thomas Bradford & Co. was a company of laundry and dairy engineers established in Salford in 1850. The company made dairy appliances and butter churns but is most noted for being one of the first major manufacturers of washing machines in Victorian Britain.

The first reference to a washing “machine” can be traced to the diary of Robert Hooke in 1677. It described “a way of rinsing fine linen in a whip-cord bag, fastened at one end and strained by a wheel and cylinder at the other.....whereby the finest linen is washt, wrung and not hurt”. This is hardly what we would describe as a “machine”, yet this word was used in country house inventories of the 18th and early 19th centuries, which sometimes referred to “scrubbing engines” or “washing machines”.

It was not until the 1860s that washing machines as we would recognize them began to be sold in any number. These early machines were wooden-bodied, hand operated and showed a wide variety of forms, most incorporating wringers. One of the major manufacturers of early washing machines was Thomas Bradford. Bradford's distinctive motif can be found on many washing machines in museums and reconstructed laundries, as well as on box mangles, ironing stoves, linen presses and butter churns dating from the second half of the 19th century.

Thomas Bradford founded his company in Salford in 1850 and later set up a steam laundry in London. The company's Victress Vowel series of washing  machines was undoubtedly the most popular of its day. One of the features of the Victress Vowel series was that it was produced in a number of different sizes to suit different workloads. The most popular was the “E” model, designed for family use and costing 8 guineas in 1862. The “O” model was larger, designed for hotels, schools and mansions and the “U” model for large hotels, hospitals and workhouses. For these largest machines, Bradford advised specialist installation and operative training and eventually it was in this direction that the firm developed. At the Royal Jubilee Exhibition in Manchester in 1887, Bradford's stand consisted almost entirely of commercial laundry and swimming-bath machinery, steam driers and disinfecting equipment. Thomas Bradford & Co. continued until at least 1938.
Victress Vowel washing machine made by Thomas Bradford & Co.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Shrubsole & Co.

 Shrubsole & Co. was a private bank in Kingston-upon-Thames from 1792 until 1894. It is now part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

The bank was founded by a draper called William Rowlls who ran it alongside his existing drapery business. The bank underwent a number of name changes over the following years, finally becoming Shrubsole & Co. in 1869 when John Shrubsole took sole control of the company. John Shrubsole died in 1874 and his brother Henry became manager of the bank. Henry Shrubsole was also a popular mayor of Kingston from 1877 until his death in 1880.

Shrubsole & Co. was acquired by Parr's Banking Co. & Alliance Bank Ltd. in 1894; further mergers in later years would mean that the bank ended up as part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

The Shrubsole memorial, erected in 1882 in Market Square, Kingston.
Henry Shrubsole died in office in 1880 while distributing gifts to the poor in Kingston Drill Hall.

by Mark Matlach

Monday, August 4, 2014

M T O (Morrell's Trustees Oxford)

In 1782 Mark Morrell and his son James took over the Lion Brewery in Oxford. After James Morrell's death in 1855, the business passed to his son, James junior who remained in charge until 1863. From 1863 until 1943 the brewery was managed by a group of trustees.

In the late 18th century the Lion Brewery was expanded and redeveloped. A large brewing shed was added in 1879, a blacksmith's shop and engine house in 1880, a further shed and new yard in 1882, stables in 1889, new offices in in 1892, a tun room in 1895 and a tall, octagonal chimney in 1901. All these developments were designed by local architect Harry Drinkwater, who also designed a number of public houses for Morrells. The Lion Brewery was powered by a waterwheel on a backwater of the River Thames, supplemented by steam engines for which the engine house was built.

From 1864 until 1876 the Morrell Trustees supervised the running of Headington Hill Hall, a 51-room mansion owned by the Morrell family. The Trustees also concluded a number of land purchases which resulted in the Morrell estate doubling in size by the end of the 1870s. Headington Hill Hall was occupied by the Morrell family until 1938. It was later leased to Robert Maxwell, the infamous newspaper publisher, who described it as “the best council house in the country”. Since 1992 the mansion has been leased to Oxford Brookes University.

Headington Hill Hall, Oxfordshire

In April 1943 Morrell's Brewery Limited was registered as a limited liability company to acquire the business from Morrell's Trustees. After an acrimonious family dispute, the Lion Brewery was closed in 1998. The beer brands were acquired by Refresh UK and are now owned by Marstons. Most of the company's 132 tied pubs were bought by Greene King in 2002. The Lion Brewery site was redeveloped for luxury apartments in 2002. The waterwheel and tall brick chimney were left intact but only the facades of the other buildings were retained.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chance Bros. Limited

Chance Brothers Limited was at one time a leading glass manufacturer and a pioneer of British glass making technology. The company continues to function today as Chance Glass Limited, a specialized industrial glass manufacturer in Malvern, Worcestershire.

Robert Lucas Chance established the company in Smethwick, West Midlands, in 1824. In1832 William Chance joined his brother in partnership and the company became Chance Bros. & Co. The firm was among the earliest glass works to carry out the cylinder process in Europe and in 1837 it made the first British cylinder blown sheet glass. The company adopted the cylinder method to produce sheet glass, and became the largest British manufacturer of window and plate glass, and optical glasses.

Chance Brothers' projects included the glazing of the original Crystal Palace to house the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the Houses of Parliament, (built 1840 – 1860). At that time it was the only firm that was able to make the opal glass for the four faces of the Westminster Clock Tower which housed the famous bell, Big Ben. Other projects included stained glass windows, ornamental lamp shades, microscope glass slides, painted glassware and glass tubing. In 1889 the business was formed into a public company and became Chance Brothers Ltd. In the early 20th century, many new ways of making glass evolved at Chance Bros. such as the innovative welding of a cathode ray tube used for radar detection.

Pilkington Bros. Acquired a 50 % shareholding in 1945 but the Chance operation continued to be largely separately managed and a factory was established in Malvern in 1947 to specialise in laboratory glass. In 1948 the Malvern plant produced the world's first interchangeable syringe. By the end of 1952 Pilkington had assumed full financial control of Chance Bros., but did not become actively involved in its management until the late 1960s.

In 1992, during a period of rationalisation at Pilkington, a management buy-out reverted the Chance plant in Malvern to private ownership and it once again became an independent company, changing its name to Chance Glass Limited. Since then the company has continued to develop its range of products and processes, and areas now served include the pharmaceutical, chemical, metrology, electronics and lighting industries.

The extensive Chance Bros. Glassworks in Spon Lane, Smethwick, West Midlands. All the buildings are part of the works.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Life Policy Stamps

The Life Policy stamps of Great Britain are surely the most striking, and arguably the most attractive, of all the revenue stamps to have been issued there.

In 1853 a new stamp duty was introduced on life insurance policies. The scale was:

Sum insured £500 or less - 6d for every £50 or part thereof
Sum insured over £500 to £1000 - 1/- for every £100 or part thereof
Sum insured over £1000 - 10/- for every £1000 or part thereof

Values of 6d, 1/-, 2/-, 2/6, 5/-, 10/-, and £1 were recess printed by Perkins, Bacon & Co. Sheets were of 18 stamps, three rows of six. Although the stamps were issued in the same month as the introduction of official perforation in Great Britain, the size of them was problematic and it was not until 1872 that they were first perforated. Until that date, all the stamps were issued imperforate. Stamps on the sides of the sheet were left imperforate during the perforating period.

In 1860 duty was imposed upon policies covering accidental death at the following scale:

Sum insured less than 2/6 - 1d
Sum insured over 2/6 - 3d for each 5/- or part thereof

As a result a 3d stamp was issued, though a 1d stamp was not issued until 1870. Life Policy stamps were withdrawn in 1881, though the tax remained in force for some time later, the duty being paid by embossed general duty adhesives. 

For the overprint collector Life Policy stamps present a real challenge. A few insurance companies are known to have overprinted these stamps but they are extremely scarce. I have only two in my own collection and the rest of the stamps shown here represent the sum total of overprinted Life Policy stamps that I have seen.            

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Pawsons & Leafs Ltd.

In 1780 William Leaf opened the first wholesale silk warehouse in London, at 110 Fleet Street.The firm underwent a number of name changes over the next century before becoming Leaf & Co. Ltd in 1877. In 1832 John F. Pawson established I. F. Pawson & Co., a textile and clothing wholesaling company based at 5 and 9 St. Paul's Churchyard, London. The business was later styled as Pawson & Co., becoming Pawson & Co. Ltd in 1873.

In 1892 the two textiles companies merged to become Pawsons & Leafs Ltd. The company operated from Pawson's original premises at St. Paul's Churchyard until 1964, when the business relocated to 32/43 Chart Street. The company appears to have ceased trading some time after 1968.

There are 16 different overprints recorded for Pawsons & Leafs and the pre-merger companies of I. F. Pawson & Co.; Leaf, Sons & Co. and Leaf & Co. Ltd.

StyleSG Cat. Numbers
Received for / I. F. PAWSON & Co. / £........ / …........H4aIRL, IRS
Received for / LEAF, SONS & CO. / £H3aIRL
Received for / LEAF, SONS & Co. / £H3bIRL
Received for / LEAF, SONS & CO. // £H3eIRS
Received for / LEAF, SONS & CO. // £H3eIRS
Received for / LEAF, SONS / & Co. / £H4aIRS
Received for / LEAF & CO. LTD.H2d172
Received / with thanks for / PAWSON & Co / LIMITEDV4b172
Received, / with thanks, for / PAWSON & COMPANY / (LIMITED). / £............. / …...........H6aIRS, 172
Received for / PAWSON & COMPANY / (LIMITED). / £............... / …...........H5bIRS
RECEIVED / £ / for / PAWSONS & LEAFS / LD.V5b172
RECEIVED / £ / for / PAWSONS & LEAFS / LD.V5d172
RECEIVED / £ / for / Pawsons & Leafs / LD.V5d172
RECEIVED / £ / for / Pawsons & Leafs / Limited.V5d357, 368, 421
Received / £ / for / Pawsons & Leafs / Limited.V5b329, 368, 421, 442, 465
PAWSONS // & LEAFS, LTD.H2d465, 488, 506

Legend : 
IRL = 1d Inland Revenue (large) type of 1860 - 1867
IRS = 1d Inland Revenue (small) type of 1868 - 1881

by Mark Matlach

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

J. W. Allen

J. W. Allen was a military outfitter, luggage manufacturer and one of the longest standing barrack furniture makers in British history.

The business was established in London in 1788 under the name John Allen, but little is known of its early existence. By the 1820s the firm began to appear in the London Trade Directories under Trunk Makers and listed as Allen, John 22 Strand. By the 1840s the company had workshops in Hungerford Street, Whitechapel. By 1865 the company name had become J. W. Allen and there were large, smart premises at 37 Strand. Catalogues from this period show that the company was selling travel items such as portmanteaus, trunks, and leather traveling bags, as well as barrack furniture such as portable armchairs, portable washbasins and portable beds. The business advertised heavily in Army Lists and periodicals likely to be of interest to the travel-minded. The company name in the advertisements appeared as either J. W. Allen or simply Allen; presumably the firm was so well known at this time that it was recognized by the abbreviated name.

The last known entry for J. W. Allen in the London Trade Directories was in 1913. The company's fortunes had declined by this time and it was trading from much smaller premises on the Strand.

Advertisement 1868

by Mark Matlach

Monday, June 9, 2014

W. C. Jay & Co. / International Fur Store (I. F. S.)

William Chickall Jay opened the London General Mourning Warehouse at 217 Regent Street in London's West End in 1841. The business was essentially a department store that sold everything that could possibly be necessary for mourning. Mourning attire made from the finest black silks was on offer as well as a range of items such as mourning jewelery, ribbons, hats, shoes, flowers, black sealing wax and black-bordered envelopes and paper.

Victorian funerals were big business. People desired a good funeral as a sign of their social status. Even the very poor would subscribe to funeral funds, to have the comfort of knowing that they would have a respectable send-off and not a shameful pauper's funeral. There was a widespread belief that a brand new mourning dress should be purchased for each death. The rules of mourning were strictly observed in society. Briefly, a widow was expected to wear mourning for two years; the mother of a dead child, twelve months. A dead sibling required six months of mourning. But the etiquette and society magazines argued obsessively about the minor details of even these matters.

W. C. Jay's store supplied fashionable mourning attire for the well-to-do Victorian society. Mourners, despite their grief, still had to keep up with the latest fashion and could certainly not be seen in last year's model. Jay was also careful to offer goods in a wide price range so as to attract the lower classes. The firm's buyers traveled every year to the silk marts of Europe to buy black silk at the most reasonable prices.

The Jays were later involved in another store in Regent Street. In 1882 the International Fur Store was established at 163-165 Regent Street under the management of a certain T. S. Jay, a probable descendant of William Chickall Jay. Advertisements of the time claimed that the store produced “the finest furs in the world” as well as sealskin coats and jackets and articles made from sable, sea otter and silver fox skins. The International Fur Store traded until at least the 1930s.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hooper & Co.

Hooper & Co. was a coachbuilding company in Haymarket, London, originally founded in 1805 as Adam & Hooper. Following the death of George Adams, one of the founding partners, the business became Hooper & Co. in 1896. The company specialized in the very top end of the market, building coaches and later the most luxurious cars possible without consideration of cost. At one time or another, Hooper & Co. had Royal Warrants granted by virtually every one of the crowned heads of Europe.

The company built top class horse drawn carriages for Queen Victoria and later King Edward VII. In the early 1900s Hooper & Co. began to build custom bodies for automobiles, using mostly British chassis, particularly Daimler and Rolls-Royce. The first royal car, a Hooper body on a Daimler chassis, was delivered to Sandringham on 28th March 1900. It was painted chocolate brown with red lines; a livery which continued for the Royal Family well into the 20th century. By 1904 the company had opened its famous showrooms in Piccadilly, which became a popular London attraction with its fine displays of automobiles and carriages.

During the First World War, Hooper & Co. turned to aircraft manufacture, eventually producing Sopwith Camels at the rate of three a day. After the War a new factory was built in Acton in west London. In the peak year of 1936 over 300 car bodies were made in the factory.
In the late 1930s another factory was opened in Park Royal which made fuselage sections for De Havilland Mosquito bombers, Airspeed Oxfords and gliders. In 1940 Hooper & Co. was taken over by B. S. A. (Birmingham Small Arms). With the advent of the unibody, special coachbuilding diminished and the firm closed in 1959, although B. S. A. transferred the business to a new entity named Hooper Motor Services Ltd. which acted as a sales and service company.

Hooper-bodied Bentleys outside the factory in Park Royal

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, May 18, 2014

J. C. & J. Field Ltd.

J. C. & J. Field Ltd. was a candle and soap manufacturer in Lambeth, south London. The company was one of the oldest in this part of London; it was established c.1642 and continued on the same site for nearly 300 years. Founded by Thomas Field, the firm continued through a descendant, also named Thomas, who was listed in 1768 as a wax-chandler of Lambeth and by 1800 the company was known as John & Charles Field, candle makers from Lambeth Marshes.

In 1820 another John Field joined the company which became J. C. & J. Field. At this time the firm was producing candles made of spermaceti (the oil from the head cavity of the Sperm Whale). These candles were more expensive than the ordinary tallow candles popular at the time, which were cheap but noxious and sputtered when burned.

In the 1840s the company began to manufacture household and laundry soap. In time this became the company's main production as the demand for candles declined due to the popularity of oil and gas lighting. By 1873 J. C. & J. Field was making Ozkerit Candles for export to British Colonies in Asia and Africa. These candles were made with ozkerite, a naturally occurring mineral wax, and had a higher melting point than regular  types, making Ozkerit candles extremely popular in tropical climates.

In 1887 the firm was incorporated as J.C. & J. Field Ltd. During the early 20th century the firm acquired premises in Rainham, Essex. The company diversified into the manufacture of toiletries and luxury products such as skin and dental creams and talcum powder. In the early 1940s the firm moved to Wimbledon and then onto Amersham, Buckinghamshire. J. C. & J. Field Ltd. was acquired by E. Griffiths Hughes in 1958 and became part of Aspro-Nicholas in 1960.

Soap pressing machine used by J.C. & J. Field in 1886

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Turner Brothers Asbestos Company

The business was founded in 1871 in Rochdale, Lancashire as Turner Brothers by John, Robert and Samuel Turner to manufacture cotton cloth based packaging. In 1879 the firm became the first in the UK to weave asbestos cloth with power-driven machinery, and the company name was changed to Turner Brothers Asbestos Co. The factory in Rochdale would grow to become the biggest asbestos plant in the world.

Shortly before the First World War, the company opened an asbestos cement plant at Trafford Park, Manchester. One of its major products was Trafford Tile asbestos cement sheets, which were widely used for roof and wall construction in industrial and agricultural buildings. In 1920 Turner Brothers Asbestos Co. merged with the Washington Chemical Co., Newalls Insulation Co. and J. W. Roberts to become Turner & Newall. In 1929 Turner & Newall set up a distribution and sales arm called Turners Asbestos Cement Co. Ltd. The company grew rapidly in the 1930s and 1940s and operated an asbestos mine at Havelock in Swaziland from 1939 until 2001.

In 1998 the business was acquired by Federal-Mogul, a US based automotive supplier. Federal-Mogul was overwhelmed by asbestos related lawsuits against its new subsidiary and put Turner & Newall into bankruptcy protection in 2001. The company emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2007 with a trust created by Federal-Mogul to pay for future asbestos liabilities.

Today the site of the heavily-contaminated Rochdale site is derelict although new owners plan to build 600 homes there.

There are four different overprints related to the company:
  • Turner Brothers // Asbestos Co. Ltd. (style v2a) recorded on: SG 573, 726, 727
  • Turners / Asbestos Cement / Co. Ltd. (style hv3a) recorded on: SG 506, 573
  • Received for // Turners Asbestos / Cement Co. (style h3f) recorded on: SG 488
  • Received for // Turners Asbestos / Cement Co. (style h3f) recorded on: SG 465

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, April 20, 2014

G. & T. Earle Ltd.

G. & T. Earle Ltd. was a cement manufacturing company in Hull. The firm served as a significant employer in the city over the course of its 157 year history, providing work for several hundred people and by the end of the 19th century it had become one of the premier cement manufacturers in Britain.

The business has its origins in 1809 when brothers George and Thomas founded a company to sell various imported goods from Russia. In 1821 the brothers established a cement company on the banks of the River Humber. The company relocated to larger premises at Wilmington in 1866. Three kilns were set up for cement production at the new site, making a total of around 45 tons of cement per week. A fourth kiln was added in 1869 and production of cement peaked in the early 1870s at around 3000 tons per year.

In 1912, G. & T. Earle amalgamated with other cement companies to form the Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers Ltd. Earles was able to make an exceptionally good deal in the merger, keeping its own identity and preserving a degree of independence.

The company marketed its Pelican brand cement right up until 1966 when the business was wound up. The Wilmington Cement Works was closed down in 1969 and has since been demolished.

Earle's Cement Works, Wilmington, Hull in 1924

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A. & R. Tod, Ltd.

Leith has been a port for more than a thousand years and Edinburgh's official port since 1329. Originally Leith was a little more than a mile from Edinburgh, but now the two areas are one urban center.

Over the past decade, the port area has become more upscale as the shipping industry moves to docks on the north side. However, as the picture below shows it was a rougher place during the 1920s.

One of the industries in Leith was the Leith Flour Mills, owned by A. & R. Tod, Ltd. Most of the flour for the mill came from outside the UK—particularly from Canada—as the local wheat was too "soft".

The A. & R. Tod, Ltd. overprint appears to be surprisingly scarce, considering how many customers a large flour mill would have.

Leith Mills c. 1922

Originally published July 1, 2006.

I. J. & G. Cooper Ltd.

I. J. & G. Cooper Ltd. was a manufacturer and wholesaler of children's clothing established in 1823 in Manchester. From 1906 the company had a warehouse at 7 Dale Street which was known as the Children's Fashion House. The company produced children's clothing, baby linen, infant's knitwear and frocks. The business was in operation into the 1950s.

I. J. & G. Cooper Ltd. warehouse at 7 Dale Street, Manchester, built in 1906

by Mark Matlach