Sunday, September 11, 2011

Metropolitan Water Board

The Metropolitan Water Board was founded in 1903 to bring the nine private water companies supplying water to London under a single public body. The members of the board were nominated by the various local authorities within its area of supply. A Royal Commission had reported in 1899 on the need for such controls. The board was abolished in 1974 and control transferred to the Thames Water Authority, now Thames Water.

The water supply in the London area was regulated by local acts and royal charters on a piecemeal basis from 1543. Through amalgamation, by 1830 there were five companies supplying water north of the Thames, and three to the south of the river. Following complaints, a Royal commission was set up in 1827 to investigate the quality of supply. The commission found that the water was of poor quality and cleanliness, and was in need of improvement. A select committee endorsed this view in 1828 and recommended that a scheme should be devised by Thomas Telford, to supply the whole metropolis with clean water. Telford reported in 1834, and, despite several outbreaks of cholera, little action was taken until the Metropolis Water Act 1852 introduced regulation of the supply companies; including minimum standards of water quality for the first time. A further Royal commission reported in 1869 and recommended that the supply should be taken into public management. The Metropolis Water Act 1871 introduced further regulation, but fell short of taking the supply into public control. During the course of a further series of commissions, set against the backdrop of continuing supply problems, the county councils of Middlesex, Essex, Kent, and Surrey indicated they would not accept any scheme that allowed the London County Council authority over their areas in respect of water supply. It was therefore decided that the Metropolitan Water Bill would create an entirely new body to supply water to the greater London area.

The board was created by the Metropolis Water Act 1902. The first Metropolitan Water Board retired on 1 June 1907, with a new board being nominated every three years thereafter. As local government changes took place, the nominating bodies changed. The board's area of supply comprised of the entire county of London and much of Middlesex.

The various public water boards and local authority water undertakings in England and Wales were reorganised by the Water Act 1973. Ten large Water Authorities were established based on river basins and catchment areas. Accordingly, in 1974, the assets of the Metropolitan Water Board passed to the Thames Water Authority governed by a 60 person board, and covering the area from the source of the Thames in Wiltshire to the Thames Estuary.

By Mark Matlach

Read Holliday & Sons Ltd.

Read Holliday & Sons Ltd. was the largest chemical and dyes manufacturer in Britain in the latter part of the19th century.

The business was begun in 1830 in Huddersfield when Read Holliday set up a company to buy waste products from the local gas works. He distilled ammonia at a works in Tanfield Road, Huddersfield and sold it to textile mills for wool scouring. Holliday blended unwanted coal tar with cinders to use as fuel for the ammonia stills. As the business grew, the local neighbours began to complain about the fumes emanating from the Tanfield Road works, forcing Holliday to move his business to Tunbridge in 1839.

Lacking formal training in chemistry, Holliday read technical publications and applied what he learned to expand his product range. He began to produce ammonia salts, washing powder, soda ash, Epsom salts and dye products. In 1845 Holliday commenced distilling coal tar, becoming the biggest distiller in the north of England by 1860. He received a patent for an improved naphtha lamp and the “Holliday Peerless Lamp” became widely used. By now the company had six plants in northern England as well as one in Bromley, London and a warehouse at Holborn Hill.

Read Holliday 1809 - 1889

Read Holliday retired in 1868 when his company was the leading chemical manufacturer in Britain and the first international manufacturer of synthetic dyes. Holliday passed the business on to his capable sons, Thomas, Charles and Edgar. The company took the name of Read Holliday & Sons, becoming limited in 1890.

In 1915, Read Holliday & Sons Ltd. was taken over by the Government, who renamed the company British Dyes Ltd., and concentrated the firm on the production of explosives which were needed for the First World War. In 1919 British Dyes Ltd. merged with Levenstein Ltd. to form the British Dyestuffs Corporation, which later became ICI.

By Mark Matlach

Thomas Hubbuck & Son

Thomas Hubbuck & Son manufactured white-lead, oil paint, and varnish. The company was established in 1765 at 24 Lime Street, London with a factory at Hubbuck's Wharf in Ratcliff, Middlesex.

The company's products included special anti-corrosive paints and anti-oxidation compositions for ships, as well as patent white-zinc paint that was claimed not to "stain or discolour with the atmosphere of large towns."

By Mark Matlach

Vick, Ashworth & Co.

Vick, Ashworth & Co. was a printing firm based at Dean Road in Salford and Kennedy Street in Manchester. They were engravers and copperplate and lithographic printers as well as stationers (both wholesale and manufacturing). The company also operated as bookbinders and made account books.The business seems to have been run by Howard Vick, William Pearce and the Ashworth brothers, Arthur and Frederick.

By Mark Matlach

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Henry Sotheran & Co.

Henry Sotheran & Co. is an antiquarian bookseller founded in York in 1761, making it the longest established antiquarian bookseller in the world. In 1815, the business was moved to London. In 1936 the bookshop moved to its current address, 2-5 Sackville Street in the West End.

A few highlights in the early history of Henry Sotheran & Co.:
  • In 1878 the company purchased the library of Charles Dickens.
  • In 1882 Sotherans purchased the entire stock and copyright of John Gould's great ornithological works.
  • In 1896 Sotherans sold a Guttenberg Bible on vellum for £2,750, four folios of Shakespeare for £800, and a collection of Byron manuscripts for £3000.
During the Second World War, Sotheran's bookshop sustained some damage in the London Blitz. However, the business prospered quite well during the war years by selling new books to the troops. Sotherans also had a very active export department at this time. A steady income was provided by exporting learned periodicals, mostly to American universities.

In 1959, Sotherans bought an Audubon's Birds of America for a record price of £13,000, and it is still the most expensive printed book ever sold at auction. The book remained in the shop for so long in its packed condition that staff used it as a tea and card table.

Today, apart from books, Henry Sotheran & Co. has a general antiquarian department tjat sells such items as autographed letters, original cartoons, maps, and signed cricket bats.

By Mark Matlach

H. J. Nicoll & Co.

H. J. Nicoll & Co. (not to be confused with Harvey, Nichols & Co.) was a clothing retailer and bespoke tailor established at Regent Street in London's West End. They also acted as merchant tailor to Queen Victoria and the Royal family.

The company had branches in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Paris. The business operated until c1962.

Advertisement 1910

By Mark Matlach

Dresdner Bank

Dresdner Bank was established on 12th November 1872 in Dresden, Germany. Following the acquisition of several small regional banks in the 1870s, the Bank moved its headquarters to Berlin. By the end of the 19th century, Dresdner Bank had the largest network of banks in Germany. The first international branch of Dresdner Bank was opened in London in 1895. However, during the First World War the London branch was forced to close down.

During the Second World War, Dresdner Bank controlled various banks in countries under German occupation. The Bank took part early on in the Third Reich's policy of confiscating Jewish property and wealth. The Bank also helped to finance concentration camps, including Auschwitz in Poland.

By the end of the War, 80% of Dresdner Bank's buildings were destroyed, costing the Bank 162 offices in 56 locations. Monetary reform and the introduction of the Deutsche Mark in 1948 helped return banking to normality in West Germany. Dresdner Bank expanded its network with acquisition and opening new offices not only in Europe but also in the United States, Canada, Auustralia, Japan, and China.

In 2002, Dresdner Bank became a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance corporation Allianz, who sold it on to Commerzbank in 2008 for EUR 9.8 million.

By Mark Matlach