Sunday, February 26, 2012

Scribbans-Kemp Group

Incorporating Scribbans-Kemp (Bakeries) Ltd., Oliver & Gurden Ltd., Kunzle (Products) Ltd., Lyons acquired the interests of the Scribbans-Kemp group in November 1968 - which included Scribbans-Kemp (Bakeries) Ltd., Oliver & Gurden Ltd., and Kunzle (Products) Ltd. for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition was part of a drive to increase cake volumes in the £5.5 million market. This purchase did not include the non-bakery interests of Scribbans-Kemp, which consisted of retail tobacco and confectionery shops, groceries, supermarkets and wholesale warehouses.

The deal involved the Scribbans-Kemp factory at Smethwick, Birmingham employing 1,200 people. It had a floor area of 140,000 square feet, and was rebuilt some years previous to the acquisition following a fire. The Fuller's factory in Garrets Green, Birmingham, with a staff approaching 1,000, was built in 1960 with an area of 130,000 square feet. The specialty bakery in Oxford, where Oliver & Gurden employed 160 staff, had a floor area of 54,000 square feet.

Some £30 million per year was to be spent on products made by the Scribbans-Kemp bakeries. The firm of C. Kunzle Ltd (which was taken over by Fullers in 1964 and acquired as Fullers-Kunzle by Scribbans-Kemp in 1968) had been set up in the early 1920s by Christian Kunzle, a Swiss chef who worked for a time at the House of Commons.

On behalf of Lyons Bakery, Kunzle's factory in Birmingham continued to specialise in making small cakes - such as mint meringues, macaroons, Fondant Fancies and Home-Made Crackle Cakes - as well as producing own-label cakes for Marks & Spencer, British Home Stores and Tesco. Kunzle's best-selling line was the Showboat, a chocolate shell containing a sponge filling, topped with butter cream and decorated by hand; 40,000 were made every week.

Another part of Scribbans-Kemp, Oliver & Gurden, specialised in Christmas puddings, which they produced at their factory in Oxford. The puddings were made to a traditional recipe which the company's founders, William and Aubrey Gurden, had developed when they were chefs at Keble College before the First World War. About 10 per cent of their Christmas puddings were exported, mainly to the United States and France. They also produced mince pies, Yule logs and Christmas cakes.

By autumn 1973, however, it was decided to change the name of Oliver & Gurden to Fullers Cakes Ltd, after market research found more consumers were familiar with that name and associated it with being 'good value', 'high quality' and 'suitable for special occasions'. Fullers, of course, had been acquired by Lyons as part of Scribbans-Kemp, having been founded at the turn of the century with bakeries in Dublin and Hammersmith, London. Nevertheless the name Oliver & Gurden was retained on some specialized lines such as shortbread and luxury cake, and for overseas marketing.

Smethwick Bakery, Birmingham, closed at the end of 1977 following the transfer of cake production to the new Carlton (Yorkshire) factory.

by Paul Green

Sheffield Star

The Star, often known as the Sheffield Star is a daily newspaper published in Sheffield, England, from Monday to Saturday each week. Originally a broadsheet, the newspaper became a tabloid in 1989. The Star, the weekly Sheffield Telegraph and the Green 'Un are published by Sheffield Newspapers Ltd (owned by Johnston Press), based at York Street in Sheffield City Centre.

The newspaper which subsequently became The Star began as the Sheffield Evening Telegraph, the first edition of which was published on 7 June 1887. It soon took over its only local rival, the Sheffield Evening Star, and from June 1888 to December 1897 it was known as the Evening Telegraph and Star and Sheffield Daily Times, then from 1898 to October 1937 as the Yorkshire Telegraph and Star. In 1931, it took over the Sheffield Mail, which had been its main rival since 1920. From 1937 to November 1938, the newspaper became the Telegraph & Star, and finally, from 14 November 1938, The Star.

Looking down High Street from near its junction with Fargate, the Star and Telegraph building is on the left.

Johnston Press began printing The Star at their new £60 million printing plant in Dinnington, near Rotherham, in September 2006. The plant includes the first 'triple width' newspaper press in the UK. The plant also prints not only several other Johnston Press titles, including the Sheffield Telegraph, Scarborough Evening News, Wakefield Express, Derbyshire Times, and Chesterfield Advertiser, but also a number of external publications, including The Sun and News of the World for News International.

by Paul Green

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Thomas Moy Limited

From at least 1861, Thomas Moy was a coal merchant based in Colchester. In 1882 Moy's company was described in the Stratford trade directory as coal, coke, cement, brick, tile, and lime merchants and even ship owners—sea-going colliers carried coal down the east coast to London. Thomas Moy's main business was as a coal merchant, organizing the procurement and delivery of coal to households throughout Essex, as well as neighboring Norfolk and Suffolk.

Thomas Moy established a wagon works in Peterborough sometime before 1890, to build and repair railway wagons for his own coal business and to hire them out for other uses. Moy's wagons would have been seen all over the eastern side of England as far north as Yorkshire, from where the company obtained some of its coal. The business became a limited company in 1891. The railway works changed ownership in 1926, and again in 1931, but continued to operate under the name of Moy's Wagon Co. Ltd. until the mid-1960s.

Thomas Moy was a prolific user of commercial overprints right up to the end of the 1960s.

by Mark Matlach

Strickland Brothers

George Strickland founded a business as a seed and corn merchant in Hastings in c1804. He initially seems to have dealt mainly in fruit, vegetables, and general provisions, and may have had a market garden. George was succeeded by his son Edmund, who also traded as a coal merchant in Hastings. Edmund expanded the corn and seed business to Hailsham, and had premises in the railway yard, which were built around 1860. Edmund's sons, George, William, and Edmund, became involved in the Hailsham side of the business, which became known as Strickland Brothers.

Strickland Brothers was incorporated in 1899 as Stricklands Limited. The other business in Hastings was run by Edmund's youngest son, Francis, and it later became known as F. Strickland & Sons Ltd. This company expanded into the seed potato business during the 1920s. A factory in Hastings was established for the manufacture of compound animal feeds.

In 1960, Stricklands Ltd. and F. Struckland & Sons Ltd. were merged into one family business. From 1967, the company was concerned primarily with a chain of retail garden and pet shops. F. Strickland & Sons Ltd. traded until 1992, when the shops were sold off, bar one trading under the Strickland name in St. Leonards on Sea, although there was no family connection.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Smith, Elder & Co.

Smith, Elder & Co. was a publishing company established in London in 1816 by two Scotsmen named George Smith and Alexander Elder.

In 1843 Smith's son, George Murray Smith, took over most of the firm's operations, and upon the death of his father in 1846, became sole head of the business at the age of just 22. Smith, Elder & Co. achieved its first major success with the publication of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre in 1847. Other major authors published by the company included William Thackery, Charles Darwin, George Eliot, Anthony Trollope, and Arthur Conan Doyle. In 1859 the company began the publication of The Cornhill Magazine with William Thackery as editor. The magazine came to be regarded as one of the most important and distinguished literary journals of the 19th century. In 1865 The Pall Mall Gazette, an evening newspaper with literary leanings, began publication. Both the magazine and the newspaper attracted contributions from the leading writers and artists of Victorian Britain. In 1882 Smith, Elder & Co. produced the Dictionary of National Biography, a work of reference on notable figures from British history, which was completed on 1901.

George Murray Smith (1824-1901)

George Murray Smith's son-in-law, Reginald K. Smith, joined the company in 1894 and from 1899 he was in sole charge of the business. Following the death of Reginald in 1916, Smith, Elder & Co. was acquired by the Murray publishing company.

by Mark Matlach

H. P. & Co. (Heseltine Powell & Co.)

Heseltine Powell & Co. was a London stockbroking company. The business was begun when Charles W. Marten and Edward Heseltine began trading together as stockbrokers under the name Marten & Heseltine in 1848 at 9 Finch Lane, Cornhill. In 1852, Thomas W. Powell joined the company and its name was listed in the London Directories from that year as Marten & Powell (1852 only) and Heseltine, Powell (1852 – 1866). In 1867 the name of the firm was changed to Heseltine Powell & Co. and remained as such for the next 110 years.

Edward Heseltine and Thomas Powell were particularly interested in the shares and bonds of the developing railroads and, in letters to the Stock Exchange in 1908, they claimed that it was their encouragement of investors that had stimulated interest in the American market and helped to create the arbitrage business.

In 1977 the name of the company changed to Heseltine, Moss & Co. and in 1987 the business became part of Brown Shipley Ltd.

I have not seen the H.P. & Co. overprint used beyond the Victorian period.

by Mark Matlach

Doulton & Co. Ltd.

In 1815, John Doulton and his partner, John Watts, established a pottery and porcelain manufacturing company in Lambeth, south London. The company made salt glazed utilitarian items, pitchers, plain figural bottles, and stoneware products.

Doulton & Co. was developed by John's son Henry, becoming a major producer of art pottery and commemorative pieces. During the 1840s, the company also found success in the manufacture of sewage pipes and other industrial ceramics. In 1877, Dalton & Co. took over the Nile Street factory of Pinder Bourne in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent. By 1882 the factory was making bone china (porcelain containing bone ash) and Daltons had become a limited company.

In 1901, Dalton & Co. Ltd. received the Royal Warrant from King Edward VII. From then on, the "Royal Doulton" mark has been used on all the wares of the company. The first half of the 20th century saw the continued growth of the company's product range. The name "Royal Doulton" became synonymous with the finest English bone china.

The Lambeth factory closed down in 1956 due to new clean air regulations that prevented the production of salt glaze in the urban environment. Following the closure all work was transferred to Burslem.

In 2006, Doultons was taken over by Waterford Wedgwood. The company continues to manufacture fine bone china and Royal Dalton Lambethware, however the future of the business is unclear following the acquisition of Waterford Wedgwood by KPS Capital Partners in 2009.

Royal Doulton China

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Condé Nast Publications Ltd.

Condé Nast Publications is the world's leading publisher of upmarket glossy magazines. It currently produces 18 consumer magazines, including G.Q., The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and Vogue. The company is largely considered to be the originator of the "lifestyle magazine", a type of magazine focused on a particular class or interest, rather than targeting the largest possible readership. Its magazines focus on a wide range of subjects, including travel, food, home, and culture.

Condé Montrose Nast launched his magazine empire in New York in 1909 with the purchase of Vogue magazine. At first the magazine was published under the Vogue company name as Condé Nast Publications was not established until 1923.

Nast introduced British Vogue in 1916, making him the first publisher of an overseas edition of an existing magazine. Condé Nast Publications opened its UK office in 1927.

The company currently does not publish any magazines in the UK but is primarily concerned with producing web sites for various magazines such as,, and

Condé Montrose Nast (1873 - 1942)

by Mark Matlach

Cavendish House Co. Ltd.

Cavendish House is the most prominent department store in the town of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. It is the oldest department store in the town and its establishment was of great significance for Cheltenham's future reputation as a leading shopping centre.

Thomas Clark and William Debenham opened a small drapery shop close to Cavendish Square in London in 1813. The shop was later renamed Cavendish House and, as trade grew, the two partners expanded the business by opening a branch store in Cheltenham. The new shop sold a selection of silks, muslins, shawls, gloves, and lace.

The Cheltenham shop was extended and refurbished in 1844. By 1872 the store occupied a large site, with showrooms offering more than twenty departments and extensive workrooms to the rear. In 1883 Cavendish House Ltd. was registered as a limited liability company to acquire the Cheltenham business. A new frontage of plate glass was erected and in 1898 electric lighting was installed throughout the store. Cavendish House cultivated an air of exclusivity; uniformed concierges patrolled the main entrance who kept "undesirables" from entering the premises. The department store also boasted a food hall which became famous for its wide range of delicatessan items.

In 1928 the company was taken over by Standard Industrial Trust and, in 1931, the Cheltenham premises were entirely refurbished, creating a huge store of over 163,000 square feet. In 1962 Cavendish House Co. Ltd. was acquired by J. J. Allan Ltd., a department store in Bournemouth. J. J. Allan Ltd. was acquired by the House of Fraser group in 1970.

Cavendish House used a rubber handstamp of the company name as a security endorsement for its stamps. I have only seen the handstamp on SG 488, though there are two different styles.

by Mark Matlach

Hedges & Butler

Hedges & Butler was one of the oldest wine merchants in England, established in 1667 during the reign of Charles II by Edmund Harris at the Strand in London.

The company initially operated as a grocery business, but soon expanded into a magnificent emporium that sold fine wines, spirits, liqueurs, condiments, and Russian Caviar. Hedges & Butler was owned continuously by family members, and in 1819 William Hedges relocated the company to Regent Street. On 19th July 1821, Hedges & Butler supplied champagne, port and fine wines for the Coronation dinner and banquet of King George IV.The company's first major development occurred when when it was granted a Royal Warrant by King William IV in 1830. Since then, Hedges & Butler was an official supplier to successive monarchs, both British and foreign, including Queen Victoria, the King and Queen of Spain, Edward VII, the Emporer of Japan, the King of Portugal, George V and George VI.

Hedges & Butler was acquired by the Bass Charrington Group in the 1960s. The Hedges & Butler brand name has been owned by Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd. since 1998.

Pictorial Advertisement 1891

Despite the company's long history, Hedges & Butler used commercial overprints only in the Victorian period.

by Mark Matlach