Sunday, June 24, 2012

P. & W. MacLellan Limited

The origins of P. & W. MacLellan Ltd. date to 1805 when Donald and Humphrey MacLellan opened a hardware shop at 178 Saltmarket, Glasgow. The partnership was short-lived and in 1809 Donald set up on his own at 5 The Trongate, as Donald MacLellan, hardware merchant, specialising in supplying pedlars.

When Donald retired in 1839, he passed on the business to his nephews Peter and Walter. The company became P.& W. MacLellan. The firm began to diversify and manufacture its own products. In the Glasgow directory of 1846, P. & W. MacLellan advertised as ironmongers, smiths, gasfitters, and bellhangers. The company began iron merchanting in 1848 and started making iron bridges. Construction of the firm's first bridge across Glasgow's River Clyde started in January 1851 and was completed in June 1852.

Around 1852, MacLellans converted their works into an iron warehouse and purchased premises at 10 Adelphi Street in Kinning Park, Glasgow. They named their premises the Clutha Iron Works. In 1865 the company purchased the Clydesdale Foundry in Paisley Road. In 1890 the business became P. & W. MacLellans Limited. The company was now one of Scotland's most significant businesses, employing over 3000 people.

During the First World War, the Clutha Works were given over to munitions production and producing steel wagons and tracks for transporting goods to the Front. Following the war the business expanded, taking over the Forth Shipbreaking Yard in Falkirk, but the company was hit hard by the recession of the 1920s, the Clutha works only remaining open by accepting contracts at virtually cost price.

The Second World War saw MacLellans producing more munitions for the war effort and the building of landing craft at the Clutha Works. The company continued to grow after the war; pipework was supplied to various hydro-electric schemes in Scotland along with overseas bridge building contracts and repair work to war-damaged factories.

Competition with Japanese and German iron and steel producers meant that P. & W. MacLellan Ltd. began to suffer severe losses from the 1960s. Although the late 1970s saw the company back in profit, demand for fabricated goods was weak and the Clutha Works closed down in 1980. The company concentrated on supplying fastenings to the building and engineering trades. In 1997, P. & W. MacLellan Ltd. became Haden MacLellan Holdings Ltd., changing its name to Infant plc in 2000.

P. & W. MacLellan was an early user of commercial overprints; they can be found on 1d Inland Revenue stamps (type of 1868-1881) and the 1881 1d Lilac stamps.
by Mark Matlach

The Blanefield Printing Company

 The Blanefield Printing Company was located in Strathblane, a small village in Stirlingshire, Scotland. The printing trade in Strathblane began in 1790, and by the 1850s the calico printworks employed around 400 people including 50 children. Employees worked 10 to 11 hours a day, 6 days a week. The Blanefield works had both machine and block printing. There was a dye house, a warehouse, a bleaching department and a drying department. The printworks had its own store and employees were expected to purchase all their groceries there. A man was posted at the gate house to see if any employee went into the shop opposite the factory, and if so they were fined. If times were hard at the printworks, the employees would be paid in goods obtained from the printworks store, thus tying them further to the company.

The Blanefield Printing Company 1880s

The Blanefield Printing Company was acquired by a syndicate of calico printers in 1898. The printworks was deemed unprofitable and promptly closed down. By 1910 the demolition of the works was practically complete and the population of Strathblane had fallen dramatically with a large number of houses left abandoned. No sign of the printing industry remains today.

by Mark Matlach

Thomas Borthwick & Sons Ltd.

Thomas Borthwick was a butcher from Edinburgh. In 1872 he invested his savings in chartering one of the new ships that had refrigerated holds and sailed to New Zealand. At that time, all the meat that was imported to the UK from New Zealand was transported pickled in brine. Upon his arrival in New Zealand, Borthwick bought mutton and lamb for a knock-down price, filled the refrigerated hold with the meat, and set sail for home. During the return voyage, the refrigeration broke down and the meat perished and had to be thrown overboard. The ship turned around and returned to New Zealand where another cargo of meat was loaded into the now repaired refrigerated hold. On returning to the UK, Borthwick made a large profit on the fresh frozen meat. This was the start of Borthwick's company which he went on to develop into a large meat wholesale and distributing business.

In 1892 Thomas Borthwick moved his company to London. In 1895 his sons became partners in the company, which took the name Thomas Borthwick & Sons Ltd. in 1904. The company went on to establish freezing works in New Zealand and Australia. Branch offices were established in Christchurch, Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Borthwicks also had several ranches in New Zealand and Australia and practically controlled the trade from the livestock market in Australia to Britain.

Today Thomas Borthwick & Sons Ltd. continues in Australia as a leading meat processing company which exports its products worldwide.

Despite the long history of the company, I am unaware of any overprints on stamps other than the ones shown and SG 506a.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kearley & Tonge

Hudson Ewbanke Kearley, son of a master builder was born at Uxbridge, in the county of Middlesex, in the year 1856. Educated at Cranleigh, H. E. Kearley had intended to enter the Civil Service, but failing to pass the necessary examination, he began a commercial career with a firm of coffee merchants in Fenchurch Street, London, on the 1st January, 1872.In September of the same year, he obtained a job with E. Tetley & Sons, Tea Merchants, of Mincing Lane. After experience in their office and sale room, he became, as he said, "a full-blown traveler of the firm" in the summer of 1874

About that time the main ideas upon which he subsequently based his commercial policy began to take shape in the mind of this astute and enterprising young man. He felt that "middlemen" had too large a part in the general scheme of distribution and that consumers would benefit by a method of direct supply. He noticed also while traveling in tea for Tetleys that--to use his own words--"there were a multitude of small shopkeepers who would have sold tea if they could get it. They could not, however, get it from the regular wholesalers like Tetleys, because they did not place big enough orders."

While still at Tetleys, he started to sell tea on his own account to small retailers, under an arrangement he made with Tetleys to purchase all his supplies from them. Thus began "Kearley & Company." It proved so successful that in 1876 a Mr. Heseltine, an influential member of Tetleys, offered to put money into the enterprise. That offer was accepted, a deed of partnership was executed, Kearley left Tetleys, and transfered "Kearley & Co., "to a poky little office at 10 Sparrow Corner, Minories, London, with a staff of two, a man and a boy--the man being Mr. H. J. Evans, afterwards one of the three Governing Directors. Two years later the business moved to better premises in Crutched Friars, again, in 1881, to Bury Street, St. Mary Axe, and finally in 1884, to Mitre Square.

Such progress had been made that in 1880 Heseltine left Tetleys and became an active partner, when "Kearley & Co." became "Heseltine & Kearley". Soon afterwards, they were joined by Mr. G. A. Tonge who had been an apprentice at Tetleys. The business was carried on as "Heseltine, Kearley & Tonge" until 1887, when Heseltine retired and the style "Kearley & Tonge" was adopted.

The year 1878 saw the opening at Brentford of the first of the retail branches. Others quickly followed and it is recorded that from 1880 branch after branch was opened in town and country. The early branches traded under the name "International Tea Co." The price list dated 1st January 1889 which is the earliest on the files, shows that by that time there were 200 retail branches--a truly remarkable growth in approximately 10 years.
by Paul Green

Allied Industrial Services Ltd.

Initial Services Ltd. had its roots in an enterprise launched in 1903 to provide a linen rental supply service, a concept virtually unknown in Europe at that time.

The major development in the history of Initial occurred in 1968 when it merged with Allied Industrial Services Ltd., another company engaged in the textile maintenance industry. Their activities overlapped to some extent, but were broadly complementary.

Allied owed its origins to a business founded in 1864 to operate a laundry service collecting, washing and drying rags used for cleaning industrial machinery. In 1900 this enterprise merged with two other businesses and in 1914 the company commenced the manufacture of its own cloths. The company's services were diversified by the introduction of a cleaning cloth rental service, and in 1928 it entered the work wear rental business.

Allied was floated in 1934; the business continued to expand, and made several significant acquisitions, notably:
  • In 1958 the Scottish laundry group of A. Bell & Sons Ltd. was acquired with its laundry, dyeing and dry cleaning businesses and its interests in industrial and hotel linen supply services
  • In 1961 Allied purchased the cleaning cloth business of Saul D Harrison Ltd. in Rochdale
  • In 1962 General Industrial Cleaners Ltd, also in the workwear business, was acquired
  • In 1965 Allied purchased an interest in Metlex Industries Ltd., a manufacturer of bathroom equipment.

The merger of Initial Services and Allied formed a group of companies with assets of £26 million employing some 6,000 full-time and part-tune employees at 170 premises. It brought together major companies in complementary markets. Initial Services specialized in 'clean work' such as towels and coats while Allied dealt principally in 'dirty work' (boiler suits and cleaning cloths).

by Paul Green

Bobby & Co. Ltd.

Bobby were a well-known English department store with branches mainly along the South Coast with 'outposts' in Southport & Leamington - generally well-heeled towns. They used the poster artist Gregory Brown on many occasions during the 1920s and 1930s such as this 1923 Christmas poster.

Bobby's were founded in Margate in 1887 and were bought by Debenhams in 1927. The name vanished c1972.

The history of Debenhams starts with a business opened in Margate during 1887, when a Mr. F. J. Bobby bought an already established drapery store. In 1900 it became a limited company and expansion followed through the years with stores in Leamington Spa, Folkestone, Eastbourne, Torquay, Cliftonville, Bournemouth, and Exeter. In Exeter, it was the business run by Green and Son on the High Street that was taken over by Bobbys in 1922.

When Mr. Bobby retired in 1927, the business was sold to Debenhams and his son became chairman of the group. Branches were added in Southsea, Reading, Worthing, Worcester and Totnes. During 1937, considerable improvements were made to the building and they became the largest store in the High Street. A restaurant was added with an in-house orchestra that would play during dinner and tea.

by Paul Green

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Binns Ltd.

George Binns acquired Thomas Ellerby's draper's and haberdasher's store at 176 High Street, Bishop's Wearmouth, Sunderland, England, in 1811. After George Binns's death in 1836 the business passed to his eldest son, Henry Binns, and in 1865, when Henry retired the business passed on to his son Joseph John Binns, trading under the name of H. Binns, Son & Co. In October 1884, Joseph John Binns decided to move the business from the High Street to a residential thoroughfare at 38-39 Fawcett Street, Sunderland.

A limited liability company was incorporated on the 9 April 1897 under the name of H. Binns, Son & Co. Ltd. with registered offices at 39 Fawcett Street, Sunderland.

In 1922, H. Binns, Son & Co. Ltd. established the first branch of Binns on High Row, Darlington, England, when the business and premises of Arthur Sanders Ltd, department store, were purchased and developed. In 1922, Joseph John Binns died and was replaced by John Simpson as chairman of the company.

In 1923, Thomas Jones & Co, department store, Middlesborough, England, was acquired and, in 1924, the purchase of property from W J Reed enabled the company to develop the Fawcett Street premises in Sunderland. The expansion of H. Binns, Son & Co. Ltd. continued throughout the following years with the acquisition of Gray Peverell & Co. Ltd., department store, West Hartlepool, England, in 1926; Fowler & Brock Ltd, department store, South Shields, England, in 1927; James Coxon & Co. Ltd., department store, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, in 1929; F. Robinson & Co. Ltd., department store, with premises in Carlisle, Cumbria, England, and Dumfries, Scotland, in 1934, and Robert Maule & Son Ltd, drapers, Princes Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, also in 1934.

In 1934, the name of the company was changed to Binns Ltd and in 1948 the registered offices of the company were changed to 8/10 Holmeside, Sunderland.

In early 1953, a bid by House of Fraser Ltd, department store retailers, Glasgow, Scotland, was opposed by the board of directors of Binns Ltd, following a revaluation of the company's property. However, in April 1953 after a bitter takeover battle Binns Ltd became a subsidiary of House of Fraser Ltd with Hugh Fraser assuming the position of chairman. The registered offices of the company were changed in that year to 35/42 Fawcett Street, Sunderland.

By 2002, Binns Ltd was a non-trading company with registered offices at 1 Howick Place, London, England. In the same year five Binns stores were trading for House of Fraser Plc.

by Paul Green

E. J. & Co. (Edwin Jones & Co.)

 It was a humble beginning for Edwin Jones, a name that many Southampton people will still recall, who went on to become one of the south's most influential businessmen of his time.

Edwin Jones came from Romsey and opened a small single fronted shop in Southampton's East Street with his sister and a 12-year-old apprentice.

The date was 1860 and from the start Edwin proved himself to be a retailer with a keen eye and shortly he moved to larger premises in the same street.

Although bigger in size there was still little room for living space and so while his sister used the one bedroom over the shop, Edwin was forced to sleep on a small collapsible bed behind the counter every night.

The business continued to grow and soon he bought up the well known pub, The Blue Boar, to gain extra space for his shop.

After a failed attempt to buy a Wesleyan Chapel, even though he offered to build another one, he turned his attention to the property facing the parks; by 1880, he had demolished these and built a new shop, known as Queen's Buildings.

Edwin Jones went on to become mayor of Southampton in 1873 and again in 1875. A newspaper of the time recorded that he hosted a large fete for 12,000 local children and 6,000 other guests.

In 1890 he retired from the council and was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire but six years later Edwin Jones died, leaving behind a store, today called Debenham's, which was the largest and most important on the south coast.

by Paul Green

E.H. Booth & Co. Ltd.

Booths is a chain of supermarkets in Northern England. Most of its branches are located in Lancashire, but there are also branches in Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, North Yorkshire and West Yorkshire. Booths is targeted at the middle class market and competes on quality as opposed to just value. It has been developed on the motto "to sell the best quality goods in shops staffed by first class assistants".

E.H. Booth & Co. Ltd. was founded in June 1847 when 19-year-old tea dealer Edwin Henry Booth opened a shop called The China House in Blackpool. In 1863, he added the sale of wines and spirits, and branches were opened in Lytham in 1879 and Blackburn in 1884. Edwin's son John opened cafes in the stores in 1902 and invited all staff to become shareholders in 1920.

It has remained owned by the Booth family ever since, the current chairman being the fifth generation. It became a private limited company in 1896. From humble beginnings as a tea shop in Blackpool, Booths grew into the first chain of supermarkets in the area, and even though it has now been eclipsed by bigger supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury's, it boasted 29 stores across the region in 2011.

In 2006, Booths achieved second place in the list of the World's Greatest Food Retailers. The panel of top designers, architects, analysts, journalists, suppliers and retailers was brought together by national trade publication, The Grocer, and asked to rank their favorite food retailers from anywhere in the world. They were impressed by the quality of the company’s offer, its focus on local sourcing and head for innovation.

A new head office was custom built and opened in early 2006. It is in Ribbleton, Preston and includes a wealth of environmentally friendly features, such as using rainwater to flush the toilets.

In 2008, Booths and Waitrose, which share similar policies on food quality and customer service, formed a buying alliance allowing the companies to benefit from larger economies of scale.

Booths has largely concluded re-branding the company. This has involved replacing the former 'Booths the grocer' image, based on green and orange; with a newer look, based upon wine, lavender, olive and saffron colors.

This has included a new store logo, new uniforms, redesigned carrier bags, and new look packaging on products to incorporate the new colors.

by Paul Green

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cryselco Limited

 Cryselco Limited was established in 1895 to manufacture the then new concept of electric lamps (15 years after Thomas Edison had invented the light bulb) at premises in Kempston, Bedford. The main shareholders were the Deacon family.

The name is pronounced "Chris Elko" as it is taken from the original trading style of the CRYStal ELectric COmpany.

During the 1930s the Company had prospered so well that it was regarded as a monopoly by the Government and was split up and sold to two smaller rivals: Philips and General Electric Company (G.E.C.)

Lamp manufacturing continued at the Bedfordshire site until the late 1950s when production was transferred to other UK plants by the parent companies. Light fittings had been produced by Cryselco since the early 1950's and this became the main output of the Company up until 1988 when the 40 acre site that the Company occupied was sold for housing.

 The factory re-sited about a mile away to its current site (shown in the photographs here - the office features Cryselco's own FLY range lights) and continued to manufacture light fittings. In 1992 the Company was sold to a London financier who was building up a large lighting group.

Several Companies of this new group got into financial difficulties in 1993 and this lead to the collapse of the whole group. The Cryselco element had been trading profitably during this time and numerous offers were made to purchase Cryselco Lighting.

The assets of the Company were purchased by the landlords in December 1993 and the 17,000 square foot (1,600 square meter) property was subsequently transferred to the Company as an asset.

Cryselco continues to trade profitably and supplies the electrical wholesale trade with commercial light fittings. The light fittings produced by the Company have been specified by many well known Companies, including major Banks, many large high street retailers and Public bodies such as the Benefits Agency, Inland Revenue, and many schools and hospitals.

by Paul Green

Gibbs and Dandy Ltd.

 The company can trace its roots back to a time when Luton was a country town without a railway. The founders of the firm were not called either Gibbs or Dandy, but in fact were Frederick Brown and Joseph Green, who sold their ironmongery business in George Street to George Frederick Gibbs.

The first Dandys came on the scene in 1894 when the business was purchased by William and Percy Dandy. Mr Gibbs retired, but the Dandy brothers (who originally hailed from Peterborough) maintained the local connection by naming the newly-acquired business Gibbs and Dandy.

The brothers continued trading as a partnership until 1920 when a private limited company was formed. The company prospered, new premises were acquired in Luton and Dunstable and in July 1953 Gibbs and Dandy was floated on the Birmingham Stock Exchange.

In 1968 the company acquired Frederic Gale Ltd, a Bedford-based public company in the same line of business. Land was later acquired in Barker’s Lane, Bedford, to which this and other associated businesses were relocated in 1975. A new branch was opened in Northampton in 1985, specializing in decorating and electrical supplies.

Meanwhile Gibbs and Dandy had continued grow in Luton, with the result that it now had three sites in different parts of the town. This was clearly inefficient, and in 1987 these operations were consolidated onto a single 7-acre site in Dallow Road, which also became Head Office. It was a brave move that paid off and 3 years later the company was back on the acquisition trail, buying two branches in St Neots and St Ives (Cambs) from David Smith (St Ives) Ltd.

In 1996 the company’s foothold in Northampton was strengthened when it moved to larger premises in Heathfield Way, adopting a one-stop product profile which now included plumbing, heating, sanitary ware and heavy side.

In the following year came another acquisition, this time to the south of the company’s existing trading area, when it bought the two branches of Miller, Morris and Brooker Ltd in Slough and  Maidenhead. To further establish its presence in the Thames Valley, Gibbs and Dandy acquired Elliott & Co (Henley) Ltd. in January 2002.

The company then strengthened its position in Northamptonshire by acquiring Brackley Timber & Joinery in December 2004 and Timber Force UK, Kettering in August 2005. It moved into Leicestershire when it acquired Carson Fletcher Timber in Market Harborough in 2007 and added a further branch in the county when it took control of EP Builders’ Merchants, South Wigston in 2009.

by Paul Green

The Imperial Bank Limited

The Imperial Bank Limited was based at 6 Lothbury, London. Formed in 1862, it closed in 1893.

The following article was published in The London Gazette January 6th 1893:

At an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Members of the said Company, duly convened, and held at the Offices of the Bank, 6, Lothbury, London, E.G., on the 20th December, 1892, the following Special Resolution was duly passed; and at a subsequent Extraordinary General Meeting of the said Company, also duly convened, and held at the same place on the 5th day of January, 1893, the following Special Resolution was duly confirmed :—

That it is desirable to amalgamate the business of the Imperial Bank Limited, with that of the London Joint Stock Bank Limited, and accordingly, that the Imperial Bank Limited, be wound up voluntarily, and that Alfred Brown, James Dickson, and Edmund Theodore Doxat, be and they are hereby appointed Liquidators thereof, with power to any two of them to exercise all the powers of such Liquidators, 'and be and they are hereby authorized to enter into an agreement with the London Joint Stock Bank Limited, in the terms of the draft submitted to this Meeting, and to carry the same into effect with such (if any) modifications as they may approve, and generally to exercise for the purpose aforesaid all the powers vested in them by clause 133 of the Companies Act of 1862, and all or any powers capable of being vested in them by virtue of clauses 159, 160, and 161 of the said Act, and with full power to sanction the continuance of the powers of the directors of the Imperial Bank Limited, to such extent as the Liquidators may consider expedient.

Dated the 5th day of January, 1893.

J. DICKSON, Chairman

by Paul Green