Sunday, July 29, 2012

Richard Dickeson & Co. Ltd.

In the 1840s Richard Dickeson took over a long-established wholesale grocery business in Market Lane, Dover. Under Dickeson's leadership the company grew into a massive commercial empire, becoming victuallers to the British Army and Navy, tea and coffee blenders, and grocery merchants and exporters.

In 1850 Richard Dickeson & Co. won a contract to supply the British Army with food and was soon operating over a hundred regimental grocery stores, as well as  becoming the sole agent to the War Office for pipeclay. The company had warehouses in London, Aldershot, Dublin, Plymouth, Pretoria and Gibraltar.

Richard Dickeson was mayor of Dover in the 1870s and  was knighted in 1884 for his public service. Sir Richard died in 1900 but his company continued until at least 1914.

by Mark Matlach

ACS & H Crowley

In 1821, Abraham Crowley and his sons, Charles Sedgefield and Henry, purchased a brewery in Turk Street, Alton. Alton was a town renowned for its beer at this time. It lay in the heart of the Hampshire barley belt and the high quality of the water in the town helped the local brewers to produce the pale ales that were so popular in the 19th century.

ACS & H Crowley enlarged the brewery and set about increasing its customer base with "Alton ale shops" opening as far away as London. The ale shops were hugely successful in offering a glass of beer and beef or ham sandwich for 4d, essentially inventing the pub lunch.
ACS & H Crowley later became Crowley & Co. In 1877 Crowley & Co. was acquired by J. & H. Burrell who continued trading under the Crowley name. In 1947 the brewery was taken over by Watney, Combe, Reid & Co.

by Mark Matlach

W. J. Rogers Ltd.

W. J. Rogers Ltd. was a brewing company established in 1845 at Jacob Street in Bristol. The brewery made pale ales and stouts which, in 1891, were sold in 25 tied houses in Gloucestershire. W. J. Rogers was acquired by a brewery from Reading called H. & G. Simonds Ltd. in 1935 and ceased brewing in 1952. The site of the Jacob Street brewery is now occupied by the offices of the Bristol Evening Post.

W. J. Roger's brewery c 1889 showing the “double-drop” system of fermentation. The beer is first fermented in the upper tuns for 12 to 16 hours then dropped into the pontos below to continue fermentation.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, July 22, 2012

M. M. & Co. (Mullens, Marshall & Co.)

For two hundred years from the appointment of Benjamin Cole as the first Government Broker in July 1786, the senior partner of the firm of Mullens and Company, stockbrokers, acted as Government Stockbroker.

The formal title assigned to the Senior Partner of the firm was "Broker to the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt". During this period the firm was one of the leading City stockbrokers, enjoying close relations with the Bank of England and the Stock Exchange in relation to its activities in the gilt-edged market. It also had a number of private clients.

Mullens and Company remained a partnership except for a brief period from 1949 when, for tax reasons, it converted into a private unlimited company in common with other Stock Exchange firms.

Mullens and Company traded under a variety of names, 1786-1810, and under the following names from 1810 onwards:
  • Templeman, Cole and Ede, 1810-1811
  • Cole Jnr and Child,  1811-1813
  • Templeman, Cole Jnr and Child, 1813-1820
  • Cole and Child , 1820-1825
  • Templeman, Cole and Child, 1825-1829
  • Cole and Child 1829-1831
  • Cole and Mullens, 1831-1843
  • Mullens and Marshall, 1843-1846
  • Mullens, Marshall and Daniell, 1846-1877
  • Mullens, Marshall and Company, 1877-1921
  • Mullens, Marshall, Steer Lawford and Company, 1921-1935
  • Mullens and Company, 1935-1986.
In April 1986 Mullens and Company was taken over by the merchant bank SG Warburg, and ceased to exist.

by Paul Green

Bryant and May

A partnership was formed in 1843 between two Quakers, Francis May and William Bryant, to establish a Provisions Merchants business in Tooley Street, London. In 1850 they started importing Swedish matches, produced by Carl and Johan Lündström. Their first order was for 10 or 15 cases of 720,000 matches (each case held 50 gross boxes, with a box holding 100 matches). The next order was for 50 cases; and later orders for 500 cases. This partnership was successful, so Francis May and William Bryant decided to merge the partnership with Bryant's company, Bryant and James, which was based in Plymouth. By 1853 Bryant and May were selling over 8 million boxes of matches per year; which was approximately 50% of the output of the Lundström brothers.

The company, Bryant and May, was founded with the specific aim of making only Safety Matches. They were influential in fighting against the dreadful disease known as Phossy jaw which was caused by white phosphorus used in the manufacture of the early matches.

They started production in 1861, on a dilapidated site in Bow which had once been used for the manufacture of candles, crinoline and rope. This site was gradually expanded as a model factory.

However the public were initially unwilling to buy the more expensive safety matches so they also had to make the traditional Lucifer Matches.

They were the target of the London match-girls strike of 1888, which won important improvements in working conditions and pay for the mostly female workforce.

To protect its position Bryant and May merged with or took over its rivals. These were:
  • Diamond Match, the assets and goodwill of the British Diamond Match Company
  • The (American) Diamond Match Company acquired 54.5 percent of the share capital of Bryant and May.
  • S.J.Moreland and Sons: In 1913 Bryant and May took over the Gloucester match maker S.J.Moreland and Sons, who made and sold matches under the trade name England's Glory.
  • Swedish Match Company, In 1926 Bryant and May combined with a British match importer and the Swedish Match Company to become the British Match Corporation.
  • Albright and Wilson, In 1929 the British Match Corporation set up a jointly-owned company with another Quaker company Albright and Wilson: The A & W Match Phosphorus Company. It took over the part of Albright and Wilson's Oldbury site, that was manufacturing amorphous phosphorus and phosphorus sesquisulfide; as these two chemicals were used in safety matches and strike anywhere matches, respectively.
  • Wilkinson Sword, In 1973 the British Match Corporation merged with Wilkinson Sword to form the new company Wilkinson Match.

Wilkinson Match's shares were acquired by US company Allegheny International between 1978 and 1980 with the company taking full ownership in 1980. In 1987, Swedish Match re-acquired the company. It later sold onto the Wilkinson Sword business, retaining the match business.

In the 1980s, factories in Gloucester and Glasgow closed leaving Liverpool as the last match factory in the UK. This continued until December 1994. The premises survive today as The Matchworks office complex.

The British match brands continue to survive as brands of Swedish Match and are made outside the UK.

by Paul Green

Sunday, July 15, 2012

H. B. S. (Halifax Building Society)

 The Halifax was formed in 1853 as The Halifax Permanent Benefit Building and Investment Society. The idea was thought up in a meeting room situated above The Old Cock Inn close to the original Building Society building. Like all early building societies, the purpose of the society was for the mutual benefit of local working people. Investors with surplus cash would invest in the society to receive interest, and borrowers could access loans to fund the purchase of a house.

Unlike many British building societies which grew large by acquisitions and mergers, the Society choose an organic form of growth, and proceeded to open branches throughout the UK. By 1913, it was the largest building society in the UK. The first office in London opened in 1924; and the first offices in Scotland in 1928.

In 1928, it merged with Halifax Equitable Building Society, then the second largest building society and was renamed Halifax Building Society. The Society was now five times larger than its nearest rival, with assets of £47 million.

A new Head Office was built at Trinity Road, Halifax in 1973. The distinctive diamond shaped building was used on marketing material during the 1980s and 90s. Underneath the building is a specially constructed deedstore which is used to store property deeds for a one off charge of £10. It is computerised and filled with foam to prevent fire. Its importance has diminished in recent years because property data is now kept on a central database kept by Her Majesty's Land Registry.

The Society continued to grow in size throughout the 20th century, remaining the UK's largest building society. The deregulation of the financial services industry in the 1980s saw the passing of the Building Societies Act 1986 which allowed societies greater financial freedoms, and diversification into other markets. Accordingly the Halifax acquired an estate agent to complement its mortgage business. It also expanded by offering current accounts and credit cards, traditionally services offered by commercial banks.

In 1995, the Halifax announced it was to merge with the Leeds Permanent Building Society and convert to a plc. The Halifax floated on the London Stock Exchange on 2 June 1997. Over 7.5 million customers of the Society became shareholders of the new bank, the largest extension of shareholders in UK history.

In 2001, a wave of consolidation in the UK banking market led Halifax to agree a £10.8 billion merger with the Bank of Scotland. The new group was named Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) with headquarters in Edinburgh, and retained both Halifax and the Bank of Scotland as brand names.

In 2006, the HBOS Group Reorganisation Act 2006 was passed. The aim of the Act was to simplify the corporate structure of HBOS. The Act was fully implemented on 17 September 2007 and the assets and liabilities of Halifax plc transferred to Bank of Scotland plc. The Halifax brand name was to be retained as a trading name, but it no longer exists as a legal entity.

HBOS was acquired by the Lloyds Banking Group in January 2009 amid falling share price and speculation as to its future. Bank of Scotland plc (including its brands such as Halifax) became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Group.

by Paul Green

A & D C S (Aberdare and District Co-operative Society Limited)

The Aberdare and District Co-operative Society was an amalgamation of several societies in the Aberdare Valley. These societies had originally been in competition with one another. Cwmbach Co-operative Society in 1860 was the first co-operative society to be set up in Wales; Trecynon Co-operative Soceity was established in 1865 followed by the Aberdare Co-operative Society in 1869.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was Cwmbach that was the dominant society in the valley; however, the larger societies in South Wales were particularly badly hit by the depression of 1921 and suffered huge reductions in trade and losses in member numbers. Cwmbach society was greatly affected and matters were made worse for it with the amalgamation of the Aberdare and Trecynon societies in 1924. The end result was the amalgamation of the Aberdare and Cwmbach societies in 1927. Annual sales for the amalgamated society later became higher than for any other Welsh co-operative society and in 1929 Aneurin Davies the Secretary and Executive Officer of the Aberdare and District Co-operative Society was elected as a Director of the Co-operative Wholesale Society, a national body.

The threat of the trend from the 1960s for out-of-town superstores led to the Aberdare and District Co-operative Society transfering its engagements to Co-operative Retail Services Limited in 1988. The CRS reduced the number of local autonomous societies and concentrated on forming large regional societies to cope with the threat.

by Paul Green

A. & H. Ltd. (Allen and Hanburys Ltd.)

Allen and Hanburys Ltd. was founded in 1715 in Old Plough Court, Lombard Street, London, by Silvanus Bevan, a Welshman, apothecary, and Quaker. Bevan and his brother, Timothy, who became his partner and later succeeded him, were known for their just dealings and the integrity and quality of their drugs. The company grew in to a respected pharmaceutical centre and had established a strong reputation with American doctors by the late 18th century. The West Indies was also an important destination for their products.

William Allen, FRS, also a Quaker, and a well known scientist, joined the firm in 1792 and rose quickly to become the dominant personality. His second wife was a member of the Hanbury family - who had produced several learned scientists. On Allen's death, the Hanbury family assumed control of the company.

Daniel Hanbury, FRS a pharmacologist, and also a partner, was instrumental in making the name of Allen and Hanburys still more well known due to his correspondence with scientists all over the world.

Growth of the company was continuous, but it was in the second part of the 19th century that developments on a large scale took place. Factories were built at Ware, Hertfordshire, and Bethnal Green in East London.

Allenburys claimed to be pioneers in Great Britain in the production of pastilles, and thus the Ware factory also produced Allenburys Glycerine and Black Currant Pastilles, amongst another 80 different kinds of medicated and crystallized pastilles.

Malt preparations and malt extract were also made at Ware, including "Byno" preparations, malt extract with cod liver oil. Some appeared under the name of Allenburys Bynol, Torch, Brand Malt and Oil, often specially packed for chemists and other dealers bearing their own name and address.

Allen and Hanburys was one of the first manufacturers of Cod Liver Oil in Great Britain, and owned factories in the Lofoten Islands (Norway) as well as at Hull and Aberdeen taking cod directly from the North Sea.

The Bethnal Green factory carried much of the administrative and scientific side of the business. This included research, analytical control, chemistry, pharmacy and pharmacology. The Bethnal Green plant also produced surgical instruments, mainly in stainless steel, and included "Barts" operating tables. The company had overseas branches in Lindsay, Ontario, Durban, India, Shanghai, Australia and Buenos Aires, and agencies in many other countries. The Company address was for many years at 37, Lombard Street, London EC.

Allen & Hanburys launched the first selective B2-receptor agonist, Ventolin (that is,  salbutamol), in 1968. The drug was an instant success, and has been used to treat asthma ever since.

by Paul Green

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hobday Brothers Ltd.

Hobday Brothers Ltd. was a wholesaler of bicycle, motorcycle and motor car accessories, established in Shoreditch, London in 1905. Hobdays' trade catologue of 1950 shows that the company's product range had expanded to include electrical equipment, domestic appliances, clocks, and lighting. The company also had branches in Manchester, Sheffield, Wolverhampton, and Southend at this time.

The business continued until at least the late 1950s, however the Shoreditch premises are now occupied by a cinema equipment supplier.

Advertisement, 1956

I have seen only the Hobday overprint on the stamp issue shown in the scan.

by Mark Matlach

Pocock Brothers Ltd.

Pocock Brothers Ltd. were boot and shoe manufacturers and retailers in London from 1890. The business was originally established by John Joseph Pocock. Pocock's son Philip joined the company in 1873. When Philip's brother John joined the firm in 1890, Pocock senior retired and the two brothers took control of the business. In 1892 Pocock Brothers had a contract to supply the Metropolitan Police with boots. The company also manufactured footwear for men, women and children, marching boots, mosquito boots for tropical countries and sports footwear including football boots and riding boots. In addition to their shops in London, Pocock Brothers had a number of retail outlets in south east England including shops in Brighton and Sutton. The company traded until at least the 1950s.

Advertisement, 1890

Pocock overprints also appear on George VI (SG 488) and Queen Elizabeth (SG 573) stamps.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, July 1, 2012

R. W. Kennard & Co.

R. W. Kennard & Co. was a manufacturer of cast iron goods such as fireplaces, stove grates, and boilers. The company was established in c.1840 by Robert William Kennard at 67 Upper Thames Street in London.

Robert William Kennard had access to large sums of money through his family's banking connections and he became a prominent figure in Victorian Britain's iron and steel industries. Having invested in the Falkirk Iron Co. in 1830, Kennard formed the Blaenavon Coal & Iron Co. in 1836. He became a significant financier during the railway boom of the 1830s and made his fortune as a director of one of the largest groups promoting railroads in Belgium and France. Kennard went into politics in the 1850s, becoming MP for Newport, Isle of Wight, in 1856. He died in 1870 at the age of seventy-three.

by Mark Matlach

The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge

The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge is an Anglican mission agency, founded in 1698 by an Anglican priest called Thomas Bray and a small group of friends. The SPCK is a registered charity in the UK. As a voluntary society, the SPCK has subscribing members who elect a Governing Body of trustees who determine and oversee the implementation of the Society's objectives and policies.

Thomas Bray

The primary concern of the Society's founders was to “counteract the growth of vice and immorality”, which they felt could be best tackled through encouraging education and the production and distribution of Christian literature. Over the years the SPCK has distributed over 30 million books and has provided the means for translating the Book of Common Prayer into more than 200 languages. Throughout the 18th century the SPCK was by far the largest producer of Christian literature in Britain. The range of its output was considerable – from pamphlets aimed at specific groups such as farmers, prisoners and soldiers, exhorting them to improve their way of life, to more general works on subjects such as baptism, Holy Communion and private devotion.

The SPCK currently produces around 80 titles a year. Books range from the academic to the popular, from devotional literature and works on spirituality to books addressing contemporary issues in the Church and society.

I have seen the SPCK overprint only on the 1d Lilac stamp issue, as shown in the scan.

by Mark Matlach

Spreckley, White & Lewis

Spreckley, White, & Lewis was a textiles manufacturer and wholesaler established in London by Thomas Freer Spreckley, Samuel White, and William Lewis. The company's main warehouse was at 13-15 Cannon Street and in the 1850's the business was described as being one of the best-known textile firms in the City.

Apart from the stamp shown (SG172), Spreckley overprints have  been noted on the George V 1d red (SG357), although both seem to be very scarce and hard to find.  

Thomas Freer Spreckley

by Mark Matlach