Sunday, September 29, 2013

P. B. Cow & Co.

In 1850 a draper named Peter Brusey Cow purchased a rubber manufacturing company in Deptford in south east London. The business was renamed P. B. Cow & Co. and continued to make rubber products. In 1851 the company was the first to introduce waterproof tweed commercially and the firm won an award at the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace. P. B. Cow & Co. prospered and expanded, moving to larger premises in Streatham in 1857. The company manufactured a wide range of rubber goods from hot water bottles and sink plugs to diving suits.

In 1936 P. B. Cow & Co. created the Li-Lo inflatable air-bed. By the 1940s the company was one of the largest manufacturers of air-sea rescue equipment, which led to the formation of the Goldfish Club. During the Second World War, the company heard from a number of aircraft crew who had been rescued in P. B. Cow dinghies after ditching in water. The club was set up and backed financially by P. B. Cow so that members could exchange experiences. There were over 9,000 members by the end of the war and although the company's direct link to the club ended in 1947, the Goldfish Club is still going strong today.

In 1946 the business became a limited company and in 1971 P. B. Cow & Co. Ltd. was acquired by the Allied Polymer Group.

by Mark Matlach

Shipping Gazette and Lloyd's List

Lloyd's List is one of the world's oldest continuously running journals, having provided weekly shipping news in London as early as 1734.

The publication was begun by Edward Lloyd who was the proprieter of Lloyd's Coffee House in the City of London. The coffee house was a popular place for sailors, merchants, insurance underwriters and shipowners, and Lloyd catered to them with reliable shipping news. In 1734 Lloyd began the publication of The List; a reliable but terse source of information for his customers about shipping movements, however it was not until the mid-19th century that Lloyd's List came into its own.

A competitor to Lloyd's List was the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, which was certainly active in the 1830s. Whilst Lloyd's List dealt very much with day-to-day shipping conditions, the Shipping Gazette was a newspaper in the normal understanding. Major happenings within the shipping industry were commented on including events about vessels and crews. The two publications were merged in 1884 resulting in the Shipping Gazette and Lloyd's List.

In 1914 ownership of the publication was transferred to the Corporation of Lloyds and it became the Lloyd's List. In 1973 it was transferred to a division of the company, Lloyds of London Press Ltd., which became LLP Ltd. in 1995. In 1998 LLP merged with IBC Group plc to form Informa plc, which continues to edit and publish Lloyd's List at Mortimer Street in London.

Lloyd's List is currently published daily--a recent issue in 2013 was numbered 60,850. The circulation is now international, both paper and web-based. As well as shipping news, Lloyd's List today covers marine insurance, offshore energy, logistics, global trade and law.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, September 22, 2013

S. B. B. S. A., Ld. (Standard Bank of British South Africa Limited)

The Standard Bank of British South Africa Ltd. was a British overseas bank, formed in London in 1862 by a group of South African businessmen. The bank started operations in 1863 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It was prominent in financing and development of the diamond fields of Kimberley in 1867. The word British was dropped from the title in 1883. When gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand, the bank expanded northwards and on 11th October 1886 the bank started doing business in a tent at Ferreira's Camp, thus becoming the first bank to open a branch on the Witwatersrand gold fields.

For the next 50 years Standard Bank of South Africa opened offices across Africa although some of them were unsustainable and subsequently had to be closed. By the mid-1960s the bank had around 600 branches in Africa.

In 1962 the bank was renamed Standard Bank Limited. In 1965 it merged with the Bank of West Africa, expanding its operations into Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. In 1969 a further merger took place, with Chartered Bank of India, Australia & China, and the combined bank became known as Standard Chartered Bank. Today, Standard Chartered Bank operates a network of over 1,700 branches across 70 countries and employs around 87,000 people.
Standard Bank of British South Africa,
Kimberley, South Africa

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, September 15, 2013

T. Meadows & Co.

Thomas Meadows & Co. was established in London in 1836, making it one of the earliest freight companies in Europe. The advent of reliable rail transport and steamships had created demand for the fledgling freight forwarding industry as new trade patterns developed between Europe and North America.

Meadows continued in the freight business until 1989 when the company was acquired by Rockwood International Freight. In 1990 Rockwood was taken over by Delmar of Canada.
Advertisement, 1905

by Mark Matlach

Allen, Solly & Co.

Allen, Solly & Co. was a hosiery manufacturer established in  Nottingham in 1832. Initially the company used the “domestic system” to make their products, whereby workers (called stockingers) were supplied with a loom, raw materials (cotton, silk or wool), and would work at home. The finished products would then be collected and sold. By  the 1850s, Allen, Solly & Co. had gained a reputation for fine quality hosiery. The company was exporting its merchandise to all the principal European countries and boasted of having members of Royal Families, Indian Princes and Presidents of the United States as loyal customers.

As business increased, the domestic system was proving to be an uneconomic method of production. Consequently in 1860, the company built its first factory in Godalming, Surrey. In 1888 a purpose-built factory was established on the outskirts of Arnold, a village near Nottingham. Although Allen Solly engaged in most branches of fully fashioned knitwear, the company began to specialize in 6 and 3 rib hose and half hose. It was to this that the firm owed the greater part of its success and reputation.

In the 1940s and 50s Allen, Solly & Co. was described as a specialist in luxury knitted goods and manufacturer of socks and underwear. In the 1960s the company became part of Coats Viyella and in the 1990s the business was taken over by an Indian company called Madura Garments. Today, Allen Solly is just a brand and production is based in India. The factory in Arnold has been partially dismantled and what remains is used by a number of small businesses. The original knitting room is classified as a heritage building.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Thresher & Glenny

Thresher & Glenny, founded in 1683, is one of the world's oldest surviving tailors, shirt makers and outfitters. The company has held Royal Warrants since the late 18th century and makes court attire, and bespoke and ready-for-service gentlemen's garments including suits, jackets, shirts and ties. Today, the company trades through a retail outlet at 2 Middle Temple Lane in London.

The business began as a bodice-making company near the Inns of Court in London in 1683. The firm traded as Newham & Binham in 1768 and by 1777 it was known as Newham & Thresher. By 1784 the business was taken over by Richard Thresher and became official hosier to George III. In 1827 the head of the company was John Thresher who described himself as “hosier, glover and flannel draper to His Majesty”. In 1901 the firm traded as Henry John Glenny “Indian and Colonial Outfitter.” The Thresher and Glenny partnership was cemented by marriage over several generations, through which the Glenny name became predomonant. The last family member involved in the firm, Henry Glenny died in 1936, by which time the company had extended its operations to Clifford Street, Savile Row, Conduit Street, Mayfair and Gracechurch Street.

Military, naval and colonial officers made up a large part of the company's clientele at the height of the British Empire, and a number of specialist items were developed for their specific needs, including “Indian Gauze waistcoats”,  overland trunks for journeys to India, and trenchcoats designed for British army officers in the First World War.

by Mark Matlach