Sunday, January 26, 2014

Aspro Limited

The outbreak of the First World War caused the supply of aspirin from Germany to Australia to be cut off. In 1915 the Australian government announced an initiative to develop an alternative to aspirin, stating that German patents and trademarks would be suspended and then granted to any home-based manufacturer who would meet the required standards of purity.

response to the government scheme, a Melbourne pharmacist called George Nicholas, and an industrialist called Henry Woolf, developed a new product which was initially branded as Nicholas-Aspirin. George soon realised that the name Aspirin could be reclaimed by German company Bayer after the war. In 1917 he adopted and registered the name Aspro for his product. Production of Aspro tablets began in Australia in 1917 and in 1923 manufacturing was also commenced in New Zealand.

In 1927, Aspro Limited was established in the UK to produce and market Aspro tablets in the UK and around Europe. A factory was set up in Slough, Berkshire and the first UK Aspro tablets came off the production line in August 1927. By November UK sales were ahead of Australia. The 1927 winter flu epidemic in the UK increased demand by an extra 12 million tablets a week.

A new factory was built in Slough in 1958 and Aspro Ltd. diversified into the production of vitamin supplements, veterinary products and pharmaceuticals. In 1969 the company was acquired by Nicholas Australia Ltd which became Nicholas International in 1970. In 1981 the business was merged with Kiwi International Ltd.

by Mark Matlach

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Robert Varvill

The Varvill family were a major player in the plane and tool making industry of 19th century England. The company was established in 1793 in York by Michael Varvill as a woodworking tools business. By 1829 the firm was known as M. Varvill & Sons. In 1840 Michael's son, Summers Varvill, took control of the family business and moved it to the Ebor Works, North Street, York. Summers died in 1862 and his brother Robert Varvill took over the running of the firm. At this time the company was described as a manufacturer of planes, files, joiner's tools, gimblets and a wholesale dealer in ironmongery. The tools made by the Varvills are still for sale today, albeit in antique rather than joinery shops.

Varvill 1/4" grooving moulding plane

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, January 5, 2014

R. E. Davies Landport Drapery Bazaar

Robert Edmund Davies was a well-known and distinguished businessman in Portsmouth who was three times mayor of the city in the 1860s and 1870s. In 1870 Davies established a department store at Commercial Road, Portsmouth which he named the Landport Drapery Bazaar. The business grew to become one of the largest department stores in the city.

In 1908 the Landport Drapery Bazaar was destroyed by fire and subsequently rebuilt. In 1941 the department store took a direct hit from a German bomb leaving a gigantic crater on the site of the store. The Landport Drapery Bazaar was back in business in the 1950s as part of a newly built shopping centre. In 1965 the store was acquired by the United Drapery Group. In 1982 the company name was changed to Allders, and in 2005 the store was taken over by Debenhams.

Landport Drapery Bazaar

by Mark Matlach