A Catalogue of Victorian Island Industry

From the middle of the 19th century, the Isle of Dogs was the home of innovative and world-class companies, a status which changed by the end of the century when cheaper resources and labour became available elsewhere, chiefly in the north of England and in Scotland.

The Grace’s Guide to Britain’s Industrial Heritage, which rightfully describes itself as the ‘leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain’ includes extensive information on Island firms of note during Victoria’s reign. Unless otherwise specified, the information below is from Grace’s Guide. Notes in italics are my own.

James Ash & Co.

Cubitt Town

James Ash was a naval architect who previously worked for C. J. Mare, successors of Ditchburn & Mare of Blackwall who were among the first builders of iron ships in the area. Later, Ash opened his own shipyard in Cubitt Town.


James Ash Shipyard

John Bellamy

Tank and Boiler Makers
Byng Street


Binks Brothers

Rope Manufacturers
Strafford St.

Survey of London, Athlone Press:

The origins of Binks’s wire-rope and galvanizing works went back to the mid-1830s, when George Wright Binks was a foreman ropemaker at Woolwich Dockyard, experimenting in the use of soft iron wire instead of hemp. Binks’s work was connected with some of the pioneering wire-rope manufacture carried out by Andrew Smith & Company in Millwall from the late 1830s, and in about 1853 Binks went into partnership with James Stephenson in Millwall to make wire-rope. The partnership broke up around 1860, Stephenson going on to make wire-rope and submarine cable at Joad & Curling’s old premises on the north side of Cuba Street. The firm of Binks Brothers moved to Strafford Street in about 1863. In 1964 the Greater London Council (GLC) issued an order for compulsory purchase of the works, which finally closed in 1970, Binks Brothers Ltd being taken over by British Ropes Ltd, which moved the business to Charlton.

Binks Brothers Lorry 17032777158

Braithwaite and Co.

Makers of Cable.

1887 Supplied cable for the Highgate Cable Tramways and the Edinburgh Northern Cable Tramway

Brown, Lenox and Co.

Manufacturers of Chains and Cables.
188 Westferry Rd (later Cyclops Wharf)

1906 Anchor chain from Mauretania, at Discovery Museum, Newcastle. At the time, this was the largest chain that had ever been made for anchor cable

1806 Samuel Brown, then a Royal Navy lieutenant, began experimenting in the use of chain for naval use, and started chain manufacture in Narrow Street, Limehouse, as Samuel Brown and Co

Later went into partnership with Samuel Lenox, and a factory was built in Millwall in 1812.


1816 Brown constructed a hydraulic testing machine for chains at the Millwall works, where anchors, buoys and water tanks were also made.

1816, a second factory was built at Pontypridd, which was to become their main chain works.

1858 Exhibited bell buoy

1863 ‘The workmen in the employ of Messrs. Brown, Lenox and Company, at the Newbridge Works, Pontypridd, have contributed the sum of £20 17s. 8d., in aid of the Lancashire operatives, and which has been forwarded to Mr. Maclure, the Honorary Secretary of the Central Committee, Manchester.’ [The Lancashire cotton workers were suffering hardship because of the American Civil War]

1866 Chain cables and anchors’ proving establishment.

1868 Death of George William Lenox, who had been the senior partner in the firm.

Supplied chain for the suspension bridge at Hammersmith, and the chain pier at Brighton.

By the 1930s the Millwall branch, Brown, Lenox & Company (London) Ltd was producing tanks, buoys and other vessels.

For a time they also occupied the site of Providence Iron Works.

After WWII the firm also occupied new buildings in Westferry Road.

By 1958 The works were in Pontypridd, South Wales, and in Millwall, London, E.14.

1961 Manufacturers of ships’ chain cable and anchors, mooring cable, mooring anchors and buoys, steel castings, material handling equipment and steel fabrications. 400 employees.

The Millwall works became part of the F. H. Lloyd Group and closed in the 1980s.

Bullivant and Co.

Wire Ropemakers
Bullivant’s Wharf
Westferry Rd.


Bullivant and Co of New Mills Court, Stroud, Gloucestershire. wire rope makers and engineers, and of Mark Lane and Millwall.

1914 Wire rope manufacturers. Specialities: flexible steel wire hawsers and ropes, mining and hauling ropes, blocks, pulleys and all appliances for working wire ropes.

1924 One of eight companies merged into British Ropes Ltd on its formation.

Bullivant’s Wharf was the site of the Island’s worst WWII bombing incident when more than more than 40 people were a killed in a public air raid shelter on the site on 19th March 1941. It is commemorated by a plaque mounted on the wall of Thames Path. 

Sir William Burnett & Co.

Timber Preservers and Merchants
Nelson Wharf
302 Westferry Rd.

Survey of London, Athlone Press:

The westernmost of the nineteenth-century riverside sites in this area was occupied in the mid-1840s by Ernest Jametel & Company, borax manufacturers, and thereafter by Sir William Burnett & Company as Nelson Wharf.

Sir William Burnett (1779–1861) was a naval surgeon who distinguished himself at Trafalgar and other battles, rising to become Inspector of Hospitals to the Mediterranean fleet and, in 1822, one of two Medical Commissioners to the Navy Victualling Board. From 1831 until his retirement in 1855 he was the head of the Medical Department of the Navy, being designated Director-General in 1844.

In about 1836 Burnett devised an anti-rot and mothproofing treatment for timber, cordage, canvas and other cloths, using an aqueous solution of chloride of zinc.

Timber preserving (both by Burnettizing and creosoting) and timber merchanting were the principal activities at Nelson Wharf in the mid-1890s, though disinfectant (latterly of carbolic acid rather than zinc chloride) continued to be made there in the 1920s. Soldering fluid was also produced. By the 1930s the business was exclusively concerned with timber.

In the late 1970s Sir William Burnett & Company Ltd, timber and plywood importers, moved to Cuffley, Hertfordshire.

Burney and Co.

Tank Makers
118 Westferry Rd.


1922 Listed as Sheet Metal Workers 118, West Ferry Road, Millwall, London, E.14. T. A.: “Burney, Millwall, London.” T. N.: East 34.

Burrell and Co.

Manufacturers of Paints, Varnishes and Colours
250 Westferry Rd.

Survey of London, Athlone Press:

Burrell & Company, oil refiners and manufacturers of paints, varnishes and colours, grew out of a marine-stores business established in the Minories in 1852. By the time that the firm came to Millwall factories had been opened in Southwark and Mile End, and Garford Wharf in Limehouse had also been acquired. With the business concentrated at Burrell’s Wharf, extensive building was carried out. From the late 1880s until the early 1920s a succession of stores, warehouses, workshops and minor ancillary buildings appeared. Earlier buildings on the site were adapted and retained. The result was characteristic of Victorian industrial development at its most ad hoc.

Over the years, colour making took over as the principal activity at Burrell’s Wharf, partly as a result of the unavailability of German-made aniline dyes during the First World War. After the war, protectionist legislation encouraged further concentration on colours. A factory for the production of organic reds, Barnfield Works, was built near Burrell’s Wharf at No. 333 Westferry Road, and production of certain colours was transferred to a factory in Stratford. The riverside works expanded with the acquisition after the Second World War of Whittock Wharf. During the war, the works produced a variety of chemicals for the government, including a constituent of flame-thrower fuel. Paint production ceased in 1943, but after the war distemper became an important product for a time.

burrell 15070323222

Burrell & Company Ltd was incorporated in 1912 and became a public company in 1947. It was latterly a holding company for pigment businesses in Essex and Cheshire as well as Millwall, but was wound up in 1981. Blythe Burrell Colours Ltd, a subsidiary of Johnson Matthey plc, continued to make colours at Burrell’s Wharf until the closure of the works there in 1986. Production of Burrell’s range of classic pigments was continued elsewhere by Ciba-Geigy.

When the colour-works closed the site was covered by buildings of several periods, much altered and added to. From Fairbairn’s works there remained the stump of the octagonal chimney. Some of the general layout of Fairbairn’s works survived, too. From Scott Russell’s day there remained what is now the Plate House, and the office block and house adjoining (Nos 264 266 Westferry Road). The other buildings on the south-eastern side of the site, none of them of particular architectural interest, had been erected by Burrells from the late 1880s. On the north-western side there stood, little altered, the Venesta factory of 1907–8.

Canal Iron Works

Iron Works
Millwall, Poplar

The building of the City Canal left a large area of surplus land between the west entrance lock and the marsh wall. The City was quick to exploit this valuable though as yet unembanked property, letting it in 1807 .

1831 15069987396

Jukes Coulson and Paul Malin, iron manufacturers of Upper Thames Street, took a plot of land.

By 1809 Coulson and Co had built an iron foundry, reputedly London’s largest, called the Canal Iron Works.

1824 John Seaward took over the Canal Iron Works, Millwall, to build marine engines, and was joined soon after by his brother, Samuel Seaward (1800–42).

1834–5 Seaward and Capel built a shed along the north side of the wharf, as covered sawpits and a warehouse for castings. This building later became an erecting-shop. The wharf to the south was let as a stone wharf until 1838, when Seaward and Capel incorporated it into the Canal Iron Works, building a smithy along its south side. The main works buildings were extended southwards, remaining in use as a foundry and mill with associated shops, and served by sheer-legs and cranes of up to 20 tons capacity on the wharf.

1860 After the death of John Seaward the Upper and Lower Canal Iron Works and the equipment were advertised for sale

1860 Canal Works were taken over by William Jackson and Richard Watkins; the partnership later became Richard Watkins and Edward Rutter. Marine engines continued to be made at the works until 1882, when the site was sold to J. T. Morton, the preserved-provisions manufacturer, for redevelopment as part of his Sufferance Wharf.

1861 Henry Temple Humphreys joined the works as Chief Draughtsman.

Capewell Horse Nail Co.

Horse Nail Manufacturer
Glengall Road (later Tiller Rd).



Carlton Engineering Co.

Glengall Road (later Tiller Rd)


Cumberland Oil Mills

Oil and Cake Millers
Wharf Rd (later Saunders Ness Rd).

Survey of London, Athlone Press:

Cumberland Oil Mills, adjoining the Greenwich Hospital Estate, were established in 1857 for the production of linseed oil and oilcake by Nicholay, Graham & Armstrong, who already owned mills in West Drayton, Middlesex. The main building, three storeys high with a jetty at the top, and about 50ft by 40ft, was built by Cubitt & Company to the design of one of the partners, William Rogers. It had been up several years when, without warning, one of the floors collapsed and four men were killed. The cause was probably gross overloading of the floor with sacks of seed, causing failure of the supporting iron corbels.

1946 Manchester Rd, Saunders Ness Rd, Island Gardens 15285284230

Latterly occupied by British Oil & Cake Mills Ltd, the mills continued in operation until 1949, when seed-crushing gave way to linseed-oil refining. The works closed in 1964. Subsequently the premises were occupied for a few years by a steel-fabrications company and then by the Apex Rubber Company Ltd of Cubitt Town Wharf for warehousing. The main warehouse was demolished following a fire in 1972, and the remaining buildings – chiefly a range of brick sheds and a chimney shaft were cleared away in the late 1980s for the Cumberland Mills residential development.

Alexander Duckham and Co.

Oil and Chemical Manufacturers
Phoenix Wharf
Westferry Road
(Site of later Montcalm House)


1899 Company established by Alexander Duckham (c.1878-1945) after leaving Fleming’s Oil Co.

1904 Incorporated as a limited company.

1914 Oil and chemical manufacturers. Specialities: oils and insulating materials, patent oil separator; have patented a system of electrical main laying.

c.1920 Public company incorporated

1937 Manufacturers of petroleum products. “Aero New Process” Oils.

1963 Motor Show exhibitor. Oils.

John and William Dudgeon

Dudgeon’s Wharf
Cubitt Town

John Dudgeon (1816-1881) and William Dudgeon (1818-1875) were blacksmiths from Scotland but gained experience with some of the leading engineering firms.

1859 they founded an engineering shop at Millwall

1861 started shipbuilding at Cubitt Town. One of the first vessels was the Thunder of 1,062 that reached the speed of 14 knots.

1861 Introduced propulsion by independently driven twin screws. The Dudgeons were the first to build any number of twin-screw vessels and to demonstrate their worth.


1871 Launched HMS Hecate.

Later they built the Far East and the Ruahine the latter of which had twin screws and a compound engine

East Ferry Road Engineering Works Co.

Hydraulic Engineers
East Ferry Rd
(Opposite the George)


1874 Incorporated as a Limited Company.

1883 Erected hydraulic machinery at the Millwall Docks.

1888 Advert: Sole manufacturers of Parkes patent portable hydraulic lifts and cranes; F. E. Duckham’s weighing machines.

1914 Hydraulic and General Engineers and Contractors.

Specialities: hydraulic machinery and grain discharging plants for docks and railways.

East London Paint and Varnish Co.

Paint Manufacturers
304, Westferry-road


Manufacturers and suppliers in Great Britain.

1937 Paint, enamel and varnish manufacturers.

Edwards and Co (later Edwards and Symes)

Port of London Wharf
Ferry St.



Electrical Power Storage Co.

Battery Manufacturers
84 Westferry Road (Factory).


1882 Company established – the first battery company in the country and possibly in the world.

1882 Patent lawsuit anticipated between Electrical Power Storage Co and Faure Accumulator Co.

1883 Mr B. M. Drake was managing engineer of Electrical Power Storage Co and Mr J. M. Gorham was the first works manager. The two of them went on to set up Drake and Gorham in 1886, which became a major firm of electrical contractors.

1883 The Electrical Power Storage Co had acquired the Faure accumulator patent which would be worked in conjunction with the Sellon-Volckmar patents which they already possessed.

Early 1880s, Hugo Hirst, later to become well known as the Father of GEC, worked at the Millwall works of the Electrical Power Storage Co.

1884 Substantial reduction in capital of the company as a result of major loss. Demonstration of 2 electric boats on the Thames, powered by use of Electrical Power Storage Co accumulators.

1884 Bernard Drake appointed MD. He died in 1931.

1885 Large brass switch is in the London Science Museum

1885 Successful demonstration of a battery-driven tramcar by South London Tramway Co using Electrical Power Storage Co’s accumulators.

1886 On or before this date, Bernard Drake and J Gorham had left the company to set up Drake and Gorham.

1886 William Henry Patchell was appointed manager of the Millwall Works of the Electrical Power Storage Co, and was involved with the development of public and private electric supply plant.

1888 New Pullman vestibule car introduced on London-Brighton line used Electrical Power Storage Co’s accumulators in conjunction with a dynamo to supply electric lighting.

1889 Demonstration of electric disc brakes powered from accumulators.

1889 Became part of the Electric Construction Corporation. At this time Sir Daniel Cooper was Chairman and John Irving Courtenay was MD.

1891 Foreign and Colonial Electrical Power Storage Co at the same address in Great Winchester Street

1892 3rd ordinary general meeting of the Electrical Power Storage Co Ltd; Mr J Irving Courtenay presided. 12 months had elapsed since the company had taken over the secondary battery manufacturing plant at Millwall from the Electric Construction Corporation; business was growing; high hopes for the E.P.S. battery for traction.

1897 Demonstration of electric taxicabs in London powered by Electrical Power Storage Co accumulators[16].

1898 Edward Clark, who had worked at Electrical Power Storage Co at Millwall, founded the Hart Accumulator Co.

1915 Electrical Power Storage Co Ltd amalgamated with Pritchetts and Gold Ltd.

William Fairbairn’s Millwall Iron Works

Iron Works
Westferry Rd (later site of Burrell’s and surroundings)

Survey of London, Athlone Press:

In 1836–7 the engineer (Sir) William Fairbairn (1789–1874, baronet 1869) laid out an ironworks on a three-acre site, purchased from Charles Augustus Ferguson.

The Millwall venture, which grew out of experiments in the early 1830s with a small iron boat on the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Mersey, was Fairbairn’s second attempt to succeed in London. A quarter of a century earlier, as a young millwright, he had been prevented from taking up John Rennie’s offer of employment in connection with Waterloo Bridge because of the Millwrights’ Society’s closed-shop policy. Later he found work at Greenwich (and must therefore have known Millwall), but left the London area in 1813, setting up in business in Manchester as a manufacturing engineer in 1817.

Fairbairn, together with his sons, carried out some innovative work at Millwall, not only in the construction of iron ships, but also including such projects as model tests for Robert Stephenson’s Menai Bridge. His main engineering works, however, remained at Manchester. In 1841 William Fairbairn, Sons, & Company exhibited at the works a corn mill designed by Fairbairn, which was, he later claimed, the first all-iron building of its kind in England, and the prototype of iron churches, houses and warehouses. The mill-house was constructed of a framework of hollow cast-iron pillars, the walls of the ground floor being formed of cast-iron plates, and those of the upper two floors of wrought-iron plates, riveted to flanges on the pillars. The floors were formed of iron beams supported on columns, and the roof was of corrugated iron.

1863-millwall-ironworks 14884202037

More than 100 ships, mostly under 2,000 tons, were built by Fairbairn at Millwall, including vessels for the Admiralty, the merchant marine, the Tsar of Russia and the King of Denmark. The works were not a financial success, however, for which Fairbairn blamed ‘opposition from every quarter’. Whatever the cause, it was certainly true that the amount of personal attention he could give to the works was limited by the demands of the Manchester works and by foreign travel. Profits from Manchester made good a loss of £100,000 incurred at Millwall.

Fairbairn’s works were for sale by 1845, and it was only the local shortage of accommodation for workmen that deterred one firm of marine steam-engine makers from taking them. In 1848 the premises were occupied by John Scott Russell and his partners, the engineers Albert and Richard Alexander Robinson (later J. Scott Russell & Company). Their products included sugarcane crushing machinery, but the best-known part of the business was shipbuilding, in both wood and iron. Unusually, vessels were launched from the yard fully fitted out. Ships built by the Robinsons and Russell included the iron steamer Taman, completed in 1848 for the Russian government to operate from the Black Sea ports.

Forrestt and Son

Britannia Yard
(South of Westwoods, Westferry Rd).

1788 Established in Limehouse.

1878 Constructed steam launches for the Royal Navy at Limehouse using the Willans engine.


1883 “Formerly builders of lifeboats for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution”

Edwin Fox and Co.

Cable Makers
Fox’s Wharf
56 Westferry Rd.

• Telegraph Wire, Wire for Submarine Cables, Fencing Wire, Strand Wire.


John Fraser and Son

Ferry St.


1965 Acquired by Thomas W. Ward

Haskin Wood Vulcanizing Co.

Samuda’s Wharf


Mr S E Haskin of the USA invented a process for preserving timber by holding it for several hours in vessels pressurised with air at 200 psi at up to 400 degrees F. He specified the requirements for the works at Millwall. The vessels were 6′ 6″ diameter and 120 feet long. ‘All the machinery from first to last has been supplied by Messrs Galloway’. (See Galloways). The main items were the large pressure vessels, two steam-driven compressors, two air circulating engines, and three Lancashire boilers.

The former Samuda Brothers shipyard was occupied by the Haskin Wood Vulcanizing Company until c1912–13, when the lease of the premises reverted to the landlord.

Hawkins and Tipson

Globe Rope Works
East Ferry Rd

Survey of London, Athlone Press:

The Globe Rope Works was established in 1881 by the newly created firm of Hawkins & Tipson. George Hawkins of Clapham Common, who advanced capital of £15,000, and his son, Alfred Tolhurst Hawkins, went into partnership with Charles H. Tipson, who was formerly with the ropemakers Frost Brothers of Cable Street. An 80-year lease was acquired from the Charteris estate of a parcel of land immediately south of the Millwall Dock Company’s Mudchute, with a frontage of 70½ft on East Ferry Road and 79½ft on the arches of the Millwall Extension Railway, and including a strip along the edge of the Mudchute 1,270ft long and 61ft wide. The site was enlarged in 1900–1 by the addition of two adjoining plots extending 194ft southwards between the railway arches and the Millwall Football Club’s ground.

hawkins-amd-tipson 14884104068

John Hepworth

Ship Builders and Steam Engine Boiler Makers
Hepworth’s Yard (later part of Dudgeon’s Wharf)
Wharf Rd (later Saunders Ness Rd)

Connected with the design and construction of the Great Eastern steamship.

1866 Built a ‘cigar ship’ 256ft long and 16ft in diameter for Winans

Hodge and Co.

Union Iron Works
(Part of) 104 Westferry Road

Hodge and Co of Millwall made steam engines for marine use.

1870. Built engine for the steam tug Filga using the high pressure concept of Jacob Perkins as put into effect by his grandson.

1912. Engine for PS Victoria for Cosens and Co of Weymouth.

A. J. Hutching & Co.

Wire Rope Makers
Hutching’s St and Wharf

Survey of London, Athlone Press:

Hutching’s Wharf was only a loose agglomeration of sites, and was seldom, if ever, in single occupation. In the 1870s, for example, the northern part was occupied for a time by the oil and tar refiners Charles Price & Company. A. J. Hutching & Company’s factory covered most of the southern part, which later became known for a time as Hutching Wharf. It had been part of a wirerope and engineering works set up in 1839–41 by Andrew Smith, whose premises, acquired in stages, had also included the ropery to the south (the future No. 56 Westferry Road) and the whole area bounded by Hutching’s Street and Westferry Road (including the future site of the Patent Galvanized Iron Company’s works).  Wire-ropemaking on this site ceased in about 1886, when A. J. Hutching & Company closed down.

Jackson and Watkins

Marine Engine Makers
Canal Iron Works

1860 Canal Works were taken over by William Jackson and Richard Watkins

The partnership later became Richard Watkins and Edward Rutter

1861 Made ‘powerful’ sheerlegs for Sebastopol

1882 Marine engines continued to be made at the works until 1882, when the site was sold.


Le Bas Tube Co.

Cyclops Works
Westferry Rd


John Lenanton & Sons

Timber Merchants
Westferry Rd.

Survey of London, Athlone Press:

John Lenanton took over Batson’s Wharf in 1864 and Regent Wharf ten years later. By 1891 the firm of John Lenanton & Son was ‘one of the largest in the metropolis, thoroughly representative of the old class of London timber merchants, with all the go-ahead spirit of the modern system’.

Stocks held included teak and mahogany, English, American and Australian hardwoods and White Sea, Baltic and Quebec firs. Large quantities of logs and spars were kept floating in the river, and further stock was held at the commercial docks. The wharfside premises, served by a steam travelling-crane, were largely given over to highly mechanized sawmills and sheds for temporary storage or seasoning. Although wood for shipbuilding, including mast timber, was a speciality, Lenantons were also large suppliers to builders, contractors and timber merchants throughout the country. (ref. 53)

Most of the buildings — timber-built sheds of various dates — were destroyed by fire in 1900.

By the 1930s Lenanton’s wharves included the site of Regent Dry Dock. Extensive modernization was carried out. Plant and machinery for timber-handling and milling was electrified, using a DC supply from steam-powered generating plant. The principal buildings were now open sheds of steel and reinforced-concrete construction. A new neo-Georgian-style office block was built in 1937.

Lenanton's c1937 15374483929

Because of the decline in Thames shipbuilding, less teak — used particularly for decking — was now held, and the firm specialized increasingly in softwoods.

In the 1950s new concrete sheds were built, and extensive new plant, including vertical and horizontal log-sawing machines and an under-floor wood-refuse collecting system, was installed. The building construction was carried out by the firm’s own employees. Further improvements included redecoration of the entire premises to a uniform colour-scheme with blue for machinery, terracotta for ancillary equipment and stone colour for walls. In 1954–6 the office block was enlarged and remodelled and a works canteen was built above the entrance from Westferry Road.

Expansion continued with the acquisition of London and Oak Wharves in 1958 and St Luke’s School in 1971. A sheet-materials storage shed was built on the school site in 1973. The architects of the postwar buildings were H. G. Turner & Partners of Haywards Health.

In 1986 outline planning permission for the residential development of Lenanton’s wharves, but in 1994 Lenantons remained in occupation.

Locke, Lancaster and W. W. and R. Johnson and Sons

Lead Producers and Merchants
308 Westferry Rd

1790 The firm of John Locke and Co was established.

1793 The firm of W. W. and R. Johnson was formed.

1854 John Locke and Co. became Locke, Lancaster and Co

1892 W. W. and R. Johnson and Sons was registered on 18 January, to acquire the business of white-lead makers, lead rollers and metal merchants of the firm of the same name.

1894 Amalgamation took place with Locke, Lancaster and Co, lead merchants and desilverisers, under the above title.

1895 The company acquired the business and factory of the Millwall Lead Co (formerly Pontifex and Wood).

1912 Exhibited “the old Dutch process for making white lead” at the Non-Ferrous Metals Exhibition at the Royal Agricultural Halls.

1914 Lead smelters. Specialities: pig lead, white lead and litharge, sheet and pipe lead, tea lead, zinc plates, zinc rods, oxide of zinc paint.

1924 Merger of Locke, Lancaster and W. W. and R. Johnson and Sons Ltd, the white lead, red lead and litharge works of Rowe Brothers and Co Ltd of Exeter, and the lead, antimony and other manufacturing interests of Cookson and Co; shareholders would receive, in exchange for their shares, shares in Associated Lead Manufacturers Ltd. The 3 companies were all private companies; they would continue as separate entities with their existing management

London Engineering and Iron Ship Building Co.

Engineers and Shipbuilders
London Yard
Manchester Rd

1856-7 Robert Baillie and Joseph Westwood set up in business as shipbuilders, boilermakers and ironworkers, in partnership with James Campbell, in a new yard, London Yard, at Cubitt Town as Westwood, Baillie, Campbell and Co

1861 Campbell retired from the business


1865 – 1872: Along with many other local firms, Westwood, Baillie and Co had difficulty surviving the decline in Thames shipbuilding. Production at the London Yard continued with Westwood and Baillie acting as managers for the London Engineering and Iron Ship Building Co.

1869 Constructed the iron roof for the new station of the Great Northern Railway at King’s Cross. A device had been invented by Mr. Westwood, jun., for forming the joints of wrought iron piles. Developed a method for ascertaining the profile of the entrance to a dock which it is intended to close by a caisson.[2]

1872 Westwood, Baillie & Company regained nominal control of London Yard in 1872. The work was mainly for civil engineering projects.

c.1881 Joseph Westwood, junior retired from his father’s firm
1883 On his father’s death, Westwood set up new works as Joseph Westwood and Co with more modern machinery and appliances for constructing ironwork and steelwork of every kind, on the site of the old Napier Works at Millwall.


Manufacturer of Tea Chests
Wharf Rd (later Saunders Ness Rd)

In the late 1920s, former works of Sapon Soaps were acquired by Luralda, manufacturers of tea chests, and renamed Luralda Wharf.

1929 Listed Exhibitor – British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of 3-ply Wood Boxes for all trades. Speciality – Boxes suitable for Parcel Post traffic. Laundry Boxes and Trays. (Stand No. M.29)

1947 Listed Exhibitor – British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Skips, Boxes, Bins and Trays for Food and Allied Trades. Boxes and Barrels for Post, Rail and Overseas Transport, Domestic Woodware, Bathroom Furniture, Wooden Ice-cream Spoons. (Earls Court, 1st Floor, Stand No. 611)

1976-luralda-wharf 14884101210

Luralda, and later Sumacon Luralda Packaging, plywood importers, continued to occupy the wharf until the 1980s, when it was redeveloped for housing.

Maconochie Brothers

Maconochie Wharf
Westferry Rd

1873 Company was set up by Archibald and James Maconochie at Lowestoft, Suffolk.

c1880s The company were producing “other preserved provisions”, including bottled fruit.

1914 Manufacturers of pickles and sauces. Specialities: pickles, sauces, jams, marmalade, jellies, potted meats; preservers of fish, meat, vegetables etc.

WW1 Company supplied rations to the troops, who either loved or hated, (mostly the latter) the foods supplied. During this time, the company had food processing plants on the Isle of Dogs, London, in Hull, Yorkshire and other places.

1903 Pan Yan pickle was registered.

Malins and Rawlinson

Iron Company
West Ferry Mills
Hutchings St.

Survey of London, Athlone Press:

The rectangular site in the angle of Hutching’s Street, at the rear of Nos 40–54 (even) Westferry Road, previously part of Andrew Smith’s works, was taken over in 1844 by the Patent Galvanized Iron Company. Trading as Malins & Rawlinson, this was a large undertaking which began life in 1839 as the Porth Cawl Iron & Coal Company. In 1843 the Porth Cawl Company acquired a patent galvanizing business then carried on by the patentee, Henry Patteson, at Farnham Place in Surrey; shortly afterwards it took over a West Bromwich iron business and mines in Glamorgan. The conglomerate was reorganized in May 1844 as the Patent Galvanized Iron Company, with a nominal capital of £200,000.

The works, later known as West Ferry Mills, were variously occupied by chemical and colour manufacturers and a plaster maker until the end of the First World War, when they were taken over by the General Constructional & Engineering Company Ltd. This was originally an offshoot of the old-established cast-iron goods manufacturer, The General Iron Foundry Company. The works, which later included the northern part of Hutching’s Wharf, were still in operation until the late 1960s. (ref. 146)

The premises consisted of a brick-built, originally earth-floored, workshop which, despite the fact that an exploding boiler wrecked the roof and smashed through a wall in 1907, appears to have survived largely intact until recent years.

Hutching's StreetWharf, 1907 17194575806

McDougall Brothers

Millwall Docks

1845 Alexander McDougall, previously a struggling Scottish shoe merchant from Dumfries and then a Manchester schoolmaster, finally achieved his ambition of setting up as a manufacturing chemist.

1864 He recruited his sons into the business and, in 1864, the McDougall Brothers developed and produced a patent substitute for yeast. This was the starting point which was not only to revolutionise home baking, but firmly position McDougall’s as a household name, as pioneers of self-raising flour.

1869 The first large mill to be built alongside any of the London docks was the Wheatsheaf Mill, at Millwall Docks, which stood on the southern quay of the Millwall Outer Dock. Its construction was started in 1869 by the Manchester-based McDougall Brothers.

mcdougalls-2- 15047749626

1886 Mills at London, Liverpool, Manchester

The firm of McDougall Brothers evolved into the first of Britain’s giant flour milling concerns, more often known by the name of their product McDougall’s. They owned several large mills elsewhere in the country. The Wheatsheaf Mill, rebuilt several times over the following century, became one of the major landmarks of the Isle of Dogs.

aerial-08 15048984996

Millwall Lead Co.

Lead Manufacturers and Merchants
308 Westferry Rd

1890. Pontifex and Wood Ltd transferred all of their white lead, colour, varnish, sheet lead and lead piping business to Millwall Lead Co Ltd.

1890. Messrs Colthurst and Harding purchased the paint, colour and varnish business which had been carried on for 100 years by Pontifex and Wood; they would continue the business in conjunction with their works at Bristol.

1894. An inquest found that a female worker had died of lead poisoning; there were several other cases amongst workers living on both sides of the river.

1895. Locke, Lancaster and W. W. and R. Johnson and Sons acquired the business and factory of the Millwall Lead Co (formerly Pontifex and Wood).


Preserved Foods
Westferry Rd

John Thomas Morton went into business as a provision merchant in Aberdeen in 1849, subsequently building up a large trade in the export of canned and other preserved foods. The Millwall factory was opened about 1872 at the former oil works of Price &; Company; later expansion included the opening of a herring cannery at Lowestoft and a depot in Cubitt Town. After Morton’s death in 1897, the business was run by his sons. C. &; E. Morton Ltd, as the firm became, was for many years among the largest local employers. Millwall Football Club originated with a team formed by workers at Mortons in 1885. The company’s main trade was overseas. It supplied food to the Polar expeditions led by Shackleton and Scott, and was one of the principal suppliers of canned food to the armed forces during the First World War. After the war Mortons lost ground to foreign and colonial competitors and had to turn to the home market.

Best known for jam, the factory also produced a variety of processed foods and confections, including jelly, caramel, chocolate, custard, marsh mallow, liquorice and fondants, as well as Seidlitz powder, magnesia and Epsom salts. In 1945 the company was taken over by the Beecham Group and the Mortons business was concentrated at Lowestoft, producing canned vegetables and fruit fillings. The Millwall works were gradually run down. Waterways Ltd, wharfingers, an associated company of Mortons, occupied the riverside buildings for some years after the Second World War. A food and soft drinks distribution depot, with a north-light concreteshell roof, built in the 1950s on the corner of Westferry Road and Cuba Street, remained in use into the 1980s, but by that time most of the riverside part of the works had been derelict for some years. The former Dockside Preserving Factory on the east side of Westferry Road (which remains in industrial use) had been sold. The northern part of the site is now occupied by the Cascades development and the site of the depot by The Anchorage.

Morton's 21028479840

David Napier

Shipbuilder and Engineer
Napier Yard
Westferry Rd
(Opposite Harbinger School)

David Napier (1790-1869) shipbuilder and engineer.

1790 Born at Dumbarton on 29 October 1790, the son of John Napier (d. July 1813), an engineer in Dumbarton, and his second wife, Ann McAlister. Cousin of Robert Napier, the celebrated shipbuilder and son of James Napier, John Napier’s partner in the Dumbarton engineering business.

1836 Left the business on the Clyde and purchased land on the banks of the Thames at Millwall, to experiment with steamers. This was adjacent to William Fairbairn’s yard at Millwall.

napier house 15070421632

Napier’s villa

1852 Napier’s yard closed because of competition from the Clyde yards. The works stood idle for fully a year until, in 1853, a further use was found for them. The Napier Yard adjoined the old Fairbairn yard where Mr. J. Scott Russell was then commencing the construction of the SS Great Eastern for Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The space and resources of both yards were found to be necessary for that undertaking, so an arrangement was made to combine them temporarily. Part of the Napier property was accordingly leased, in 1853 or 1854, and a small portion, that had been otherwise occupied, was arranged for at a later date.

The new premises came to be known as the Napier Yard. The Great Eastern was the largest steamer on the seas for over forty years. John Scott Russell was bankrupted by the huge building costs.

1869 Died in Kensington.

John Newton

Brick and Tile Maker
Honduras Wharf
(Between Luralda Wharf and Cumberland Oil Mills)


Owen Parry

Factory Place
Off Wharf Rd (now Ferry St)

Survey of London, Athlone Press:

In the 1830s a steam-washing establishment was run on the site formerly occupied by a herring ‘hang’ beside the ferry. After the closure of the laundry, the premises became a black-lead factory, probably part of Pontifex & Wood’s establishment.

The premises were certainly part of Pontifex & Wood’s lead and chemical works by the 1850s, but in 1892 4 were occupied by an independent company, Barton Wright Ltd, formerly of Bromley-by-Bow, for smelting low-grade antimony ores. Extensive alterations and additions were made to the works from 1896 for new occupiers, Owen Parry Ltd, oil and cake manufacturers. Closed in about 1930, Parry’s mills remained disused until taken over in about 1938 by H. B. Barnard & Sons Ltd as Barnard’s Metal Wharf.

Pontifex and Wood

Metal Manufacturers and Engineers
308 Westferry Rd.

Lead merchants, iron founders, engineers, millwrights, copper smiths, refrigerator and boiler makers, of Farringdon Works, Shoe Lane, London.
of Garratt Mills, Wandsworth.
of Millwall.
and later of Union foundry, Derby.


Maker of stationary engines, sugar machinery and distilling plant.

1788 Company founded when the premises in Shoe Lane were erected – perhaps by E. and W. Pontifex and Co.

1841 Edmund and William Pontifex [3] and James Wood, lead merchants, iron founders, engineers, millwrights, copper smiths, refrigerator and boiler makers, of Farringdon Works, Shoe Lane, London,

1850 Pontifex and Wood were recorded as receiving lead ores at St Katherines Dock

1851 Award at the 1851 Great Exhibition. See details at 1851 Great Exhibition: Reports of the Juries: Class VI.

1852 Demonstration at the Farringdon Works of a machine for preparing fibrous plant materials, such as Manilla hemp; it had taken 18 months to develop and had been patented

1856 Patent to Edmund Alfred Pontifex, of Pontifex and Wood of Shoe Lane, chemical manufacturer, for improvement in manufacture of tartaric acid, citric acid and salts

1859 Patent Edmund Alfred Pontifex, of Pontifex and Wood of Shoe Lane, engineers and coppersmiths, on external surface condensers

1865 Contract to supply sugar refinery machinery to the new company International Sugar Refineries Co Ltd

1868 Shipbuilders of Millwall

1876 “Hamper’s Patent Fountain” – described as brewers’ engineers, millwrights, coppersmiths, ironfounders etc

1880 With other paint manufacturers, petitioned the Board of Trade about legal measures of paint

1885 Had patented an ice making machine some years before; supplied cold store plant to Great Northern Ice Co Ltd of Great Grimsby

1887 Converted into a limited company

1888 Voluntary liquidation of the company supervised by the court

1889 Cold storage rooms built at Nottingham (see illustration)

1890 All of the Millwall white lead, colour, varnish, sheet lead and lead piping business had been sold to Millwall Lead Co Ltd; the engineering business would continue at Shoe Lane.

1891 Supplied a refrigerator and coolers to Burntisland Oil Co

c.1892 Haslam Foundry and Engineering Co merged with Pontifex and Wood

1893 Private company formed when Pontifex and Wood were taken over by Farringdon Works Ltd.

1895 Locke, Lancaster and W. W. and R. Johnson and Sons acquired the business and factory of the Millwall Lead Co (formerly Pontifex and Wood).

Charles Powis and Co

Manufacturer of Wood-Working Machinery
Cyclops Works
Westferry Rd

1865 Machines for cutting and preparing wood.

Charles Price and Co.

Oil Works
Westferry Rd.

Charles Price and Co of Millwall, Poplar and Castle Baynard, Upper Thames Street.

1700 Established

1805 Sir Charles Price (- d.1818), established an oil works south of the Canal Iron Works. He erected a complex of buildings for crushing rapeseed and linseed, and for production and storage of tar, oils, turpentine and varnish. An old windmill on the site, long used for seed-crushing, was converted to an oil-refining house.

Later the works were expanded to cover the riverside portion of Joad and Curling’s rope-ground.

c.1872 the works closed; the site was acquired by J. T. Morton.

Prices retained some premises for storage at Regent Wharf. Their main manufacturing and refining operations were moved to Erith.

William Roberts

Fire Engine Works (Jupiter Iron Works)
Westferry Rd
(Close to opposite of St. Edmund’s)

Survey of London, Athlone Press:

William Roberts set up a pump factory in the late 1850s in connection with Brown, Lenox & Company at their Millwall works, and by the early 1860s was gaining some success as a maker of fire-fighting appliances and steam traction-engines. London fire-engines at that time could produce only large, potentially damaging, jets of water. A fire-engine made by Roberts, however, could squirt a jet as small as half an inch. In 1863 he constructed a ‘very useful’ fire-engine which could double as a hoist, and had also fitted up a tugboat belonging to the West India Dock Company as a floating fire-engine.

In 1865–6 Roberts took a 70-year lease of ground immediately south of Brown, Lenox & Company’s works and built his own factory, with finance from the Industrial Permanent Benefit Building Society. Although by 1869 he was in difficulties, and his creditors took possession of the premises, Roberts appears to have kept the works. In 1874 they were managed by George Roberts, under the name Jupiter Iron Works, but in 1877 were acquired by Samuel Cutler & Sons and absorbed into Providence Iron Works.

William Roberts of Millwall’s self-propelling fire engine, with two firefighters. This photograph appeared in the book, ‘Outbreaks of Fire’ by S G Gamble:

Robinson and Russell

Marine Engineers
Westferry Rd (later site of Burrell’s and surroundings)

1844 John Scott Russell moved to London; worked on the design of yachts, boats, barges and ships.

1847 Russell and partners had taken over the old Fairbairn shipyard at Millwall

1847 Listed as Robinson and Russell, Marine Engineers, Millwall, Poplar

In 1850 Russell designed a yacht, Titania, for Robert Stevenson which had very hollow bowlines but was constrained by British yacht-racing rules. In 1851 Titania was the only yacht to accept the challenge of the US yacht America; her defeat inaugurated the America’s Cup races.

The yard took up an increasing amount of Russell’s time particularly from 1851 when he took sole control of the yard.

1851 The paddle-frigate Dantzig was built at Millwall, one of the first ships in the Prussian Navy

1852 I. K. Brunel entered into partnership with John Scott Russell, an experienced Naval Architect and ship builder, to build the SS Great Eastern. Before building work could begin, Russell’s shipyard was devastated by a serious fire but was only partially covered by insurance. The yard closed.

1852 David Napier’s yard at Millwall closed because of competition from the Clyde yards. Part of the yard was later let to John Scott Russell for the building of the SS Great Eastern. Presumably as John Scott Russell and Co

1854 The keel of SS Great Eastern was laid down on May 1, 1854.

1856 Russell had several fixed-price contracts for warships and these together with another fire, added to his financial problems and his shipyard, like several other Thames builders, failed in February 1856. He remained in charge of building the Great Eastern under a new contract.

1858 The Great Eastern was finally launched, after many technical difficulties on January 31, 1858.

Samuda Brothers

Samuda’s Wharf
South End of Stewart St.

Samuda Brothers was an engineering and ship building firm on the Isle of Dogs in London, founded byJacob Samuda and Joseph d’Aguilar Samuda.

1839 Undertook two experiments based on Clegg’s atmospheric railway. The brothers patented theAtmospheric Railway in 1839

c.1844 Opened a shipyard at Orchard-place, Blackwall. Jacob Samuda died on a trial voyage of Gipsy Queen

For a time, Samuda Brothers were the most prolific shipbuilders on the Thames.

The type of vessels ranged from tugs and steam yachts to large warships. An online listing of ships built between 1844 and 1893 is available online

1856 Subscribed £20 to the Smith Testimonial Fund, commemorating the work of F. P. Smith in promoting the screw propeller.

samudas 14884108199

1856 Built HMS Thunderbolt at Blackwall, the first iron-hulled armour-clad vessel built in Britain; engines from Miller, Ravenhill and Co; she was completed and launched within four months from ordering.

c.1876 The first band-saw was developed by J. Phillips and supplied to Samuda Brothers

The site of the Millward yard was later used by the Haskin Wood Vulcanizing Co

Sapon Soaps

Wharf Rd (later Saunders Ness Rd)

c.1900 The Thames Steam Cooperage Company Ltd occupied Barrel Wharf, Isle of Dogs.

1900 An associated company, Sapon Ltd, was registered on 1 November, to acquire the rights and business connection of the patent soap powder known as “Sapon”, for the whole world. Sapon was a washing-powder made from oatmeal. Among the main shareholders in the new venture were Robert Macpherson, the manager of the cooperage, and Godfrey Bamberg, the inventor of Sapon. Sapon Ltd took over Barrel Wharf, and soon the adjoining Lukach and Jarrahdale Wharves as well. The whole became known as Sapon Wharf.

By 1905 Sapon was a commercial success, supplied to the hotel and restaurant trades, railway companies, manufacturers, and shipping lines. It was stocked by Harrods, Whiteleys, Spiers & Ponds, and the other leading department stores. In the next few years Sapon’s range of cereal soap powders and hard soaps grew rapidly. ‘Russian Tar’ medicated soap was introduced. ‘Flake’ was developed for the Yorkshire woollen trade as a decontaminant and degreaser.

WWI Almost the entire output of Sapon soap was supplied to British Expeditionary Force canteens.

1917 the company was reconstructed as Sapon Soaps Ltd
Postwar: manufacturing subsidiaries were established in Canada and the USA

1920s ‘Derbac’ insecticide soap was developed. Head office was transferred from the City to Wharf Road.

1923 Went into receivership. Taken over by Pure Products Ltd, a company set up for the purpose.

1924-5 Pure Products closed the works and transferred the manufacture of Sapon soaps to Nottingham.

John Scott Russell

Naval Engineer
Westferry Rd (later site of Burrell’s and surroundings)

John Scott Russell (1808-1882) was a Scottish naval engineer who built the SS Great Eastern in collaboration with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and made the discovery that gave birth to the modern study of solitons.

He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE). He was also elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) of London in 1849, as seen in Emmerson’s book and also in his obituary published in the Proceedings of Royal Society (London), vol. 34 (1882-1883), pp. xv-xvii.

1808 May 9th. Born in a village close to Glasgow of Scotland in 1808. His middle name was the maiden family name of his mother. He graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1825, and moved on to Edinburgh University where he taught mathematics and natural philosophy.

In 1834, while conducting experiments to determine the most efficient design for canal boats, he discovered a phenomenon that he described as the wave of translation. In fluid dynamics the wave is now called a Russell solitary wave or soliton.

In 1834 he designed a 26-seater steam coach. These vehicles were built by the Grove House Engine Works in Edinburgh. They were powered by a two-cylinder vertical engine with a square bore to stroke of 12 in. There were connecting rods to the crankshafts, one for each cylinder. the back axle was on semi-elliptical springs. Six of these vehicles entered service with the Steam Carriage Company of Scotland.

In 1838 he became a manager at Caird and Co’s engine works in Greenock.
Russell moved to London in 1844 and, as secretary to the Royal Society of Arts, stimulated the idea of a national exhibition which was realised as the Royal Commission for the Great Exhibition of 1851. He worked on the design of yachts, boats, barges and ships.

1847 October. Listed as Russell and Robinson, Marine Engineers, Millwall, Poplar

In 1847 Russell and partners had taken over the old Fairbairn shipyard at Millwall, which took up an increasing amount of his time particularly from 1851 when he took sole control of the yard.

In 1850 he designed a yacht, Titania, for Robert Stevenson which had very hollow bowlines but was constrained by British yacht-racing rules.

In 1851 Titania was the only yacht to accept the challenge of the US yacht America; her defeat inaugurated the America’s cup races.

He was held in high regard by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. By the spring of 1852 Brunel was discussing plans with Russell for a truly enormous ship, the SS Great Eastern, at its time, this was to be the largest moveable object man had ever created. Before building work could begin, Russell’s shipyard was devastated by a serious fire.

David Napier’s adjacent works had stood idle for fully a year before, in 1853, a further use was found for them. As the Napier Yard adjoined that where Mr. J. Scott Russell was then starting construction of the Great Eastern, and the space and resources of both yards were found necessary, so an arrangement was made to combine them temporarily. Part of the Napier property was accordingly leased, in 1853 or 1854, and a small portion, that had been otherwise occupied, was arranged for at a later date.
The project was plagued with a number of problems – Russell was in financial difficulties; his shipyard, like several other Thames builders, failed in February 1856; the two men disagreed on a number of aspects of the design and construction of the ship. The SS Great Eastern was eventually launched in 1858.

1882 June 8th. Died

Construction of SS Great Eastern

Construction of SS Great Eastern

Seaward and Capel

Canal Iron Works
Westferry Rd

1837 model of cylinder and valve gear, to the 1834 patent of Samuel Seaward, at the London Science Museum. This arrangement was used on HMS Gorgon

Seaward & Capel were makers of engines for steamships, of Canal Iron Works, Millwall.

John and Samuel Seaward and James Capel gained renown for introducing the direct-acting paddle-engine. They fitted warships as well as Thames steamers, and also made swing-bridges and cranes.

1841 Seaward and Capel supplied patented disconnection gear for the paddle steamer HMS Styx

1842 After the death of Samuel Seaward, John Seward continued the business of Seaward and Co.

1843 The Penelope steam frigate (Seaward and Co of Poplar). Engines made for the steam frigateFirebrand (Seaward and Capel)

1851 Seaward and Capel supplied engines for the Amazon for the West India Steam Packet Co built byR. and H. Green

1852 The Amazon was lost at sea from fire, having earlier suffered from overheated bearings

1854 Shear legs erected by the company at Southampton Docks c.1847 collapsed

1855 Seaward and Capel exhibited machinery at the Paris Universal Exhibition

1856 Subscribed £10 to the Smith Testimonial Fund, commemorating the work of F. P. Smith in promoting the screw propeller.

1856 The partnership of Seward and Capel at Canal Iron Works was dissolved; (James Durnford Capel left the business); John Seaward would be responsible for the business in future

1858 John Seaward died. The yard was auctioned.

1860 the Canal Works were taken over by William Jackson and Richard Watkins.

Matthew T. Shaw and Co

Westferry Rd
(Close to corner of Chapel House St)

1850 Company founded by Matthew Turner Shaw

1859 of 64 Cannon Street, London EC.
1868 of 142 Cannon Street, London Bridge, London EC.

1879 Messrs. Matthew T. Shaw & Co., of Cannon Street, supplied wrought iron girders and cast iron columns for a multi-storey building.

1886 Death of Matthew T. Shaw, senior partner in a business at 139, 141 Cannon St.

1886 Of London Constructional Iron and Bridge Works, Millwall

1949, View from River 18987090301

1895 Private limited company.

1914 Constructional Engineers, Bridge Builders. Specialities: high-class constructional steel and ironwork, bridges, roofing, girders, sheds, tanks, forgings. Employees 25.

1937 Structural engineers.

1961 Structural engineers and structural steel work fabricators.

James Simpson

Grosvenor Wharf
Ferry Rd (later Saunders Ness Rd)

Simpson and Co, specialist in pumps, of 101 Grosvenor Road, Pimlico, London.

1790 the business was established by James Simpson as an engineering and shipbuilding company at the Isle of Dogs, London. On his death, the business passed into the hands of his eldest son, Mr. Joseph Simpson, who was succeeded by his younger brother, Mr. James Simpson.


1830s James’ younger brother, William ran the family’s engine manufactory at Pimlico, Simpson and Co at Grosvenor Engine Works.

1838 The business was moved to larger premises in Belgrave Road.

Smith, Pender and Co

Millwall Dry Dock
Westferry Rd
(End of Glengall Rd, later Tiller Rd)

Survey of London, Athlone Press:

A double-swing footbridge was mounted across the Millwall Dock entrance lock in 1876 to allow pedestrians to cross the lock while the road-bridge was open. The installation of this bridge may have been prompted by the building of Pierhead Cottages on the north side of the lock in 1875. The bridge was made by Smith, Pender & Company, then tenants at the Millwall Dock dry dock. Described as ‘a light-looking, elegant structure of cast iron, which extends from one pier-head to the other like the arch of a rainbow’ it had a lattice-framed deck, ornamental open-work spandrels and two small hydraulic lifting rams. It was removed in 1939 or 1940.

footbridge 14878158449

Snowdon, Sons and Co.

Oils and Chemicals
Westferry Rd
(Just south of Kingsbridge)

1883 Company moved to London from the north of England.

1897 Incorporated as a limited company.

1910 Snowdon, Sons and Co, of Manchester, exhibited Huhn self-lubricating packings which were supplied to many navies

1911 Snowdon, Sons and Co, of London, exhibited lubricating oils at the Manchester Colliery Exhibition

1914 Manufacturers of “Snowdrift” lubricant, “Sinol” lubricant for cylinders, “Snowdene” and “Snozone” lubricants, patent mechanical and other lubricants, cylinder oils for superheated steam, motor car oils and greases, disinfectants, sizing materials for textile manufacturers, machine tools, agents for Huhn metallic packing.

420136_636582416371402_1413657523_n 14884266487

1937 Lubricating oils and greases.

1955 Acquired Matthew Wells and Co, refiners and blenders of lubricating oils of Manchester

Stephens, Smith and Co.

Marine Engineers and (later) Builders
Cuba St.

Survey of London, Athlone Press:

Next to the Royal Iron Works, in 1887 Stephens, Smith & Company took a 63-year lease of No. 40 Cuba Street, which then comprised several old sheds, part of the ropeworks. These were soon replaced by a brick-built factory with a lofty skylighted roof. The new building was erected by Lewin of Millwall, builders, to the designs of the local architects J. & S. F. Clarkson. The business had been founded in 1875 by John Stephens, a marine engineer, in Cuba Street. The original premises — workshops and stables around a yard — remained in use by Stephens, Smith until about 1900, when the site was acquired for the Millwall Working Men’s Club and Institute. The works at No. 40, meanwhile, were occupied by J. G. Statter & Company, electrical engineers, an associated company.

John Stephens was Director and Founder – died on February 2nd 1926.

John Stewart & Sons, Blackwall Iron Works

Iron Works
Folly Wall / Stewart St.

Survey of London, Athlone Press:

The Blackwall Iron Works was established by John Stewart in the 1850s for the manufacture of marine engines. The business specialized in engines for tugboats, but also engaged in shipbuilding.

In 1854 Stewart acquired a block of land 120ft long between the river and the Folly Wall. He added a narrow strip to the south in 1858, and larger ones to the north in 1860 and 1864, bringing the river frontage to 395ft. The ground on the west side of the Wall was also acquired in a number of stages. A lease was taken of a small parcel in 1857 and, by further leases of 1860, 1862 and 1864, Stewart became tenant of all of the ground between the two short streets off the east side of Stewart Street, with a frontage of 503ft along the western side of the property.

3361808109_dd5cf73d27 15047717346

Stuart’s Granolithic Company Ltd.

Glengall Rd (later Tiller Rd)

Survey of London, Athlone Press:

Stuart’s, manufacturers of artificial stone made from cement and crushed granite, originated in Peterhead, Scotland, in 1840.

The company’s Scottish origins were not forgotten. Bagpipes accompanied the house-warming at the new Island works in 1902, and in 1903 the managing director, Peter Stuart— who had planned the layout— was preceded by a tartanclad piper as he led members of the Sanitary Inspectors’ Association on a tour.

The entrances to the foot tunnel are decorated with Stuart’s Granolithic Stone.

Stuart’s head office remained at the works until 1958, when it was transferred to Harrow. The works closed in 1962. The site was briefly a road-haulage depot and was then redeveloped for public housing.

stuarts 15047825706

Swayne and Bovill

Railway Wheel and Spring Works
Mellish’s Wharf
Westferry Rd.

1840s Bernard William Farey was assistant at the engineering establishment of Swayne and Bovill, where he worked under Frederick Joseph Bramwell.

1857 ‘The suspension has been announced of Messrs Swayne & Bovill, merchants and patentees of various kinds of machinery. The amount of their liabilities is not ascertained, but it is believed to be large, probably over £100,000. The nature of their assets is doubtful. Messrs Cheape & Leslie, an old established East India firm, have also stopped. The disaster in this case is understood to have been through some connection with the transactions of Messrs Swayne & Bovill, although the ordinary business of the two houses was entirely distinct.’

1858 Fuller and Horsey placed advertisements announcing the sale of plant and equipment at the Works, in Millwall, of Swayne & Bovill. This included machines by many of the best makers – Smith, Beacock and Tannett, Collier, Parr, Curtis and Madeley, Davis of Leeds, Fox, Whitworth; foundry equipment, punching and shearing machines. Also a set of new, unused flour milling machinery; steam engines and boilers, including a compound beam engine made by Swayne & Bovill, of 70 HP, with cylinders of 16″ and 32″; materials including 100 tons of iron as rod, bar, and scrap, 20 pairs of patent wrought iron wheels, 20 new capstans to Allyn’s patent, a new screw propeller, patterns for mill gearing, steam engines, drums, girders, etc.; 6 hudraulic presses for hay, made by the firm to Stirling’s patent.

United Horse Shoe and Nail Co.

Horse Shoe and Nail Makers
Wharf Rd (later Ferry St)

1883 The company was registered on 20 June, to amalgamate the United Horse Nail Co and the Horse Shoe Manufacturing Co.



Packing and Containers
Westferry Rd
Site later part of Burrell’s

of Vintry House, Queen Street Place, London, EC4. Telephone: Central 6580. Telegraphic Address: “Venestra, Cannon, London”

1896 The Venesta Syndicate was formed for the purpose of proving the value of Venesta board for making containers, tea-chests

1898 The company was registered on 15 January, to acquire the business of the Venesta Syndicate, of St Mary Axe and Venesta Wharf, Limehouse, manufacturers of all kinds of boxes, packing cases etc; patents had been applied for

1928 Closed the Millwall factory and concentrated all UK production at the Silvertown factory. Had started to introduce aluminium foil but this meant relearning the lessons from the introduction of tin

Note: (Aug 2008 ) Now as Armitage Venesta, a washroom system provider, the company is still in existence. It operates from two sites: Gravesend, Kent and Trentham, Staffordshire.

Joseph Westwood and Co

Napier Yard
Westferry Rd
(Opposite Harbinger School)

c.1881 Joseph Westwood, junior retired from his father’s firm, Westwood, Baillie and Co, and took offices in London for a time

1883 On his father’s death, Westwood set up new works with more modern machinery and appliances for constructing ironwork and steelwork of every kind, on the site of the old Napier Works at Millwall.

1883 Company founded.

c.1885 Joseph Westwood, Junior started manufacturing Hawksley’s Patent Treads (see photo) at theNapier Yard (the location of the yard used to build SS Great Eastern in 1854).

1897 Private company.

1905 Crane gantry for Durban harbour

1911 Constructional Engineers for the Railways.

1914 Bridge Builders and Constructional Engineers. Specialities: steel bridges and all kinds of steel constructional work, steel corrugated plates. Employees 700 to 800.

1946 Public company.

1961 Bridge builders and heavy constructional engineers, steel stockholders, grab manufacturers and storage equipment manufacturers. 350 employees.

1968 Built tunnel shield for the cargo tunnel at Heathrow.

Scan0017 15070486942

John and Edwin Wright

Cable Makers
Universe Works
Glengall Rd (now Tiller Rd)

1770 Company established.

1860s Invented and patented cable for The Atlantic Telegraph Cable.

1899 The company was registered on 4 February, to take over the business of cable manufacturers, of a company of the same name.

1914 Manufacturers of wire, cotton and hemp ropes, twines, cordage, tarpaulins etc. Specialities: wire ropes for winding at high speeds from great depths; cotton ropes for the transmission of power.

The Universe Rope Works occupied the entire north side of Glengall Rd (now Tiller Rd) from Westferry Rd to the dock wall in the east.


Yarrow and Co

Shipbuilders and Marine Engineers
Folly Wall

Yarrow, shipbuilders and marine engineers, of Poplar, London.
of Scotstoun, Glasgow; and Canada.

The Yarrow company was one of the world’s leading builders of Destroyers from its inception until after World War 2, building ships for both the Royal Navy and export customers. Yarrow was also a builder of boilers, and a type of water-tube boiler developed by the company was known as the “Yarrow type boiler”.

1865/6 Alfred Yarrow established the partnership of Yarrow and Hedley at Folly Wall, Poplar on the Isle of Dogs to build steam river launches.

1870s Built torpedo boats for the Argentine and Japanese navies

1875 The Hedley partnership was dissolved; the company was then known as Yarrow and Co

1876 Stern wheel steamboat for South Africa.

1879 Built the first torpedo boat, 85 ft long, for the British Navy.

1888 Built four petroleum spirit steam launches.

1890 Built gunboats for the Zambesi and Shire rivers.

1892 built two destroyers for the Royal Navy: Havock and Hornet.

1894 Description and illustrations of their works on the Thames.

1897 Incorporated as a limited company.

1898 moved out of Folly shipyard to the nearby London Yard

1900s The yard manufactured torpedo boat destroyers for the Royal Navy.

The operation was moved to Scotstoun on the Clyde over a period of 2 years; the London shipyard closed in 1908,

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4 Responses to A Catalogue of Victorian Island Industry

  1. Keith says:

    Why is there no mention of Herbert Morris on the history of Brown Lennox. My brother worked there as a blacksmith, and my friend as a welder.

  2. A fascinating catalogue of manufacturing and industry from Panyan pickle to shipbuilding. My first foray to the Island was as a kid in the late 1960s – wish I could have known it a few decades earlier…

  3. Jerry Burley says:

    Dear Sir, I have happened across your incredible site while researching for a vessel built by Samuda Brothers of Poplar and used here in central Africa. Do you have access to any Samuda records and/or photos, as information on them, for what was such a big company in the day, is sketchy to say the least. Grateful for any assistance.
    Kind regards

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