RECORDS OF AND RELATING TO H. H. MARTYN & CO. LTD., ARCHITECTURAL DECORATORS AND FURNISHERS OF CHELTENHAM, AND ITS ASSOCIATED COMPANIES
The arrangement of the records made by Mr. Whitaker for the purposes of his book has been largely retained, with a few modifications. The legal and administrative records are listed in sections 1 and 2, whilst sections 3 and 4 contain photographs, advertisements, newspaper cuttings and retrospective correspondence and notes.
H H Martyn and Co Ltd, Cheltenham, architectural decorators and furnishers
Immediate source of acquisition:
Records deposited by Mr. John Whitaker
Much of the Martyns archive was deliberately destroyed at the instigation of Maples management when Sunningend was vacated, but some material was salvaged by people associated with the firm. The records listed here are those collected by Mr. Whitaker from various sources for his history of Martyns and the Gloster Aircraft Company, The Best (1985), from which the brief company histories above have been derived (the book is available on G.R.O. searchroom shelves).
(Acc 6336 and 7132)
Gloster Aircraft Company
Cheltenham Manufacturing Company
Meigh High Tensile Alloys Ltd
Gloster Coach and Sheet Metal Co Ltd
Administrative / biographical background:
H. H. Martyn & Co., founded by the craftsman of that name in 1888, began as a firm of stone, marble and wood carvers specialising in gravestones, memorials and ecclesiastical decoration. By 1900, when it became a limited company, it had diversified into decorative plaster work, joinery, cabinet making, wrought iron work and castings in bronze and gun metal. It later became involved in the production of stained glass and pressed steel. The range of its activities was therefore unique for its time.
By 1920, it was employing over a thousand men at its Sunningend Works in Lansdown, and it remained the largest employer in the Cheltenham area for many years. Its virtually unrivalled reputation for excellence meant that its services were in demand from a wide range of customers from many parts of the world.
In 1934, the firm was acquired by the London furnishers Maples, and in 1971 declining demand compelled it to cease trading (annual general meetings continued after that date, since the firm remained in existence).
H. H. Martyn & Co. began sub-contract work on aircraft in 1914, and in 1917 the boards of Martyns and the Aircraft Manufacturing Company formed the Gloucestershire Aircraft Company (later the Gloster Aircraft Company) to carry on that branch of business at the Sunningend Works. Later the manufacture of car components and car assembly was also undertaken. The Gloster Aircraft Company was established in new premises in Hucclecote by 1930, but during the Second World War the production of aircraft components was resumed at Sunningend by H. H. Martyn (Aircraft) Ltd.
Other associated companies based at the Sunningend Works were the Cheltenham Manufacturing Co., a subsidiary of H. H. Martyn & Co. formed in 1936 to undertake furniture manufacture, Meigh High Tensile Alloys Ltd., and the Gloster Coach and Sheet Metal Co. Ltd.