This record is held by Hackney Archives Department

Details of D/B/BRY/1/2
Reference: D/B/BRY/1/2
Held by: Hackney Archives Department, not available at The National Archives
Language: English
Administrative / biographical background:

In 1884 Bryant and May became a public company which was to expand greatly during the remainder of the nineteenth and early decades of the twentieth centuries. The new company comprised Bryant & May's business and that of two other match manufacturers, Pace & Sons and J.H. Hunt & Co. The business grew quickly, taking over Bell & Black, with their four British factories in 1885. Increased production encouraged a drive for export markets in Australia, India and the Far East.


The opening of a new factory in Liverpool in 1895 by the Diamond Match Company of America, which was equipped with continuous process match making machinery, increased pressure on an already highly competitive British market. With sales of imported matches increasing, and following a deterioration in the Australian trade, Bryant & May Ltd, and the British Diamond Match Co. amalgamated in 1901. The merger gave the American company 54.5% of Bryant & May's share capital, though almost all of this had been bought back by 1914. For their part, Bryant & May acquired the Patent rights to the new Diamond machinery, the Liverpool factory, interests in two South African factories and ownership of the Irish Match Co. The reconstituted board included several directors of Diamond's British operation, and the death in 1906 of Bryant & May's first chairman, Wilberforce Bryant, saw the end of the family's participation in the business.


By 1911 a new Bryant & May match factory had been built at Bow replacing the pieceme development which had taken place there since 1861. In an effort to meet the shortage of production capacity in Britian caused by the prohibition of the import of matches from 1916 - 1920, a new factory at Glasgow (Empire Works) was built in 1920. A match factory at Leeds was rebuilt in 1927, the year in which the British Match Corporation was formed, (see D/B/BRY/1/3) in response to a flood of cheap foreign matches on the British market.


In 1941 the Diamond Works at Litherland, Liverpool was completely destroyed in an air attack. This resulted in the expansion of the Mersey Works at Garston which had been acquired from Maguire, Paterson and Palmer Co. Ltd. in 1923. At the time of compilation of this list, the Garston Works was the only large scale match producing plant in the United Kingdom, production of woodstick and book matches at Fairfield having ceased in 1971 and 1979 respectively. The Bryant and May factories at Leeds and Glasgow closed in 1956 and 1981 respectively.


Bryant & May began a venture into forestry in 1922, attempting to grow aspen for conversion into match splints on an estate at Ballochyle in Argyllshire. The estate was sold in 1960, though in the meantime several estates in England were planted with poplar.


Bryant & May Ltd., along with Bryant & May (Holdings) Ltd. and Bryant & May (Forests) Ltd. joined Wilkinson Match in 1974.

Sharing will require cookies. Show details


Found an error?

If you find an error with this record description let us know

Fields marked with * are mandatory.

Your details

If you provide contact details, we will be in touch about your request within 10 working days.