British Xylonite Co Ltd, Brantham

This record is held by Suffolk Record Office, Ipswich Branch

Details of British Xylonite Co Ltd, Brantham
Title: British Xylonite Co Ltd, Brantham
Reference: HC410
Description:

The records in this collection are a substantial element of the total archive of this multi-site (and ultimately, multi-national) concern originating at Homerton in the present London Borough of Hackney, in 1877.

 

The collection consists of records of the British Xylonite Company Ltd. from 1877, and B. X. Plastics Ltd. from 1939, accumulated at the Brantham site including site and plant records 1740-1970, administrative records 1883-1941, directors' working papers 1878-1972, production records 1869-1967, technical and laboratory records 1882-1970, staff, wages, work study and welfare records 1877-post 1966, material concerning the history of xylonite 1865-1981, publications 1922-1970, photographic material 1870s-1977, and miscellanea 1905-1945.

 

HC410/A SITE, BUILDINGS AND PLANT RECORDS, BRANTHAM

 

HC410/A1 Evidences of Title, etc

 

HC410/A2 Registers of capital expenditure votes

 

HC410/A3 Capital votes for improvements

 

HC410/A4 Plant application books

 

HC410/A5 Tenders for New Buildings

 

HC410/A6 Fire Insurance records

 

HC410/A7 Building Development

 

HC410/A8 Railway Siding records

 

HC410/A9 Brantham New Village

 

HC410/A10 Spartina Grass application

 

HC410/B ADMINISTRATION: LETTER BOOKS, ETC

 

HC410/B1 B X Co (first series)

 

HC410/B2 B X Co (second series)

 

HC410/B3 General letter books

 

HC410/B4 Messrs Hyatt (Homerton)

 

HC410/B5/1 Merriam family and Directors

 

HC410/B5/2 L P and C P Merriam

 

HC410/B6 J S Warburton

 

HC410/B7 C B Brooke, Junr

 

HC410/B8 Statements

 

HC410/B9 Cottages

 

HC410/B10 Paper Drying Company

 

HC410/B11 Costs

 

HC410/B12 Benefit Clubs

 

HC410/B13 Bexoid

 

HC410/B14 Letters to Hale End - various Depts

 

HC410/B15 Letters to outside firms - various Depts

 

HC410/B16 'Make' Department

 

HC410/C DIRECTORS' WORKING PAPERS

 

HC410/C1 Annual reports and balance sheets

 

HC410/C2 Secretary's letters

 

HC410/C3 Papers of C F Merriam

 

HC410/C4 Managers' Committee (Sproxton, Glover)

 

HC410/C5 Factory reports (Sproxton, Glover)

 

HC410/C6 Files - C M Glover

 

HC410/C7 Company accounts - C M Glover

 

HC410/C8 Staff Committee - W R Brown

 

HC410/C9 Staff organisation - E H Lewcock

 

HC410/D PRODUCTION RECORDS

 

HC410/D1 Output summary records

 

HC410/D2 Batch records

 

HC410/D3 Miscellaneous papers

 

HC410/E TECHNICAL AND LABORATORY RECORDS

 

HC410/E1 Papers of Professor John Attfield

 

HC410/E2 Formula books and microfilms

 

HC410/E3 Process and Formula book - Homerton

 

HC410/E4 Laboratory books - Brantham

 

HC410/E5 Laboratory letter books

 

HC410/E6 Description of Xyloidine Dept

 

HC410/E7 Laboratory/Acid/Synthetic Camphor letter books

 

HC410/E8 Laboratory and Halac letter books

 

HC410/E9 Synthetic Camphor letter books

 

HC410/E10 Laboratory account book

 

HC410/E11 Synthetic Camphor Plant books

 

HC410/E12 Temperature and humidity record

 

HC410/E13 Press cuttings books

 

HC410/E14 Records re inflammability of celluloid

 

HC410/E15 Records re W W II German Plastics Industry

 

HC410/E16 Reprints of technical literature

 

HC410/E17 Enactments and regulations

 

HC410/E18 Lecture notes on celluloid

 

HC410/E19 Competitor review

 

HC410/F STAFF, WAGES, WORK STUDY AND WELFARE RECORDS

 

HC410/F1 Time books

 

HC410/F2 Time and wages sheets

 

HC410/F3 Averages of wages calculations

 

HC410/F4 Work Study - labour analysis sheets

 

HC410/F5 Production Bonus books

 

HC410/F6 Office staff weekly wages books

 

HC410/F7 Sick Fund accounts

 

HC410/F8 Saving Bank ledgers

 

HC410/F9 Savings Bank cash books

 

HC410/F10 Savings Certifcate registers

 

HC410/F11 War Bank ledgers

 

HC410/F12 War Savings records

 

HC410/F13 War Service records

 

HC410/F14 Holiday(?) Pay book

 

HC410/F15 'General Bonus Transfer' and dividend books

 

HC410/F16 1926 Pension Scheme rules and records

 

HC410/F17 Wages Rate book (laid-off staff)

 

HC410/F18 Wartime and other wage rates

 

HC410/F19 Wages Dept letter books

 

HC410/F20 Works rules and regulations

 

HC410/G MATERIAL CONCERNING THE HISTORY OF XYLONITE AND THE COMPANY

 

HC410/H PUBLICATIONS

 

HC410/H1 Technical and product literature

 

HC410/H2 'Xylonite Magazine' and 'BXL Review'

 

HC410/J PHOTOGRAPHIC MATERIAL

 

HC410/J1 Albums

 

HC410/J2 Sundry photographs

 

HC410/K MISCELLANEOUS

Date: 1740-1981
Held by: Suffolk Record Office, Ipswich Branch, not available at The National Archives
Language: English
Extent: 84 Series
Administrative History:

The British Xylonite Company could justifiably claim to be the first British firm successfully to manufacture a plastic material in commercial quantities. Xylonite, better known by its American equivalent of 'celluloid', was invented by Alexander Parkes and first displayed in 1862 under the name of 'Parkesine'. Derived from the nitro-cellulose and collodion processes, it was initially used for making domestic articles in substitution for wood, horn, ivory or tortoiseshell. Its subsequent development was closely associated with Hackney, being taken up by Daniel Spill, rubber manufacturer, in 1864 and later by the Xylonite Company at Hackney Wick and the 'Ivoride' Works at Homerton High Street. The founders of the British Xylonite Company, Levi Parsons Merriam and his son Charles, established in 1875 a small business to make combs, imitation jewellery etc. next door to the 'Ivoride' Works; the two works merged in 1879.

 

The original site being small and unsuitable, it was decided in 1887 to buy land at Brantham on the Suffolk bank of the River Stour and erect a purpose-built factory; finished goods continued to be made at Homerton until 1897 when a new factory was built at Hale End near Walthamstow (its products going by the trade name of 'Halex') which also housed the head office. Other types of plastics were introduced, and in 1938 the British Xylonite Company became a holding company with three subsidiaries: B.X. Plastics making xylonite and lactoid; Halex Ltd. making finished goods, and Cascelloid Ltd. making toys and bottles at Leicester and Coalville. The Distillers Company took a half-interest in 1939 and bought the entire Group in 1961, but in 1963 it formed part of a new grouping called Bakelite Xylonite Ltd. established jointly with Union Carbide, and including plants at Birmingham, Aycliffe and Grangemouth.

 

Several sales and mergers took place in the 1960s and 1970s, the most significant being the sale of the Brantham and Aycliffe sites in 1966 to British Industrial Plastics, a subsidiary of Turner and Newall Ltd., who were in turn purchased in 1977 by Storey Brothers of Lancaster, formerly a major commercial rival. The Brantham site now operates under the name of Wardle Storeys and until recently manufactured limited quantities of xylonite using traditional processes and equipment.

Unpublished Finding Aids:
  • The corporate records of the Company are mostly held at the Hackney Archives Dept., Rose Lipman Library, De Beauvoir Road, London N1

     

    Further records of the Company and other constituents of the Bakelite Xylonite Group are held at the Science Museum Library, South Kensington, London SW7

     

    Product catalogues, printed material, photographs and artefacts are held at the Vestry House Museum, Walthamstow

     

    Hackney Archives ref. D/B/XYL; S.R.O. microfilm J 433

     

    Science Museum Library ref. ARCHIVES:BXL

     

    Vestry House Museum ref. W 24.5 XYL

Creator Names:
  • British Xylonite Company, Hackney, London, 1875-1963, plastics manufacturers
  • Parkes, Alexander, fl 1862, plastics manufacturer, of Hackney, London
Copies Information:
  • A microfilm of the Board minutes 1877-1923 is available at Suffolk Record Office.

     

    The copyright position of this collection is complex and involves both B.X.L. Plastics Ltd. and Wardle Storeys Ltd.

Immediate Source Of Acquisition:
  • Received by Suffolk Record Office 3 February 1981 and 27 April 1988 (Acc. nos. 6070, 6076, 6339, 6372, 8010, 8357, 8424, 8559)

Conditions of access:

Open to public access, except for material within last 30 years and certain series of records containing personal information concerning employees, which are closed for 75 years from the latest date of each item

 

Requests for access to recent material, and for publication, to be referred to depositors

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