|Administrative / biographical background:
John Lee Benham first established a business as a furnishing ironmonger at No 1 Edward Street, Portman Square in 1817. His main interests were gas light fittings and the production of various types of baths. In 1824 he expanded the business by purchasing No 19 Wigmore Street, the former London residence of the Bishop of Chichester. Gradually the business became more focused on cooking equipment and less on baths and light fittings. The firm's premises had expanded to include Numbers 50, 52, 54 Wigmore Street, with a factory at No 66 Wigmore Street. Further expansion occurred during the twentieth century with the acquisition of premises at 100 Garratt Lane, 307 Merton Road and 59 Standen Road, Wandsworth. During the Second World War, Benham's manufactured a variety of gun and munition parts, (see 2037/21).
Benham and Sons were managed by five successive generations of the Benham family until it joined the Glover and Main Group in 1960. Subsequently in 1965 this Group became part of Thorn EMI. In 1979 Benham and Sons Ltd merged with the firm of James Stott and Company Ltd of Oldham. As Stott Benham Ltd, the company was taken over by the Swedish company Electrolux in 1987. It continued to operate from Vernons Works in Oldham until manufacturing and spares supply operations were relocated out of the area in 1994 and the works closed. The records of Benham and Sons Ltd were recovered from the cellars of the Vernon Works after closure in 1994 and passed to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, who transferred them to Oldham Archives Service in 1995.
The origins of the firm of James Slater and Company Ltd can be traced to James Slater who in 1839 was a brass manufacturer at No 12 Rose Street, Soho. By 1841 he had become a gas fitter and relocated to No 23 Denmark Street, Soho. In 1876 the firm moved to 251 High Holborn where it established new engineering works The extensive range of the firm's business activities is demonstrated by the following entry from the Kelly's Post Office London Directory of 1882,
"James Slater & Co. general engineers & founders, engine builders & manufacturers of all kinds of machinery, designers & builders of gas works for towns & mansions, makers of chandeliers, billiard lights, gas brackets & branches of all kinds, smiths & art workers in iron & brass, gas hot plates & cooking apparatus to cook for 10 up to 2,000 persons, hot water apparatus for conservatories, private houses & public buildings supplied & fixed, baths heated by gas or circulating pipes, improved & patented copper sliding sashes & frames & iron & gun metal casements, machine work done for the trade, Holborn Engineering works, 251 High Holborn WC".
It was not until 1910 that the firm again relocated to No's 50-51 Wells Street, Oxford Street. The last date at which the firm is listed in the directories is 1965.