Catalogue description Robinson and Sons Ltd, textile and packaging manufacturers, Chesterfield

This record is held by Derbyshire Record Office

Details of GB 0026 D5395
Reference: GB 0026 D5395
Title: Robinson and Sons Ltd, textile and packaging manufacturers, Chesterfield



Reference Description


Robinson and Sons Ltd, core business records


Corporate and Management Records


D5395/1/1 Articles/memoranda of association, 1893-1979


D5395/1/2 Minutes of Directors' meetings, 1893-1997


D5395/1/3 Minutes of Box/Packaging Division Directors' meetings, 1953-1992


D5395/1/4 Minutes of Dressings/Healthcare Division Directors' meetings, 1954-1995


D5395/1/5 Minutes of Committee meetings, 1949-1996


D5395/1/6 Published annual reports/accounts to shareholders, and associated papers, 1979-1996


D5395/1/7 Shareholding records, 1893-1962


D5395/1/8 Company letter books, 1864-1920


D5395/1/9 Other correspondence, 1900-1909


D5395/1/10 Reports presented at meetings, 1953-1995


D5395/1/11 Organisation charts and strategic planning, 1952-1996


Legal records including deeds, agreements and patents


D5395/2/1 Title deeds, 1776-1915


D5395/2/2 Title deeds and agreements, 1769-circa 1956


D5395/2/3 Correspondence: trade marks and financial affairs, 1897-1919


D5395/2/4 Gamgee tissue litigation papers, 1903-1924


D5395/2/5 Correspondence and papers: litigation, patents and trademarks, 1903-1941


D5395/2/6 Correspondence and papers: trade marks, 1922-1935


D5395/2/7 Correspondence and papers: litigation and trade marks, 1933-1966


D5395/2/8 Correspondence and papers: trade marks, Gamgee Tissue, patent specifications (dressings), 1871-1951


D5395/2/9 Title deeds, agreements and other core legal documents, 1869-1914


D5395/2/10 Agreements, leases and other core legal documents, 1851-1977


D5395/2/11 Patents and trade mark registrations: boxes and cartons, 1916-1977


D5395/2/12 British patents and agreements: dressings and boxes, 1871-1978


D5395/2/13 Patents: boxes and 'Little John Drum', 1895-1965


D5395/2/14 Patents: spiral tubing, outside the United Kingdom, 1944-1967


D5395/2/15 American patents: mostly spiral tubing, 1928-1964


Accounts/Financial records


Ledgers and financial records:


D5395/3/1 Private ledgers, 1897-1978


D5395/3/2 Purchase ledgers, 1865-1976


D5395/3/3 Abstract journals, 1952-1976


D5395/3/4 Transfer journals, 1935-1970


D5395/3/5 Cash books and bank books, 1850-1986


D5395/3/6 Boxes/packaging: sales records and reports, 1892-1981


D5395/3/7 Boxes/packaging: costs records, circa 1914-1980


D5395/3/8 Cotton/dressings: sales records, 1897-1959


D5395/3/9 Cotton/dressings: costs records and reports, 1890-1981


D5395/3/10 Sales and costs, all departments, 1861-1978


Financial reports:


D5395/3/11 Cash position reports (code RS4), 1964-1986


D5395/3/12 Monthly trading statements and reports (code RS2), 1974-1987


D5395/3/13 Group performance data (code RS85), 1978-1986


D5395/3/14 Group performance annual forecasts (code RS102), 1980-1986


D5395/3/15 Treasury reports 1984-1986


D5395/3/16 Boxes/packaging: financial reports, 1947-1993


D5395/3/17 Central Services financial reports, 1971-1986


D5395/3/18 Dressings: financial reports, 1961-1962


D5395/3/19 Charitable subscriptions and donations (code RS 100), 1953-1984


D5395/3/20 Other financial reports, 1950-1986


D5395/3/21 Financial procedures, 1931-1932


Employment, pension and labour relations records


D5395/4/1 Personnel books, 1930-1985


D5395/4/2 Wages books, 1842-1942


D5395/4/3 General records relating to labour, wages and industrial relations, 1912-1988


D5395/4/4 Pensions and sick pay, 1888-1953


D5395/4/5 Staff training, 1951-1972


D5395/4/6 Long service awards and staff obituaries, 1935-1996


D5395/4/7 Portland Works Council, 1948-1953


D5395/4/8 Walton Works Conference, 1955


D5395/4/9 Accident report books, 1949-1970


D5395/4/10 Personnel department, 1965-1986


Production records


D5395/5/1 Cotton/dressings: production records, 1902-1968


D5395/5/2 Boxes/packaging: estimating and manufacturing data, 1854-1977


D5395/5/3 Cotton: estimating and manufacturing data, 1901-1939


D5395/5/4 Pharmaceutical containers, 1959-1970


D5395/5/5 Miscellaneous, 1967-1969


Plant/property records


D5395/6/1 Valuations of property, 1893




D5395/6/2 General, 20th century


D5395/6/3 Wheatbridge Mills complex, 1891-circa 1987


D5395/6/4 Portland Works, 1925-1969


D5395/6/5 Walton Works and Goyt Side, 1906-1986


D5395/6/6 Boythorpe Works, 1970-1980


D5395/6/7 Holme Brook Works, 1892-1970


D5395/6/8 Bradbury Hall and Rye Flatt, 1920-1979


D5395/6/9 Machinery, 1889-1937


D5395/6/10 Housing, 20th century


D5395/6/11 J J Blow Ltd and Furnace Hill, 1909-1964


D5395/6/12 Miscellaneous, 1884-1973




D5395/6/13 Maintenance, 1911-1957


D5395/6/14 Housing, 1949-1977


Company magazine, Company clubs and societies, and Special Occasions


D5395/7/1 'The Link', company magazine, 1918-1988


D5395/7/2 Royal visits to Robinsons, 1933-1996


D5395/7/3 150th Anniversary celebrations, 1989


D5395/7/4 Sports Club, 1927-1980


D5395/7/5 Bowling Club, 1926-1979


D5395/7/6 Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, 1927-1989


Miscellaneous Robinsons company papers


D5395/8/1 Papers relating to the Holme Brook Works, 1916-1983


D5395/8/2 Miscellaneous papers: boxes/packaging, 1961-1985


D5395/8/4 Miscellaneous papers: cotton/dressings, 1941-1948


Subsidiary Companies in the Derbyshire area


D5395/9 J J Blow Limited of London and Chesterfield:


D5395/9/1 Memorandum and Articles of Association, 1940


D5395/9/2 Minutes, 1952-1986


D5395/9/3 Annual reports and accounts, 1952-1984


D5395/9/4 Private ledgers and cash books, 1929-1958


D5395/9/5 Sales ledgers, 1934-1950


D5395/9/6 Purchase ledgers, 1933-1952


D5395/9/7 Other financial records, 1937-1986


D5395/9/8 Agreements and correspondence, 1960-1983


D5395/9/9 Personnel and wages, 1940-1978


D5395/9/10 Closure of J J Blow Ltd, 1984-1989


D5395/9/11 Miscellaneous, 1984-1989


D5395/10 Edward Hall and Brother Co/Bradbury Lees and Co Ltd/Whitecroft plc, bleaching works, Whaley Bridge, 1951-1979


D5395/11 Cellulose Wadding Supplies Ltd/Frank D Weller Ltd, 1951-1972


D5395/12 Dumero Ltd, 1965-1985:


D5395/12/1 Minutes of Directors' Meetings, 1965-1985


D5395/12/2 Minutes of Business Meetings, 1966


D5395/12/3 Accounts and Balance Sheets, 1966-1967


D5395/12/4 Business Papers, 1965-1966


D5395/12/5 'Crenette' brand, 1966-1969


D5395/13 Pressure Sealed Plastics/Speed Plastics Ltd/Flexus Ltd:


D5395/13/1 Pressure Sealed Plastics/Speed Plastics Ltd, 1955-1988


D5395/13/2 Flexus Plastics Ltd., 1988-1989


D5395/14 Robinson DSG Ltd:


D5395/14/1 Minutes of Directors' meetings, 1988-1990


D5395/14/2 Financial Papers, 1988-1990


D5395/14/3 Business Papers, 1987-1990


D5395/14/4 Project 'Albert', 1987


D5395/14/5 Healthcare Diapers, 1987-1990


D5395/15 Spire Transport Ltd, 1972-1988


D5395/16 Edward Taylor Ltd, medical and surgical plaster manufacturers, of Monton near Eccles in Manchester:


D5395/16/1 Articles of association and minutes, 1910-1977


D5395/16/2 Accounts, 1932-1962


D5395/16/3 Pension scheme, 1958-1970


D5395/16/4 Closure of Monton site, 1984-1991


D5395/16/5 Miscellaneous, 1930s-circa 1971


D5395/17 I E White Ltd/Robinson White Plastics Ltd, 1972-1988


D5395/18 Miscellaneous records relating to subsidiary companies, 1953-1964


Personal and Family Papers


D5395/19 William Bradbury Robinson (1826-1911)


D5395/20 Charles Portland Robinson (1844-1916) and miscellaneous family papers


D5395/21 Charles William Robinson (born 1875)


D5395/22 Philip M Robinson (1882-1978):


D5395/22/1 Personal papers, 1882-1984


D5395/22/2 Papers relating to work, 1903-1954


D5395/22/3 Papers relating to official work, 1920-1974


D5395/22/4 Papers relating to religious affairs, 1893-1978


D5395/23 Sir Robert Robinson, DSc, FRS, OM (1886-1975)


D5395/24 Councillor Florence Robinson JP, Mayor of Chesterfield, 1946-1947




D5395/25 Wheatbridge Housing Association and other co-operative housing scheme papers, circa 1920-1950

Date: 1769-1997
Held by: Derbyshire Record Office, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Robinson and Sons Ltd, textile and packaging manufacturers, Chesterfield

Physical description: 25 Series
Access conditions:

The following series contain records which are less than 30 years old and will not be made available for public consultation:


D5395/1 Corporate and Management records,


D5395/3 Accounts/Financial records, D5395/6 Plant/property records,


D5395/8 Miscellaneous Robinsons Company records,


D5395/9 J J Blow Ltd, D5395/10 Edward Hall and Brother Co,


D5395/12 Dumero Ltd, D5395/13 Pressure Sealed Plastics,


D5395/14 Robinson DSG Ltd., D5395/15 Spire Transport Ltd, and D5395/17 IE White Ltd.


The following sub series contain records which are less than 30 years old and will not be made available for public consultation:


D5395/2/9 Title deeds, agreements and other core legal documents 1869-1914


D5395/2/10 Agreements, leases and other core legal documents 1851-1977,


D5395/4/4 Pensions and sick pay 1888-1953,


D5395/4/10 Personnel dept 1965-1986,


D5395/16/1 Articles of association and minutes of Edward Taylor Ltd, and


D5395/16/4 Closure of Monton site belonging to Edward Taylor Ltd.


D5395/4/5 Staff training 1951-1972 contains records which are less than 75 years old and will not be made available for public consultation.

Immediate source of acquisition:

The records were deposited in Derbyshire Record Office in January 2001

Custodial history:



A serious flood in 1922 destroyed the majority of early company records. The earliest volumes which have survived are a cotton department purchase ledger dating back to 1865 (D5395/3/2/1), a bank book dated 1850 (D5395/3/5/11) and a fragmentary wages book dating from 1842-1845 (D5395/4/2/1). For many years the company archives were stored in the Muniment Room established by Philip Moffat Robinson in 1952, first at Bradbury Hall and then in the Wheatbridge complex.

Publication note:



For printed company histories and brochures including Robinsons of Chesterfield Centenary 1839-1939 (privately printed, 1939), Supplement to the Robinsons of Chesterfield by Philip Robinson (privately printed, 1961), and Robinsons of Chesterfield, illustrated brochure (1963), see D3001B/1/1-4


A copy of Robinson and Sons Ltd, Chesterfield, 1839-1989 by the Chesterfield and District Local History Society, 1989, is available in the Derbyshire Record Office search room, as is Pill Boxes and Bandages - a Chesterfield Story by Crichton Porteus (privately printed by Robinson and Sons Ltd)

  • Brampton, Derbyshire
  • Chesterfield, Derbyshire
  • Medical equipment
  • Packaging
  • Textile industry
Administrative / biographical background:

Early history and company organisation


The history of Robinsons began in 1839 when John Bradbury Robinson took over a Mr Fletcher's business manufacturing pill boxes. John B Robinson was a son of William Robinson and Ann Bradbury and was born in 1802. Before embarking on the pill box business, he had spent 21 years as a chemist in Packer's Row, Chesterfield. Although Mr Fletcher had been based in Bradford Dale near Middleton by Youlgreave, John B Robinson transferred the manufacture to Wheatbridge Lawn in Brampton. This house had been built by John's grandfather William Robinson in 1770 but had been leased for many years to the Smith family, proprietors of the Griffin foundry in Brampton and major employers in the Brampton area from the 1770s to the 1830s. In 1833, John's father William Robinson bought back Wheatbridge House and adjoining property for £550 from the Smiths.


John B Robinson was joined in the business by his son William Bradbury Robinson (1826-1911), and father and son became partners in 1854 under the name John B Robinson and Son. In 1858, John B Robinson's second son Charles Portland Robinson (1844-1916) joined the firm. On the death of John B Robinson in 1869, Charles Portland became a partner and the company's name was changed to Robinson and Sons. On 25 Oct 1893 the business was converted into a limited company. The first three directors were William B Robinson, Charles P Robinson and William's son William B Robinson II. William B Robinson I became the company's first Chairman. During the twentieth century the firm remained under the direction of various family members. Charles P Robinson was Chairman from 1911 until his death in 1916. He was followed in that role by William B Robinson II (1917), Charles W Robinson (1924), Colonel Victor O Robinson (1945), Ernest B Robinson (1962), Charles P Robinson II (1973), and Robert Robinson (1978). Other Robinson family members took on roles as Directors. It was not until 1988 that the first non-Robinson Chairman was appointed: Tony K Slipper, formerly of Cadbury-Schweppes, who worked closely with Philip Robinson who had been appointed as Chief Executive the previous year.


The firm's first products were round pill boxes. In 1846 a square box department was founded, and the following year the manufacture of willow-boxes (also known as chip boxes) was begun under the direction of William B Robinson. By the 1850s a warehouse had been opened at 17 Bouverie Street, London, for distribution of the products, but by 1854 the chip box business was failing and William was keen to find something else on which to concentrate. The Crimean War had led to greater demand for medical dressings, and William bought a second hand lint frame, studied it, and invented the world's first power-operated lint frame. From that time on, Robinsons developed two separate departments: the box department and the cotton, later called dressings, department.


In 1954 the separation of boxes and dressings was formalised by the establishment of divisional boards. The Box Division was re-named the Packaging Division in September 1965, while the Dressings Division was re-named the Healthcare Division between June and July 1987. Further changes occurred in 1988 when Robinsons and Sons Ltd adopted a new corporate identity and the name 'Robinson'.


Boxes/Packaging Division


Pill box manufacture had begun in 1839, rigid boxes in 1846, willow chip boxes in 1847, and turned wood boxes in 1859. In 1880, production of willow and turned wood boxes ceased. At first, Robinsons' business was carried out in the house at Wheatbridge, and later in various stables and outhouses. The Holme Brook Works were purchased in 1884 for production of pill boxes. In 1890 production of folding boxes was begun and in 1892 a printing department was opened. Lithographic printing started in 1901. The folding box department later transferred from Wheatbridge to the Holme Brook Works. In 1920, following a great increase in the number of Robinsons' employees, land near Wheatbridge Works was purchased and a new factory built, called Portland Works. The folding box department moved into Portland Works in the 1920s and 1930s, while the manufacture of round boxes was based at Wheatbridge Mills. By the mid 20th century, Robinsons' factories were spread over a large area by the side of the river Hipper in Brampton.


In 1924, John B Robinson II invented the 'Little John Drum' spiral tube box. Spiral tube winding production started in 1938, and gained immense importance when the Rowntrees order for 'Smarties' tubes was obtained in 1956. The box division suffered a blow in 1969 when the National Health Service ceased to use round boxes for storage of pills and ointments, but in the 1970s packaging diversified into plastic products, predominantly by the purchase of I E White, later re-named Robinson White Plastics. The changes in the packaging market led to the closure of the square box department and the Holme Brook Works in 1981. In 1988, Robinson Packaging was re-organised and a Gift Products department established in Leeds.


Dressings division


The work of the cotton department began with the manufacture of lint in 1855, and progressed to other surgical dressings. The entire process, from spinning, weaving and bleaching of the raw materials to manufacture and sale of the finished product, was carried out by Robinsons. The Walton Works were purchased in 1896, and in 1899 the old Walton corn mill property and Walton Mill Dam were bought in order to get water for bleaching the cotton products. New bleach works were built at Whaley Bridge in 1950 in partnership with the company Edward Hall and Brother, and bleaching at Walton ceased in 1953.


Robinsons began the large-scale commercial production of surgical products such as bandages, gauze and cotton wool. Production of gauze tissue was begun in 1884, patents were taken out for the production of the first sanitary towels in the 1880s, and in 1895 a patent was acquired for the manufacture of cellulose wadding. In 1897 production of Gamgee Tissue started, following Dr Gamgee's assignment of his patent to Robinsons. Robinsons also began to produce antiseptic dressings at this time. The late 1940s and 1950s were a time of great importance as the 'Mene' sanitary towel, the 'Paddi-Pad' disposable nappy, and the 'Paddi' waterproof disposable nappy holder began production. The 'Nikini' sanitary towel brand was launched in 1960. In the early 1980s, the dressings division enjoyed success with the Cosifits disposable diaper and the 'Soft and Pure' range of healthcare and cosmetic products, but in the late 1980s the division was re-organised and re-named 'Healthcare' to reflect changing priorities.) The diapers side of the business became a separate joint venture company in partnership with DSG.




The first subsidiary company established by Robinsons was Cellulose Wadding Supplies Ltd, set up in 1929 to deal with the sales side of the cellulose wadding department. In the 1930s, Australian and New Zealand subsidiaries (Cotton Dressings Proprietary Ltd, and R O Chesterfield Ltd) were set up for the manufacture of cotton wool. Other, already existing, companies were bought up by Robinsons in the middle part of the 20th century and sold off in the 1980s as the firm decided to concentrate on core business activities. These included J J Blow Ltd, manufacturers of milk filters and dairy equipment, with a factory on Oldfield Road in Chesterfield, which was purchased in 1941 and sold in 1986; Edward Taylor Ltd, medical and surgical adhesive plaster manufacturers, of Monton near Eccles in Manchester, bought in 1959 and closed in 1990; Pressure Sealed Plastics (PSP), which was bought in 1966, re-named Flexus Plastics Ltd in 1987 and sold in 1989; Spire Transport, also purchased in 1966 and sold in 1988; and I E White, based in Kirby-in-Ashfield, which was bought in 1974, and re-organised as Robinson Packaging - Plastic Products in 1988.


Employee welfare


Robinson and Sons was well known in the Chesterfield area for its enlightened attitude to employee welfare. In 1928 the firm bought Field House (the former residence of the late W B Robinson II) and built a large canteen known as Bradbury Hall, which was the venue for the employees' welfare and canteen facilities. Bradbury Hall closed in January 1984. In the 1920s the Directors of the company, in particularly Philip Moffat Robinson, also established the Wheatbridge Housing Association in order to provide low-cost housing for the workforce. Many clubs and societies for Robinsons' employees, such as the Sports Club and the Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, were also set up during the 1920s and flourished for many years. The company magazine, 'The Link', kept the workforce abreast of current developments.

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