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Monday, 23rd February 2009
Imperial Tobacco Company.

Y ou never know when

that bit of paper is going to come in useful. How often I have said that over the years and now I have rooms full of 'yet to be useful' paper. It was whilst digging through the piles of paper that exist in this business venture I came across a booklet published by the Imperial Tobacco Company in 1951 which gave a brief history of its inception (check out here, for a more thorough history)

A great deal of the charm of this book is the illustrations within it, the old buildings, the women working with the tobacco leaves in these buildings and the line drawings of the cigarette brands which were being produced at the time.

Well I am afraid that these images are not going to get onto this page at this time, download times and all that.

What is going to get here is a copy of the brief histories the booklet has of each of the branches within the ITC which might be of interest to you and perhaps add a little history to the cards in your possession.

WA & AC Churchman, Ipswich

Founded by William Churchman in 1790 at Hyde Park Corner, Ipswich. The firm takes its title from the names of his two great-grandsons, who succeeded to the business in 1888.

Ten years later the business was transferred to newly built premises in Portman Road, Ipswich, and these premises, which have been considerably rebuilt and extended, are the present headquarters of the Branch.

I used to live in Ipswich and walked past this imposing building everyday, it lay largely empty after Churchmans pulled out of the town.

WT Davis & Son, Chester

Founded by William Twiston Davis in 1860. The three sons of the founder were taken into partnership in the 1880's, and the business was thereafter known as WT Davis & Sons. The business of W Williams & Company, another old Chester firm dating back to the eighteenth century, was purchased by WT Davis & Son in 1895.

For many years the separate identities of the two firms were preserved, although their businesses were carried on in the same factory. They are, however, now completely merged in the WT Davis & Sons Branch.

Edwards Ringer & Bigg, Bristol

The firm of Edwards, Ringer & Bigg, which is a combination of four old Bristol tobacco businesses, traces its origin to 1813 when William Ringer set up business in Bristol.

In 1893 Edwards, Ringer & Company, as the business was then known, was joined by the old established Bristol firm of WO Bigg & Company and the combination then took its present title of Edwards, Ringer & Bigg.

W & F Faulkner, London

This business was founded in the early nineteenth century near Blackfriars Bridge, London. The firm takes its title from William and Frederick Faulkner, sons of the founder. The business of the Adkin & Sons, Branch - another old London firm, established in the Ratcliffe Highway in 1775 - is merged with that of W & F Faulkner.

Franklyn, Davey & Co., Bristol

The actual date of the foundation of this firm is not known. The first recorded date in its history is 1779, when in a fine Jacobean house on the Welsh Back, Bristol, was taken over by a tobacconist named John Davies as a combined residence and factory. In 1781 the firm was listed as Franklyn & McVarthy and it was first known as Franklyn, Davey & Co in 1859.

Lambert & Butler, London

Founded by Charles Lambert and Charles Butler in 1834 at St. John Street, Clerkenwell. The firm moved to Drury Lane in 1836. In addition to manufacturing cigarettes and pipe tobaccos, Lambert & Butler are also cigar specialists.

Charles Lambert was considered in his day to be the finest judge of cigar tobacco in London, and the reputation he established for the firm as suppliers of high quality cigars has been maintained by Lambert & Butler both in their own Bristol-made brands and in the selection of the finest imported cigars.

Stephen Mitchell & Son, Glasgow

Founded in 1723 at Linlithgow by the fourth of a long line of Stephen Mitchells. In 1825 the Excise authorities banned the importation of tobacco into Blackness, the port of Linlithgow, and the business was transferred to Glasgow.

The businesses of DJ Macdonald and F & J Smith, two other old Glasgow firms which joined the Imperial Company on its formation, are incorporated in the Mitchell Branch. In 1904 the Branch acquired the home trade business of J & F Bell of Glasgow.

Ogden, Liverpool

Founded by Thomas Ogden in 1860. The present factory at Boundary Lane, Liverpool, was built in 1899. In January 1924 Ogden's took over the United Kingdom trade of William Clarke & Son when that Branch was transferred to Dublin following the formation of the Irish Free State. The business of Hignett Brothers & Company, an old established Liverpool firm which had joined the Imperial Company on its formation, was merged into the Ogden Branch in 1930. In addition to its Liverpool factory the Branch has a distributing depot at Islington, London.

John Player & Sons, Nottingham

Founded by John Player in 1877 at Broad Marsh, Nottingham. In 1881 additional land was purchased at Radford, Nottingham, for the erection of three new factory blocks, two of which were leased to lace manufacturers until such time as they were required for the manufacture of tobacco. Today the old 'Lace factory' on the Radford site is dwarfed by the Branch's modern factories in Nottingham the Branch also has factories in London and Dublin, and distributing depots in Glasgow and London.

WD & HO Wills, Bristol

Founded in the late eighteenth century by Henry Overton Wills. The firm takes its title from the two sons of the founder, William Day Wills and Henry Overton Wills the second, who succeeded to the business in 1826. In the early days WD & HO Wills had premises at Mary-le-Port Street and Redcliff Street, Bristol. In 1886 the firm moved to Bedminster, Bristol, where the manufacturing and office blocks now cover a large area. In addition the Branch has factories at Ashton Gate (Bristol), Swindon, Newcastle upon Tyne and Dublin, and offices and warehouses in London, Glasgow and Belfast.

Subsidiary Companies

Mardon, Son & Hall, Limited, Bristol

Colour printers and packaging experts.

This old Bristol form, which was founded in 1823, is the main supplier of our cartons and printed material. It first became connected with the tobacco industry about 1846, when it undertook the printing of tobacco labels for Franklyn & Co.

In 1889 Mardon's made tobacco history by printing Wills's advertisements - followed later by complete sets of pictures - on the hitherto plain cards used for stiffening paper cigarette packets. These were the fore-runners of the many famous sets of cigarette cards which Mardon's have produced for the Company Branches.

Mardon's joined the Imperial Company in January 1902.

In addition to being general lithographic and letterpress printers, specialising in a wide variety of products, Mardon, Son & Hall are today the largest manufacturers and printers of cigarette cartons in the world.

St Annes Board Mill Company, Limited, Bristol

Manufacturers of carton board,

St Anne's Board Mill supplies Mardon's with the carton board used for cigarette and tobacco packings.

Up until 1913 almost all our supplies of carton board came from abroad, and in view of our increasing demand it was considered desirable that we should have our own board mill in England which would make us independent of foreign sources of supply.

The first board machines started up in 1915. Since then the mill has been expanded to keep pace with the increasing demand and it is not the largest board mull of its type in the country.

The coating mill, where the board is provided with a special surface for high quality colour printing, now forms a large separate block of buildings.

In addition to supplying the tobacco trade, St Anne's Board Mill is one of the principal suppliers of carton and other board for packing purposes for home and export use, and is making a valuable contribution to the export drive.

Robert Fletcher & Son Limited, Stoneclough, Near Manchester

Manufacturers of cigarette paper and other fine tissues and of waxed paper.

This is a subsidiary company which supplies our Branches with cigarette paper, waxed paper for wrapping pipe tobaccos and tissues of all kinds.

The manufacture of cigarette paper is highly specialised. Before 1914 very little was produced in this country, almost all our supplies being imported from France. ITC first placed contracts with the Fletcher company for cigarette paper in 1914. Since then they have so developed and expanded their production that we know have in this country a flourishing cigarette paper business capable of supplying our entire needs.

The Fletcher company has two mills - the Kearsley Paper Works at Stoneclough, near Manchester, and the Greenfield paper Mill in Yorkshire. The latter, purchased in 1920, is used almost entirely for the manufacture of cigarette paper.

The British Nicotine Company Limited, Bootle, Liverpool

Manufacturers of nicotine and nicotine sulphate used for agricultural purposes.

This company, which was formed in 1906, differs from the subsidiaries already mentioned in that instead of producing ancillary materials for ITC it makes use of tobacco stalks and waste rejected from ITC factories. From these waste materials nicotine and nicotine sulphate are extracted. There is a home and export demand for these products for agricultural use.