This page is about companies that you might expect to manufacture in the UK but actually manufacture abroad and companies who used to manufacture in the UK but do not anymore and British manufacturing companies that have closed down.
Thermos flasks used to be made in the UK. Sadly, nowadays they are all foreign made.
Standard Fireworks, once one of Yorkshire’s largest employers and, together with Scotland’s Brock Fireworks (an older but smaller company dating back to the early 1700s) who they purchased in 1988, the mainstay of British fireworks and a household name, were purchased by China’s Black Cat Fireworks in 1998 and the factory closed and production was moved to China.
The bulldozers move in on Birmingham’s Dunlop motorsport factory – An article by British Family.
Avery and Salter scales – I was at Rangoon Airport (pictured below) recently and they are still using old made in England Avery scales everyday and they are in perfect working order. Historically both the famous Avery scales and Salter household scales were all made in the UK. Sadly Avery and Salter now produce all their products in China (as confirmed in an email from Salter of 16 May 2015). I am pretty sure they will not get this kind of longevity from their Chinese made products.
HP Sauce – not made in the UK anymore! Others do make brown sauce in the UK – for alternatives please click this hyperlink.
The last two cigarette factories in UK are to close. Production is to move to Germany and Poland or Romania. Imperial Tobacco is to close its Nottingham factory by 2016. Cigarette maker JTI Gallaher (now Japanese owned) is to shut its factory in County Antrim by around 2016. Cigarette companies have been quietly shutting down other factories in the UK, for example Gallaher shut its Oldham factory in around 2000, its Belfast plant in 1988 and its Port Talbot cigar factory in Wales in 1994. Imperial closed its cigar factory in Bristol in 2010. Despite the move to foreign production, products still bear the word “England” in an attempt to deceive customers.
Sky-line “BOTTLE-BOY” – how can it be that a company producing great things in England like the waiters friend below is not longer going?
Or for that matter a company who produced great little tin openers like that below. This Morfed (South Wales) Limited British Army Tin Opener was made in Great Britain in 1974. Sadly Morfed (South Wales) Ltd ceased trading around 1980. The company made spectacle joints & metal buttons & buckles & industrial pressings. There are some great pictures of a ration pack issued to soldiers of the 1st Battalion, King’s Own Royal Regiment in the 1950s (which included a Morfed tin opener) here.
Christy Towels emphasise their long British heritage on their website and somehow give the impression of the towels being British made, whereas in fact this Indian owned company now makes all its towels in Gujarat, India having moved its operations there in 2010.
Hammersley and Co (more information here) were founded in 1887 and made lovely fine bone china. In 1970 Hammersley was bought by Carborundum who had already purchased W. T. Copeland / Spode in 1966. In 1976 the companies merged with Royal Worcester to become Royal Worcester Spode. The Hammersley trade name was taken over by Palissy Pottery Ltd, part of the group, in 1982 and the Hammersley’s Works closed in that year. In December 1988 the use of the Hammersley and Palissy trade names ceased and in 1989 Palissy closed and the factory was demolished. The Palissy Company and the Hammersley trade name were sold to Aynsley China in 1989. As far as I know neither name is now used. Royal Worcester and Spode are now owned by Portmeirion.
Ballinger was a brand of Nater Workwear (AKA Khush Workwear) and until recently (2013) they had their own factory manufacturing quality country wear in the UK, but sadly they are no longer a manufacturer and are just a retailer. They had some old stock left on eBay and on their website at the end of 2013.
Hotpoint was a British manufacturer of domestic domestic appliances (white goods). It is now owned by Italian company Indesit who have since closed down most Hotpoint UK factories. Hotpoint products are now generally imported, but I understand that some tumble dyers are still made in the UK. I asked Hotpoint / Indesit about this and they were less than forthcoming about where their products are made, but did confirm that some production still takes place in the UK and in Europe. They also stated that they are unable (read unwilling) to tell their customers where a particular product is made. There is a separate Hotpoint company in the USA making similar products but independent from Hotpoint in Europe and these products are not made in the UK.
Hoover (vacuum cleaners) is another company who have closed all their UK factories.
Dyson now make all their products abroad too.
Anglepoise (formerly Herbert Terry) used to strike me as a very British brand and they used to manufacture everything in the UK, but sadly no more. Anglepoise now only make the Giant 1227 lamp in the UK. All their other lights are made in China under license. Interestingly new Anglepoise lamps are very expensive to buy, whereas you might expect otherwise now that Anglepoise are cheaply made in China.
The factory building remains, just behind Oxford Street and I don’t know when they closed. Once one of the world’s greatest hat makers and famous for their top hats. Henry Heath’s was acquired by Christys’ in the 1950s.
There’s an interesting article here entitled “Henry Heath’s Top Hats – an Extravagant Concoction” and another here about top hat etiquette.
Royal Sovereign Pencils
Closed. Today’s Royal Sovereign pencils are foreign made and are not the same company, just the same name. Please see http://wp.me/p2KOue-Pu for more info.
I own this beautiful box of pencils in the below picture. On the box it says – “Wolff’s Royal Sovereign British Made Pencils”. “Makers to H.M. Government and the Bank of England”. “By Special Appointment to His Majesty the King”. They don’t make ’em like this anymore.
Berol too are now foreign owned and only manufacture abroad.
I don’t think M.K. Mole and Son exists as a company any more, but I stand to be corrected on this. Fabulous quality useful tools.
For over 300 years the small Oxfordshire town of Witney was famous for its blankets, which were exported all over the World. Sadly, the last blanket mill in Witney has now closed. Witney Blankets were not made by a single company or business but by lots of separate individuals and firms over the years. They came in very many different sizes, patterns, qualities, colours, materials and different methods were used to make them.
The nemesis of Witney Blankets was probably the introduction of widespread central heating, the rise in popularity of the duvet and cheap imports. Blankets are still made in the UK (for example by Hainsworth) but Early’s, the last blanket making company in Witney, closed down in 2002 (Witney Mill).
According to the Witney Blanket Story after the Early’s closed in Witney, the weaving machinery and the Early name was acquired by Quiltex, an American company, and transferred to their Derbyshire factory. BBC news states that Quiltex had already taken over Early’s of Witney by the time the Witney factory closed. After 2002 when Quiltex bought Earlys of Witney the blankets were produced at their factory in Derbyshire, and the company traded as Quiltex Earlys. The Quiltex website selling baby blankets and so on no longer works and it transpires that the sorry tale of Early’s solvency gets worse though as in 2012 Quiltex Earlys went into administration also and it seems a buyer for the company has not been found.
You can find out more about the history of Witney Blankets on this website:
Kernewek of Goonhavern, Cornwall
Again there is not such about this firm on the internet (or about Fosters of Redruth which was apparently set up by the Foster brothers, Michael and Reg, possibly in the 1960’s, with Reg Foster then going his own way and setting up Kernewek pottery). Nice stuff – they did things like soap dishes, gurgle jugs and brown (and blue) jugs and so on. I understand both companies have now closed down.
AWS Made in England
AWS Made in England teapots were nice. Again, I assume they have gone? I can’t find much about this company on the internet. Someone on the internet suggested it is a brand of Hornsea? Possibly Arthur Wood Stoke? Or Arthur Wood and Sons? Arthur Wood was purchased by Price and Kensington and now part of the Rayware Group and made abroad? Does anyone know anything about AWS?
EIT England made nice mugs. Does anyone know anything about them? I assume they have gone? I can’t find much about this company on the internet. English Ironstone Tableware?
Royal Kendal made beautiful things. Does anyone know anything about them? I assume they have gone? I can’t find much about this company on the internet.
The Welsh Beaker Company made very nice mugs – Does anyone know what happened to them? Closed down I assume? There’s not much about them on the net.
Brixham Pottery – Sadly this company has closed.
Stadium Inspection Light – Made in England – Nice bit of kit – Stuff like this or of this quality at least no longer made?
1980s British made Classic RALEIGH RECORD SPRINT racing bike – Sadly Raleigh now make all their bikes abroad.
Morris Oxford – In 1952, Morris merged with rival Austin, under the umbrella of The British Motor Corporation, creating the fourth largest carmaker in the world, selling a wide range of models – including the third generation Morris Oxford, which lives on in India to this day under the Hindustan Ambassador badge. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21953578. See below for a list of lost marques.
Timex watches – These used to be made in Great Britain (Scotland) but they closed the factory and nowadays Timex watches are made abroad.
Hornsea Pottery – Sadly now closed down 😦
Richardson Sheffield is a major supplier of kitchen knives and scissors to the UK market. It is owned by the Dutch Amefa group. Their knives used to be made in England (I have a set of Richardson kitchen knives that were made in England) but production is now in the Far East. The company retains ‘Sheffield’ in its name which is an outright deception of British consumers and should not be allowed.
Whitley Willows Ltd – Went into administration August 2010. What a shame – this scarf they made is lovely.
Household Matches – not made in the UK anymore
Pretty much one of life’s essentials, but there does not seem to be a single ordinary match made in the UK nowadays. S.J.Moreland and Sons and many other well known names were taken over by Bryant and May who were themselves taken over by Swedish Match who have now moved all their production to Sweden.
Octavius Hunt Ltd, founded in 1870 and the only match manufacturer left in the UK, make specialist matches such as Windproof/Waterproof Matches and smoke matches (which are primarily used in the plumbing industry in the UK to test boilers and ventilation shafts for leaks). All their matches are produced in their factory in Bristol. Aside from specialist matches, Octavius Hunt also make smoke products (pesticide smokes and natural smokes) and pyrotechnic products (sparklers, party poppers, smoke pellets, smoke grenades and so on).
D.C. Thomson and Co annuals
D.C. Thomson and Co have discontinued great comics like the Topper and the Sparky and the only comic books they now sell, the Beano and the Dandy, are now printed in Italy. I am told that whilst the beano annuals are printed in Italy, the weeklies are still printed in Dundee along with the papers, but I have not verified this.
Walker and Hall
Walker and Hall of Sheffield made silverwear and cutlery, primarily in Sheffield but also at other UK locations. I think it later became a retail jewellers, possibly part of Mappin and Webb / Goldsmiths although it is difficult to find much information on this company on the internet. I think the retail jewellers have gone now too. The company was established in 1845 but I do not know when it closed. The factory was on Howard Street, Sheffield and at one point they apparently had showrooms all over the world. At one point it might also have been part of British Silverwear Limited.
Fairy Kitchen Soap
This household soap from Proctor & Gamble is no longer sold (or made presumably) in the UK 😦
Radnor bone china England
I can’t find any information about this company, but they made beautiful small bone china flower arrangements, like the one below, in Staffordshire, England.
These were top quality bowls made in England; sadly now they are made abroad 😦 – I asked the company and they responded as follows “Many thanks for your enquiry; please be advise that none of the Mason Cash range are made in the UK.”
Moira Pottery – I don’t know much about this company, except I gather from the internet that they have closed down. They made good quality cookware, like this dish.
Van Heusen shirts
No longer manufactured or sold in the UK.
Double Two shirts
No longer manufactured in the UK. To quote from the companies website:
“In more recent years, production in the UK has become extremely expensive and the Group has gradually moved its production offshore and now manufactures throughout the Far East, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe. Only repairs and alterations are now done at Wakefield, although some garments also have embroidered logos added there.” At least Double Two are honest about this on their website and all credit to them for that. Their shirts are still of a good quality.
The closure of the British Motoring Corporation (BMC) and its successors (including British Leyland) in 2005 meant the end of mass car production by British-owned manufacturers and the loss or move to foreign ownership of many well known marques (as well as the best-selling mini which is now owned by BMW) including amongst others: Wolseley; Lanchester; Leyland Motors (commercial vehicles, buses and trolley buses) – Leyland Trucks now belongs to American truck manufacturer PACCAR and still make trucks in the UK (which are sold under the DAF name) – Leyland Bus has now gone. The Leyland logo continues to be used by Ashok Leyland (commercial and military vehicle maker) in the sub-continent. Ashok Leyland are now owned by London based Indian company Hinduja and they also own bus maker Optare who make buses in the UK; Daimler; Riley; Standard Motor Company; Rover; Austin; Morris; Vanden Plas; Alvis (which as a military equipment maker was eventually acquired by BAE – car production stopped in 1965); MG (created by Morris and now owned by the Chinese SIAC – Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation); Triumph (Triumph Motor Cycles is now a separate company and still going); Jaguar (Indian owned); Land Rover (Indian owned); Austin-Healey (created by Austin); Scammell; Bristol Commercial Vehicles; Coventry Climax; Eastern Coach Works; Leyland Tractors; LDV (formerly Leyland DAF Vans); Marshall Tractors. Unipart continue on a smaller scale. The Pressed Steel name is no longer used. German company BMW now own the Mini name. Engines for the BMW Mini are now produced in Birmingham, whilst body pressings are made in Swindon and the Mini Hatch/Hardtop, Clubman, Convertible, Coupe and Roadster are assembled at BMW’s Plant Oxford in Cowley, England, and the Countryman and Paceman are assembled by Magna Steyr in Austria. The Countryman is also assembled in India specifically of the Indian market and in Malaysia and Thailand.
I know nothing about this company, expect that they were around in the 50’s and 60’s and possibly later, but I have one of their overcoats (a Marlsbro Tweedsman) and it is a beautiful quality hand tailored garment, made in England. This is an advert for Marlsbro from 23rd April 1955.
David Brown Tractors
Camelot fine bone china bell – as far as I know these are no longer made.
Eveready no longer manufacture in the UK, which is a shame. My made in Britain Eveready rear bike light is very well designed and top quality.
This is a Falcon Sprint bicycle. I have one of these. It’s made in England, it is superb quality and rides like a dream despite its age. Like Raleigh Cycles, Falcon and Dawes bikes are foreign made nowadays.
Closed department stores
I was sad to see that Allders department store in Croydon closed down yesterday (23.9.12) after 150 years.
I’ve thought of a few more big name losses in recent or not so recent years – Selfridges Oxford (which later traded as Lewis’s, then Allders), Lewis’s Liverpool (the last remaining Lewis’s, which I understand has now closed), Dunn & Co, Caleys Windsor (although John Lewis continues trading), Simpsons of Piccadilly, Co-op department stores (many of these have closed, for example in Oxford, Reading and Colchester; the Co-operative Group no longer has any, but some of the independent co-operative societies, which trade under the same banner, still have them, e.g. the Heart of England Co-op has department stores on Corporation Street in Coventry and Abbey Street in Nuneaton), Arberys Wantage, Morton’s Faringdon, Westsports (Faringdon and until recently Swindon), Oddbins (?), Habitat (?), Focus DIY, British Bookshops / Sussex Stationers (?), Barretts Shoes (?), Witney Blankets, Lewis’s, Hornsea Pottery, Clinton Cards (nearly; they went bankrupt but have been bought out and remain trading), Allders, Allders Croydon, TJ Hughes, McIlroys Swindon, McIlroys elsewhere (e.g. Reading), JT Morgan of Swansea, David Morgan of Cardiff, Peacocks, Aquascutum (? – they have been purchased by a Chinese company but will they keep making clothes in the UK? Their factory has been purchased by Swaine Adeney Brigg), Woolworths, Game (?), Blacks (?), Millets (nearly; they are still truing at some locations), Jacksons of Reading (closed 24.12.13). Are there more?
Like Debenhams (Debehams Oxford was Elliston & Cavell for example; and more recently Arding & Hobbs which was acquired from Allders is now trading as Debehams), John Lewis and House of Fraser have in recent years started re-naming stores they have taken over to their generic brand names (for example Heelas in Reading is now marketed as John Lewis, Robert Sayle Cambridge is now marketed as John Lewis, and Howells Cardiff as House of Fraser). I also read that 7 TJ Hughes stores continue to trade. I think Blacks and Millets are still going too.
There is a fairly comprehensive list of current and defunct British department stores on Wikipedia.
The lack of independent department stores worries me and the lack of variety on the high streets of the UK. Even though I shop a lot of the internet these days, I find it sad to lose good stores and especially department stores.
Dunn & Co
Dunn & Co was a well known British chain of menswear retailers. They ceased trading in 1996. They made great suits, like this one which is 100% wool and made in England.
Wilkinson Sword and Gillette
Wilkinson Sword are a British company, but they no longer make swords and their razors are now made abroad. Gillette are part of Procter and Gamble – they used to make razors in the UK (like the one in the picture) but now they manufacture abroad.
This page is about companies that you might expect to manufacture in the UK but actually manufacture abroad and companies who used to manufacture in the UK but do not anymore and companies that have closed down.