Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 150,275 pages of information and 235,386 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Callenders Cable and Construction Co

From Graces Guide


June 1898.


August 1899.


Aug 1935. GWR Centenary.
June 1936.
July 1938. Wiring for the New Hippodrome, Coventry.
May 1939.
Sept 1940.
April 1943.
May 1943
June 1944

Callenders Cable and Construction Co of Erith; of Falkirk, Scotland

also of Hamilton House, Victoria Embankment, London. (1937)

also of Norfolk House, Norfolk Street, London. (1949)

Callenders, originally an importer and refiner of bitumen for road construction, began manufacturing insulated cables in the 1880s at their Erith site on the Thames.

1870 William Ormiston Callender‎ visited the asphalt deposits at Val de Travers, Switzerland; on his return, he set up Callender and Amos with Thomas A. Amos to act as agents for the Val de Travers Company of Neuchâtel to import asphalt for the many road-making schemes that were taking place in the City of London.

1871 "THE Business carried on by the undersigned, as Commission Agents and Managers of the Val de Travers Asphalte Company Limited, under the firm of Callender and Amos, was dissolved by mutual consent, on the 23th February last. The business hitherto conducted by us as Commission Merchants, at No. 150, Leadenhall-street, will be continued by the subscriber W. O. Callender, for his own account, under the firm of W. O. Callender and Co. All accounts due by and due to the said firm of Callender and Amos, will be paid and collected by W. O. Callender."[1].

1877 William Callender obtained an interest in the import of bitumen from Trinidad for road-making and other waterproofing purposes. Took his two eldest sons, Thomas and William, into business as Callender and Sons, refiners of bitumen and for asphalt paving. Offices at 150 Leadenhall Street, London, with a small refinery at Millwall, where the bitumen was landed.

Thomas then arranged that all impurities be eliminated at source, which reduced costs.

The company won many overseas road-making contracts.

1880 On a visit to Russia, Thomas saw the opera house in St Petersburg was lit by Jablochoff candles. To exploit the developing market for electric lighting, he decided to turn the business towards the production of large-capacity insulated cables.

1881 The elder William Callender patented vulcanized bitumen (which his son William had developed)

Tests on the production of insulated wire began at their new factory at Erith, Kent. The management of the Erith works became Thomas's responsibility.

1882 Callender's Bitumen Telegraph and Waterproof Company was formed to finance the development of vulcanized bitumen.

Sir Samuel Canning of the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Co joined the company.

Early 1880s Thomas invented the "Callender solid system" in which cables were laid in wooden troughs and embedded in bitumen.

1883 Cables were supplied for the electric lighting of the new law courts in the Strand and for the Covent Garden Opera House in 1883, as well as mains cables for the growing number of electricity supply companies.

1891 the firm introduced an underground electric haulage system at the Abercannaid colliery, Merthyr, and in the same year received its first tramways order, which was soon followed by the first electrified underground railway.

1896 Callender's Bitumen Telegraph and Waterproof Company was reconstructed as Callender's Cable and Construction Company and was incorporated as a limited company. The company was registered on July 24th, to take over the business of Callenders Bitumen Telegraph and Waterproof Co. [2]. With Thomas Octavius Callender as managing director (a position he held until his death), the company was well placed to profit from the huge expansion in the uses of electricity.

By 1898 the number of contracts won had grown from 31 to 70; total sales over the same period had increased from £95,764 to £296,946.

1903 took over the Anchor Cable Co Ltd of Leigh, Lancashire. Mr. James Callender, in addition to his other duties, took over the Technical Management of Anchor Works, converting the factory from paper-insulated- to rubber-insulated-cables[3]

1914 Manufacturers of cables of every description. Speciality: the "Solid System of Mains" and the insulation of cables by vulcanised bitumen. Employees 5,000. [4]

1916 Patent - Improvements in and/or connected with the Protection of Electric Supply or Distribution Systems in which Split or Parallel Conductors are Employed. [5]

1925 February 19th. Founding shareholder in Austin Electric Co

1925 Research project to investigate the failures of 33 kV cables[6]

1929 Was "closely in touch" with Balfour, Beatty and Co who carried out a contract for them in Jerusalem[7]

1931 Leased the site of the (closed) Wood Lane Power Station from London Power Co[8]

1934 Wood Lane Research Laboratories were opened by the Lord Rutherford of Nelson[9]

1937 Cable makers and electrical engineers. "Anchor" Cables. "Callender" Cables. [10]

1937 Advert in British Industries Fair Catalogue as Maker of C. M. A. (Cable Makers' Association) Cables. (Electricity: Industrial and Domestic Section - Stand Nos. Cb501 and Cb.400) [11]

1939 See Aircraft Industry Suppliers

WWII: Developed method of dealing with magnetic mines using buoyant cable towed by 2 ships[12]. Callenders (together with Glovers of Trafford Park, Manchester) manufactured the Pluto system (Pipelines under the Ocean) which was vital to supplying fuel to the Allied invasion force in 1944.

1945 British Insulated Cables merged with Callenders and became British Insulated Callenders Cables Limited (BICC).

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. London Gazette 24 March 1871
  2. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  3. Wood Lane History [1]
  4. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  5. [2] Wikipatents
  6. Early research [3]
  7. The Times Jun 07, 1929
  8. Wood Lane Power Station [4]
  9. Wood Lane History [5]
  10. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  11. 1937 British Industries Fair Advert p564; and p345
  12. Callenders War time [6]
  • Biography of Thomas Callender, ODNB [7]