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British Industrial History

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George Spencer, Moulton and Co

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1934. Factory at Bradford-on-Avon.

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1934. Factory at Bradford-on-Avon.
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of 77 Cannon Street, London, and later

of 2 Central Buildings, Westminster, London, SW1. Telephone: Victoria 9576. Cables: "Spenmoul Parl, London". (1929)

of 13-14 Ashley Place, Westminster, London, SW1. Telephone: Victoria 1864-7 (4 lines). Cables: Spenmoul, Sowest, London.

Also: Works at Kingston Mills, Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts; Export Department at Abbey Mill, Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts. (1947)

As an agent of the U.S. rubber pioneer Charles Goodyear, Stephen Moulton first brought samples of vulcanized rubber to the UK. Subsequently he shared the samples with Thomas Hancock, who then beat Goodyear to a UK patent for the vulcanization process by a matter of a few weeks in 1843.

1848 After various disputes with Hancock and Goodyear over patents and manufacturing rights, Moulton established his own factory S. Moulton and Co at Kingston Mill, near Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, England. He specialised in rubber applications for engineering industries.

With the increasing importance of the British railway industry he concentrated on providing rubber suspension systems and components for railway carriages.

George Spencer displayed inventiveness in various fields before conceiving the idea of using rubber for railway springs and as a shock absorber. After experimenting with several specimens of vulcanized rubber supplied by the leading manufacturers of the days, in the early 1850s Spencer found that the Moulton product was the best suited for his purpose and established George Spencer and Co to exploit this.

The conjunction of the Spencer engineering designs with the Moulton product were immediately successful and underpinned much of the railway engineering development of England in the second half of the nineteenth century.

1891 Moulton's company was amalgamated with that of George Spencer in London, to become George Spencer, Moulton and Co.

1895 Advert shown. [1]

1929 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Tennis Balls (sealed) Standard. Lacrosse Balls. Inflated Toy Balls, Terra Cotta, assorted colours, painted. Unburstable Bouncers, Terra Cotta, assorted colours, Multi-colour. Dog Bones and Bits. Puppy Biscuits. Dog Balls (indestructible). (Stand No. C.33) [2]

1934 See George Spencer, Moulton and Co: 1934 Review

1937 Indiarubber manufacturers. [3]

Post WWII Dr Alex Moulton (great grandson of Stephen Moulton) joined the company, eventually becoming technical director[4].

1947 British Industries Fair Advert as Manufacturers of fine India Rubber Balls for Tennis, Lacrosse and Squash; and other Sports Goods. (Sports Goods Section - Olympia, 1st Floor, Stand No. F.1811) [5]

1956 The company continued as George Spencer Moulton and Co until 1956 when it became part of the Avon Rubber Co.

Alex Moulton left the company to found Moulton Developments Limited.

1993 Production ceased on the site.

Location of Kingston Mills

The 25" 1887 O.S. map (surveyed 1884-5) shows several separate mill buildings on land immediately north of the River Avon in the centre of Bradford-on-Avon. At the eastern end of the town a large mill leat is taken from River Avon at a weir. A skew bridge takes the railway over the leat near its entrance. After doing its work, the water returned to the river via three spillways. The mills were overlooked by the impressive Elizabethan Kingston House.

Immediately to the west were New Mills (woollen). A multi-storey building has survived, converted for multiple uses. The 1922 OS map and the 1934 photo (aerial view) shows that the rubber works came to occupy the whole site, including the woollen mill. The 1922 map shows that the main buildings were linked by narrow gauge railway lines.

Further east on the 1887 map are Greenland Mills (woollen), served by their own leat. The 1922 map shows that these had become part of the rubber works. For a time they were occupied by the Sirdar Rubber Co, before being taken over by Spencer, Moulton, and tennis balls were made there by the successors, the Avon Rubber Co. until the late 1980s.

The 1922 OS map also shows that the mult-storey Abbey Mills had changed from wool to India rubber production.

Old photos of Kingston Mills here[6].

Kingston Mill was built as a woollen mill by Thomas Divitt in the early 19th century. Hopkins and Howard, makers of Saxony and superfine cloths, were early occupants.[7]

Today the Kingston Mills site is largely given over to a new housing development. Several of the mill buildings remain, as does the flowing leat, while Kinsgston House and its garden remain intact, surrounded by high walls. It is difficult to relate the site to rubber production, but the difficulty was reduced in 2016 by the placing of a preserved rubber calender, named the Iron Duke (see photo).

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Post Office London Directory, 1895
  2. 1929 British Industries Fair p157
  3. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  4. Moulton Bicycle Company [1]
  5. 1947 British Industries Fair Advert 423; and p258
  6. [2] Bradford on Avon Museum website
  7. 'The Woollen Industry of South-West England' by Kenneth G. Ponting, Adams & Dart, 1971
  • [3] Wikipedia
  • [4] Bouncing-Balls.com