Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Parnall and Sons

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Exhibit at the Bakelite Museum.
Exhibit at the Bakelite Museum.
Parnall and Sons.
Exhibit at the Museum of Bath at Work‎. (Detail).
The former Coliseum Works, 2012
'The National Coffee Roaster' cast iron stands converted to a computer desk.

Parnall and Sons of Bristol, weighing machines, shop fitters, iron and brass founders, plastic moulders, of Narrow Wine St, Fairfax St, Rosemary St, and the National Scale Works, Fishponds, Bristol (1887), of 44 and 45 Broadmead, Bristol, and Coliseum Works, Park Row, Bristol.

1820 Business founded[1] by Henry Geach Parnall (1803-1881).

1887 Parnall and Sons Ltd, public offering of shares in the new company formed to acquire company of the same name, manufacturer of scales and weighing machines, iron and brass founders, general machinists, shop front builders and shop fitters[2]. John Parnall was managing director; the recent death of his brother had placed too much demands on John to run the business (which had national reputation) alone; about 220 employees.

1889 Private company. Parnall and Sons was registered on 29 June, to take over the business of the firm of the same name, shop fitters, scale makers, iron and brass founders. [3]

1893 Visited by the Society of Inspectors of Weights and Measures[4]

1913 Purchased by W. and T. Avery Ltd, Soho Foundry, Birmingham but continued to operate under the existing name. Joint Managers: T. Baxter and G. G. Parnall.

1914 Scale Makers, Tinplate Workers, Shop Fitters, Bank Fitters, Brass Finishers, Ironfounders and Engineers. [5]

WWI Parnall and Sons began aircraft production, as well as sea and land craft; the company received large orders from the Admiralty for aircraft designed elsewhere, principally Avro 504s and Short Brothers 827s.

Assembled Fairey Hamble Baby aircraft in WW1

1916 Parnall and Sons produced their own design of coastal defence aircraft.

The demands of war brought many new arrivals into the world of aircraft production and the company received large orders from the Admiralty for aircraft designed elsewhere, including the Panther Ship Aeroplane, of which a large number were ordered, Avro 504s and Short Brothers 827s.

The quality of workmanship and enthusiasm for the new product was soon apparent and it brought an enquiry in 1916 for a design of their own to meet a requirement for a coastal defence aircraft. At that time the principal threat to Britain was seen as Zeppelin attacks and a specially designed fighter was sought to counter this threat. Harold Bolas was released from the Admiralty as designer.

Around 1920 it was considered that prospects in the aircraft industry were poor with the ending of hostilities. But shopfitting was an ongoing business, with office in Farringdon Rd, London[6].

1921 George Geach Parnall formed a new company, George Parnall and Co, with a handful of previous employees and opened the Coliseum Works in Park Row, Bristol to build aircraft. This had previously been the Coliseum skating rink. The facade of the works has been retained as part of a new office building (see photo). A blue plaque commemorates the site's (not the building's) connection with the HMV dog 'Nipper', but not with its role as factory making aircraft. This role will surprise many, given its unusual location in a prestigious area. A book, 'Bristol at Work', includes photographs of aircraft within and outside the building [7]

c.1925 W. and T. Avery Ltd were awarded £6500 by the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors for the Parnall "Panther" ship aeroplane[8]

1929 Carried out work at Piccadilly Circus Underground Station in London[9].

1931 Purchased the business of Tan-Sad chairs which were manufactured at Bristol works[10].

1934 Development of refrigeration products, including cold rooms[11].

WWII Manufactured aircraft components.

1946 Took an interest in Creamery Package Manufacturing Co[12].

1948 Expansion of the business although shop fitting was subdued due to restrictions on building; established Hussmann British Refrigeration Ltd in association with a leading American company to supply self-service cabinets[13].

1961 Storefitters, refrigeration engineers, plastic vacuum forming machine manufacturers, scientific seating, metal work sheet and art. 1,200 employees. [14]

1963 Averys owned both Parnall and Sons and George Parnall (first report of the latter at AGM), both of whom were involved in shopfitting; sold Hussmann British Refrigeration Ltd to whom Parnall and Sons would continue to supply casings[15].

1967 Both Parnall and Sons and George Parnall were described at the Averys AGM[16].

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 10 December 1887
  2. The Times, 10 December 1887
  3. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  4. Bristol Mercury , December 6, 1893
  5. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  6. The Times 20 December 1920
  7. 'Bristol at Work' by John Penny, Breedon Books, 2005
  8. The Times, Jan 13, 1925
  9. The Times, 24 July 1929
  10. The Times, 29 July 1931
  11. The Times, 25 July 1934
  12. The Times, 5 September 1946
  13. The Times, 1 September 1948
  14. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  15. The Times, 25 June 1963
  16. The Times 4 July 1967