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British Industrial History

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Priday, Metford and Co

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Priday, Metford and Company Limited was a family-run company that produced flour at the City Flour Mills, Gloucester, England for over a century.

1850 City Flour Mills built for Joseph and Jonah Hadley, millers. Brick building. Stone-grinding and flour-dressing machines, steam powered. Part of progress from water to steam power and change of mill sites to dock-sides.

1854 (Probable date). Middle building added. Two new steam engines and wheat cleaning machinery installed. Capacity doubled.

1860 J. and J. Hadley moved to City Flour Mills, London. Gloucester Mill taken over by Joseph Reynolds and Henry Allen.

1867 St. Owen's Mill started; used by Priday, Metford & Co 1888 (?) to 1921.

1875 Joseph Reynolds and Henry Allen retired. Succeeded by sons, Vincent Reynolds and John Allen. Francis Tring Pearce also a partner.

1877 A barometer inscribed "City Flour Mills June 1887" presented to Henry Rowles.

1879 Charles Priday took over St. Owen's Mill.

1883 New 10-sack steel roller mill installed (1 sack = 280 lb = 5 bushels = 127 kg)

1885 December: Reynolds and Allen's business in difficulty. Possible causes: cost of conversion of Mill, fluctuation in wheat prices, shortage of capital, additional cost of delivery Avonmouth to Gloucester, difficult canal.

1886 Partnership formed by Charles Priday, Francis Killigrew Seymour Metford and Francis Tring Pearce, under the name of Priday Metford & Co. Accounts started 15 March. Partnership commenced 25 March (deed dated 24 May). New procedures instituted and business grew quickly.

1888 4 January: Fire in Middle Building (also called New Wheatside). £9,000 damage. Rebuilding included new bulk storage silos for wheat, wheat separating and cleaning systems and automatic sprinkler system with reserve water tank on top of roof: latter removed in 1983. During repairs wheat was cleaned at St. Owen's mill.

1892 National Association of British and Irish Millers (NABIM) Convention held at Gloucester.

1900 19 September. Business incorporated under title of Priday, Metford and Company Limited. C. Priday first Chairman; F. T. Pearce and F. K. S. Metford directors. 10 October: first directors' meeting. Founder shareholders: the directors, M. W. Arkell, Florence Priday, Ages Metford, Martha Pearce, Henry Allen Pearce

1904 Description of Mill - modern, clean, Digestive Wheat Meal made at St Owen's Mill. H.W. Arkell, Mill Foreman (Industrial Gloucestershire, 1904).

1910 5 November: article on Priday, Metford describes mill process and buildings. Mill manager Mr Rushworth. "Gloucester Chronicle" also mentions that "Hercules" (stoneground) wheatmeal flour and barley meal was produced by the Company at North Mill. This mill was powered by electricity. Test bakery for Mills.

1921 Mill remodelled; converted from steam (2 Lancashire Beam engines) to electricity. Company ceased to make wheatmeal flour at St Owen's Mill; transferred process to North Mill.

1922 F. T. Pearce and C. Priday retired. New directors H. A. Pearce and Arthur Kenneth Priday. New Chairman F. K. S. Metford.

1925 (probable date): Suction intake and gantry constructed to carry wheat from barges in Victoria Dock to mill.

1927 F. K. S. Metford President of NABIM for the "Strawberry Convention" at Cheddar.

1931 Death of H. A. Pearce. New director Francis Thomas Pearce.

1935 Death of F. T. Pearce senior. (or possibly 1931). Mill changed from DC to AC electricity. 20 March: Fox Elms Ltd incorporated; "Turog" dumbbarge purchased. Company secretary John Forrester Raikes Bevan

1936 F. T. Pearce, junior retired. New director Richard Anthony Pearce. Company celebrated F. K. S. Metford's 50 years with company, special printed card with photo.

1936 F. K. S. Metford knighted; address by board at AGM recorded; presentation, staff party and gifts.

1944 AGM minutes recorded 2 staff and 9 mill employees had been in forces; 2 killed in action.

1946 F. K. S. Metford retired. New Chairman A.K. Priday; New director, Francis Owen Metford

1947 33 Park road purchased as accommodation for employees who had no housing. First occupiers: H.Austin, O. Ellis, G. Elliott

1949 "Fox Elms" hit Severn Railway Bridge (November) and sank; T. Aldridge, master, and son survived. Potential claim for damage to bridge by Ministry of Transport mentioned in AGM minutes. Account show hire of "Morrison" 1949-51

1950 27 July "Severn Conveyor" purchased.

1952 P.O. Metford retired. New director, Lady Metford. (Probable date) "Higre" lost - hit sandbank.

1953 J. F. R. Bevan retired after 50 years as company secretary. Austen Ivor Harold Coates succeeded him. Lady Metford retired. New director, Mrs Beatrix Amy Howard Wyatt-Smith, later McNaughten.

1956 Bread subsidy withdrawn

1957 Mill modernisation. Flu epidemic caused drop in flour consumption.

1958 Death of Lady Metford.

1959 "Nancy H" motorised barge purchased.

1962 Move from North Mill, due to dock entrance enlargement to Victoria Warehouse. Bulk storage system installed—claimed to be the most modern in Europe. Entroleter milling introduced.

1963 "Severn Trader" motorship purchased by Fox Elms Ltd.

1964 New concrete grain silo completed. Flour packing moved to Victoria warehouse. 19 May: J. F. R. Bevan died "53 years secretary and loyal servant" (AGM minutes).

1965 31 March. A. K. Priday retired after 43 years as director, 29 as chairman. New Chairman R. A. Pearce; new drector Charles John Priday. 24 July "Gloucester Journal" picture and article on "Five men's 263 years' service".

1966 Mrs Scott (now Mrs Meadows) (secretary) retired after 44 years' service.

1967 Death of A. K. Priday.

1968 Death of R. A. Pearce. New chairman C. J. Priday; new director Christopher David Vowles. Purchase of 5 new lorries and bulk tanker. New storage bins expected December (AGM minutes).

1969 Mill motor (installed 1935) replaced by several smaller ones. Marriage of William Ellis and Miss Joan Dutton, 72 years' service between them.

1971 Company entered pre-mix trade - shortage of skilled labour make it attractive to bakers. Presentation to Normal Bird after 50 years' service.

1973 Britain entered Common Market; Charman records effect not greatly felt due to existing high import levies on wheat. Most of company's wheat delivered by road. 21 July: W. Ellis 50 years' service, party and presentation of Waterford glass.

1974 Mrs Macnaugten retired. New director Steward Partic Macnaughten, her husband. 14 December: A. Coates retired after 46 and a half years' service, party at Easter 1975.

1975 Last voyage of the "Nancy H" described by J. Hooper, "Cotswold Life". Seaforth Grain Terminal, Liverpool in use. Road delivery of wheat increased.

1977 J. Reynolds & Co., Gloucester closed by Allied Mills. Priday Metford only remaining flour mill at Gloucester Docks. H. Conway-Jones attributed this to the shares having remained within the original families (Gloucestershire Historical Studies, 1981)

1980 Death of C. J. Priday. New Chairman C. D. Vowles; New director Christopher Bruton Priday. Death of S. P. Macnaughten. New director appointed from outside the family to represent the Metfords, Julian Cecil Somerville Mills. High speed roller mills installed.

1983 New Chairman J. C. S. Mills; New non-family directors Shaun Coleman Dowling, Paul Clearly (General Manager). Barges sold; water tower removed.

1984 C. D. Vowles retired. New director Mrs Margaret Elizabeth Cooper.

1985 P. Cleary appointed Managing Director

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