Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,103 pages of information and 233,633 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Tilley Lamp Co

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Tilley Radiator Heater.
Tilley Radiator Heater.
November 1924.
November 1932.
November 1934.
Aug 1935.
October 1936.
Paraffin Pressure Domestic Iron.
August 1945.
Sept 1945.
Jan 1947.
Feb 1947.



Works and Repair Department: 114 Colindale Avenue, London;

Offices and Showroom:

of 33 Sackville Street, Piccadilly, W.I. (1947);

of 15 Sackville Street, London, W1 (1951)

1818 W. H. Tilley, gas fitters, began manufacturing lamps at their works in Stoke Newington, and in Shoreditch in the 1830s.[1]

William Henry Tilley, presumably son of the founder, was a successful gas fitter and plumber in Shoreditch - the business being known as W. H. Tilley

William's sons, Frederick and William, worked in the business and took it over after their father's death.

By 1909 the business had become Tilley Brothers[2]

1909 The Tilley High-Pressure Gas Syndicate Ltd. was incorporated as a Private company[3] by Frederick Charles Tilley, William Henry Tilley and others [4] to manufacture high pressure gas lighting equipment using coal gas that had been developed by Frederick.

1915 The Tilley High-Pressure Gas company moved to Brent Street in Hendon

1919 The company started work with paraffin (kerosene) as a fuel for lamps.

1920 The company started making the lamp that made its name famous[5]. It became so popular that Tilley became used as a generic name for a kerosene lamp in many parts of the world, in much the same way as Hoover is for vacuum cleaners.

During the 1920s the company had diversified into domestic lamps, and had expanded rapidly after orders from a number of railway companies.

Company name changed - the Tilley Lamp Co had been established by 1924 (see advert)

1937 The Tilley Lamp Co: Portable lamps, floodlights and searchlight projectors. "Tilley" Lamps. [6]

After the World War II fears about the poisonous effect of paraffin fumes, and freely available electricity reduced demand for domestic use.

1947 Name changed.

1949 Company made public.

1959 The company began diversification[7]

1961 The company moved its operations from Hendon to Ireland, finally settling in Belfast.

1961 Manufacturers of "Tilley" paraffin vapour lamps, radiators and low pressure gas appliances. 360 employees. [8]

1970 Merger proposed with Falks Veritas[9] but failed on concern about US liability issues.

By 1989 the company was an unquoted subsidiary of Candlewood Holdings

In 2000 they relocated.

NB The Tilley Lamp is said by some to derive from John Tilley’s invention of the hydro-pneumatic blowpipe in 1813. John Tilley was an itinerant glass-blower and developed the device to aid his work but the connection with the Tilley lamp is uncertain.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Patent to Frederick Tilley concerning atmospheric gas burners
  3. The Times, Dec 16, 1949
  4. The Times, Dec 16, 1949
  5. [1] Tilley company website
  6. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  7. The Times, May 26, 1959
  8. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  9. The Times, Sep 16, 1970