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Commerce & Business Entrepreneurs Manchester

James Allcock

James Allcock & Sons Limited – Chemical

James Allcock, Chemical Manufacturers

James Allcock began his business in Audenshaw
in 1924 and moved to a new premises in an old converted chapel
in West Gorton in 1928. His company was to provide most of the
chemicals used in the rubber industry in the Manchester area,
most notably for the production of synthetic rubber tyres for
bicycles wheels. His business also saw a great boom during the
Second World War when the demand for “rubberised” fabrics to
make waterproofs for soldiers was in great demand.
Eventually, Allcock took over the Anchor Chemical Company in
Clayton, where he had worked as a young man. Allcock’s son James
(known as Mr Allcock Junior) also worked with his father in
the company, and was to go on and extend the company considerably
as well as with R S Rushton to oversee expansion and subsequent
company take-overs.
The Rushton family eventually bought the company and ran it
as a family concern. Allcocks acquired the adjacent Truscott
Transport Company in the 1930s, as well as the surrounding land
formerly housing a starch works, Openshaw Brewery and a corrugated
paper factory. Here they extended the company premises and added
new offices, as well as a fleet of lorries. In 19884 a further
premises in Ambrose Street was added, though this was destroyed
by fire in 1992. The arsonist responsible for the fire was never
found, and after nearly 4 years of wrangling over insurance
claims, the works was finally rebuilt on the Ambrose Street
The company is still involved in the rubber industry, as well
as plastics and surface coatings, exporting all over Europe,
India and the Far East. Recently it has made strenuous efforts
to establish a “green” works policy and has a capacity for recycling
rubber products. The company is still owned and run by the Rushton

John Holden & Josiah Hardman

Hardman & Holden Limited –
Tar Distillers

John Holden, Tar Distillers
John Holden
Josiah Hardman, Tar Distillers
Josiah Hardman

In 1897, Josiah
Hardman from Milton in Staffordshire, and John James Holden
of Higher Broughton, Manchester formed Hardman & Company to
acquire the bankrupt company Bouck & Co. These two partners
had quite different skills – Hardman was a tar distiller, and
Holden had been involved in spinning textiles in Rossendale
and Macclesfield.
They set up business in Clayton with a third partner, George
Henry Holden. H&H;, as the firm became known were under constant
threat of closure during their early years, because of the noxious
smelly odours that emerged from their factory, but, as coal
gas became increasingly more important, (particularly with the
introduction of gas street lighting in Manchester in the late
19th century), their products were, ultimately, too valuable
to lose. They moved to more strategically placed premises at
Valley Road, midway between the 2 gasworks, both of which were
connected directly to H&H; by pipelines. When Holden retired,
his son William took over his interests in the company.
In 1926 the tar distillery side of the business was sold off
to Lancashire Tar Distillers as H&H; concentrated more on the
other coal tar by-products, notably cyanides and the production
of blue dye pigments from ferrocyanides.
In 1956 the company acquired C J Schofields, who had hitherto
been their main suppliers of sulphuric acid. By this time H&H;
was a major local employer with some 900 people working at their
The implementation of North Sea Gas in the 1960s effectively
brought an end to all coal tar distillation in the UK and H&H;
formed a new association with Borax, a new company which mined
borax. From this time on the company diversified into more general
chemical manufacturing.
Various merging of companies took place until in 1973 Hardman
& Holden Limited were effectively dissolved and Manox Limited
came into being, trading from 1988 as the Northern Division
of RTZ Chemicals. In 1990 the company was absorbed into Degussa
AG, which manufactured within the precious metals and pharmaceutical
The Clayton site is still in operation today producing iron
blue pigments, still within sight of the three surviving Eastlands
gas holders. Since 1998 it has been owned by the Rhodia Limited,
part of the Rhone-Poulenc Speciality Chemicals Group.

Sir Charles Tennant

Tennants (Lancashire) Limited
– ICI Chemicals

Charles Tennant, ICI Chemical Industries

Charles Tennant of St Rollox in Scotland
founded the Tennant Group in 1797 to develop the the process
of using chlorine gas to produce bleaching powder. Hitherto,
bleaching had been done, fairly inefficiently, by exposure to
sun and wind, a long drawn out and fairly ineffective procedure.
In 1830 Tennants (Lancashire) Limited was established in Liverpool
and Manchester, where raw materials were brought into Liverpool
docks by Tennant’s own shipping fleet and thence by rail to
Manchester. The factories and processes were successful throughout
the nineteenth century, and in the 1920s Tennants manufacturing
equipment and process were sold to form the new Imperial Chemical
Industries Limited – ICI. The new company set out to produce
formaldehyde, oxides, pigments, resins and dyestuffs. Subsequently,
paint manufacturing, textiles, food ingredients and plastics
divisions were added to its range. Today the company is the
largest independent distributor of these products in the UK
and supplies to many international companies. The Tennant Group
still distributes solvents, dyestuffs and chemicals from its
Lancashire site, worldwide and throughout the European Union.

Henry Duffy

H Duffy & Company – Printers

Henry Duffy, Printers

A small shop was set up in 1929 by a former
pattern card maker named Henry Duffy, who, with his son Louis
established a printing company at 31 Sackville Street in Manchester
city centre. With only a small platen treadle printing machine
they did small jobbing work printing stationery, tickets, labels
and luggage tags. Soon their inexpensive work was much in demand
by local shops and traders. During the Second World War the
firm was moved to Mosley Street where Henry Duffy continued
to print until his death in 1947. Under Louis, mechanisation
was introduced, and Louis’ son was sent to study printing at
UMIST. After 1958 the business was moved out of the city to
Lower Harriet Street in Walkden. In 1962 the company also acquired
Bank Press in Patricroft. A works fire in 1976 and a compulsory
purchase order from Worsley Council forced another move, this
time into a disused allotment site near Walkden Cricket Club.
In the 1980s, Duffy’s moved into technology and introduced computer
typesetting and later went into Desk Top Publishing, children
of the family training at Blackburn College and Liverpool University
to keep the company at the cutting edge of print technology.
In 1996 the company celebrated 70 years trading in Manchester.
The company is still run by the Duffy family and is a well established
leading print company for the city of Manchester.

John Staniar

John Staniar & Company
– Wire Weavers

John Stanier, Wire Weavers

John Staniar established his first wire weaving
company in Strangeways, Manchester in 1790. By 1800 Staniars
had set up the Manchester Wire Works in Sherborne Street to
produce soft annealed mesh and wire of various gauges. Here
also was produced light plated steel wire cloth for local flour
mills – these were still produced on hand looms until the late
1950s. Their products were, and still are, supplied to the likes
of Spillers and Rank, Hovis, McDougal mills.
In 1908 the company was awarded medals at the Franco-British
Exhibition, and again in 1910 at the Japan-British Exhibition.
Their wire mesh, wire brushes, roller brushes, and machinery
guards are still world beating products, and much in demand.
The factory was badly damaged by incendiary bombs during the
Second World War.
The company moved to new premises in Whitefield (Bury) in 1989
and celebrated its 200th anniversary in 1990. They trade today
in perforated metal sheet and produce a variety of wire, nylon
and metal mesh sheet for sieving and use in flour mills.

Shami Ahmed

Joe Bloggs Company – Clothing

Shami Ahmed, Joe Bloggs Clothing Company

Shami Ahmed is the Manchester millionaire
owner and originator of the Joe Bloggs clothing label, and latterly
owner of the Emanuel label. Born in Pakistan, Ahmed was brought
to Britain as a young child, brought up and raised in England,
and started working part-time in his father’s clothing business
as a teenager on a market stall in Burnley. He left school at
the age of 16 and went full time into the business. By his early
20s the business had blossomed into a major high street concern,
and is now valued to be worth at least �50 million. Ahmed had
the knack of bridging the gap between his family’s eastern culture
and of the indigenous street culture – a product of Lancashire
and Pakistan, with a clear understanding of both and the business
acumen to place his garments where they have attracted undeniable
street credibility. His brand label now sells worldwide with
showrooms in London and Europe, the Middle East, Russia, Malta
and South Africa. Currently in the midst of a legal battle with
Elizabeth Emanuel (made famous as the designer of Princess Diana’s
wedding dress in 1981), with whom he formed a partnership in
the 1990s – the partnership broke up with Ahmed taking the Emanuel
label with him – Elizabeth is now set on regaining ownership
and use of her own name again – very controversial.


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This page last updated 24 Jan 12.