The publication “The Golden Hammer” produced by Garton & King in 1961 commemorated the 300th Anniversary of the Company. Three centuries of service to the Public. This Private Publication can be to viewed on this Website and hard copies can be viewed at the Westcountry Studies Library in Exeter and Barnstaple Library.
The Preface credits S. E. Ellacott as the writer of the book. He had worked for a time in the foundry and became a schoolmaster, author and illustrator. Mr Ellacott wrote and illustrated at least five titles in Methuen’s ‘Outlines’ series of books; ‘Forge and Foundry’ and ‘The Story of Ships’ being just two of the titles he wrote in this educational series of books.
What is not commonly known is that in 1938 / 1939 when steps were being taken to relocate the Foundry (at Tan Lane) and create a new Showroom (at Central Station) it was decided to produce a publication to celebrate the impending opening of the New Foundry and Showrooms and quotes were invited for its production.
Nancy R. Lovely was, at the time, engaged to Henry E. E. Holladay and she undertook the task of researching the history of the Company. It is all too easy to make light in the age of computers of this task – in those pre war days it was hours searching through parish records and libraries and old newspapers, equipped just with a notebook and pencil and no doubt lots of leg work as well! Eventually, from her copious notes (some of which still exist, though practically forgotten, in the Devon Record Office.) a draft of the “History of Garton & King Limited” was typed in 1939 – unfortunately that is as far as it got. Eleven flimsy sheets of faded carbon copies were then filed away.
One can only presume that, like the rest of the country, thoughts and fears were taken up with what was going on in Germany and in Europe. Probably there was no real celebration over the opening of the Foundry and the new Showroom on or about the 24th of July.
In August, the 21st to be precise, Henry Edgar Eland Holladay married Nancy Rosamond Lovely at St David’s Church, Exeter. By September 4th we were at war with Germany.
Mother’s work lay untouched, the story was never published and her efforts were filed away. It is illogical to believe that the first eight or nine chapters of the 1961 Golden Hammer did not benefit from all her hard work and research when it was being drafted some twenty years later, but when printed in 1961 the only person credited was Mr Ellacott.
Attached to the eleven flimsy sheets of paper was one other, this I have added at the end of the story for you to read. It is the acknowledgement of all the hard work she put into researching Garton & King’s History, written at the same time as the Draft and filed away with it.
I hope you enjoy the story. I have copied it faithfully from the original and, whilst I don’t doubt its accuracy, there well may be the odd factual error. There is an instance where she refers to Golden Square – in fact she means Garden Square as that is what is shown on the maps I have researched. The intention of the story was to be published to coincide with the opening of the Tan Lane Premises and the Central Station Showrooms in 1939, now at last after 70 years you are able to read, and perhaps appreciate, her work and efforts,
This Website has only just been created and is still under construction with many things yet to be added. If you have a memory or a photograph or maybe know of the whereabouts of products the company made in the 19th century (or before) that still exist today we would love to hear from you.
To all those interested in the History of Exeter, the following account of the City’s oldest established firm, may be of value, both as a story of bygone days and as an insight into the lives of some of its inhabitants. The history of this firm is an account of those who worked at the sign of the Golden Hammer and the story of the growth of the hardware trade in the City. Whether or not the first part of the History is accurate must be left to the reader to judge, but up to the year 1768, the facts were gleaned from the scant records of the City which have survived from that period.
In 1661 a certain John Atken was made a Freeman of this City, having served his apprenticeship with an ironmonger, Thomas Dixe. The latter name may be found in the Freeman’s book as far back as 1641. On becoming a Freeman, John Atken set up business on his own in the Parish of St Petrock and there carried on his trade for many years. In 1698 he was Churchwarden of this parish.
The parish of St Petrock was, and still is one of the smallest in the City and it is unlikely that more than one or two ironmongers carried on their trade in the parish at the same time, so that the mention of John Southcombe in the parish records immediately following the disappearance of the name of John Atken, seems to supply the name of his successor. John Southcombe came from Chudleigh, but served his apprenticeship in Exeter, being made a Freeman in 1688. He was churchwarden of St Petrock’s in 1703 and is mentioned several times in the Church records. He died in 1724, leaving a considerable portion of his goods and money to his nephew by marriage, Lewis Portbury, formerly apprenticed to him. Lewis Portbury was made a Freeman in 1706, and it seems probable that he worked with Southcombe until he took over the business in 1724, having married Southcombe’s niece, Elizabeth, in 1708.
At this stage it is interesting to note two facts; firstly, anyone who completed his period of apprenticeship in any of the recognised trades, could be made a Freeman of the City; secondly, ironmongery was frequently linked with haberdashery, as illustrated in the phrase, “ironmonger and haberdasher of small wares”. This combination is found as late as 1770. Incidentally, the word “Haberdasher” is of unknown origin and seems to have passed through a variety of shades of meaning in the course of time.
In 1712 Lewis Portbury was churchwarden of St Petrock’s and in 1719 was appointed bailiff for this City. He died in 1732 and his son Lewis succeeded to the business.
Lewis Portbury junior was sheriff of the City in 1746 and Mayor in 1748, also being for many years Justice of the Peace of the City and County. His name frequently appears in St Petrock’s records, in which parish he apparently continued in increasingly flourishing business, for at his death on August 13th 1766 the “Flying Post”, a local newspaper, published the following:-
“On Wednesday last, aged 58, died Lewis Portbury, a tradesman in whose character he acquired a handsome fortune with the greatest reputation”.
In the church records there are various references to a property held for a time by Lewis Portbury, which is described as being bounded by the High Street on the North and by the Church on the South. This must have been one of the row of houses which were built in front of the Church and hid it from the Street. In 1767 the following advertisement in connection with Portbury’s property, appeared in the “Flying Post”:-
"June 1st 1767.
To be let for a term of nine years from Midsummer next. All that dwelling house situate in the Fore Street near the Conduit, lately in the possession of Mr Alderman Portbury, deceased, consisting of a very convenient Shop and Passage adjoining, with a Parlour, Kitchen, and Pantry behind same; a very good Cellar under the Shop and Passage, a large Dining Room, Lodging Room, Wareroom and Closet on the First Floor; two good Lodging Rooms and a Closet on the second floor, with four Garrets above the same, and a Balcony on the top of the House which commands an extensive view and a pleasant prospect of the River Exe. For which purpose a survey will be held for letting the same on Monday the 15th day of this instant June, by three o’clock in the afternoon at the Bear Inn in Southgate Street, where the best bidder will have a reasonable price given. For further particulars apply to Mr Thomas Coffin, Joiner, without Southgate, Exon.”
The description of Portbury’s property as having an “extensive view of the River Exe”, could only mean that either he had two properties or else moved his business from one side of the street to the other, as this view would have been impossible from any property adjacent to the Church. The latter solution seems more probable as such a move would have meant more extensive premises to house his increased business. This assumption is also strengthened by the fact that there is no mention of the property adjoining St Petrock’s in Portbury’s Will, nor in the latter years of his life is his name mentioned in the Church records in connection with it.
The following Midsummer the papers make no mention of anyone taking the property, nor commencing business on that site, but the following notice does appear and that exactly on Midsummer:–
“Samuel Kingdon, ironmonger and haberdasher of small wares, who lately lived with Mr Coffin in Exeter. That he has take the house with stock in trade in which Mr William Britnell lately lived at the sign of the Golden Hammer, four doors above the Conduit in Fore Street, where he sells all sorts of ironmongery and haberdashery goods, wholesale and retail”.
It is necessary to see what then is the connection between the business transferred from Britnell to Kingdon, and that carried on by Portbury. Firstly could be property advertised to be let, be the same that Samuel Kingdon eventually purchased. The descriptions and the plans of the Kingdon property as it used to be, almost exactly tally with those of Portbury’s, both in number and type of rooms, also the position in the Fore and High Street. Secondly, the firm still have in their possession papers dated as far back as about 1850 which state that the firm was established in 1700, which, although no proof, add to the likelihood of this assumption being correct. In addition, Portbury makes no mention of his business in his will, so that he had certainly disposed of it before his death in 1766. This would then allow for the introduction of Britnell as Kingdon's predecessor. Finally, it seems likely that Samuel Kingdon, who came from a wealthy family, would purchase none but a flourishing business, which Portbury’s undoubtedly was; it is very significant that he commenced business in exact agreement with the terms of the lease of Portbury’s premises. It is also interesting to note that Mr Coffin was responsible for the Portbury property and that Samuel Kingdon also lived with a Mr Coffin.
To obtain information about William Britnell is not an easy task, for he was apparently a citizen of little consequence, and could only have held the property for a short time. William was the second son of a brushmaker in North Street and was apprenticed to an ironmonger in Exeter. In 1768 he became bankrupt which gives the reason for a notice which appeared in the “Flying Post” stating that his business was to be let but gives no further information on the problem. Doubtless he did not succeed in letting it and the sale to Kingdon was eventually effected.
The story from 1768 is a more detailed one and is best told under the title of:-
In those times comparatively few people were able to read and write, and therefore every shop had its own distinctive sign, which was handed on as an essential part of the business. For example, the sign of the Bible which hangs outside Messrs Eland Bros. is frequently mentioned about these times. One of the verses of a dialect poem (complete poem in appendix A) which was current at that period ran as follows:–
“Then us went to Maester Kingdon’s - th’zine of th’ Hammer W’ere us bought a pair of spaitacles vur poor old Grammer Vur Grammer’s bline, an’ can’t vurry wull zee T’other day her tuk an ole Jack-ass vur me!”
The Kingdon family was well known in the West Country. And many Exonians may be familiar with such names as Kent Kingdon and John Eyre Kingdon.
Samuel Kingdon was born at Thorverton and was one of a family of eight. He was apprenticed with a Mr Coffin in Exeter and having taken Mr Britnell’s shop began a successful business Life.
In 1768 he married Jane, daughter of William Kent of Oxford. He was churchwarden of St Petrock’s in 1771 and played an 7 active part in the affairs of the City. In 1783 the following notice appeared in the “Flying Post” of June 12th:–
“Samuel Kingdon, ironmonger. Acquaints his friends and the public in general that he now manufactures all kinds of brown tea-kitchens, coffee urns, coffee pots etc. and new browns and repairs old ones in the neatest and compleatest manner. Any of those articles sent from the country to be repaired shall be immediately refitted and carefully returned. N.B. He likewise sells the patent elastick trusses for nasal ruptures at 4gns each and for other ruptures at 2gns each, which are the prices the makers sell them for in London. He hath as usual a very extensive assortment of every article in the ironmongery and hardware trade with a great variety of the most useful grates, fenders etc.”
The business flourished for in June 1787 he announced an extension of his business and advertised his wares as follows:-
“Exeter June 14th. Samuel Kingdon, ironmonger, having established a warehouse in Theatre Lane (now Waterbeer Street) to sell copper, begs leave to acquaint the public that he hath an assortment of every kind of it, which he sells on the same terms as the warehouse in London and Bristol and that he takes in exchange all sorts of old metals for which the utmost will be allowed either in exchange or in money. 8
He keeps as usual at his house adjoining in Fore Street an extensive assortment of all kinds of ironmongery, braziery, cutlery and tin goods. He also manufactures all kinds of grates some of which are constructed as to render them effectual cure for smoky chimneys”. Another point of interest is a coin which was circulated in Exeter about this time, and was known as the Exeter Halfpenny. These coins are dated 1792 and bear on one side a version of the arms of the City of Exeter: and on the reverse a portrait of Bishop Blaize, the patron Saint of the Woollen Trade, and the words “Success to the Woollen Manufactory.” On the edge of the coin where the milling normally is, are cut the words “Payable at the warehouse of Samuel Kingdon.” These coins were apparently made by this firm and one of the Kingdon family was known to have been in the woollen trade at this time. It is possible that Samuel Kingdon in his latter years became in some way connected with his relation, and issued these coins, or he may have done so for his own use in trading and the portrait of Bishop Blaize only referred to Exeter’s principal trade. He died on November 1st 1797 and the following announcement in the “Flying Post” throws much light on his character.
“On Tuesday morning died after a tedious illness supported with the patience of a Christian Mr Samuel Kingdon of this City, ironmonger. He had arrived to eminence in his profession by an unremitted and vigorous exertion of his abilities which he possessed in a great degree and conducted an extensive business through a long period with honour and integrity. In his death society at large has lost a useful and active member, the industrious artist a human and benevolent patron. His family and friends will long lament his loss, to whom in each relation he has sincerely attached, for it ever contributed to his happiness in being instrumental to theirs."
After his death, his wife Jane Kingdon announced her intention of carrying on the business, in the following terms:-
“Jane Kingdon wife of the late S. Kingdon gratefully thanks the nobility, gentry and the public in general of this city and the adjoining counties for the many favours conferred on her late husband in the Ironmongery business, and begs to inform them that she still continues the same for the benefit of herself and family, in all its branches. Having, during her late husband’s life taken an active share in the business and now also retaining his same assistants, she doubts not of giving the utmost satisfaction to all those who will be kindly disposed to favour her with their orders and the diligence and exactness will be observed in their fulfilment as in the lifetime of Mr S. Kingdon. 8th Nov. 1797.”
In 1804 she was joined by her two sons Samuel and William. Samuel Kingdon, junior, served his apprenticeship under his father and was made a Freeman in 1802. He then entered into a partnership with William Huxham, that firm being known as “The Exeter Iron Company”, but this partnership was dissolved in 1804 when Samuel Kingdon joined his mother and brother, the name of the firm becoming “Kingdon & Sons”.
At about this time the firm purchased a very old building known as “The Old Guildhall” in Waterbeer Street. Authorities on Exeter state that this title is probably not accurate. The building was undoubtedly very old, being much older than the present Guildhall, and was largely used as a meeting place. Kingdon & Sons built on this site a foundry, smithery and warehouse and in 1806 in order to keep pace with their increased trade, they advertise for more men to work in the foundry, also for “black smiths and white smiths”.
In 1816 Jane Kingdon died aged 69, and was buried at Exmouth. The following laudatory notice appeared in the “Flying Post”:–
“Died on Friday last, Mrs Kingdon widow of the late Samuel Kingdon of this city, ironmonger, whose cheerful disposition and kindness of heart endeared her to her family and friends and renders her loss lamented by all who knew her.”
Samuel and William Kingdon carried on the business as before, both taking an active part in the affairs of the City. William Kingdon was appointed parochial Commissioner for St Petrock’s in pursuance of the new Act of Parliament for paving, lighting and improving the City. It is interesting to note that in 1813 their own premises were one of the first four to be illuminated by gas, or as one writer described it at the time by “The twin sisters Science and Taste” and was “An object of nightly admiration”. Samuel Kingdon married on the 19th February 1805, Sarah, daughter of Jane Eyre of Sheffield, an ivory merchant. He was for some time churchwarden of St David’s and his name is engraved on one of the bells.
In 1826, however, a great fire destroyed the foundry and smithery. The following vivid account of the fire and damage appeared in the “Flying Post” for October 8th and shows how the business had prospered:–
“On Saturday morning last about half past four o’clock the persons living near the Manufactory of Messrs. S. and W. Kingdon, furnishing ironmongers, Waterbeer Street in this City, discovered that it was on fire on the ground floor, at this time the flames were forcing their way through the shutters of the back front, towards and within a few feet of the extensive lofts and workshops of Mr S. Hern, currier in North Street. An alarm was instantly given, the various fire engines were drawn to the spot, the engines and a strong detachment of the 17th Lancers arrived from the barracks and a large number of every class had by this time so extended, that it was with difficulty the books of the Counting House in front of the Manufactory towards Waterbeer Street were got at and preserved and the flames bursting upward the whole of this vast building three stories high with an attic, extending 150 feet in length became one immense body of fire which the wind being high was vomited forth with a bellowing that strongly reminded those present of the descriptive accounts of volcanic eruptions; completely illuminating not only the city but the horizon for miles around and fearfully preserving the illusion by the thundering noise emitted as the floors and the roof with the vast stock of machinery in all different stages of work successively fell within the strong partition walls to the ground.
By seven o’clock the Manufactory was entirely destroyed though within its walls lay a vast body of fire which even on Sunday required the prompt aid of the engines. To the strength of these walls it is chiefly due that the destructive element was confined almost wholly to Messrs. Kingdon’s premises, the damage done to the neighbouring houses being but trifling. The Manufactory was probably the most extensive in the West of London and gave employment to upward of 250 persons and some idea will be formed of the extent of the damage by the fact that there were upward of 300 tons of unmanufactured materials on the premises, to say nothing of the loose quantity of work, a considerable portion of which was nearly in a finished state. Messrs. Kingdon were insured, but it is said to a small amount in comparison to their loss. The cause from which the fire originated can not be ascertained, the men have latterly worked late, but the clerk whose duty it was examined the whole premises about ten o’clock the preceding night and when he left he considered it all safe. Messrs. Kingdon have nobly determined that great as their loss may be, not an individual in their employ shall suffer, all are retained, and while the Manufactory is being rebuilt will be kept at work in temporary shops.”
It is interesting to note that the Company are still insured with the same firm and records of the payment of £1,500 as a result of the fire are still extant.
Presumably as a result of the fire Messrs. Kingdon in 1826 purchased a large block of property in Waterbeer Street, which had been used as the Episcopal Charity School, prior to its transference to the present site in Paul Street. These premises were described as consisting of two dwelling houses separated by a courtyard, breadth in front 27 feet, back 24 feet 6 inches, depth 120 feet and as having “The advantage of an approach at the back through a lane of sufficient breadth to admit wheeled carriages.” This lane is now known as Trickhay Street.
The ensuing years must have been hard ones, and rebuilding the premises in Waterbeer Street was no doubt a long and costly job, but by 1836 the firm had regained some, if not all its past prosperity. In that year Samuel Kingdon was elected Mayor of this City and had the honour of being the first Mayor after the passing of the Municipal Reform Act. On February 8th 1837 the old Corporation plate was sold and the silver salver was bought to be presented to Samuel Kingdon, he being the last Mayor to use it. The presentation was made at a dinner at the Old London Inn on May 29th, when W. H. Furlong presided. It is scarcely surprising to learn that Samuel Kingdon, after all his trials and long association with the iron trade, was known as “Iron Sam”. William Kingdon was Sheriff in 1842. In 1849 the brothers Kingdon announced their intention of relinquishing their business in the following notice:–
“Retiring from business. Messrs. S. & W. Kingdon having for some time announced their intention of relinquishing their very old established business of ironmongers, smiths and founders, have determined to offer their stock in trade which has been much reduced in value on advantageous terms to purchasers. To any parties possessing a knowledge of the business combined with a moderate capital the present opportunity affords advantages seldom met with, the arrangements decided on require immediate application. The premises which are very extensive will be let at a low rental. None but principals will be treated with. A steam engine of 8 h.p. to be disposed of on reasonable terms. January 18th 1849.”
The business was then taken over by the firm of Garton & Jarvis who moved from premises in North Street. The firm of Garton & Jarvis was apparently well known in Exeter and had carried on business in the iron trade for many years. They owned warerooms, cellars and lofts, together with a smithery near Golden Square in North Street where they manufactured iron gates, railings, grates and fenders etc. In the notice of the sale of their old premises they mention “crane and windlass are attached to the lofts also a tram rail and trucks to the cellars.”
John Garton originally came from Headweir where in 1831 he carried on a small business as a brightsmith and grinder. In 1836 he came to Exeter and appears to have set up business in North Street where he was later joined by Mr Jarvis. In 1840 William Beal of North Street announced his relinquishment of business to Garton & Jarvis and from that date they carried on at that address.
On retirement Samuel and William Kingdon, although no longer actively engaged in business, appear to have owned for a short time a small business in the Cathedral Close, which probably belonged at one time to their relation Zachariah Kingdon, a lacemaker and woollen merchant. Their names also appear from time to time in the records of the City as owners of a considerable amount of property in Exeter and the surrounding district.
William Kingdon lived at Haccombe House and owned much property in Colleton Crescent, while Samuel Kingdon lived at Duryard House and owned fields and lands in St Sidwell's, Devonshire Place, Well Lane, Stoke Hill Road and Howell Lane, also the Eagle Tavern.
They both competed at Botanical Shows with peaches and Hot-house plants, no doubt grown in greenhouses heated by this firm, for this was one of its specialities. Samuel Kingdon died at his house at Duryard on January 14th 1854 aged 75, he was spoken of as “A Magistrate of the City of Exeter, beloved and respected by his numerous family and friends for the high integrity and great kindness of heart which distinguished him throughout a long and active life.” William Kingdom outlived his brother and died January 14th 1858, being buried at St David’s.
In the meantime the business was continued at 190 High Street, and Messrs. Garton & Jarvis lost no time in taking advantage of their change of premises. They proudly displayed their arms of Royal Appointment and in 1850 announced their intention of having a stand at the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in the following year. At this exhibition they received instructions to send one of their Cottage Stoves to His Royal Highness Prince Albert for his Model Cottage. They exhibited this and other stoves and won two Bronze Medals. The certificate, signed by H.R.H. Prince Albert, is still in the possession of the firm, together with the medals and a leaflet describing one of their successful stoves. They also have a letter which reads as follows:-
"Moreton Hampstead, October 15th 1851 Gentlemen,
It is a duty I owe to the public as well as to you in expressing my entire satisfaction of the utility of your Cottage Stoves. You are aware I purchased one of them and you are aware also that I saw them at the Exhibition, No 3 Class 22. When I was talking to your London Agent, His Royal Highness Prince Albert was standing near and with his usual sweetness of temper the Prince deigned to tell me that he could not help being pleased with it, that he had placed one of them in one of his Model Cottages, Hyde Park and that it answered beyond expectations. And on the score of economy let me add without a word of exaggeration, nothing I should think can excel it for the Article in question is so studiously constructed that it is as easy as possible to cook a Dinner (in the usual period of time) for twenty men with less than a pennyworth of coal, moreover I hereby authorise you to make what use you please of these few lines for I have penned them with the sole object of benefitting my fellow men. I subscribe myself, Gentlemen, Your most obliged servant, (Signed: ) Isaac Billett. To Messrs. Garton and Jarvis Stove Manufacturers, Exeter."
In an advertisement acquainting the public of their success, they announce that “The very superior stoves and boilers have been registered to prevent piracy” and claimed that “One of Garton and Jarvis’ stoves was worth all the American Stoves put together.” It was during the ensuing years that the firm became famous, and were undoubtedly the foremost ironmongers and manufacturers in the hardware trade of the West of England.
Some of their achievements are worthy of note. For instance they were one of the first to manufacture pipe coil radiators, and later sectional cast iron radiators connected by right and left hand threaded nipples between the sections, in the same as the modern radiators are today. In fact they were making their own greenhouse boilers, pipe coils and radiators before they were at all generally made in this country. Again they used the principle of heating the soil in greenhouses by buried hot water pipes in the same was as electrically done to-day.
Another side of their business for which they were famed was their wrought ironwork and ranges. Some fine examples of their ironwork may be seen today such as the gates of the old Exeter Bank, now part of the Royal Clarence Hotel, the railings round the Deerstalker Statue in Northernhay, and in front of the Commercial Union Buildings, High Street, Exeter.
Their most famous ranges were the Exonian and Rectory, some of which still exist. They also exported a large number of ranges to places as far afield as Sidney and Geelong, Australia and to New Zealand.
The firm still have a pair of wrought iron fire-dogs made about 1880, and there must be very few smiths who could turn out such a pair today, without the aid of acetylene welding. The firm was then an almost self contained unit, making many of the tools, etc. they required, besides many of the articles for its ironmongery department.
John Garton was a churchwarden of St Petrock’s in 1854. When Jarvis died in 1865, John Gould King came from Barnstaple to join Garton, and the firm became Garton & King. On the death of John Garton on March 21st 1867, aged 69, the firm was combined with that of another ironmonger named Munk and was known as King and Munk. Apparently this was not a happy arrangement and the partnership was dissolved after about a year, the title reverting to “Garton and King.” The firm still have some of the metal discs which were made at this time for time checks for the workmen. These were superseded by more modern methods within the last few years when the original discs were preserved. The firm also possess many books and papers dating from 1850.
The firm was managed by King with the assistance of his son, who was a very clever draughtsman; many of his fine drawings are still extant. He did not however carry on the business, and in 1898 Mr Hugo Holladay, of Faversham, Kent, joined Mr King and is now chairman of the Board of Directors. The old title of the firm was continued and on the death of Mr John Gould King in 1900, Mr Holladay was joined by his brother Mr Edgar Holladay.
From this date onward the activities of the firm slightly altered. The domestic engineering side advanced under the control of Mr Edgar Holladay whilst the ironmongery and hardware side of it was conducted by Mr Hugo Holladay. Of course in this department with the advent of mass produced articles they ceased to manufacture many of the goods which previously were mad in their own shops.
The Great War had its effect on the firm, but owing to the energy of its owners was able to take advantage of the increased business immediately peace was declared. On account of this growth in trade, it was decided to form a Limited Liability Company, which was incorporated in 1924, the Board of Directors being Messrs. H. & E. Holladay. With the formation of the Company, the Foundry began to strike out in new directions and replaced the dying trade in ranges and grates with Municipal and other small repetition castings, until today it has the second largest output of the five foundries in the City, and the Company employs nearly a hundred persons.
In 1932 Mr Henry E. E. Holladay, son of Mr Edgar Holladay, joined the company, and in 1933 became one of its Directors. In the latter year occupation of the premises at 190, High Street, which had housed the firm for over 165 years, terminated, but the sign of the Golden Hammer was carefully preserved. 21
In 1938 Mr Alec Holladay, younger son of Mr Edgar Holladay, joined the firm and became one of its Directors. Previously, in 1936, the Company was served with a Notice of Compulsory Acquisition of the land by the Exeter City Council for their new Civic Hall Scheme. The Company then had to decide whether it was to carry on and find new premises or to close its doors.
However, in 1938, after lengthy negotiations, a site at the end of Tan Lane, St Thomas, was purchased for the erection of a new Works and Offices and a Showroom was established in Central Station, Queen Street.
Thus, after more than 250 years of service in the Parish of St Petrock, the business conducted under the Sign of the Golden Hammer has at last left and although in 1939 the Golden Hammer hangs before new premises, it still marks the same business and is a token of work well done.
– Postscript –
This booklet, the story of this company, is presented in the hope that it will interest the reader and will indicate the tradition which lies behind those who work for it.
To-day, however we have to look forward and some indication of our belief in the future and confidence in ourselves, is shown by our new works and showroom. We have endeavoured to equip them in the best possible way and in the words of one of our predecessors “we doubt not of giving the utmost satisfaction to all those who will be kindly disposed to favour us with their orders and the greatest diligence and exactness will be observed in their fulfilment as in the past.” At the same time we should like to thank those who have patronised us in the past.-
Finally, we should like to express our thanks and great appreciation of the research and time spent by Miss N. R. Lovely in compiling and writing this history. We should also like to thank Mr W. A. Gay, Curator of the City Muniment Room of the Exeter Library for all his valuable help and criticism.
H. E. E. Holladay July 1939