Meet some of Britain’s Oldest Manufacturers

bell_2204132bWe have attempted to create a timeline of some of Britain’s oldest manufacturers. If you know a manufacturer that should be on our list please comment below.

Whitechapel Bell Foundry – 1570

The top stop and the title of Britain’s oldest manufacturer must surly go to Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Still situated in the East End of London they have been casting bells since Queen Elizabeth I graced the throne.

Firmin & Sons – 1655

Firmin established in 1655 the second oldest manufacturer  in the United Kingdom who manufacture badges, buttons, accoutrements and uniforms and holders of two Royal Warrants of Appointment. Based in Birmingham.

Robert Noble – 1666

Robert Nobel have been weaving cloth in Scotland since 1666, including tartans for the Scottish regiments as early as the 1880s. They also designed fabrics for the English Houses of Parliament.

Mornflake Oats Ltd – 1675

Based in South Cheshire, Mornflake have been milling oats and cereals since 1675. Basically, their high fibre products have been keeping Britain’s regular for  over 300 years.

James Lock & Co Ltd – 1676

Founded in 1676, James Lock & Co claim the “widest selection of ladies’ and gentlemen’s headwear in the world”. Most of thier mens hats are made for them in Britain by a specialist manufacturer in Manchester, although most of their ladies hats are made on site, where we employ three full-time milliners and a designer.

Toye, Kenning & Spencer – 1685

Located in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, the firm specialises in insignia and regalia, such as the ribbons and medals presented to awardees of OBEs and CBEs. The firm started as artisan silk weavers before it began decorating soldiers in the mid 1800s.

Shepherd Neame – 1698

Britain’s oldest brewer, based in Faversham, Kent produces 230,000 barrels a year and now has 360 pubs in the UK.

Salts Healthcare – early 1700s (true date unknown)

Salts Healthcare is based in Aston, Birmingham. It manufactures ostomy and orthotic products.

Aspall Cyder – 1728

For eight generations Aspall have been making their famous cyder. With the recent resurgence in of cider products over the last few years it would seem their future is secured for a few more years to come.

Wilsons & Co – 1760’s

While the market for Snuff here in the UK might be small Wilsons & Co have ben making the stuff here for well over 200 years.

Richard Carter Ltd – 1740

Richard Carter are hand tool manufacturers famous for their Carter shovels.

G B Kent & Sons Ltd – 1777

Kent Brushes was founded in 1777 by William Kent in the reign of George III. Kent have held Royal Warrants for nine reigns.

Hall and Woodhouse Ltd – 1777

Hall and Woodhouse is another British brewery on the list. Founded in 1777 by Charles Hall in Blandford Forum, Dorset, England the company operates over 250 public houses in the south of England, and brews under the name Badger Brewery.

A W Hainsworth & Sons Ltd – 1783

The Hainsworth family have been producing woollen textiles in the Farsley area since 1783 and AW Hainsworth and Sons is one of the oldest Yorkshire companies.

Deakin and Francis Ltd – 1786

Founded in 1786, Deakin and Francis designs and manufactures a dizzying range of cufflinks. The English workshops produce fine quality handmade jewellery in precious metal, incorporating vitreous enamel and fine gemstones.

Harvey & Son Ltd – 1790

Sussex’s oldest independent brewery based in Lewes, founded in 1790 and still brewing traditional beers after eight generations.

Ormiston Wire – 1793

As a specialist wire manufacturer and supplier based in Isleworth, Middlesex.

Palmers Brewery – 1794

Yet another Brewery, Palmers have been brewing five fine ales in Bridport, Dorset since 1794: Copper Ale, Best Bitter, Dorset Gold, 200 and Tally Ho!

John Smedley Ltd – 1794

John Smedley are a London based premium designer clothing brand.

Jaques London – 1795

Jaques is the oldest games company and sports manufacturer in the world, inventing many well known games such as Croquet, Ping Pong and Snakes and Ladders.

James Baxter & Son – 1799

Baxters make one thing and they make it well – Potted Shrimps. They have been producing this very British continuously since the 1800′s. In all that time they have never altered the basic process for potting shrimp.

Dudson Ltd – 1800

Dudson is a manufacturers of tableware for the hospitality industry based in the home of British potter, Stoke on Trent.




  1. Caslon Ltd – printmakers (1720 and still with a member of the family working for them)

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  2. How about Evans Engineering ?

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  3. Terry Sullivan says

    Laycock Engineering from I believe Sheffield, invented & perfected what was back in the day known as ‘overdrive’, which eventually became the 5th ‘cruising gear’ for cars. MGBs for one had them, as did Jensen & many prestige vehicles. Now we have cars with up to 8 gears!

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  4. Sirs,
    Please include FIRMIN & SONS established in 1655 the second oldest manufacturer in the United Kingdom – manufacturers of badges, buttons, accoutrements and uniforms and holders of two Royal Warrants of Appointment. Based in Birmingham.

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    • We will indeed… however, I suspect that you might feature as part of your own blog post on this site very soon.

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  5. T.Kelly says

    Firmin & Sons, the Queen’s insignia, buttons and uniform accessories manufacturer has been established since 1655. Following the sad news of the probable closure of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 2017, Firmin will become the United Kingdom’s oldest manufacturing company. They are based near the centre of Birmingham.

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  6. Denver says

    J & E Hall – 1785 (

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  7. Mr Smith says

    Samuel Lewis Ltd, formerly Samuel Lewis & Co established in 1750 now based in Cradley Heath, West Midlands. The business spent many years trading near to a canal in Netherton, near Dudley, West Midlands. They distribute gate & fencing fittings amongst other items to Builders merchants, contractors, and DIY outlets. They were known for many years for manufacturing nails, rivets, hinges and most notably for supplying Lewis Anglo Harrows for agricultural use.

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