Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Walpamur paint, Fulham

With spring comes the pressure to redecorate parts of our flat. Time to get the brushes out and to paint that stairwell and the corridor upstairs, I can almost hear! I can sense the journey to Homebase approaching...

Who could have come up with a name like Walpamur I thought when I first saw the sign below? After doing plenty of research (for about five minutes), it appears the name is, with a slight twist in the end, the abbreviation of the Wall Paper Manufacturers Ltd.
Based in Darwen near Blackburn, Lancs, the company was formed in 1899 to merge the interests of 31 wallpaper manufacturers. The group, which at the time controlled around 98% of the British wallpaper market went on to acquire several independent wallpaper manufacturers and either bought or set up a large number of retailing businesses. By August 1906 WPM diversified into the manufacture and distribution of paint with 'Hollins Distemper', a water paint named after the Hollins Paper Mill in Darwen where the laboratory had been set up and production first took place. Originally paint was brought by horse-drawn wagons to the local train station twice a day. However growing demand led WPM to improve its distribution network. By 1910, the company had set up several depots across the country to speed up deliveries, while six travelling salesmen promoted its water and by then brand-new oil based paints. In 1915 WPM set up Walpamur Co. Ltd to handle the manufacture and retailing of paint. In 1929, when Arthur Sanderson & Sons, of Perivale near London, was fully acquired by the WPM group, Walpamur took charge of the paint side of the business. Four years later, in 1933, the Walpamur Company (Ireland) was founded in Dublin. This was the step in the international expansion of the company. Over the years subsidiaries were set up in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and several African countries. Meanwhile in Britain, Walpamur acquired in 1934 a large number of wholesale paint and wallpaper distributing companies.
In the early 1960s, the WPM group came under investigation by the Competition Commission. Indeed, in spite of growing competition, WPM still controlled 79% of the wallpaper market and its pricing policy raised some questions. The paint side of the business was also of concern. By 1964, Walpamur had 89 depots, 42 of which were owned by subsidiaries, and 6 of which were jointly operated with Smith & Walton. Originally a manufacturer of paint based in Haltwhistle, Nthumb, Smith & Walton had moved into the wallpaper business in 1955, becoming in the process one of the main competitors of WPM, but in 1961 it was acquired by the latter. This meant taking control not only of the production lines of Smith & Walton but also of 23 depots and over 300 Brighter Homes Stores. Probably as a result of the investigation, WPM sold Walpamur in 1965 to Reed International.
Traditionally Walpamur concentrated on water-based paints, which bore its name, but after the Second World War it introduced new products such as Darwen, which offered a satin finish for kitchens and bathrooms, and Duradio, an enamel paint for exteriors. By the 1970s the company began producing emulsion paints. Feeling the name Walpamur was too closely associated with water paints, it was decided in 1975 to change it to Crown Decorative Products.
The company was acquired by Wiliams Holdings in 1987, and in 1988 the name was changed to Crown Berger. In 1993 Crown Berger was taken over by Nobel (from 1994 AkzoNobel) but when AkzoNobel acquired in 2008 Imperial Chemical Industries, the maker among others of Dulux paint, the European Commissioner for Competition feared the company would have a near monopoly in several countries, including the UK. As a result AkzoNobel decided to sell Crown Berger in a management buyout backed by private equity firm Endless LLP.

Water Paint
Enamel Paint
Satin Finish
S. G. Purkiss
& Co. Ltd
Stock and

Parts of an earlier sign can still be read:
S. G. Purkiss
P....ers Merchants
Stock &
...s Pa...
For Beauty
& Durability

The hand pointing downward belongs to that earlier sign, and if you look carefully under the hand, you may notice a small roundel. This is the signature mark of:
Tolson Signs
68 Munster Road W6
REN [?] 2404

I would assume the most recent of the two signs was painted in the late 1950s or early 1960s as it is consistent with printed ads published around that time in magazines.

Location: Munster Road / Picture taken on: 31/03/2008

1 comment:

JEW said...

Here I am in Western Australia since 1968, and have used Walpamur Paint for home decoration both here and in the UK since 1953 and was blown away while browsing the home site out of curiosity and seeing the image of the S G Purkiss sign. The then family business were avid customers to this company for years and years. They are (or by now, possibly, were) situated at Fulham Cross, the confluence of Lillie Road, Munster and Dawes Road. My Father's business was located in Humbolt Road, "just round the corner". This site, the remaing part of a grant to my ancestors for their support of the Restoration of the Monarchy to Charles II was unfortunately resumed by the Fulham Borough Council during the middle '50's but not redeveloped for 20 years or more.
John Wheeler. Perth W.A.