Tuesday 29 June 2010

Redfern's rubber mats, Wandsworth

As promised yesterday, here is another sign for one of Redfern's products and a bit about the company itself.

Rubber Mats
For Office or House
Made in Block Rubber with White L... [Lining?]

The story began in March 1900 when a young Wilfred E. Redfern founded Redfern's Rubber Works with a capital of £4 18s. In 1906 he purchased the four-storey Spring Bank Mills in Hyde, Cheshire (now in Greater Manchester), to make rubber heels and soles for shoes (click here for an enamel advert) and then rubber tyres for bicycles and tubes. During the First World War the company produced gas-mask mouthpieces for the army. After the war the company diversified its production further by offering a wide range of hard and soft rubber goods to both industries and households. In the 1930s it launched its plain and lettered rubber mats, stairs treads and rubber flooring, which was available in sheets or tiles in a variety of colours. 1937 saw it manufacture its first ebonite goods. Having worked for the aviation industry during the Second World War, it continued afterwards and provided the rubber parts for the Comet among others.
In 1941 Wilfred E. Redfern resigned as chairman, a position that was then taken by his younger brother J. Arthur Redfern. W. E. Redfern remained on the board until 1945. He died in 1960. His younger brother was succeeded a few years later by Thomas H. Redfern, who became in 1950 president of the British Rubber Manufacturers' Association. Under his chairmanship Redfern ventured into other sectors, including plastics. In 1958 the company was transformed into Redfern Holdings, with Redfern's Rubber Works becoming a subsidiary. Ten years later Redfern Holdings merged with H. G. Miles, a company originally founded in 1929 to improve the knowledge and uses of rubber in the car industry, which owned Empire Rubber Co., Rubberlines (Hyde), Hull and Mellor, and Rubber Bonders. As a result of the formation of Miles Redfern Ltd, based in Dunstable, the names Redfern's Rubber Works and Redfern Polymers ceased to be used. Rubber continued to be manufactured in Hyde until the early 1980s but it seems the factory shut down in 1982 because of growing competition from abroad. Miles Redfern Ltd continued trading for several years but was eventually dissolved in 2006.

Until a few months ago, a billboard covered most of this sign. That explains why the colours are so vivid when the upper and right edges have almost completely disappeared.
Actually Redfern's didn't have one but two painted signs at this location. Unfortunately the lower one is still largely hidden by a modern billboard.

Note that 'Redfern' was painted twice, the first time using the same design as on the New Cross Road sign posted yesterday

Location: Lambourn Road / Picture take on: 05/03/2010


Sam Roberts said...

Great photos, here you can see the lower one too after it was also revealed back in 2006.

Sebastien Ardouin said...

Thanks Sam. The lower one was visible for some time (when they changed the billboard I suppose). Unfortunately I missed it. Let's hope it will be removed again soon. Fingers crossed...

Anonymous said...

Fascinating I came here after photographing a Redfern's Rubber Heels make walking a please signage at Chapel Market, Angel.

Sebastien Ardouin said...

Thanks Tobias. Just search for Redfern on this blog to find more exemples from around London.