Indian 1 Anna coin minted in 1913
The coin shown was minted in 1913
- a significant date for Mather & Platt in India.
The History of
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The beginnings of Mather & Platt (India) may be discovered as far away as Manchester, in England and as long ago as 1817 when an enterprising young cabinet-maker called Peter Mather turned his skills to the manufacture of textile machinery. Later came a partnership when the Mathers became connected with the Platts - in 1845 - during which year John Platt leased part of the Salford Iron Works to William and Colin Mather.

The Mathers and John Platt in partnership began making steam engines, earthmoving equipment, water purification plant and, most significantly of all - for India - centrifugal pumps. Then, during the last decade of the 19th Century, after almost fifty years of innovation and development, the firm - Mather & Platt - began servicing industry in India. They supplied sprinkler systems for fire protection as well as textile finishing machines and pumps for mining and water supply.

One of the senior exponents of fire protection products to travel from England to India in those days was Ralph Dowson who was one of the two founders of the Fire Engineering firm of Dowson, Taylor & Co. This company worked very closely with - and later merged with - Mather & Platt to form the public company, Mather & Platt Ltd. at the close of the 19th Century.

Ralph Dowson visited India on company business (1895/1896) to promote the firm's fire protection facilities - a visit that ended sadly in his illness and subsequent death in Bombay. The following is an extract from his obituary from the British publication, the "Sprinkler Bulletin" of June 30th 1896.

Ralph Dowson - died in Bombay 1896"The sad news of the death of our friend and colleague, Mr. Ralph Dowson, came with a shock of surprise to many in this country. It was only in October last that he had started on a business journey to India which was to extend over five months; and just at the time when his return home was expected, news came that he had been stricken down with serious illness at Ahmedabad, then that he had managed to get as far as Bombay, whence better reports came home, only to be followed a few weeks after that a relapse had occurred and that pneumonia had supervened and that he had died on the morning of Good Friday, April 3rd from failure of the heart's action.

The sadness of this event was enhanced by the fact that he had completed the business which had taken him to India and had actually booked his passage home at the time when he was stricken down; and also that he was accompanied on this journey by the young wife whom he had married only eighteen months ago. To her in her bereavement under such sad and distressing circumstances, the sympathy of all those who were his friends will go out in large measure."

And this, from company archives:

"The untimely death of the man who had lent his name to the original Dowson-Taylor partnership, while still a young man and apparently at the heyday of his career, was a heavy blow to his colleagues in the firm. Based on the considered opinion of John Taylor who, near the end of his business career, when he himself enjoyed an outstanding reputation among his business associates and had travelled in all parts of the civilised world in search of business and had met Kings, Princes, Government Officials and all men of Big Business in every country, described his original partner as “One of the finest business men I have ever met: a man of wonderful vision, a typical English gentleman and a man with whom it was a delight to work”. To the end of his life, whenever John Taylor spoke of Ralph Dowson he did so with deep emotion."


Thanks to the business that Ralph Dowson had managed to secure, connections with India were well established by the year 1913 which saw the beginnings of the Indian company Mather & Platt Ltd. (India) with sales and order offices in Calcutta in the east and in Bombay (Mumbai) to the west, two expanding cities some 1200km. apart. Maidan Works

The company soon developed a prestigious name for supplying and manufacturing textile machinery, fire fighting systems and pumps. Quality and reliability were the top priorities. Indeed, pumps supplied by the company in 1924 are still running well at pumping stations in Calcutta and at the Tata Iron and Steel Co., Jamshedpur.

Traditionally the business consisted of importing equipment manufactured at Park Works in Manchester, England but, due to a shortage of foreign exchange in later years, India had to develop her own resources. In the vanguard of the "Made in India" movement was Mather & Platt with a factory in Calcutta - started in 1940 - the Maidan Works - producing sprinkler equipment, fire doors, pumps and food canning machinery. (pictured)

Near Bombay was another factory, that of Mather Greaves Ltd., a Mather & Platt subsidiary. Both factories employed about 100 people but, whereas Maidan Works expanded to about as far as its neighbours would allow, Mather Greaves was relatively unrestricted so future manufacturing effort was directed there.Details adjacent ...

From 1957 onwards it was projected that a wide variety of fire protection and detection equipment would be added to the company's range and thus it became necessary to set up additional facilities to manufacture pumps, textile machinery and food processing machinery. With this ever-growing demand for the company's products, in 1959, the Chinchwad factory - the former Mather Greaves site - near Pune, a city some 170km. south of Bombay in the State of Maharashtra - was absorbed and expanded. Up to this point its main manufacturing role had been calendar bowls for the textile industry.

At Pune: The top picture here shows part of the stenter clip plant whilst below can be seen evidence of building and extensions that were put in hand.

At about this time, the Works Manager at Pune was Norman Smith who had variously been Food Machinery Tester, Pumps Department Chaser, General Machinery Service Engineer and Manager of Jackson & Brother of Bolton, Lancashire. He was assisted by Daniel Jacobs who had been 2nd Engineer Officer of the B.I. Steamship Co. Also with them were Bernard Kelly who had previously worked at Park Works (14 Bay) and Philip Johnson formerly of the General Machinery Drawing Office. This team plus the 100 Indian fitters, turners, millers and bowl makers produced in the early days nearly 300 cotton bowls, two 7-bowl calenders, three Schreiner calenders, various 3-bowl mangles and several thousand stenter clips for the Textile Department.

Machining pump components in Calcutta  - 1960sSoon, other textile machines, centrifugal pumps, F.L.P. motors and food processing machinery products were produced there. The company had Indian and European sales representatives all over the country and they were backed up by technical, administrative and accounts staff in Bombay and Calcutta.

When the Australian-based company, Wormald International, acquired Mather & Platt in 1978 it was a take-over that affected M&P on a worldwide basis. The Wormald element stemmed, ironically, from two brothers of an original Mather & Platt Ltd. Director in Britain, Sir John Wormald. They had set up - with his guidance - a similar company in Australia during the first decade of the 20th century.

The venture was originally called Wormald Brothers, growing through the century into an international concern boasting, by 1987, a turnover of some Au$1.5 billion before it also found itself swallowed up in the maelstrom of 1980s corporate raiding.

Mather & Platt (India) was sold to - and became a member of - the Jumbo Group headed, until April 2002, by the late M. R. (Manu) Chhabria, having its headquarters in Dubai. The Jumbo Group is best known for its range of electronic equipment and white goods.

Today, the company has its Corporate Office as well as its main manufacturing plant in Pune. In the modern era, Mather & Platt has become one of the leading pump manufactures in India and has developed into a dynamic and growing organisation. It has three major business groups.
Fluid Engineering
dealing in pumps and pumping projects.
Fire Securities
engaged in the design and supply of equipment and systems
for fire detection and protection.
Process Machinery
manufacturing equipment and systems for food processing.

In 1994, Mather & Platt was awarded ISO 9001 certification by Det Norske Veritas, Netherlands. The company has also been awarded ISO 14001 certification for Enviornmental Management Systems by the same agency and was the first industrial pump manufacturer to have received this certification.


In words reminiscent of sales documentation for the long-gone Mather & Platt name in Britain - 'Mather & Platt produces all types of pumps for a variety of applications and is successfully catering to the requirements of many sectors - Oil, Fertilizers, Municipal Services, Irrigation, Power Generation and Mines to name but a few'.

Thus, in India, the name Mather & Platt lives on proudly and there is a degree of satisfaction to be obtained from the notion that Ralph Dowson's sacrifice more than a hundred years ago was not in vain.

This M&P pump in Calcutta has been supplying water to millions since the mid 1930s.