|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.
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.
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.
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.
Soon, 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.
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.