Introduction

Marcel A. Boschi lives in France. He has assembled this material (in conjunction with Sir John Wormald's great-grandson, David Drew-Smythe) in order to illustrate and to record the celebrated history of Mather & Platt Ltd., the original British-based engineering company with which his family - especially his father, Ernest - has had a long association.

If this is the only page on your screen, click on Marcel's image to access the full site - "Marcel Boschi' s History of Mather & Platt Ltd. (UK)."

Marcel Andr himself, also began his working life with S. A. Mather & Platt, in France. His early career with the company ended in 1955 when he joined "L'UNION" - then the premier insurance company in France. This company became, in 1968, "L'U.A.P" and is now AXA - a world-leading insurance and investment company. At his retirement in January 1994 Marcel's position was that of Inspector General, with the combined responsibilities of Regional Commercial Manager.

Marcel was born in the French city of Roubaix which, like Bradford in England, for example, used to be one of the world centres of the wool and cotton industries. Roubaix had, once upon a time, many flourishing factories and mills.

As a result of the pioneering work on fire protection being carried out in England by companies such as Dowson, Taylor & Co. and Mather & Platt - both of Manchester, and by Frederick Grinnell's company in America, from 1892 onwards, thousands of Grinnell type fire sprinklers were installed in these factories to reduce the risk of fire damage to both plant and product and in order to safeguard the workforce. Eventually a fully-fledged company, S. A. Mather & Platt, was established in France in 1921, under the Chairmanship of John Wormald.

The company, Mather and Platt was well known and highly regarded in Roubaix and its surrounding districts. Both Tourcoing and Lille were also textile centres in France. The demise of the textile industry was - for Roubaix as for so many European centres - a severe shock to the local economy and today there are practically no textile installations in the region. In the main, the old factories and workers' houses have been demolished although some of the former have been turned to other uses. Over the years, various groups have rallied together to try to preserve some of the cultural heritage of industrial Roubaix but so much is now, like the Mather & Platt tower in Manchester, a memory - just a shadow in the mind.

RoubaixThis 'Roubaix' link leads to a French language site which contains a comprehensive history - "Histoire d’une filature : Motte-Bossut Roubaix" - in which may be noted a story of industrial growth, success and decline, leading to final closure in 1982. Here, though, is also a story of hope - for the factory has been given a new lease on life and is now an important example of what can be achieved when ...

This site has been designed to tell the story of a pioneering enterprise. It is freely presented as an internet resource to celebrate and to share not only in the memory of the company itself but also to demonstrate just how Mather & Platt Ltd. became such a pioneering factor with a great and truly global corporate history - a history dating back to the early years of the British Industrial Revolution. Few companies today are fortunate enough to possess such a wealth of archival material and to be able to boast so rich a tapestry of social and corporate memory. Although, in the late twentieth century, the company was acquired by its rival, sister company - the Australian born Wormald International - and later, after a number of corporate adventures, by the conglomerate, Tyco International - the old company of Mather & Platt Ltd. stands out as a worthy example of innovation, business integrity and humane workforce management.

Marcel's father, Ernest Boschi (1903-1964) was the Manager of the French arm of the company, S. A. Mather & Platt's factory at Park Works in Roubaix. His career began with the company in 1920 and lasted until his death, in 1964.

Ernest Boschi - a family biography Ernest Boschi

In compiling this resource, Marcel Boschi has considered not only the company, Mather & Platt Ltd. itself but also the associated companies of Dowson, Taylor & Co and Wormald Brothers - later Wormald International. His research has also covered the history of The Providence Steam and Gas Pipe Company which became The General Fire Extinguisher Company and then, later, Grinnell Company Inc. in the United States of America.

In particular, Marcel Boschi presents here the biographies of key members of the Platt and Mather families, the lives of the legendary Taylor family of Fire Engineering renown and those of Frederick and Russell Grinnell, the American pioneers of Fire Engineering.

He also presents a profile of Sir John Wormald who was the man who gave the world its first set of rules for the deployment of fire sprinklers - rules that were adopted on a global basis and which are still largely in use today. John Wormald eventually 'forsook' the Insurance Industry in the last decades of the nineteenth century to become a key Director of Dowson, Taylor & Co. and was later appointed as a Managing Director of Mather & Platt Ltd. when the two firms merged in 1898.

Ernest Boschi (1903-1964)
S.A. Mather & Platt Front Page
S.A. Mather & Platt, France - Archival

John Utz - Chairman of Wormald International in 1978During the early part of the twentieth century, it was John Wormald's younger brother, Joseph Dawson Wormald, who - with another brother, (Henry) Harry Percy Wormald - founded the Australian company Wormald Brothers. This company was incorporated as a limited company in 1911 and became a public listed company in 1949. In a cyclical way and almost a hundred years after Sir William Mather began his pioneering development of Mather & Platt's Fire Engineering Division, 1978 saw Wormald International acquire Mather & Platt Ltd. in a massive global take-over.

Acknowledgements

In compiling this history, Marcel acknowledges a variety of internet sources. In addition to his own special collection, he is especially grateful for access to Mather & Platt Ltd. and Dowson, Taylor & Co. memorabilia, archives and associated material. He appreciates the generous support of staff at S.A. Mather & Platt in France, Wormald Ansul (U.K.) and Weir Pumps Ltd. in Manchester, England, of members of the Mather & Platt Long Service Association and of former employees of Mather & Platt Ltd.

Marcel is especially grateful to the Taylor and Mather families in England and to the Grinnell family in America and also for the website production/edit, writing and design skills of David Drew-Smythe, based in Australia. David is a great-grandson of Sir John Wormald.TOP

Marcel would be delighted to hear from anyone with stories to tell or historical documents and items relating to these old and great companies and their managers, engineers and employees. He can be contacted by e-mail via marcelboschi@aol.com