March 2006 - The time available to update and edit this page (2006) is currently limited. We are mindful of - and very grateful for - all information and comments sent to this site. During the coming months, ONE new page will be added for referencing updated material. This new page will be able to be accessed from the welcome/title page of the site. New Edits and Information for all sections

The editors of this site would like to take this opportunity to thank so many people for their generous and encouraging comments. Indeed, we would love to see a book eventuate from this site. If you are a publisher ...

 
The Mather & Platt Tower at Newton Heath (R.I.P.)Mather & Platt Ltd.
 
Memories of an epoch ...
 
See special feature ... Martin Taylor's illustrated Memoirs (1974 - 1996) ... Martin Taylor's Memories

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The people write

Most recent edit - 16 March 2006


A refreshing view of the company workforce ...

I  have just been exploring the Mather & Platt site and wondered if these photographs might be of interest? My mother worked for the company from leaving school at about 14, I suppose, and worked there until a short time before her marriage, in 1934. Her name was Marion Hargreaves and she was born in 1909. Some family members seem to think she moved from M&P to work for Cliftonia, a chocolate manufacturer, before marriage. I understand she was a comptometer operator at one time. The date of each photo is unknown. Sadly, I know very little of her time there and was searching for information about M&P. It might be of interest to others if they recognise a family member in the group. - Susan Pitt

Outside M&P - "Engineers Park Works"

We have read your "History of Mather & Platt Ltd. India" with great interest and have been taken back nearly 40 years to the time Philip Johnson and myself were seconded to Mather Greaves, Chinchvad, India by head office at Park Works. Sadly, the factory buildings at Park Works have been demolished now with only the offices at the top of the drive remaining.

Phil Johnson and Bernard Kelly were working at Chinchvad from 1964 to1966. I was there from 1965 to 1967, leaving in June of that year and left Mr.Deodar in charge of the drawing office. The drawing office consisted of Messrs. Arora, Jagtap and Pruit along with Mr. Deodar and myself. I remember opening the new extension and conducting the Pujah by breaking a coconut at the entrance to the building.

During my time, Norman Smith was manager along with Dan Jacobs being  replaced by Percy Isherwood in 1967. (I have not had any word of Percy since leaving Poona). The photo - which shows all personnel working at Mather Greaves at that time - was taken at the leaving ceremony for Norman Smith. I am sat next to Norman with Dan Jacobs on the other side. Mr. Deodar is on the front row 2nd from the right, Mr. Arora next to him extreme right. Mr. Jagtap is 2nd row 5th from left; Mr. Pruit is back row 4th from right. Mr. Kulkarni, who left Mather Greaves soon afterwards, is back row 7th from right. Mr. Mennen is front row 3rd from left. He worked with Bernard as foreman. Unfortunately we have lost contact with Bernard. We last saw Norman Smith at a reunion in the social club a couple of years ago.

Phil and myself are still working together running a small consultation business .We send all these people our best regards. The person next to me, 5th from left, I would especially like to hear from; he was a house guest all those years ago and, forgive me, I cannot recall his name! - Roger Coupe and Philip Johnson - jcconsultants@pcassist.eng.net


I must thank you for spending so much time in assembling the website dedicated to Mather & Platt - a name that was heavily imprinted on me as I grew up, but I never really got to know what the company was all about and who all the people were, that my father talked about.

I have spent a number of very pleasurable evenings going through material you have written, particularly on my great grandfather and grandfather: men I never knew, though the stories of whom continue in the family well past their deaths. I find it particularly interesting to hear about my great grandfather, someone whose achievements I had never really appreciated before. His photos surround us when the family gets together and we live around many mementos to his fantastic life. When the family talk of him, however, it is sometimes difficult to discern fact from embellishment from spin. Also it is difficult for someone in the centre of the story to draw a picture of the past that is clear and holistic. Your account has given me a new and broad perspective which has allowed me to better understand my family and its heritage. For this I thank you.

I have started to explore some of the other people that my grandfather worked with, and you provide some interesting insights as to the relationships that he had. I am sure I will spend many more hours reading more about the people and the company of M&P. - James Taylor - Great Grandson of John Taylor, June 2003.


Mather & Platt Ltd, Engineers of Park Works, Newton Heath Manchester was demolished in 1998. Only the foundry and a few offices remain. It was a sad day for former employees and management alike when the famous 'tower block' was demolished. I was an employee there in the 1960s. Park Works was a huge site; not as big as Trafford Park, but nevertheless employed thousands in its hey day.

I believe the President of the Manchester & Lancs. Family History Society was also a past employee. There is still an annual dinner and get together for retired members with over 40 years service with the firm and Sir William Mather - grandson of the first Sir William - was in attendance in 1998 - well into his 80's. He was the last of the line.

My working days at Mathers were very happy and I still keep in contact with lots of past employees. Most of the large engineering firms of those days have now gone - a great shame; but that's progress, for what it's worth!! - Jane


I worked at Mather & Platt (Grimshaw Lane, Newton Heath) for 9 years from 1974 starting in F.E. Order Department, moving to Mather & Platt Alarms and then finally as P.A. to the Finance Director (David Cox) when Wormalds took over. My parents, sister and brother also worked at Mather & Platt.

Mather & Platt was a great family firm. We lived close by to Park Works and in fact my parents still live near to the site. Sadly, most of the Works area has now been flattened to make way for development, with just the main Reception building and some offices at the back still standing (a lot of people were deeply touched and saddened when they took the building down - it was like losing a part of oneself). This is the area that Weir have kept hold of since taking over a large chunk of the business.

Wormald's now have two buildings at the end of Grimshaw Lane (at the corner of Oldham Road) - one of them being purely offices and the other a workshop. I still know people who work there, and have worked there for many many years. My parents are now 75 years of age and have recently (March) celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary. To mark the occasion we had an anniversary party in the Mather & Platt Club House which thankfully is still standing and still attracts many guests/visitors. A great night was had by all and brought to the Club many faces from the past and present (some even a surprise to my parents). If you do remember any names from M&P in Newton Heath and specifically those working in F.E., my father is called Albert Atkinson and a few of his pals from his M&P days are Ken Smith (electrician), Tommy Walsh, Marion Dawson, Birt Leah who all still go to the annual Long Service Dinner. They have a great night and love catching up with each other to relive their fabulous memories. I will have to ask my parents for any memorabilia that they may still have from their M&P days. Jean Ward (née Atkinson)


You are doing a beautiful job on the website! I am very impressed!!! On September 21 my great grandfather, Frederick Grinnell, will be inducted into the Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame! Helen Grinnell King.


I served an Engineering Apprenticeship with this company and I still have my documents from the mid 1950s. I have no references to Directors, but I remember my time at the company very well. When you have finished your work, and it is in published form, I certainly would be interested in purchasing a copy. For your additional interest, products of Mather & Platt, survived by their nameplates, turn up "Bric a Brac" establishments here in Australia. I purchased this month a nameplate from a 350BHP Type L2 Induction Motor, mounted on a plaque. It also notes the Serial No of the machine, and I would like to know if records still exist of the original customer. Tony Fairclough


I started with them in 1952, as a "Special Apprentice", progressed through the Company for some 30 years ending as London Director Fire Engineering. During these years Noel Taylor and his son John were responsible for Fire Engineering and Bill Mather, later Sir William, the overall Chairman. John Wormald was a cousin of Noel Taylor, and formed the Wormald company in Australia in the early 1900's.

In 1963/4, I was sent to Finland to start a new subsidiary company, Mather & Platt Oy, which I ran as Managing Director for three years, leaving it in the hands of locally trained personnel. Then I returned to London in 1968 where I remained until the Australian "merge" which was initially discussed in my offices in London.

Sir William Mather died some three years ago and his memorial service was attended by serveral hundred mourners at his local Church in Prestbury. Many old associates, including myself, were present. I am a member of the Mather and Platt Long Service Association which still meets once a year for a dinner where I meet several of my old colleagues. The "old" Mather & Platt was very much a family firm despite some 12,000 employees world wide, with 6000 in Park Works, and both Bill Mather and General Sir William Platt are still remembered with affection and respect by those who knew them personally. John M. Borns


After spending five years as a fire engineering apprentice I was started on a "Special" apprenticeship. Mather & Platt provided their apprentices with up to 1.5 days per week with pay in order to study. Incidentally, I also had to attend the college on three evenings per week. The Director of Education was Donny Davies who was also well known as a football reporter for the Manchester Evening News. He wrote his commentaries on the Manchester United football matches under the pen name "Old International." While I was near the end of my apprenticeship, he retired and I was responsible for collecting donations for his retirement gift and making a presentation at the retirement dinner. Soon after this I had left Mather & Platt to become a designer at English Electric Company in Leicester and was dismayed to learn that Don Davies had been killed along with the rest of the Manchester United football team in the Munich air crash.

One of the directors in Fire Engineering was named Shackleton and I was told that he was the son of the famous Sir Ernest Shackleton, whose exploits in the Antarctic are being publicized at present through numerous books and an Imax movie. This is a story that would need to be confirmed.

I was aware that Bill Mather, who was the Director of the Food Canning division in Radcliffe (about ten miles north of the headquarters in Newton Heath, Manchester), was a major figure in the second world war under Field Marshall Montgomery. After the war Montgomery used to tour the factory each year and I saw him on one occasion. Also after the war some of Bill Mather's comrades either returned to positions at Mather & Platt or were brought in by him.

At one point I became chairman of the Special Apprentices and was responsible for organizing an annual dinner with the Directors and the Special Apprentices where I had to make a speech. I believe this was considered part of the education and training they provided and gave valuable experience.

Mather & Platt had the reputation of being one of the most progressive companies and it was said that they were the first company to introduce the 40-hour working week. One of my friends, Bernard Galloway, was a special apprentice at the same time and ultimately took Bill Mather's position as Director of the Food Canning Machinery division in Radcliffe. - Geoffrey Boothroyd


Félicitations pour ce site terriblement riche. Je ne suis cependant pas un spécialiste du sujet mais je pense que les professionnels y retrouvent leur compte. - Jean Viallet


There is a wealth of old photographs and negatives, books etc which we sent to Manchester Museum of Science and Industry archives. These contain photographs of the original works in Salford from approx. 1880s, books of products from 1880s etc. All this information was placed there for safe keeping on the understanding that it would be available for anyone carrying out bone fide research on the Company (Mather & Platt) and its history.

Unfortunately with the volume of this material I don't think they have yet catalogued it. To give you some of idea of the volume of material at the Museum, the negatives amounted to 3 small van loads (250kg van) and 3 van loads of paper material etc. I don't know what arrangements the museum has for accessing archive material but you may find information on their web site at http://www.msim.org.uk/ - Eric Sutcliffe


I worked there from 1966-72 as apprentice machine operator Lathes, Vertical Borers etc. Factory chief was Douglas Ducklin. I would like to try and contact old workmates. I now live in Perth, W. Australia and understand M&P is now closed is it true? I can be contacted by e-mail via the M&P Guest Book - Craig Pendlebury.


A Mather & Platt single vertical cylinder stationary steam engine coupled to a small electrical generator has recently been restored to working order at the Straffan Steam Centre near Dublin (Republic of Ireland) and was steamed for the first time for 100 years last Sunday! - Mr B. M. J. Barton


Your material brings back many wonderful memories. M&P was indeed a fantastic company, in public ownership but in many ways retaining strong family values through the paternalistic stewardship of the Mather family.

My career with M&P started in the early 60s and ended in 1982 when I left to join my present company ABB where I am based in Zurich. For the whole of my time with the dear old firm I worked in the rotating machinery business first as a very young engineer installing and commissioning pumping equipment in far away places including Argentina, the Middle East (I was working in Abu Dhabi before the first barrel of oil had been extracted) Trinidad, Canada, Africa, India and Australia.

In 1969, a very good friend, Bernard Galloway, who was then running the M&P operations in Canada, invited me to join him in Toronto. We had many successes there and lots of fun. Eventually, in 1974, I was asked to spend some time in Australia at the M&P subsidiary companies, Kelly & Lewis and Worthington Pumps, located respectively in Melbourne and Sydney.

Bill Mather always had a keen interest in further education and from Australia I then found myself at Harvard Business School - the considerable course fees funded by the company as was my salary during the period of my time at Harvard. It would otherwise have been impossible for me to take up the invitation.

I returned to the UK in 1976 and a couple of years later found myself appointed Managing Director of the Rotating Machinery Division based at Park Works. Bernard Galloway was by that time Managing Director of the Textile Machinery and Food Processing Machinery Division based at the Radcliffe Works.

At the time I left the old firm, the Deputy Chairman was Albert Lambert who spent the whole of his career in the Fire Engineering Division. Albert, now in his early 80s and remarkably fit, continues to arrange an annual Christmas gathering for old colleagues. Sadly there are fewer and fewer each year but it is always a most enjoyable occasion. Bill Mather was a regular and John Taylor remains a regular. In fact I am (at 62 years of age) the only regular still in full time employment! We are gathering again on December 1st. (2001).

Bill Mather died almost 2 years ago. In February 2000, a church service celebrating his life was held in the village of Prestbury close to his family home, Whirley Hall. The church was so full that people were standing in the aisles or wherever they could find space. The service was led by one of Bill's sons who is a church minister. Bill's youngest son, Peter, gave a reading and Bill's son-in-law, Simon Murray, gave a memorable address. - Eric Drewery


Mather and Platt Ltd. by Tommy Walsh
[This edited article was written at a time when the buildings still stood.]

My first connection with the firm was during the [second world] war when I used to pass it on the bus. As a young man I was intrigued by the camouflage painted on the walls. Even to this day you can make out the doors and windows that were painted on the buildings to confuse the enemy. It was years later when it struck me that if the enemy was aware that our factories were camouflaged as houses, then houses would become legitimate targets. If our government saw it this way, I don't suppose we will ever know. The other thing that made me think later was that it must have been very good paint to last nearly sixty years in all sorts of weather.

There is a painting of the main entrance of Mather & Platt in the War Museum in London; painted in about 1940, I think, by L. S. Lowry. It depicts the match-like figures going through the main gate of the factory and the painting also shows barrage balloons in the background. As a matter of interest, employees who have served forty years with the company are presented with a copy of the painting. I suppose that, being a limited edition, one day they will be very valuable.

I left St. Patrick's School, Collyhurst, during July 1946 and went for an interview for employment at Newton Heath Town Hall Youth Employment Office. The employment opportunities in those days were so much greater than today for someone leaving school. I remember being asked what I would like to do for a living and being given a long list of firms who were looking for young people to start as apprentices. For whatever reason, which I cannot remember now, I chose Mather & Platt.

I arrived at Mather & Platt for an interview and after an examination on the '3R's' it was arranged for me to commence an apprenticeship as a mechanical fitter. The pay was £1 per week and the week consisted of 48 hours spread over five and a half days. Monday to Thursday we worked from 8am until 6pm and on Friday from 8am until 5pm - with an hour each day for dinner. On Saturdays we worked from 8am until noon. They were long hours for boys who had just left school. We also had to attend Evening School for three nights a week from 6.30pm until 8.30pm, taking lessons in Mathematics, Science and Engineering Drawing.

The Mather & Platt Tower at Newton Heath.I would like to mention at this point that Mather & Platt was the first large engineering company in the country to start work at 8am. At the time this was quite revolutionary as all other large factory owners were against what was then known as 'the 8 o'clock start' and started their factories at 6am. It was the vision and compassion of the then owner, Sir William Mather, who pioneered this move. There were many such instances of the man's good works.

One of these was to start a works 'Day Continuaton School' whereby it was arranged for each apprentice to attend for two half days each week. We were taught not only engineering subjects but also spent time in the school's gymnasium and on the firm's sport track. The highlight of each year was Sports Day at the Manchester University Sports Ground at the Firs, Fallowfield.

The teachers at the Works School were provided by the Manchester Education Committee but the school's Headmaster was Mr. H.D. Davies - Donny to all the lads. He was quite a character. Sadly he perished in the air disaster at Munich. He was travelling with the Manchester United team as sports reporter for the then Manchester Guardian.

As our Headmaster, he took an interest in the activities of all the apprentices and at all times. He broadened our education not only in subjects relative to our trade but also in such things as music appreciation and history - arranging trips, for example, to such places as Litchfield Cathedral as well as to places of local interest - all of which helped to extend our general education. Being a sports reporter, Donny had contact with the sporting greats of the day and I will always remember him arranging for Jack Carey (then captain of Manchester United) and Cyril Wasbrook (Lancashire Cricket Club) to visit the school. It was truly a memorable occasion for all the apprentices.

School prize-giving was in July of each year and on one occasion the Guest of Honour was Field Marshall Montgomery. He had been invited by Sir William Mather, who had been aide-de-camp to 'Monty' during the war. Again, as a young lad, I was very impressed by all these personalities.

The top apprentice the year Monty was there went on to play football for Chester City. Eric, as the lad was called, later became great friends with the Field Marshall and featured in Monty's memoirs. As Eric later developed his footballing talents, Monty was to arrange a trial for him at Manchester United.

One of the outstanding features of the works was the very high tower above the main offices. The view on a clear day from the top is truly remarkable and the whole of Newton Heath is visible. The tower itself contains a huge water tank as an emergency for the sprinkler system which runs throughout the works. Whilst on the subject of water systems - I remember clearly that the signs on the toilets were given different names for different categories of employees - 'Men' and 'Women' for the works employees; 'Gentlemen' and 'Ladies' for the offices and 'Directors' for the boardroom!

The company supported a Silver Band. All apprentices were encouraged to join. For a time, I played the cornet. The band often performed in the main canteen (there were five of them) at lunchtime and accompanied many professional artistes who entertained the employees when the B.B.C. radio programme, Workers' Playtime, was broadcast from Park Works.

There was a very active Social Club and it also ran football, cricket and bowling teams. In later years, a modern Social Club House was built and it still functions today. Above all, the company was known as a generous employer. One scheme in particular which helped employees was the Ernest Mather Holiday Fund. The Fund paid out on length of service and how many children were in a family and this was set up at a time when workers in most industries did not get holiday pay. Even today, some retired employees still get money each summer.

Mather and Platt provided employment at Newton Heath for lots of local people and manufactured a range of products which had a lasting, world-wide reputation. - Tommy Walsh.


Attached is a copy of a photo from 'Our Journal', 1965 - No 1 - page 18. It is a photo of the Works School Annual Speech Day, 8th December, 1965. We we have managed to match some of the names to faces. If anyone has information please e-mail gee@bull-z.fsnet.co.uk - I'm third row up on right above the girl in the white jacket and black top. - Philip Gee.


I was an employee at Mather and Platt, India, situated in Pune, a city 167 Kms. south of Bombay.  I started as a Pump Test Engineer and rose to the position of Whole Time Director in 1996 and left the company in 1999 after 30 years service of which I enjoyed every bit.

During my tenure with the company I had the opportunity of associating with many people from Park Works, Manchester, some of whom have shaped my career. One such person whom I shall never forget is Percy Isherwood who was the General Manager of Mather and Platt, India and was responsible for the growth of the company under most difficult times during the early 70s. I fondly recollect the days when I worked for him and learnt the skills of pump making. We started in a humble way, making some of the small Plurovanes and steadily progressed to making some of the large split casing pumps up to 48"/54'' - the largest ever built by any pump company in India. I also remember visiting his home at Bolton and spending a day at his residence.

My visit to Park Works during the summer of 1980 will always be remembered by me as it was my first overseas visit and that too to the parent company which shaped my career. I remember walking into Eric Drewery's office - he was the then Director in charge of Park Works. I can still remember Norman Ellison - who was then in charge of Quality - explaining to me the Quality norms at Park Works.

I  recall also accompanying Norman to the Kalpakkam Nuclear Power station at Chennai in the South of India to attend to some of the large condensate extraction pumps. We had the wonderful opportunity of meeting the then Indian cricket team and also seeing a test match between India and the West Indies. Norman, being a regular umpire for the local English County, was simply thrilled with the experience.

I also vivdly recollect my association with Martin Thomas and Dr Kumar who were responsible for introducing the FG Boiler Feed Pumps in India and from whom I had the opportunity of enhancing my knowledge about the Advanced Class Boiler Feed Pump technology.

By chance, I came across this  wonderful website which took me back in time, bringing back nostalgic memories of good old Mather and Platt. I do know of many other people in India who have fond memories of association with Mather and Platt. I shall certainly convey to them the news about this website and you may have a lot to hear from these people about the good old times. Mather and Platt in India still exists but with a whole lot of people who perhaps do not know what it was to be a member of the Mather and Platt, Park Works family. Kris Menon.


I worked at M&P from1961 until 1966, firstly as a special apprentice and later in M&P Contracting with (amongst others) Peter Jones. I have just met Peter after some 20 years for lunch and had a fasinating few hours reminiscing over old M&P times. Peter introduced me to your work on the history of the company and I just wanted to let you know how very much I have enjoyed reading your web pages. It is really most comprehensive and very interesting. Thank you for your devoted efforts on this subject.

In 1964, whilst working with M&P contracting, I went out to Singapore on the Pasir Panjang Power Station project with Morris Buckley and George Jones; also on the project was Dave Daley of Fire Engineering. M&P agents out there at the time were Patterson Simons. I left M&P in 1965, got married, and, after three years with Marley Tile Company in UK and Australia on concrete roof tile production, I joined Patterson Simons in Singapore. I initially ran their match factory there. Here, I met Ken Willcox of Kelly and Lewis who was based in Patterson Simon's office as M&P's Far East resident representative. We also saw quite a lot of Harry Smith as he passed through on his way back and forth between Park Works and Australia. Later we moved to Kuala Lumpur to manage Patterson Simons Manufacturing division of two match factories, a shoe factory in Penang and an engineering works. During our time in Malaysia I met up with an old M&P friend (whom I am still in touch with) John Roberts. John was the son of George Roberts and the grandson of Arthur and a special apprentice with me. He had taken over from Ken Willcox but this time based in KL. I would be very pleased to hear from former colleagues. David Brookes - BROOKESDHV@aol.com


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