In 1885, John Wormald, then of the Mutual Fire Insurance Corporation (Manchester, England), wrote the first pamphlet of rules for automatic sprinklers. In 1889, after he had joined forces with Messrs. Dowson and Taylor, "Fire Engineers", he appointed his younger brother, Joseph Dawson Wormald, as the Australian sales agent for the Grinnell sprinkler head which Dowson & Tayor were marketing through Mather & Platt as suppliers.
Along with a partner, Stanley Russell, Joseph Wormald established the business, Russell and Wormald in Australia, which continued operating in this name until 1900. Joined in Australia by another Wormald brother, (Henry) Harry Percy Wormald, they formed the business, Wormald Brothers. It became a limited company in 1911 and a public listed company in 1949. It became known as Wormald International and later went on to absorb Mather & Platt Ltd. itself. John Wormald last visited Australia in 1932, the year before he died.
John Wormald had been a surveyor for the Mutual Fire Insurance Corporation of Bolton (England), the first insurance company officially to acknowledge that the automatic sprinkler was the answer to fire losses in cotton mills. He was one of the leading British insurance authorities on automatic sprinklers and elected to forsake the realms of insurance for the ranks of industry - at Dowson, Taylor and afterwards at Mather & Platt - as one of the Directors of this growing enterprise. He was the first M&P Chairman of the newly formed French company S.A. Mather & Platt in 1921 -1924. He died in 1933.
Extracted from company archives -
"In the days of the company, Dowson, Taylor, while John Taylor was devoting his great energy to the general development of Park Works and its products, John Wormald, working from headquarters in London, was engaged in increasing the demand for the companys products, especially in territory overseas. As in the case of John Taylor the early business interest of John Wormald had centred around automatic sprinklers and the reduction of fire losses but he proved equally at home in the wider sphere of engineering in which he moved after joining Mather & Platt Ltd.
John Wormald was ideally suited for the task entrusted to him. He was a man of great initiative and imagination: a man of personality able to deal confidently with men interested in Big Business. He was essentially a super salesman who thought on the grand scale, which fitted in well with the manufacturing policy of John Taylor, who held that everything offered by the company must be the best and that success would be achieved by catering for the needs of buyers who appreciated the advantages to be gained by doing business with producers whose first aim was quality. Having established himself in the trading centre of the world John Wormald succeeded in spreading the fame of Mather & Platt Ltd. to all quarters of the globe and in leaving a lasting impression on the sales policy of the company.
He was held in high esteem among the London businessmen of his day and his selection to serve on a wartime committee appointed by the Government of Mr. Lloyd George to control the distribution of non-ferrous metals indicated that his business ability was recognised in high places. He was subsequently knighted in recognition of services rendered to the Government during the 1914-18-war period.
Sir John Wormald resigned his position as a Director of Mather and Platt Ltd.in 1924 but there are still many in the employ of the company who pay eloquent testimony to the value of the training and encouragement received at his hands."
"The late Sir John Wormald was a man of singular force and charm of character. Born into the Wormald family of Yorkshire, his mother was a Scottish Highlander. He was the eldest of a large family of children. His time at Edinburgh University was cut short by the death of his parents and, being the eldest son, he took their place - which he did successfully.
He went into insurance, from which he was taken on by Sir William Mather who picked him as the man to sell Fire Sprinklers in Russia. One who knew him there was impressed by his mastery of his subject and by the tact, courtesy and strength which persuaded Russian insurance companies to promote the use of sprinklers by granting large rebates. Ultimately John Wormald became Managing Director of the firm in Manchester.
During the First World War he was Chairman of the Rationing Committee. The Press Bureau drescribed his work in a statement printed in "The Times" of January 8th 1919. "The Chairman, Mr. John Wormald, has given the whole of his time to the work. For its valuable services, the Committee has been warmly thanked not only by the Government but also by the traders whom they rationed. It is generally admitted that the Committee has furnished a striking example of what can be effected in administration by appointing one just man of experience and business ability, and by allowing him to select his own colleagues. Manufacturers have seen their necessary applications reduced by half and yet have cheerfully concurred."
John Wormald's life had many other interests. In his early days, he worked among the poor of the East End and there earned the life-long friendship of two Bishops of Stepney (Winnington-Ingram and Lang). The village of North Stoke, in Oxfordshire, where he lived for many years, owed everything to him. He found it a slum village, where the common labourer's weekly wage was 12s 6d. He risked his neighbours' displeasure by declaring that no man should work for him for less than a pound. He built a Village Hall and restored the beautiful thirteenth-century church. Wallingford owes to him its model hospital, in projecting which he not only spent his own money lavishly but shamed some others, who had been less ready, into doing their part.
He had rare, natural taste and was all his life a collector. Some of His Majesty's Judges, and many others, know the loving care with which he tended and beautified the Judge's Lodgings at Oxford. There he displayed his Chinese Porcelain, a small but exquisite collection. His portrait by Laszlo, which hangs in the small dining room, is the portrait of an artist."
Sir John Wormald - Corporate Entertainer