The first avenue of enquiry was of a possible company history, the sort that tends to be produced to mark a hundred years of successful trading, and after a bit of poking about I found that Hayward Brothers had indeed published such a book entitled 'Years of Reflection 1783-1953'. At the time the only copy I could find was priced at an eye-watering £150 which was a bit more than my casual interest could afford! However, chasing up a few more links led me to a fascinating site called GlassIan This site dealt, not surprisingly, with all things glass and had a whole section devoted to the Hayward brothers, including the entire text of 'Years of Reflection'! At over a hundred pages it's not really the sort of thing you'd sit down to read in full so I thought I'd provide a Q&A summary for those of us whose interest in the company is more on the casual side...
Who exactly were the Hayward Brothers?
The brothers were William and Edward Hayward, part of a notable family of glaziers and glass-cutters, who made the move into the ironmongery trade when they bought the business of Robert Henly in 1848. Robert Henly was an iron work specialist who had also been producing coalholes amongst other items (making an R. Henly coalhole one for me to look out for!) but ill-health had led him to sell his business.
The address of 187 - 189 Union Street Borough often appears on the coal holes. Is this where they were made?
There are several addresses associated with the company and a couple of them appear on the coalholes. When William and Edward bought the business Henly was trading from 117 and 118 Union Street, Borough. Coincidentally the brothers had been running their own business from a cornershop on Blackfriars Road and also numbered 117, but this was abandoned in 1857 when they decided to concentrate on wholesale rather than retail. A lease was taken out from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for 187 & 189 Union Street and later on, in 1875, as business expanded
... the two houses, 191 and 193, next to 187/189, Union Street were acquired and adapted to meet the needs of manufacture.This address also appears on coalholes and, to answer a query I have asked in previous postings regarding the setting up of foundry works, it is plain that indeed the Hayward Brothers did all their own castings on site until
"To simplify manufacture, it was arranged to form a separate company, the Southwark Foundry Company, whose functions would be to make iron castings required by Hayward Brothers and Eckstein. For this purpose, a site was purchased in Orange Street, off Union Street, adjoining the firm's premises. Here, a new foundry was built equipped with the most modern facilities and the latest types of plant. Haywards' own works, although efficient and extensive, had necessarily grown up bit by bit from the days of Glover and Henly in their single cottage. Such development lacked cohesion and the advantages of overall planning and design. These, it was determined, the new foundry should possess."By 1921 the Borough works were proving to be too cramped yet again and a new factory was created in Enfield, but some work was still retained at the core of the Borough site, as much, it seems because of the well known link to the area as for any economic reason.
What was the link between Hayward Brothers and the Dog and Pot symbol? The statue of a dog licking out a three legged cooking pot had probably started out as a pub sign, but somehow found its way above an ironmongers shop in Blackfriars Road. It became a noted landmark associated with the ironmongery trade and seems to have been inherited by several different companies over the years as a result of mergers and purchases, one of the last being the Hayward brothers.
"Little time was lost in adapting Henly's business to their own ideas. New brooms sweep clean. The Dog's Head in the Pot premises became the offices and showrooms and the foundry in Union Street, completely re-built and modernised by Henly six years earlier, was converted to new uses. The ancient sign seems to have captivated the brothers for they immediately adopted it as their trade mark on all bill-headings and advertisements, and where appropriate on the articles they made."The sign also appears on the coal hole covers of J. W. Cunningham of 196 Blackfriars Road, a company that in all probability inherited the original premises from the Hayward Brothers.
What is so significant about the Hayward Brothers light well?
The real fortune of Hayward Brothers came not from jobbing iron-work or coalholes, but from the development and patenting of a semi-prismatic pavement light. Impressed? Well up until the company hit the jackpot with this particular patent cellars had been one are of a house or factor that had been particularly difficult to illuminate. Open grills let in some light, but also the elements, whilst merely inserting discs of glass gave a very poor quality of light. The Hayward Brothers idea (and more importantly, patent) was to take a prism of glass and to slice it in two - hence 'semi-prismatic'. This had the effect of bending the incoming light 90 degrees so that it would throw light into the darkest corners of the cellar. For both factories and homes this was a huge improvement and opened up large new areas for exploitation at very little cost. The illustration from the book explains the principle
With this design the Brothers were able to combine their knowledge of both iron and glass to establish a real innovation and the source of much of the company's success. There were numerous designs and variations and the 1920's even saw them follow the new trend for concrete with their trademark Crete-O-Lux system which was used in much of the redevelopment of Regent Street. Coincidentally, now that the Union Street building had concreting facilities, some of the coalholes started to feature this new material as well.
Typical example of an iron-framed semi-prismatic light well used to illuminate the cellar of a small establishment. Several of these prisms have been damaged over the years which probably means the cellar is a little more gloomy than it need be!
What about the coal hole plates?
Having inherited the coal hole business from R. Henly the Hayward Brothers continued to produce them as a steady earner on the ironmongery side. I don't have a full listing of all their designs but this quote gives an idea as to the available range
Coal plates, of which there had been six types in 1865 from solid iron and ventilating to those fitted with glass lenses, had received some undesirable publicity and a greater margin of safety was urged by the highway authorities. Sixteen designs, illuminating or semi-illuminating, were included in the lists at this time. Some were fitted with a safety chain and ring, which Haywards recommended to builders and architects in preference to earlier and cheaper types.There does seem to be a definite 'house style' and I will be doing a Hayward Brothers Retrospective to see if I can pull together some of the elements and design features developed over the years.
Talking of coal-holes, there are a large number of Hayward Safety Plates around. Why was that?
Coal plates which were just discs placed over a hole could be dangerous either through slipping on them in wet or icy weather (hence the patterns of grooves and incisions), or through being left open or unfastened either in error or by children playing in the streets. The following examples were provided in Years of Reflection
"DANGEROUS COAL PLATES," The Builder published the following paragraph:The Safety Plate was a lock and twist affair that prevented such unfortunate mishaps but was as much a PR exercise as anything else designed to re-assure a nervous public.
"On Monday evening, Mr. Bedford held an inquest on the body of Mrs. Sarah Flower, of 41 Guilford Street, Russell Square. The deceased was walking along Guilford Street when she slipped through a coal trap outside No. 43, the plate of which had been left unfastened. The occupier of No. 43 was called and disclaimed all knowledge of the insecurity of the plate but admitted that three-fourths of the plates in the neighborhood were unfastened. Verdict: Accidental death."
The Daily Telegraph reported an incident, which painful though it must have been to the unfortunate victim at the time, is not without humour. "Sir P. C. Owen was but just able to make his appearance, and apologise for not attending her Majesty round the interesting exhibition. This gentlemen is suffering from the effects of a street accident to which all pedestrians are daily liable. Sir Philip happened to step, a short time ago, on an unfastened iron plate over a coal-cellar, the treacherous guard slipped aside, and his leg went down the opening, with such injurious result that, though he fought against the pain for a day or two, he has been obliged to take to his couch, whence he rose yesterday to wait first upon the Queen and, at a later hour, on the Prince and Princess of Wales."
The scene of Sir Philips' mishap is not revealed but the Haywards were not blind to such reports and their effect upon business. They stated emphatically that the coal plates manufactured by them prevented such accidents, adding a long list of thirty-three famous thoroughfares in the heart of London where Haywards' coal plates were used throughout. Russell Square, where Mrs. Flower met her heath, was among them but to make it quite clear it was not one of their plates which caused her death they limited their claim to "Part Russell Square."
Are Hayward Brothers still in existence?
Alas, the company seems to have ceased trading in the 1970's, which co-incidentally is when the Smokeless Fuel Acts and the big switch to gas central heating probably put paid to the coal-hole business. So they were there at the start, and they were there at the end...