Cape Asbestos Co
of 23 King Street, Cheapside, London
1893 The company was registered on 28 December, to acquire an asbestos property in South Africa, with manufacturing premises in London, Turin, Laval and Hamburg. . Mining interests in amosite and crocidolite asbestos.
By 1897 Cape was producing textiles, millboard, steam packings, ropes and cordage in the United Kingdom, France and Italy, using Canadian chrysotile fibres as well as fibres from its own mines.
After 1910, capital was raised to pay off debts and a new factory was built at Barking
WWI the war created unprecedented demand
1916 First dividend paid on its ordinary shares
Post-war: Cape learnt to spin amosite fibres for use in steam insulation applications.
1925 Extended mining interests acquiring two mining companies in the Transvaal to produce amosite asbestos on a large scale.
1926 Cape began making friction materials (under the brand name Capasco)
1931 Amosite-based pre-formed thermal insulation products made at Barking under the name Caposite. The company started making friction materials.
1939 purchased Weaver Manufacturing and Engineering Co Ltd, makers of brake testing and relining machines, complementing the Capasco woven linings.
WWII Developed a new type of moulded brake lining, sold under the Capasco brand after the War.
1942 US Navy adopted amosite insulation, stretching the resources of Cape's amosite mines. The Barking factory made gas filters for respirators, insulation materials including a new fireproof resinated lining board (Pluto board) for warships, brake linings for armoured vehicles, and fireproof clothing. A second factory was acquired at Hebden Bridge to make gas filters and, later, millboard and some pre-formed insulation materials. Cape also acquired Kentmere Diatomite Co Ltd, owner of the only known deposit of diatomaceous earth in England.
1945 Expanded building materials activity with purchase of Uxbridge Flint Brick Co Ltd and expanded on empty land at Barking.
Early 1950s Cape started making a laminated board (Asbestolux) based on calcium silicate and asbestos. A large demand developed, requiring substantially increased capacity. Cape became the leading manufacturer in insulation board.
1952 Joined with Johns-Manville Corporation of New York to form Marinite Ltd for the manufacture in UK of a monolithic asbestos fireproof board which could be made into various shapes. Cape holds 53%.
1955 Cape acquired Andersons Insulation Co Ltd, a thermal insulation contractor.
Mid-1950s Decline in market for asbestos-based insulants for non-structural applications led Cape to develop alternatives based on rockwool.
1960s the company further expanded its interests in building and related materials by the acquisition of Universal Asbestos Manufacturing Co, thereby entering the asbestos cement market for the first time, and in friction materials by the acquisition of two established manufacturers.
1960 Cape acquired Small and Parkes Ltd, makers of brake and clutch linings, which had some OEM business but was hindered by lack of capital. The technical department was strengthened and investment to increase capacity to attract OEMs.
1962 Merger of Cape's other friction materials subsidiary (Capasco Ltd) with Small and Parkes
1963 Manufacture of friction materials within Cape was concentrated at Small and Parkes's Manchester factory.
1966 Cape sold its asbestos plaited packings, yarns, cloth, webbing, rope lagging, millboard and jointing manufacturing to Turner and Newall
1967 Cape acquired Universal Asbestos Manufacturing Co Ltd, a manufacturer of asbestos cement products and plastics.
1968 Cape Universal Building Products Ltd was formed to merge the operations of Universal with the production of Asbestolux.
1969 Cape acquired the Trist, Draper group of companies, manufacturers of friction materials, parts for automatic transmission and asbestos yarns and lagging, to extend Cape's friction materials and to obtain access to railway markets as a subsidiary of Trist, Draper, Transport Brakes Ltd, made railway brake blocks. The acquisition also gave Cape a stake in the market for components for automatic transmissions. Another Trist, Draper subsidiary, English Asbestos Co Ltd, was partly owned by BBA Group.
c.1969 Cape Asbestos Co acquired BBA's 26 per cent shareholding in English Asbestos Co Ltd. Capacity at Marinite was increased.
1970 Cape had six main subsidiaries:
- Cape Asbestos Fibres Ltd, responsible for marketing asbestos fibres and for importing all asbestos fibres required by Cape in the UK;
- Cape Insulation Ltd;
- Cape Universal Building Products Ltd;
- Small and Parkes Ltd;
- Trist, Draper Ltd;
- Marinite Ltd.
1974 Cape Asbestos Co had 3 divisions:
- Building and Insulation Products Division
- Automotive and Engineering Products Division
- Mining Division.
1980 Acquired Newalls Insulation CoLtd, a producer of glass fibre insulation materials, which complemented Cape's factory at Stirling which produced mineral fibre insulation material.
Sources of Information
- The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
- The Times, 1 July 1974