Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,103 pages of information and 233,633 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Chad Valley Co

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March 1946.
November 1952.
Exhibit at the Bakelite Museum.

of Chad Valley Works, Harborne, Birmingham, 17. (1922)

Ditto Address. Telephone: Edgbaston 2040. Cables: "Vallchad, Harborne". (1929)

Ditto Address and Cables. Telephone: Birmingham Harborne 3241-4. London showrooms: 120-1 Newgate Street, EC1. Telephone: Monarch 5431. (1947)

1820 The early history of this company is unknown, but it is thought to have been in business, in Birmingham, by 1820. Set up by Anthony Bunn Johnson, the company was originally a printing and bookbinding business.

1860 Anthony's two sons, Joseph and Alfred, opened a similar business in George St, Birmingham, trading as Johnson Brothers.

1869 Mention. Johnson Brothers, Printers, 7 George St. Parade.[1]

1897 The company moved to Harbourne and became Johnson Brothers (Harbourne) Ltd. The new factory, known as The Chad Valley Works, was named after a stream nearby. They later took the name of Chad Valley as their registered trademark. As well as selling stationery, the company also started to produce cardboard games and toys, the range of which was gradually increased. Johnson Brothers may have made brass postal scales as well.

1904 Alfred Joseph Johnson, the eldest son of Joseph Johnson, became chairman and managing director after his father's death.

WWI. When the First World War began in 1914, toys and games were no longer imported. Johnson Brothers then began to expand and used the opportunity to increase its range of products.

1915 The company's first soft toys were produced. This was a range of traditional, plush Teddy Bears with jointed limbs.

1916 The company patented a machine for stuffing soft toys.

1919 Post-war expansion was so great that the company acquired the Harbourne Village Institute which was used as a printing works, producing box covers and labels for toys and games.

1920 The soft toy business relocated to Wellington, Shropshire, and a new factory called The Wrekin Toy Works. The firm known as The Chad Valley Co Ltd came about when the three factories were merged into one.

1920s Both the Wellington and Harbourne works were extended as business increased.

1922 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Indoor Games, Puzzles, Christmas Crackers and Stockings, Toys of all Description, including Playing Balls, Teddy Bears, Fabric Dolls, and other Soft Toys, Rattles, Mascots, etc. (Stand No. F.35) Also: Manufacturers of Stationers' Carded Sundries and Fancy Goods, including Decorative Bellows and Lamp Shades, Labels and Tickets, Office Appliances, Motorists' Trunks, Fur Rugs and Gauntlets, Picnic Cases. (Stand Nos. K.35 and K.60) [2]

1923 The Aerolite, registered ad the company also took over Isaac and Co.

1929 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Indoor Games and Toys, Puzzles and Parlour Pastimes for Amusement, Kindergarten, and Advertising purposes; Hygienic Textile Toys; "Bambina", "Mabel Lucie Attwell" and "Caresse" Felt and Velvet Dolls, Calendars, Stationery Sundries. (Stand No. D.35) [3]

1930s Fourteen different-sized bears were advertised.

1931 Further expansion saw the company take over Peacock and Co, another well-known toy manufacturing firm.

1936 A. J. Johnson died.

1938 Granted a Royal Warrant as 'Toymakers to Her Majesty the Queen'.

WWII. During the War, the Chad Valley factories concentrated on the war effort, with very limited production of soft toys. Instead, the company manufactured small wooden instrument cases as well as cases used on the barrels of anti-aircraft guns. Other products included: hospital tables, electrical coils and starters, children's clothing, tent poles, charts and auto pilots, .

1947 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Indoor Games, Mechanical and other Metal Toys, Wooden and Plastic Playthings, Soft Toys and Dolls in Fabric and Rubber, Jigsaw Puzzles. (Olympia, 3rd Floor, Stand No. K.2438) [4]

1950 The company continued its programme of expansion and became a public limited company.

1951 The company acquired the metal toy manufacturing firm of Hall and Lane.

1954 The family business of Roberts Brothers trading as Glevum Toys was acquired.

1958 Acquired metal toy makers Acme Stopper and Box Co.

1967 The company acquired the Chiltern Toys company of H. G. Stone and Co.

By 1960 the company operated seven factories with more than 1,000 employees.

1970s Cuts were made in staff and production.

After 1975, only two factories remained.

The manufacture of soft toys was relocated to Pontypool in South Wales.

1978 The firm was taken over by Palitoy, of Leicester.

1988 The trade name of Chad Valley was acquired by Woolworth's.

2009 The trade name of Chad Valley was acquired by Home Retail Group for approximately £5 million.

2016 The trade name of Chad Valley became part of Sainsbury's following the purchase of Home Retail Group.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Birmingham Daily Gazette - Monday 01 February 1869
  2. 1922 British Industries Fair p16
  3. 1929 British Industries Fair p37
  4. 1947 British Industries Fair p58