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British Industrial History

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European Sewing Machine Co

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of King Street, Cheylesmore, Coventry, sewing machine makers

1859 European Sewing Machine Co established[1] in King Street, Cheylesmore, Coventry by James Starley and Josiah Turner to import and market sewing machines from America (other reports say this was around 1861).

1861 September. Company formation. 'New Trade for Coventry. — It will be seen by advertisement that a meeting of the promoters of the European Sewing Machine Company will be held at the offices the late Mr. Wilmot, Hay-lane, to-morrow (Thursday) evening, at six o'clock, when parties desirous of taking shares in the undertaking are respectfully requested attend. The Rev. S. H. Widdrington will occupy the chair. This new machine about to be patented by an American gentleman of great practical experience in that kind mechanism, for the manufacture of which, when the patent is secured, the Company above referred to is about be formed in Coventry. We are informed the machine is a very marvel of simplicity and efficiency. will be exhibited at work to morrow at the meeting.'[2]

1861 James Starley produced the "European" sewing machine, designed to stitch round the edges of cuffs or the bottoms of trouser legs after they were made up. He made the machine at home in the evenings.

1861 May 14th. Starley left Newton, Wilson and Co, and with Turner and Silas Covell Salisbury, an American, went to Coventry to embark in the sewing machine trade. Salisbury and Starley patented a sewing machine. They rented part of the premises of a Mr. John Newark, on the site later occupied by the Swift works but the business did not prosper.

Local interest in finding work for under-employed watchmakers led to the formation of the European Sewing Machine Co to make sewing machines, which retained the services of Messrs. Turner and Starley. The works were initially in Little Park Street, later in King Street. Soon a larger factory was needed where the "European", "Godiva", "Express", and "Swiftsure" sewing machines were made.

1862 September. Advert. European Sewing Machines to S. C. Salisbury's patent from Wilson and Neville of Cheapside, London.[3]

1862 November. Prospectus for shares totalling £10,000. The provisional committee were James Marriott, David Spencer, William Franklin, Arthur Atkins, Joseph Tomlinson, Thomas Clarke (2), John Sutton, James Maycock, E. H. Crutchlow, Joseph E. Banks, John Powers, George Bindley, Richard Bobbins and Thomas Slingsby, all of Coventry.[4]

1863 June. Company registered as joint stock company for making and selling Salisbury and Starley's patent knot-stitch and other sewing machines at King Street, Coventry[5].

1863 Company was finding it difficult to expand and decided to diversify.

About 1865 Starley constructed a four-wheeled velocipede with suspension wheels.

1867 Company name changed to Coventry Sewing Machine Co Ltd

1869 European Sewing Machine Co was liquidated[6].


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Times of Monday, Oct 26, 1896
  2. Coventry Times - Wednesday 11 September 1861
  3. Northampton Mercury - Saturday 06 September 1862
  4. Birmingham Journal - Saturday 29 November 1862
  5. Birmingham Daily Post, 13 July 1863
  6. The Morning Post 26 July 1869