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British Industrial History

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H. H. Martyn

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H. H. Martyn and Co, wood, stone and plaster carvers, metal and glass workers, of Cheltenham, a company with a reputation for excellence and a wide range of activities that was unique for its time. Reproductions of Grinling Gibbons carvings were a speciality of the studio.

1888 Founded by Herbert Henry Martyn, a carver of stone, marble and wood; specialised in gravestones, memorials and ecclesiastical decoration. Founded in London, they also had studios in Cheltenham and Birmingham.

1900 became a limited company. H. H. Martyn took a less active role in its management, in favour of his son, Alfred William, and Henry Dutton. Over the next decade the company diversified into decorative plaster work, joinery, cabinet making, wrought iron work and castings in bronze and gun metal.

Later became involved in the production of stained glass.

1908 Responsible for the wood carving and plaster ornamentation of the new government building on the south side of Whitehall, on the corner of Great George St[1].

c.1908 Took over the Vulcan Works of William Letheren, which was renamed Sunningend Works. Charles Hancock was brought in to manage the new iron work department. Contract to supply gates for Marble Arch, in London.

1909 Their Glasgow studio opened, at 160a Bothwell Street, and operated until 1925, by which time they had moved to 3 Blythswood Square as metal and plaster-workers[2].

1915 Started building aircraft under sub-contract from the Aircraft Manufacturing Co (Airco) which needed more production space to cope with orders for DH2 scouts. Because these aircraft were made of wood, Hugh Burroughes was advised to visit H.H. Martyn and Company at Sunningend near Cheltenham's Lansdown railway station, a firm noted for its first class carpentry. Following his visit to Sunningend in April 1915, H.H. Martyn received contracts to build components for Farman aircraft and then DH2s and BE2s.[3].

1917 A. W. Martyn of H. H. Martin and Co and Hugh Burroughes of Airco arranged for their companies to form the Gloucestershire Aircraft Co to acquire the aircraft manufacturing business of H. H. Martyn.[4]. The company was producing 45 aircraft/week by 1918.

1920 Employed over a thousand men at its Sunningend Works in Lansdown, Cheltenham; it remained the largest employer in the Cheltenham area for many years.

Later undertook the manufacture of car components and car assembly.

1930 Formation of subsidiary: the Gloster Coach and Sheet Metal Co Ltd, which purchased the Carriage and Wheel Works Co of George St, Gloucester.

1933 Amalgamation with Maple and Co[5].

1935 Ship decoration was a large part of the architectural decoration work including for the SS Queen Mary[6].

1936 A. W. Martyn, founder of Gloster Aircraft Co and chairman of V. P. Airscrews was appointed chairman of Aircraft Components Ltd[7].

1936 A subsidiary company, Cheltenham Manufacturing Co, was formed, based at the Sunningend Works, to undertake furniture manufacture.

c.1937 Another associated company based at the Sunningend Works was Meigh High Tensile Alloys (or was it Meith?)

1939 Had expanded into metal work; contracts in hand included for the SS Queen Elizabeth[8].

WWII the production of aircraft components was resumed at Sunningend by H. H. Martyn (Aircraft) Ltd including manufacture of parts for the De Havilland Mosquito

Post-war: End of aircraft production work; facilities turned over to construction of parts for Arcon prefabricated buildings and for ships[9].

1967 Aluminium windows, doors and screens supplied for the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room in London[10].

1971 Declining demand led to the end of trading.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 6 June 1908
  2. Glasgow Sculpture [1]
  3. Glos. Transport History [2]
  4. The Times, 31 October 1985
  5. The Times, 10 November 1933
  6. The Times, 30 March 1935
  7. The Times, 27 March 1936
  8. The Times, 31 March 1939
  9. The Times, 11 April 1946
  10. The Times, 1 March 1967
  • Mosquito by C. Martin Sharp and Michael J. F. Bowyer. Published by Crecy Books in 1995. ISBN 0-947554-41-6
  • National Archives files on H H Martyn [3]
  • Ironworks from town can be seen throughout world, by Robin Brooks, Gloucestershire Echo 17 August 2012