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British Industrial History

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Mather and Platt

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Early electric locomotive for London underground. Exhibit at London Transport Museum.
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April 1870.
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1878. Patterson's Beetling Machine, exhibited at the 1878 Paris Exhibition.
1886. Mather-Thompson bleaching process.
1886. Mather-Thompson bleaching process.
1887. Electric light engines at the Hadfield Mills.
1887. Electric Light Works.
December 1889.
1889. Experimental triple expansion engines, Owens College, Manchester.
1895. High lift centrifugal turbine pump.
June 1898.
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1898. Electrically driven calico printing machines.
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M&P generators driven by Willans and Robinson engines at Rathmines Power Station
1900.
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1902. Pumping plant for Sydney waterworks.
1902. Combined engine and dynamo for Salford Corporation.
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1905. 150 hp electric pump.
1906. Compound Beating Engine.
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February 1911. Gas Engines.
1912. Park Works, Newton Heath, Manchester.
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1916. Photographic paper coating machines. Made in conjunction with Masson, Scott and Co.
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Dynamo on a showman's engine.
1923. Pump Bay.
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c1924. "Underwriter" Steam Pump from Machine Drawing Book 1 by Thomas Jones (1844-1926).
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1926. Hydraulic plant at Southampton Docks.
1931. Turbine Driven Feed Pump.
February 1931.
May 1944.
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April 1951.
Im201105-MatherPlatt.jpg
October 1952.
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Horizontal Split Casing Steam Turbine. Exhibit at the L'Adventure du Sucre, Mauritius.
Horizontal Split Casing Steam Turbine (detail). Exhibit at the L'Adventure du Sucre, Mauritius.
Extreme corbelling: cast iron header tank for fire protection system, with a small footprint. Central Manchester

Mather & Platt mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and fire protection engineers, of Salford Iron Works, Manchester, pioneers in both product and workplace practice.

of Park Works, Manchester and Queen Anne's Chambers, Westminster, London, SW (1914)

1817 The first "Mather" business started when Peter Mather - originally a cabinet maker and metal worker - saw opportunities in the manufacture of textile machinery. An entrepreneur and something of a visionary, he extended his business into making rollers for local textile mills.

Early in the 19th century, a company was founded by the grandfather of William Mather[1].

c.1824 William Mather Senior and his father, Colin Mather, who had come to Manchester from Montrose, established a small machine works and iron foundry in Salford (Salford Iron Works).

1845 After several failures, the business formed with his brother Colin Mather Senior prospered and in 1845 the Mathers leased part of the Salford Iron Works from John Platt.

1851 Award at the 1851 Great Exhibition. See details at 1851 Great Exhibition: Reports of the Juries: Class V.

1851 The partnership between William Mather and Colin Mather was dissolved; Colin Mather would settle all debts[2]

1852 Colin Mather entered into a partnership with William Wilkinson Platt, the son of John Platt (who had died in 1847), to form Mather and Platt[3].

1852 Patent to Colin Mather and William Wilkinson Platt for improvements in machinery for finishing cloth[4]

The Salford Iron Works partnership between Platt and Mather became the major supplier of textile finishing machines. Afterwards, the steam engine as a prime-mover for industry was included in a catalogue of the firm's products.

1853 Patent to Colin Mather for improvements in power looms[5]

1858 William Mather became assistant manager of the works.

1862 William was admitted a partner with his uncle, Colin Mather, and William Wilkinson Platt.

c.1868 William Mather, at the age of thirty, the elder partners having retired, took over the entire control of the business. Subsequently he took into partnership Mr. John Platt.

During the last quarter of the 19th century, when textiles were already beginning to dominate all branches of British industry, the company developed an aggressive policy of rights acquisition - purchasing the rights to what it believed to be promising and fledgling inventions - in order to develop them still further and then market the tried and tested product with equal determination on an international scale not yet seen in the history of British industry. To this end, three important strands of manufacture were developed.

1873 Professor Osborne Reynolds had designed a turbine pump which was a definite advance in centrifugal pumping. Mather and Platt developed and improved upon the new invention and in doing so, laid the foundation for what eventually became a flourishing Pump Department.

1877 Colin Mather died and as the older members of the Mather and Platt families had retired, William Mather became senior partner.

1883 rights to manufacture Edison's electric dynamo were acquired by the firm and, as a result of improvements introduced by Dr. John Hopkinson, the Edison-Hopkinson dynamo reached a degree of perfection not previously known in such machines. This was the first stage in the setting up of the Electrical Department.

1883 William Mather, while on a visit to the United States, secured the sole rights from Frederick Grinnell to market the Grinnell automatic sprinklers in all parts of the world except North America. Initially through a sub-licence to the firm of Dowson, Taylor and Co and then through Mather and Platt itself, he used this event to mark the beginning of yet another side of the firm's activities, the foundation of the Fire Department.

The involvement of John Wormald, an insurance industry expert on the risk of fire and the subsequent use of Fire Protection, brought together the elements for a major collaboration. Mather and Platt Ltd became the father of a world-wide industry, especially in Fire Protection. Further diversification of business included the manufacture of earth-boring and artesian well equipment, water purification plants, reciprocating pumps and centrifugal pumps of the volute type.

1884 Dr Edward Hopkinson joined the firm from Siemens to supervise electrical machinery manufacture and took charge of the electrical engineering department.

1885 Mather and Platt took a licence for the manufacture of Grinnell sprinklers for extinguishing fires in cotton mills and warehouses.

1886 William Mather added mechanical processing and steam treatment to J. B. Thompson's new bleaching process; the Thompson-Mather process was installed at Halliwell Bleach Works and achieved substantial increase in speed[6]

1887 Hopkinson was made a partner

1889 Mather and Platt received the contract to supply a complete electric railway system for the City of London and Southwark Subway[7]

1892 Edward Hopkinson became a managing director

1894 Experimented with the 48-hour week rather than that of 53-hours. Employed 1,200 men. [8]

1899 Public company. The company was registered on 21 January, to take over the business of mechanical, electrical and hydraulic engineers Mather and Platt, and of fire engineers Dowson, Taylor and Co. [9]. Edward Hopkinson was appointed Vice-chairman.

1900 Mather and Platt acquired land at Newton Heath.

1900 Mather and Platt acquired The Reeves Patent Filter Co of London.[10]

1900 Paris Exhibition. Showed an electricity generating plant with Galloways. Illustration and article in The Engineer. [11]

c.1900 Supplied dynamos and motor-generators to Rathmines Power Station, Dublin (see photo)[12]

The beginning of the twentieth century saw vigorous development of pumps, textile, fire engineering and electrical businesses. The quest for innovation led to the development of power station pumps, large electric motors, Mulsifyre protection systems, machinery for food processing and preservation, special materials such as Duplex stainless steel, pumps and fire protection systems for offshore oil platforms, electronic fire and smoke detection systems. Mather and Platt became a leader in the design and manufacture of high quality engineered products and systems which protected life and property and improved living standards throughout the world.

1903 Issued a brochure on gravity and pressure filters.[13] Also pamphlet describing D type dynamos for small outputs. Two-pole and four-pole types.[14]

1905 Advert for electrical machines, friction clutches, textile machines, piston packing, steam engines, valves & taps, water filters, gas engines, condensers and pumps. [15]

1910 Dynamo. Exhibit at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry.

By 1912 most of the main departments of the company had been moved to Newton Heath.

1914 Listed as mechanical, hydraulic, textile, electrical and fire engineers. Specialities: "Grinnell" sprinkler, automatic fire extinguisher, "Duplex" patent gas engines, filters for town supplies. Employees 3,000. [16]

1914 Had about 4000 employees

1917 Advert for Grinnell's automatic sprinkler and fire alarm. [17]

1917 Advert. Machinery for bleaching, dyeing and finishing of textiles. [18]

1920 1,200hp High-pressure turbine pumping set. Article and illustration. [19]


1923 1923 Visit of the Institution of Electrical Engineers: 1923 Review - "Very considerable extensions of their works at Newton Heath, Manchester, have been made during the last few years by Mather and Platt, Limited. The first step in the erection of the present buildings was taken in 1900 on a site measuring 50 acres alongside, and with direct access to, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway - now incorporated into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway - when an administration building, two storeys high, shown at the extreme left-hand side of the plan, was erected. For the first machine shop the Machinery Annexe of the Paris Exhibition of 1900 was purchased. It was pulled down by Mather and Platt's own staff, shipped to Manchester via the Ship Canal and re-erected. This shop is 376 ft. long by 130 ft. wide and is now used for the manufacture of pumps, valves, etc., in connection with the fire-extinguishing section of the firm's activities, as well as for a general stamping department for the whole of the works..." Read More


1927 See Aberconway for information on the company and its history.

1935 See Mather and Platt:1935 Review

1936 Textile machinery (of Park Works, Manchester). [20]

1961 Mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and fire engineers. [21]

1967 Talks between W. H. Allen, Sons and Co, Mather and Platt and G. and J. Weir about rationalisation of pumps businesses eventually failed to reach agreement after almost 1 year[22].


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • History of Mather and Platt [1]
  1. The Times, Jan 21, 1899
  2. London Gazette 16 December 1851
  3. Biography of William Mather, ODNB
  4. London Gazette Issue 26 November 1852
  5. London Gazette 29 July 1856
  6. The Times, Jan 26, 1886
  7. The Times, Feb 09, 1889
  8. The Engineer of 6th April 1894 p289
  9. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  10. The Engineer 1900/01/12 p 52.
  11. The Engineer of 20th July 1900 p88 & p92
  12. 'The Engineer' 7th Sept 1900
  13. The Engineer 1903/05/29, p 558
  14. The Engineer 1903/05/29, p 558
  15. Mechanical World Year Book 1905. Published by Emmott and Co of Manchester. Advert p
  16. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  17. 1917 Worrall's Yorkshire Textile Directory Advert p5
  18. 1917 Worrall's Yorkshire Textile Directory Advert p240
  19. The Engineer of 27th Feb 1920 p228
  20. The Textile Manufacturer Year Book 1936. Published by Emmott and Co. Advert on p60 & p63
  21. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  22. The Times, 18 January 1967