Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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White and Pike

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On March 19,1894, building began of a factory for a Birmingham printing company, White and Pike Ltd, at Longbridge. The factory was for a new venture - making and printing tin boxes. By around 1901, however, the business was abandoned. This site was purchased for the Austin factory in 1906.

Frederic Impey was a partner and managing director of White and Pike, a Birmingham printing firm which had a works in Moor Street. Born at Feering, Essex in 1847, Frederic had attended Sidcot School and then completed a five year printing apprenticeship with White and Pike, which was followed by a career in the printing business.

William White (1820-1900) was a Quaker businessman, political activist (Liberal Mayor of Birmingham, 1882) and philanthropist e.g. founder of the local Adult School Movement. Frederic worked for the firm for 40 years and became a partner in 1871 following the death of Cornelius Pike two years earlier, and later Managing Partner.

The 1881 census described Frederic as a ‘Printing Master and Farmer employing two men’. Longbridge House was the centre of a small estate of 40 acres, including four acres of garden with a further 60 acres rented from the Coombes estate.

In 1894 the firm built a new ‘out of town’ factory where Longbridge Lane joined the Bristol Road in order to capitalize on a new process for colour printing onto tin plate boxes. Within a year, however, it had burned down in a devastating fire. The consequences were serious and in 1903 the Longbridge branch was forced to close although the Bootham School Register entry for Francis Levitt Impey suggests the tin-box making had been wound up by 1899. As Ethel Impey later pointed out the tin-printing side was insufficiently insured and the management was over-optimistic.

The site was purchased by Herbert Austin in 1906 for his motor vehicle business Austin.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] The Diary of Capt. Arthur Impey, 79th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery