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 148,095 pages of information and 233,633 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Britannia Sewing Machine Co

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of Magdalen Street, Colchester

1811 William Dearn, a nail maker, used the site for business.

1827 Became St Botolph's Works.

1830s The Works was used as an iron foundry as well as for nail making.

1859 William Dearn died in 1859. His son, William Dearn junior, continued to run the ironfounders with a small workforce until his own death in August 1866.

1860 Because of bankruptcy, the premises were sold over Dearn's head to Joseph Blomfield, a Colchester ironmonger who sold Wheeler and Wilson sewing machines. When the patent on these expired, he was approached by Thomas Mayhew Bear, an engineer and ironfounder from Sudbury, suggesting a partnership to make sewing machines.

1866 Bear and Blomfield formed the Britannia Sewing Machine Company to produce sewing machines. It was so successful that, when William Dearn junior died, Blomfield and Bear gave up their general foundry work and sold the stock, patterns and goodwill to Davey, Paxman and Davey who had recently set up in business.

1871 The Britannia Sewing Machine Co employed 105 people

1870s the business started selling small drilling machines, fretworking machines, and small lathes, etc. These were mainly aimed at small businesses and private workshops. Another product line was velocipedes, an early form of bicycles.

1880s Overwhelming competition from the Singer Sewing Machine Company of USA forced them to manufacture other products, mainly machine tools and oil engines.

The name was changed to The Britannia Co.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Paxman history [1]