Boulton and Paul Ltd

  • 1797 - William Moore left his farm (located in Warham, Wells) to set up an ironmongers shop in Norwich. The shop was located in a shop on the corner of Cockey Lane which is now called Little London Street. At the time there was a general trend to move away from the land to the city. He later went into partnership with John Hilling Barnard.
  • 1839 - William Moore died and John Hilling Barnard became the new owner.
  • 1844 - John Hilling Barnard choose a new partner called William Staples Boulton.
  • 1853 - Joseph John Dawson Paul joins the business at twelve years of age as an apprentice. In time he became the manager of the Works department making stove grates and kettles.
  • 1879 - John Hilling Barnard dies leaving William Staples Boulton in charge of the business.
  • 1864 - William Staples Boulton set up as a manufacturer in Rose Lane Norwich. This was a time when demand for quality manufactured goods was high and labour was cheap and plentiful. Joseph John Dawson Paul's salary was at that time £100 per annum. In addition to stove grates and kettles, he began to make mincing and sausage machines however the main products were agricultural and horticultural tools. In addition iron gates and fences were made.
  • 1867 - Three new machines were installed to speed the manufacture of wire netting however they were made of wood and operated manually.. These looms were very similar to those used by Weavers looms in wide use at the time. It is of interest to note that wire netting was first devised in Norwich.
  • 1869 - W.S. Boulton and Company was formed with Boulton contributing £5,500 and Paul £500.
  • 1871 - Capital increased from £6,000 to £10,000. Profitability was very good.
  • 1874 - Capital increased to 16,000.
  • 1876 - A fire destroyed the carpenters shops and caused financial stress to the business. The after-effects of this and the financial worries caused Boulton to virtually retire from the business leaving Paul to run it.
  • 1879 - William Staples Boulton dies. Paul has financial liabilities to the business and to the widow of Mr Boulton.
  • 1880 - The bank provides some backing and Paul goes into partnership with James Sendall, an employee of the business.
  • 1893 - The partnership ends and a new partnership with Henry Fiske begins. At that time the business capital had grown to £27,777.
  • 1897 - The business became a limited liability Company with a capital of £168,000.
  • 1900 - Joseph John Dawson Paul was elected Mayor of Norwich. By this time many products were being manufactured. It is of note that Australia purchased many miles of wire netting to try to contain their over-population of rabbits! Such things as portable bungalows, wheelbarrows, dog-kennels and even glasshouses were made by the business.
  • 1905 - A specialised section was set up to manufacture structural steel. This was sited at Thorpe Yard and leased from the Railway Company on the other side of the river - there was not even an approach road to it. The section manufactured mainly light steel structures for agricultural purposes such as steel-frame barns. This year 7,614 miles of wire netting was sold to Australia.
  • 1906 - £50,000 Preference shares were issued to be purchased by the general public. Average annual profits were declared to have been £20,000 for the previous five years. The Rose Lane works were extended to maximum size - twenty times the original size! A department was started to make engines for small boats. Departments operating included the wire-netting shop, the wood-working shop (famous for making bungalows, greenhouses and conservatories), the foundry, the smithy (based in King Street) and various other scattered properties which included a wharf on the river Wensum.
  • 1909 - Dawson Paul (Mr Paul's son) and Geoffrey Fiske (also known as ffiske) collaborated to make a motor boat with the help of certain departments and using one of the Company's engines. It was called the Dollydo. The boat won, by two laps, an international race meeting held at Lowestoft that year and a picture appeared in the Daily Mirror newspaper. The boat was sold to the navy for £150 and this started a new venture into the manufacture of motor boats.
  • 1914 - Boulton and Paul were used by the Armed forces to manufacture huge military camps and components for huts. The wire-netting department was in great demand for war purposes.
  • 1915 - A request came from the War Office for the Company to make aeroplanes at Norwich and the Aircraft section was formed. Many wire looms were removed and production of the fuselage of the F.E.2B began at the Rose Lane works began which eventually employed some 2,000 men and women. An airfield was constructed at the Cavalry Drill Ground at Mousehold, Norwich. 550 F.E.'s were eventually made, along with 1,550 Sopwith Camels. The Camel was replaced with the Snipe.
  • 1916 - Much of the Rose Lane site was transferred to a new site on the other side of the river - called the Riverside Works. This site was re-claimed marshland and had to be drained before building commenced. (Currently the land has been cleared and is the site for shops and a swimming pool).
  • 1917 - Dawson Paul was Governing Director and Henry ffiske was Managing Director however that year Henry ffiske retired and control was given to a Committee of Management - the members, Captain Paul, William ffiske, Stanley Howes and Geoffrey ffiske. J D North was appointed head of the Aircraft division.
  • 1919 - A vote of confidence was passed in respect of Dawson Paul. Following this, measures were taken to consolidate the buildings and a factory at Riverside was closed and built over and the Rose Lane Works were sold to the Co-operative Wholesale Society. This year, the first steel aircraft, the P.10. was exhibited at Paris - it's predecessor, the P.9 (a wooden aircraft) had been discontinued. Other aircraft around the time were:
  • The Bolton
  • The Bodmin
  • The Bugle
  • 1920 - Everything left at the Rose Lane Works was brought over to the Riverside development. New Shop built for the Structural Steel department. Now all operations were consolidated on one site with many departments comprising the business. This time marked great strides for the Buildings department as the post-war reconstruction got under way. Such items as wooden buildings, Sports Pavillions, schools churches etc.
  • 1921 - Previous profits now turned into a loss. This caused staff reductions and lowered wages.
  • 1922 - This year saw a return to profits. The Structural Steel department grew to large proportions manufacturing such things as:
  • Dome of a Catholic church to be sent to Bogota (77 feet in size and 31 feet in diameter)
  • Transmission towers for the Great Indian Peninsular Railway
  • Many steel pylons for the British electric grid.
  • 1926 - The first twin-engined all-metal biplane bomber - the Sidestrand, was built. It became British standard equipment issue. It was a three-seater aircraft with a range of 700 miles. Number 101 Squadron was formed principally to use this machine. The successor was the Overstrand.
  • 1928 - Dawson Paul retired at the age of 87, after 75 years of service with the Company. Captain Dawson Paul, who was in his early forties succeeded him. The directors were William and Geoffrey ffiske, Stanley Howes and J D North.
  • 1930 - By this time much work had been done on developing an Airship. Two were built - the R100 and the R101. The R101 had 27 miles of tubing, 11 miles of bracing cables and had 65,000 nuts and bolts. When she came to Norwich, after assembly at Cardington, the whole city turned out to watch. This year, the decision was made to send the R101 to India. On a stormy night in October the airship met disaster and this spelled the end of airship construction in this country.
  • 1931 - Henry ffiske died.
  • 1932 - Dawson Paul died. The Great Depression of the thirties affected all businesses and Captain Paul reorganised the business, cutting out unprofitable products and focussing on four main products - structural steel, aircraft, wood-working and wire-weaving. The Committee of management was disbanded.
  • 1934 - The aircraft department was sold and was formed into a new business called Boulton Paul Aircraft Limited. After two more years this business moved away from Norwich to Wolverhampton.
  • 1935 - Captain Paul leaves the business and J P Jewson becomes the Company Chairman and shortly thereafter C W Hayward was appointed as a director.
  • 1937 - Capacity of the steel-working department was doubled.
  • 1939 - The Company was very much involved in the war effort, building several large armament factories and huge military training camps all over the country. They also made the wooden fuselage of the Oxford trainer, also the nose section of the Horsa glider. Wire-netting was used for defensive purposes and laid on aircraft landing fields. As a result of all this activity, the Boulton and Paul Ltd factory was attacked by bombers many times - by day and by night.
  • 1940 - Ten workers were killed and 68 injured in an air-raid in July and in August 9 died and twenty were injured. The box-making shop, the sheet-metal sop, the printing department, the canteen, the offices and the Boardroom were all destroyed.
  • 1941 - Tank transporter frames were being manufactured.
  • 1942 - The Midland Woodworking Company at Melton Mowbray became a subsidiary.
  • 1946 - A F Clark, the Managing Director of The Midland Woodworking Company joined the Board of Directors.
  • 1947 - Richard Jewson retired and was succeeded by Jean H Tresfon.