The following webpages are an abridged version of the book titled
A SHORT HISTORY OF HENRY HOPE & SONS
1818 - 1958
The business of Henry Hope & Sons was founded by Thomas Clark in the autumn of 1818 at 55 Lionel Street, Birmingham, where it remained for exactly 101 years. Known originally as Jones & Clark with several other partners, who appear and disappear during the passage of time. The Clarks both father and son were the principal owners. In the Birmingham trade directories for 1820 the firm manufactured Metallic Hothouses, Horticultural Buildings of all descriptions, patent copper sashes etc. It was a Horticultural Builder for Royalty, the Aristocracy and Landed Gentry.
The firms first order on 5th October 1818 which pre-dates the reign of Queen Victoria was for a lean-to greenhouse costing £110. These early orders were mostly for horticultural buildings and made from wood as well as metal. The earliest order of an all metal building dates from 1819 for Lord Arundel at Wardour Park, Salisbury Wiltshire.
The firms original order books are still preserved and running almost continuously with very few breaks until 1898.
|Henry Hope was
born in Birmingham in 1831.
He joined the firm as a boy from school
and spent his whole working life in the
business. He was dynamic, enthusiastic and
a talented draughtsman. He was the second
eldest of three sons of his parents James
Henry married Sarah Emily Biddle in 1867 and raised five children, Henry Donald, John Arthur, Constance Mary, Adeline Emily, and Ralph Walter.
Henry's three sons joined the firm with Henry Donald Hope becoming Chairman when his father stepped down as Chairman in 1908. He remained as Chairman until his death in 1953. His son Michael then became Chairman.
Donald was responsible for the firm's great expansion and being held in high regard by the industry.
Henry's grandson Ralph became a fighter pilot in WWII and sadly was killed in action over Croydon during the Battle of Britain in 1940
Henry died at the age of ninety in 1921 and was well remembered as a mild mannered gentleman with a white beard.
His wife Sarah Emily died 5 years later aged 86 in 1926
Thomas Clark set his sights on providing buildings for the nobility, The Duke of Newcastle at Clumber Park, Trafalgar House for Earl Nelson, Earl Spenser, Viscount Heard, Viscount Curzon, Countess of Clancarry and Nuneham Park, Oxford for the Archbishop of York.
Later orders came from Queen Victoria for large hothouses at her premises Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, and Frogmore near Windsor.
From 1845 - 1857 the firm made all the bronze windows for Charles Barry's new Palace of Westminster, and by 1887 metal windows had become a sufficiently important part of the business to form a separate catalogue.
In 1864 Henry Hope then aged thirty three was taken into partnership and the firm's name changed to Clark & Hope. When Henry joined the firm the business had expanded to become Horticultural Builders and Hot Water Apparatus Manufacturers. It was a high profile firm which advertised its wares "Under the Patronage of her Majesty Queen Victoria". The firm was awarded the Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria as her Metallic Hothouse Builder.
In 1875 on the death or retirement of Thomas Clark junior, Henry Hope became the sole owner and traded under his name Advertisements of the firm at that time bear the title "Henry Hope, late Clark & Hope formerly Clark", when it was trading as "Horticultural Builder, Hot Water Engineer and General Ironfounder". Churches, Chapels, Schools, Mills, Warehouses, Offices, Drying Rooms etc, heated by Hot Water Apparatus on the most approved principles.
When Henry's two sons joined the firm there was a further name change to Henry Hope & Sons
In 1898 the business became a limited company with the name Henry Hope & Sons Ltd having an issued capital of £20,100. Its first directors were Henry Hope (Chairman), H Donald Hope, J Arthur Hope and J S Nettlefold.
The 20th Century
By 1900 the horticultural side of the business had become smaller and the main activities of the company now centred on Metal Windows, Roof Glazing and Central Heating.
It was now a rapidly expanding business and in 1905 purchased land at the corner of Dartmouth Road and Halford’s Lane in Birmingham. In 1905 the Company then built the first four bays of South Halford Works.
In 1914 the company was active in installing Heating & Ventilating systems employing 600 personnel, The company's directors at that time were H Donald Hope (Chairman) Henry Hope, Fred T Garrett, Ralph W Hope, C Thurston Bassett Arch.
Additional land was acquired at the Smethwick site to cope with the firms increasing business. As the Lionel Street premises were now becoming too small, the manufacturing was being transferred to Smethwick. Eventually in 1919 the business moved completely to Smethwick, closing the Lionel Street property after 101 years.
The company also carried out a number of contracts overseas, and one memorable contract was the installation for the Rangoon General Hospital carried out in 1910. Elephants were first used and then a human chain was needed to haul the boilers up from the docks to the site.
The heating department of the business emerged from its association with the metallic hothouse makers to form Hope's Heating and Engineering Ltd, and in 1927 formed a wholly owned subsidiary company. It provided a complete design for central heating installations. Branch offices were opened in London, Leeds, Cardiff and Hull.
THE IRONMONGER journal of October 27th 1928 wrote an editorial which posed the question "which is the oldest heating firm" the list of the firms on the membership roll of the National Association of Heating, Ventilating and Domestic Engineering Employers of 1928 showed that at least nine heating engineering firms had been established over 100 years. Henry Hope & Sons was noted as the 9th oldest UK heating firm.
It appears that in the 1920's Hopes Heating & Lighting Ltd was also formed, and that two British Patents were secured in 1929 for “improvements relating to hot water heating installations” and for “improvements relating to hot water supply and heating systems.”
In 1929 Henry Hope & Sons Ltd made an application for British Patent 315.116 titled "Improvements Relating to Electrical Switches".
It was an attachment to a two-way switch that prevented the switch going from one ON position to the other without passing through an intermediate OFF position.
The War Years
During both WWI and WWII the company's normal business practically came to a stop and the works were re-organised to manufacture munitions. In the 1914 - 1918 conflict the main items made were Mills hand grenades, stokes mortar bombs, aircraft bomb bodies
the start of WWII in1939 when the threat
of chemical warfare was imminent, the
public were given gas masks to wear in
an emergency. After the terrible
chemical attacks upon soldiers in WWI
the country was prepared for similar
chemical attacks to occur. Against this
background of the possible consequences
for the general public Hopes Heating
& Lighting Ltd would manufacture and
install ventilation apparatus and gas
filtration system for all types of
buildings and air raid shelters. They
named the system 'Hope A.R.P Ventilating
Apparatus'. For more information about
of the Smethwick factory was
requisitioned by the Government and
occupied by B.S.A who made breech blocks
for Browning Machine guns.
What is particularly
poignant about this
list of comapny
employees killed in
WWII is that one
member of the Hope
family is included.
Ralph Hope a
grandson of Henry
Hope was a fighter
pilot in the Battle of
Britain who was shot
down and killed over
Croydon in 1940.
This plaque has
It will now be put on
display in a local
building which is open
to the public.
In later years after the company changed its name to Hope's Heating & Engineering Ltd it expanded the business into the design and manufacture of automatic oil burners and mechanical stokers. The company could now provide a complete package for the Client that included Heating, Ventilating, Electrics, Fuel Supply and Firing equipment.
End of the Road
In 1965 Hope's merged with Crittall Manufacturing Co another firm that made metal windows, doors and casements and formed Crittall Hope Ltd.
Slater Walker Securities; This company performed what became known as a corporate raider of public mainly industrial companies. At its peak, capitalized at over £200 million, It had grown to be not only a bank but also an investment and insurance empire with stakes in industrial companies. Trading as a public industrial company around 1966, Hope's was bought by Slater Walker Securities possibly as a hostile buyout. Slater Walker then changed strategy, from a corporate-conglomerate into what eventually was recognised as an unauthourised and unlicensed international investment bank, through gradually disposal of its industrial interests.
In September 1968 Jim Slater of Slater Walker sold Hope's Heating & Engineering for £30,000 to the How Group who then changed the name to How Hope and still traded in Building Services Engineering. That situation regretfully only lasted for three years when the Hope name was removed from the firm's title and so just disappeared.
Founded in 1818 Henry Hope & Sons grew to become one of the largest Heating & Ventilating companies in the West Midlands with installations throughout the UK and overseas. Sadly, Hope's Heating & Engineering Ltd in 1972 after serving the Building Engineering Services industry for over 150 years lost its name and identity and was finally laid to rest.
To view lists of typical installations in different categories of buildings that the company carried out prior to WWII use this link