Henry Hope & Sons
Webpages under construction

The Group continues with its research for information about the firm of  Henry Hope & Sons.
The webmaster
would welcome contact from any family member, friends or ex-employees of
firm who could provide additional information or photographs pertaining to either the
family or the firm.
This is a story about a pivotal West Midlands industrial firm, with
150 years of history in the
heating and ventilating industry.

a short history of a pioneering heating & ventilating firm.

Researched, written and prepared by
F J Ferris for the Heritage Group of the
CIBSE  June 2017

         with acknowledgements to,
Brian Roberts - Group Member
Michael Patrick
Jonathan Marler
Andrew Hopkins
Paul Yunnie Group Member

The British Library
Birmingham Library & Archive                                                        
for their assistance and information.

The following webpages are an abridged version of the book titled

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.

The Family

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 and Sarah.

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

Victorian Growth of the Firm
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 Nettlefol d. Joseph chamberlain 1786 - 1974 & Caroline harben 1808 - 1875 


What is of interest with the Hope family history is their connection through marriage to the family of Neville Chamberlain who was Prime Minister (1937-1940) at the start of the WWII in September 1939. Most people remember him returning from a visit to Hitler and holding up that slip of
paper and saying "Peace in our time"  there will be no war and there was.


Chamberlain Family Tree

Joseph Chamberlain 1786 - 1874 & Caroline Harben 1808 - 1875
Joseph Chamberlain 1836 - 1914 & 1868 Florence Clara Kenrick 1847 - 1875
Arthur Neville Chamberlain 1863 - 1940 & 1911 Annie de Vere Cole 1883 - 1967
Arthur Chamberlain 1843 - 1913  & 1870   Louisa Kendrick 1847 - 1892
Bertha Chamberlain 1874 - 1942  & 1900 Henry Donald Hope 1869 -

Photograph of the Sash Department employees taken circa 1909

Photo kindly provided by Andrew Hopkins whose ancestral relation
is John Carney - front row third from the right

The firms football team in the 1912 - 1913 season displaying the cup
and shield  that the team had won.

Photo kindly provided by Andrew Hopkins whose ancestral relation
is John Carney - middle row third from the right

The employees of the firm were heavily involved in all the sporting activities in the West Midlands area, and provided cricket and soccer teams for the local leagues.


Similar to many of the other quality companies in the Industrial Midlands, Henry Hope & Sons had a well-maintained sports ground and encouraged sporting activities.


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

During in the 1939 - 1945 conflict the most  notable products were Bailey Bridge components, 320,000 - 25pound shell cases, 396,000 incendary bombs, and 33,000 bomb containers. 

At 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 this equipment

Part of the Smethwick factory was requisitioned by the Government and occupied by B.S.A who made breech blocks for Browning Machine guns.

Bomb Disposal Auxiliary 1941 - 1944

Henry Hope & Sons employees did their bit for the war effort by forming a bomb disposal team of volunteers.

The mens ages don't seem to fit the classic "Dad's Army" pattern, so we could assume that they were mostly in "reserved occupations". 

A number of them were involved in the re-roofing of bomb-damaged factories in Coventry, Birmingham and the Black Country earlier in the war. They could have received explosives training and the group undertook exercises, which included unearthing buried bombs. No doubt the really dangerous job of de-fusing was left to the UXB professionals that we have seen featured in the television series. The group made a valuable contribution by providing their mechanical engineering and draughtsman's skills to dismantle such "made-safe" devices and prepare detailed drawings of the latest weapons and fuses found in the unexploded condition for immediate distribution to other units in the country. As the use of anti-personnel bombs and mines became more widespread, this probably saved a number of lives.

Top row - ?? - Barney Cull - George McEwan - Hadyn Paddison- ?? - ?? - ?? -??

Bottom Row - ?? - Wilf Dutton - ?? - ?? - Tom Patrick - ??

Photo and information kindly provided by Michael Patrick

What is particularly
poignant about this
list of company
killed in
that one
of the Hope
is included.

Ralph Hope a
of Henry
was a fighter
in the Battle of
Britain who
was shot
down and
killed over
in 1940

This plaque has
recently been
recovered from

It will now be put on
display in a local
Smethwick Council
building which is open
to the public. 

A group of employees in the 1950's on their way to a fishing match including Tom Patrick, Harry Lunn, Barney Cull and Frank Ball.

Roy Cox who worked
for Henry Hope & Sons Ltd
during the 1930's became
sident of the Institution
of Heating & Ventilating
Engineers (IHVE) in
1957 / 5
8 and later
became President of
the Heating and Ventilating
Contractors Association
(HVCA) in 1960 / 61

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.

To read a copy of the firm's in-house Newspaper called OUTLOOK
This issue is Volume 2 No 4 dated October 1966

The firm would make a presentation to long service employees with an
inscribed wrist watch or other suitable timepiece.
Below is a typical example.

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 mainly public 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 unauthorised and unlicensed international investment bank, through the 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 read the article written by Michael Hope about the take-over and eventual demise of the company

To view lists of typical heating, ventilating and electrical installations in different categories of buildings that the company carried out prior to WWII use this link

One such heating system is installed in St Mary and St Margaret Church in Castle Bromwich Birmingham that was was photographed and researched and can be viewed by using this link 

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JULY  2017