Birmingham is one of the UK’s premier business cities and a hotspot for new start-ups. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, the people of Birmingham have proven themselves to be extremely inventive, with figures showing that a job is created in the city every 10 minutes on average.
Everyone has heard of Cadbury’s, but here are some big names you may not know came out of Birmingham…
Everyone has heard of Lloyds. With its status as one of the UK’s ‘big four’ banks, the company has become a household name over its history o more than 250 years.
Originally known as Taylors and Lloyds, the bank began life as a joint venture between John Taylor, a button maker, and Samuel Lloyd, an iron magnate. The bank operated out of a single office in the city for more than 100 years after its founding in 1765 before the Taylor family dropped out and it became Lloyds and Company.
Over the next 50 years, Lloyds expanded and took over more than 200 smaller enterprises as it expanded. Many famous Brummies, including Joseph Chamberlain, served on the board during this period – setting it up for another 150 years of success and counting.
Webley & Scott
Birmingham has a long history when it comes to producing firearms, being the centre of the world’s firearms industry for many years. One of the most famous names in the industry, Webley & Scott, is a Birmingham original revered the world over by gun connoisseurs.
The company was a leading producer of long guns and hand guns for almost 200 years between 1790 and 1979. A short break in production has now ended and the company is back to producing shotguns, continuing an important tradition in Birmingham.
1895 saw the opening of a small high street chemist called the County Chemical Company on Coleshill High Street. The company specialised in lubricants and oils for cars and bicycles, but the founder developed an interest in creating a grease-free hair product for men in his spare time.
The company grew and a move to Bradford Street followed – along with a name change to Chemico. Innovation continued through World War I, and in 1928 the company finally released its hair product – Brylcreem. Sales were phenomenal and the product became synonymous with men’s hair care for decades.
When was the last time you went to a supermarket and didn’t see a box of Typhoo teabags on the shelves? The answer is “never”. What might be more surprising is that this incredibly popular tea brand began its life in Birmingham.
The Sumner family founded a pharmacy and grocery in the city in 1870 and moved into the production of tea in 1903 under the stewardship of John Jr. His sister had commented on the relaxing qualities of tea, and it got John thinking. He created a blend to sell in his Birmingham shop, and it proved to be incredibly popular.
In hindsight, it is no surprise that the Sumner family ended up creating such a successful tea business. William Sumner published ‘A Popular Treatise on Tea’ in 1863 following initial trade missions to China, and this familiarity with the Middle Kingdom would lead to the name Typhoo – an anglicisation of dàifū, the Chinese word for ‘doctor’.