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 148,434 pages of information and 233,876 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

De Vere (Kensington)

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1947. L-R: Harold Sparks, Arthur Sparks, Gerald Wagstaff.
1947. Peckham factory with William Sparks (2nd Left).
1955.
1957.

Thalia Works, Thayers Farm Road, Beckenham, Kent.

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1947 Company founded to manufacture Professional Photographic Equipment, by brothers Arthur Sparks and Harold Sparks with G. F. T. Wagstaff who provided business, legal and financial help. Their father William Sparks worked with them. The business was to manufacture photographic enlargers and cameras in metal rather than wood that had been previously used.

The name 'De Vere' derived from a photographic studio in De Vere Gardens, Kensington, London W 8.

The first factory was in Bellenden Road, Peckham, South London, followed by a move to Thalia Works, Thayers Farm Road, Beckenham, Kent in 1953.

In the 1960s a brand new factory was constructed with a government regional employment grant at Seven Brethren Bank, Barnstaple, North Devon. This factory featured an aluminium casting foundry to supply the raw castings used in the machines manufacture. Later they moved to another factory nearby on the Pottington Industrial Estate.

Expansion also took place in Beckenham with the purchase of offices on Beckenham Road to allow better use of the original Thayers Farm Road factory.

Sales offices were then opened in USA, Canada and France to assist with export sales. This worldwide export success led to Arthur Sparks being awarded the MBE.

During the late eighties a move was made to a purpose built warehouse including offices in New Addington from the various Beckenham buildings. At that time all production was moved to Devon where another industrial unit was opened at Mullacott Cross

1992 When the company closed turnover had exceeded £8 million but the dramatic change in the conventional photographic industry to digital imaging caused a collapse in sales and despite considerable restructuring and outside help the business was forced to close in September 1992.

Following the 1992 closure limited production of the enlarger range was continued in UK by Odyssey Sales in Brighton, where a digital enlarger was offered producing photographic prints and enlargements from digital files.

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Sources of Information

  • Information sourced from the Sparks family