Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Essex Engineering

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1955. From The Practical Householder of 12th December.

of Nelson Road, Wanstead, London, E11.

1935 The company was established as a small repair shop for mechanical gambling machines (known as One Arm Bandits) and pin-tables.

WWII. During the War, it manufactured parts for guns and made precision tools and gauges.

Post-WWII. After the War, the supply of sewing machines suffered and, by examining a toy machine from America, the company decided to make a small, cheap but effective adult version, and the Essex Miniature Sewing Machine cam into being.

By 1956 the Essex had become so popular that over 150,000 machines had been sold. Large department stores, although happy with the sales, wanted a newer, more modern looking, machine, so a new design was put into production. The new design looked good and performed well but was easily damaged in transit and it was therefore a disaster. Cheap Japanese models were being imported, so the company found it necessary to change its primary product.

By chance, the company was asked to make a coin operated control to start an imported Swedish washing-machine, so it began to manufacture a coin box, relay mechanism and coin slide which was eventually sold by the thousand. The unit worked so well that by the change to decimalisation, and with a coin slide capable of handling it, over 60,000 mechanisms were sold in less that one year.

During the 1970s, pool became a popular game in British pubs; the company supplied coin operated pool tables as well as the coin operated launderette market for the next two decades. It also built up a healthy export trade.

1990, a slide with 6 coin apertures (that could be blocked off or opened up by the operator) was produced, in order to meet the needs of world currencies and which was flexible enough to enable the operator to change the vend price at will. This was made and sold world wide.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Essex Engineering Website