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 148,487 pages of information and 233,925 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Parkinson Cowan

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Peeress. Exhibit at the Bakelite Museum.
Peeress. Exhibit at the Bakelite Museum.

of Terminal House, London SW1

1816 The company originated, as W. Parkinson Ltd, 4 years after the first charter was given to a gas undertaking[1].

1900 On 16th November Parkinson and W. and B. Cowan was incorporated as a public company[2], manufacturers of gas meters and other gas apparatus, being the amalgamation of 2 of the oldest firms in this business: W. and B. Cowan Ltd of London, Manchester, Edinburgh and New South Wales, and W. Parkinson Ltd of London and Birmingham[3].

1925 Offer of shares to the public[4].

1925 Owned 98% of the shares in the Gas Meter Co which in turn had a minority interest in the Diaphragm and General Leather Co Ltd[5].

1928 The company was renamed Parkinson and Cowan - new shares quoted[6].

1930 Metropolitan Leather Co Ltd was formed to take over the leather activities of Parkinson Cowan (Gas Meters) Ltd, a department that had been established 40 years previously by W. and B. Cowan[7].

1937 Parkinson and Cowan (Gas Meters) Ltd - Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Gas Apparatus for Measuring and Recording, including Tin and Iron Meters, Optional Coin Meters, Rotary Meters, Station and Retort House Governors, Test Meters, Gauges, Meter Parts and Accessories. (Stand Nos. Ca.703 and Ca.602)

1939 See Aircraft Industry Suppliers [8]

WWII Manufactured parts for the De Havilland Mosquito [9]

1958 Parkinson Cowan had 3 divisions[10]:

Name changed to Parkinson Cowan[11].

1960 Measurement Ltd of Oldham was part of Parkinson Cowan

1960 Acquired Bastian and Allen. [12]

1968 Acquired Fisher-Bendix domestic appliance maker from British Motor Corporation[13].

1971 Continuing losses at Fisher-Bendix contributed to Parkinson Cowan being taken over by Thorn, becoming part of Thorn Electrical Industries - (later Thorn EMI).

1982 The company was reorganised and split into two. The well-known boilers business continued to trade but under the banner of Thorn EMI Industrial Boilers and a new company was set up - Thorn EMI Energy Development to exploit Parkinson technology in new product areas.[14]

The name Parkinson Cowan still exists in the UK as a manufacturer of gas stoves, one of the company's early products.

    • Note: Some company paperwork and photographs of factory machinery (c. 1960s) available in the SMCL.[15]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 2 June 1958
  2. The Times, 5 May 1959
  3. The Times, 3 March 1925
  4. The Times, 3 March 1925
  5. The Times, 4 March 1925
  6. The Times, 17 July 1928
  7. The Times, 2 July 1930
  8. 1939 Suppliers to the Aircraft Industry
  9. Mosquito by C. Martin Sharp and Michael J. F. Bowyer. Published by Crecy Books in 1995. ISBN 0-947554-41-6
  10. The Times, 2 June 1958
  11. The Times, 6 June 1958
  12. The Times, August 29, 1960
  13. The Times, 24 February 1971
  14. The Engineer 1982/01/21
  15. (Donation May 2018)