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British Industrial History

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S. J. Moreland and Sons

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1955. From Industry and Commerce in South West England.
1967. From The Moreland Story.
1967. From The Moreland Story.
1967. From The Moreland Story.
1967. From The Moreland Story.
1967. From The Moreland Story.
1967. From The Moreland Story.
1967. From The Moreland Story.
1967. From The Moreland Story.
1967. From The Moreland Story.
1967. From The Moreland Story.
1967. From The Moreland Story.
1967. From The Moreland Story.
1967. From The Moreland Story.
1967. From The Moreland Story.
1967. From The Moreland Story.
1967. From The Moreland Story.
1967. From The Moreland Story.

Maker of England's Glory matches, of Gloucester.

1867 A match manufacturing concern was established on the outskirts of Gloucester. Samuel John Moreland began making Lucifer and Vesta matches.

Soon took advantage of new forms of phosphorus and new formulas which removed the dangerous element in both match-making and match-using of the early days, and which brought in the era of the safety match.

1897 S. J. Moreland employed 450 people.

1907 The number employed had risen to 640.

1911 Moreland's began extensive factory rebuilding at a time when there were ten other match factories in the United Kingdom. This work was completed the following year and the first continuous automatic match making machinery was installed.

c. 1913 Moreland's became a limited liability company and joined the Match Makers' Association.

1913 Philip Moreland, son of the founder, retired. About the same time Henry Moreland, his nephew, joined the Company.

1913 taken over by Bryant and May

1919 Erected new factory buildings. With the introduction of automatic machinery, the number of employees has reduced to around 350.

1972 End of Moreland family management of the business

1976 The Factory in Gloucester closed

From 'The Moreland Story 1867-1967

During the Spring of 1867 an indenture was made which established a match manufacturing concern at premises adjoining the Gloucester and Berkeley Canal on the outskirts of Gloucester. This was the beginning of what is now a century-old continuous relationship between the Moreland family, the City of Gloucester and match making.

In many parts of the United Kingdom, and in particular in the Midlands, Wales, Lincolnshire and the South West, the names of S. J. Moreland & Sons Ltd. and England's Glory matches are more than household words. They have a ring of individuality and history about them. They also have a place in the affections of the people, and an economic significance which has been maintained through many vicissitudes from the time when Samuel John Moreland - the founder of the Company - first started making Lucifers in his small factory in 1867.

Today 350 people, working in a factory situated a few yards from the original site, produce about 12,500 million England's Glory and Moreland's Special Safety matches each year.

Some of the most modern mass production machinery of its type in the world is now in constant use at Gloucester. A very different scene from that of 1867 when manufacture was largely by hand and a considerable proportion of it, especially the making of boxes, was carried out in people's homes.

Several match making factories stemmed from the prosperous timber trade in Gloucester in the 1860s and 1870s. But by 1880 Moreland's appears to have been the sole survivor. Not only was S. J. Moreland a prodigious worker and completely absorbed in his factory, but he had chosen his site carefully, close to the Gloucester and hundred Berkeley canal which brought him raw materials cheaply and took away the finished products quickly. They were the basic ingredient, from which came a hundred years of vigorous growth.

From the start, and in common with other British match makers, Moreland's had to fight stiff competition from foreign matches, imported from countries like Russia and Poland which had ample supplies of cheap labour and raw materials readily available. Only those able to meet this challenge with daring and novel sales techniques and efficient management could compete. Moreland's were early in the field of sales promotion with their consumer competitions and gift schemes.

By 1897, thirty years after he had started match making, S. J. Moreland employed 450 people. The Company's trade was chiefly in the industrial districts of the North and West and in the Midlands, and in Northern Ireland. Matches were also exported to Australia and South Africa, and increasingly to Canada.

Ten years later the number employed had risen to 640. In 1911 Moreland's began extensive factory rebuilding at a time when there were ten other match factories in the United Kingdom. This work was completed the following year and the first continuous automatic match making machinery was installed.

Just before the first world war Moreland's became limited liability company and also joined the Match Makers' Association. This Association had been formed to fight foreign competition and to present the match making industry's case to Parliament and to the people more forcefully than individual companies were able to do. After the war years of restriction and shortages, Moreland’s again went ahead, erecting new factory buildings in 1919, and, among other developments, buying the first delivery lorry to replace horse-drawn transport.

With the progressive introduction of advanced automatic machinery, the number of employees has reduced to around today's figure of 350.

Moreland's, like other established British manufacturers, fought hard to counter foreign competition by increasing productivity and achieving greater efficiency. Once again there was a setback to expansion during the second world war and during the period of shortages and restraints which lasted into the early 1950s.

Today Moreland's is a modern manufacturing and marketing organisation selling England's Glory strike anywhere matches and Moreland's Special Safety matches over a wide a sweep of the country.


Moreland's most famous brand and the dreadnought whose picture is on every box

Great interest is always shown in the origins of the name of Moreland's most famous brand, that most resounding and patriotic of names, England's Glory. But it was not until 1959 that one of the mysteries surrounding the trade mark was resolved, when a Gloucester man unearthed an old advertising poster. The poster named the ship, which forms the centrepiece of the box label, HMS Devastation.

It has also been elicited that England's Glory was first used in the early 1870s by another Gloucester match manufacturer, Thomas Gee, and that after the termination of Gee's business, England's Glory was registered as a Moreland trade mark in 1891.

HMS Devastation was laid down and launched in 1871 and it is not surprising that it was chosen, with the brand name England's Glory, as a new trade mark at that time. The vessel was a twin-screw iron turret battleship of revolutionary design. She was 285 feet long and 62 feet broad with a displacement of 9,188 tons. She carried four 35-ton guns and was capable of 13 knots, in spite of foot-thick armour weighing 2,224 tons. There is no record of the ship being in action and she was taken out of service in 1908.

The Family

The Morelands were Gloucestershire people, and records show that they came from Stroud. Like many, the Morelands were attracted to Gloucester in the first half of the 19th century as the city grew in importance as an inland port, and later as a focal point for much of the work in building the new railways which gradually spanned the countryside.

Samuel John Moreland was born in Stroud in 1828, the eldest son of Samuel and Elizabeth Moreland. At his christening his father's trade was recorded as that of a sawyer. In about 1834 the family moved to Gloucester, where it seems his father continued in the timber business, but possibly as a clerk and not as a sawyer.

The 1851 census for Gloucester lists Samuel John Moreland as a lath-render of the city. In 1853 he was carrying on the business of 'sawing, planing, moulding, and lath-rendering'. The timber trade in Gloucester was booming then, preparing wood imported by sea and canal for the expanding railways. By 1856 he had added a joinery works and was producing 'every description of building timber', according to a local directory.

He married in 1857 and his son Harry was born in 1864. A year later Philip Moreland was born. These two sons were to be the second generation of Morelands in the match making business which their father established in 1867. But for well over 40 years S. J. Moreland guided the business through many triumphs and disappointments. He finally handed over Harry to his sons in 1910 and he died in 1924 at the age of 96. He left behind many memories of a vigorous employer, tough and strong-willed but also fair-minded, dedicated to the interests of his factory and its people.

At the time of his death The Gloucester Journal stated: “He deserves to be remembered with the greatest respect and gratitude as one of the makers of modern Gloucester. ... Mr. Moreland is the last of a band of contemporaries to whose memory the citizens can never be sufficiently grateful."

Harry Moreland joined the firm in 1880 and was soon followed by his brother, Philip. From the first, Harry assumed responsibility for the general commercial running of the business, while Philip concentrated his abilities on the machinery problems - he was a fine engineer and was responsible for many developments and improvements. They were brought into partnership by their father in 1890.

Twenty-one years later, when S. J. Moreland was 83, the partnership was dissolved, and the two brothers were left in charge. But not for long, for it appears that Philip Moreland had for some time wished to retire to the country and pursue his great interest in salmon fishing.

In 1913, therefore, a few months after the firm had become a limited liability company, Philip retired. About the same time Henry Moreland, Harry's son, joined the Company.

The Company was thereafter solely in the hands of Harry Moreland, assisted by his son Henry, who, however, soon went to the war. At the end of hostilities, Harry was once more joined by his son and by a nephew George Moffat, the son of his sister.

As his father had done before him, it was Moreland's turn to dominate the Company in its post-war expansions and its fight to meet importations of cheap foreign matches with greater efficiencies. In 1930 he celebrated his golden jubilee with the Company. He continued as Managing Director until May, 1954, and was still Chairman at the time of his death, at the age of 89, in August of that year.

His was a remarkable contribution to the industry and was marked by single-minded devotion to match making. The works committee minutes of 16th September, 1954 record this reference by his son – “I doubt whether anyone, at any time, in our industry, in any part of the world, has devoted himself with such singleness of purpose or with greater determination and ability."

His son Henry, the third generation of Moreland, took over his father's work. On his initiative a major reorganisation of the layout of the manufacturing departments was put in hand to great advantage and a wide range of measures introduced in connection with the welfare and working conditions of the employees.

In 1961, having joined the Company in 1913 and been a Board member since 1920, Henry Moreland retired, and handed over the running of the firm to his two sons. Today the founder's great-grandsons, Samuel John Moreland and Robert Moreland are, respectively, Managing Director and Works Director, and have been Board members since 1954. They continue the Moreland traditions of dedication to the affairs of S. J. Moreland & Son Ltd. and its employees.

Moreland's at war

While S. J. Moreland made wooden hospital huts for shipment to the Crimean war, it was in the two world wars that his Gloucester factory gave its full measure of aid to Britain's war effort.

In the 1914-18 war there were 65 employees of S. J. Moreland & Sons Ltd. who fought in the armed services, and of these 13 gave their lives. On the home front there were immediate supply difficulties for raw materials. Not only was timber soon in short supply, but chlorate of potash, an essential ingredient in match making, was at that time almost exclusively a German product. The old kelp industry making the chemical from seaweed was revived.

The first match tax was imposed in 1916. In spite of all the improvisations of the match industry there were acute match shortages during this war.

The second world war saw 45 Moreland's employees go off to fight. The Gloucester factory continued to keep match production at the highest level possible under the circumstances. It also made striker sticks for bombs and did the finishing work on waterproof match containers. At the request of the Government, a proportion of Moreland's boxes carried war effort slogans, such as `Save fuel for battle', in the space normally occupied by the jokes.

Long Service Tradition

Moreland's employees are noted for their tine records of service. At one time the employees of Moreland's totalled over 1,000, but in 1967, with modern methods of match making the number is around 350. In a world where the current trend is towards more frequent change of occupation, Moreland's is justly proud of its employees' long service.

There are two men still working who have completed 50 years' service; 11 men and women who have served 40 years: and no fewer than 30 with 25 years’ service.

In addition, there are 13 pensioners with over 40 years, and six with over 50 years’ service. The longest record of these is held by Mr. R. Hewlett, retired Birmingham Manager, who served for nearly 57 years.

The biggest record of all is, of course, held by Harry Moreland himself, who joined the Company in 1880 and was still Chairman when he died in 1954.

The family atmosphere of the Company is very strong. Not only are there Morelands still running the business, but there are many families whose sons, daughters, nephews and nieces have maintained a continuing and memorable chain of working members through many years.

Three brothers have more than 130 years’ service between them, and there is a younger generation coming on: a husband and wife both working at present have four older relations who all gave long service. Other families have four or five members of different generations working with Moreland's at the same time.

The United Kingdom match industry in general has an enviable record of freedom from industrial strife – and Moreland's is no exception.

Match Making

Samuel John Moreland began in 1867 with the making of Lucifer and Vesta matches. However, he and his match makers were quick to take advantage of new forms of phosphorus and new formulas which removed the dangerous element in both match making and match using of the early days, and which brought in the era of the safety match. In 1897, according to The British Trade Journal, the factory was efficient and well-equipped for the period. It said that the materials for match and Vesta manufacture and for box making could be handled in proper sequence and without unnecessary removals and with the least possible danger from accidents. The factory was well ventilated, and power for splint making, box making and hot air match drying machines came from two steam engines. In those days one of the biggest departments was the match boxing department, employing 200 girls to hand fill the boxes. As much of the raw materials as possible was supplied from local sources, but most of the wood was aspen from Russia.

Match making today at Moreland's is highly mechanised. This is essential to maintain the huge output — 50 million matches each working day — and high standards of quality. The photographs show various modern production stages covering: printing and making of outer and inner boxes; converting of splints into finished matchsticks; boxing of matches and packaging into wrappers and containers; and quality control. Nowadays all Moreland's cartons carry the Kite-mark of the British Standards Institution — sign of the matches' quality and reliability. [1]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Moreland Story 1867-1967