An Overview of the History of Mather & Platt Ltd.
The William Mather Dynasty
In 1817, Peter Mather - originally a cabinet maker and metal worker – saw emerging opportunities in the manufacture of textile machinery. An entrepreneur and something of a visionary, he extended his business into making rollers for local textile mills.
Salford Iron Works - Cradle of the Business
With its beginnings in Salford (near Manchester) England and moving later to Newton Heath, Manchester, Mather & Platt Ltd. became a pioneering company - in both product and workplace practice. The company had its origins in the early days of the Industrial Revolution when, in 1817, the first "Mather" business started a roller-turning facility in Salford near Manchester, England.
The business prospered and in 1845 the Mathers leased part of the Salford Iron Works.
The Salford Iron Works partnership between Platt and Mather developed and became the major supplier of textile finishing machines. Afterwards, the invention of the steam engine by virtue of its rôle as a prime-mover for industry was included in a catalogue of the firm's products.
Colin Mather entered into partnership with William Platt, the son of John Platt, who had died in 1847. The partnership had been in existence for about fifty years when William Mather (pictured at page top) and Colin Mather changed their business status to the firm of Mather & Platt, through the arrival on the scene of William Wilkinson Platt.
The origin of the firm, the change to the partnership of Mather & Platt and, under William (later Sir William) Mather, the subsequent formation of a public company by the union of Mather & Platt with the firm of Dowson , Taylor & C°. Ltd., are the most important landmarks in the story.
During the last quarter of the 19th century, when textiles were already beginning to dominate all branches of British industry, the company developed an aggressive policy of rights acquisition - purchasing the rights to what it believed to be promising and fledgling inventions - in order to develop them still further and then market the tried and tested product with equal determination on an international scale not yet seen in the history of British industry. To this end, three important strands of manufacture were developed.
In 1873 Professor Osborne Reynolds had designed a turbine pump which was a definite advance in centrifugal pumping. Mather & Platt developed and improved upon the new invention and in doing so, laid the foundation for what eventually became a flourishing Pump Department.
In 1883 rights to manufacture Edison's electric dynamo were acquired by the firm and, as a result of improvements introduced by Dr. John Hopkinson, the Edison-Hopkinson dynamo reached a degree of perfection not previously known in such machines. This was the first stage in the setting up of the electrical Department.
Finally - also in 1883 - Mr. (later Sir) William Mather, while on a visit to the United States, secured the sole rights from Frederick Grinnell to market the Grinnell automatic sprinklers in all parts of the world except North America. Initially, through the firm of Dowson, Taylor & Co. and then through Mather & Platt itself, he used this event to mark the beginning of yet another side of the firm's activities, the foundation of the Fire Department.
The involvement of John Wormald, an Insurance Industry expert on the risk of fire and the subsequent use of Fire Protection, completed the cast in a world-wide industrial drama - a major collaboration which gave the world so many of the inventions and services that it takes for granted tody. Mather and Platt Ltd. became the father of a world-wide industry, especially in Fire Protection. Further diversification of business included the manufacture of earth-boring and artesian well equipment, water purification plants, reciprocating pumps and centrifugal pumps of the volute type.
But the story of Mather & Platt Ltd. is far more than just a tale of technical progress and the conquest of new markets. During the course of its long and illustrious history, the company acquired a tradition and an international reputation both of which have to be counted amongst its finest assets.
The story of this company is a story set against an international as well as a national background. It contains facts of special interest and takes a look at social conditions. It encompasses the men who - and the machines which - helped to shape the world in which we live - a world that was so completely re-fashioned through the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
The beginning of the twentieth century saw vigorous development of pumps, textile, fire engineering and electrical businesses. The quest for innovation led to the development of power station pumps, large electric motors, Mulsifyre protection systems, machinery for food processing and preservation, special materials such as Duplex stainless steel, pumps and fire protection systems for offshore oil platforms, electronic fire and smoke detection systems. Mather and Platt became a leader in the design and manufacture of high quality engineered products and systems which protected life and property and improved living standards throughout the world.