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Stuart's Granolithic works, London, 1901

​Stuart's Granolithic works, London, 1901, from LMA/4679/F/01/001

Richard Wiltshire, Senior Archivist

Stuart’s Granolithic Company Limited was first established in 1887, but had its origins in a previous enterprise of Peter Stuart based in Scotland. Peter Stuart (1836-1923) was known as ‘The Granolithic King’ through his invention and use of an improved form of paving, made from granite chippings mixed with Portland stone cement. By 1880 he had won the contract to pave the City of London and rapidly expanded his business internationally. However, the costs of running the business were not matched by profits and Stuart was forced to sell the firm in 1887. A rescue plan was put in place by senior employees and suppliers which included Charles Brown Trollope of Widnell & Trollope, quantity surveyors. Stuart’s Granolithic Paving Company Limited was registered in November 1887 and purchased the business of Stuart and Company with C B Trollope as Chairman.

The company’s name was changed to Stuart’s Granolithic Company Limited in 1895. Operations continued in Edinburgh, but London operations moved to new London works in Glengall Road, Millwall, Poplar in 1899 which became the registered office. By 1926 the company described itself as ‘specialist designers and constructors of ferro-concrete’ to reflect their increased work using reinforced concrete. The firm were sub-contractors for major buildings and took advantage of the growth of new cinemas and sports venues and also pre-casts, adding stone restoration from the 1950s onwards.

The firm moved to new headquarters in Coleshill near Birmingham where branch premises had been established in 1961. In 1984 the name changed to Stuart’s Holdings Limited with a group of subsidiaries including Stuart's Industrial Flooring Limited. The fourth generation of the Trollope family continued to manage the company with later jobs including laying flooring for the new British Library at St Pancras between 1988 and 1993. The firm was wound up and liquidated in 2012.

The records

The archives date from 1880 and document a key aspect of the construction industry and use of reinforced concrete. They consist of memorandum and articles of association (LMA/4679/A/01), directors and annual general meeting minutes (LMA/4679/A/02), registers of members and share ledgers (LMA/4679/B/01), annual returns to Companies House (LMA/4679/B/02), Secretary, Directors and Chairmans' correspondence and subject files (LMA/4679/C/01), and annual balance sheets and accounts (LMA/4679/D/01). Operational records include Research Division test papers from the 1960s (LMA/4679/E/03), product specifications (LMA/4679/E/03/002), works photographs including pre-war new builds during the late 1920s and 1930s, and post-war restoration of churches (LMA/4679/E/02).

Stuart's Granolithic stone exhibits, c.1901

​Stuart's Granolithic stone exhibits, c.1901, from LMA/4679/F/01/001

There is also advertising and printed material (LMA/4679/F), pension scheme rules and papers (LMA/4679/G/01), and histories including the publication ‘Innovation and Enterprise: The Stuarts Story 1840-2000’and related research by Charles J N Trollope (LMA/4679/H/01). Some records of subsidiaries are held including Steel-Crete Limited (LMA/4679/I-J), Wards Flexible Rod Company Limited (LMA/4679/P-Q) and Stuarts Screeding Limited (LMA/4679/K-M).

A source for the history of LMA’s building

While accessioning the collection I made a chance discovery in one of the photograph albums (LMA/4679/E/02/004). It showed the construction of the premises of Temple Press Limited, the original occupier of the building which now houses LMA.

Construction of Temple Press Ltd, from Bowling Green Lane, 1938

​Construction of Temple Press Ltd. View from Bowling Green Lane, 1938, from LMA/4679/E/02/004

​Stuart’s were brought in to construct the reinforced concrete structure. The building work began in 1938 and was completed in 1939. LMA’s predecessor the Greater London Record Office moved to the site in 1982 when the Greater London Council purchased the lease. One key reason for the choice of the building was the strength of the floors which had been built to hold the weight of heavy printing presses. The structure continues to meet the challenge of storing tonnes of archival material and shelving.

Further reading

For more information on the history of Temple Press Limited see Arthur C Armstrong, 'Bouverie Street to Bowling Green Lane: fifty-five years of specialised publishing. An account of the Temple Press, 1891-1946, founded by Edmund Dangerfield' (Hodder and Stoughton, 1946.) LMA Library ref: 02.6/(TEM).

Access

Descriptions of all the records are now available on LMA’s online catalogue under reference code LMA/4679. The collection is stored onsite and is available without prior notice to researchers registered with a valid History Card, although access to a small number of items is restricted due to Data Protection.

Related construction business archives are also held by London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) including Trollope and Colls Limited (collection reference B/TRL) which was also founded by the same family.

LMA would like to thank Mr C J N Trollope, great-grandson of the company’s first chairman, for donating these records for posterity.

Published:
03 July 2013
Last Modified:
26 September 2019

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