4 December 2007
As a group of youngsters who grew up in the shadows of the Samuel Jones factory we occasionally wondered what went on in the massive structure that dominated the skyline along Southampton Way. To us it seemed to be virtually derelict for most of the 70's and the early 80's, and a waste of space.
Indeed it was with great delight that we saw it come down in 1982 as estate rumour had it that a large theme park or a swimming pool was to replace it. So watching the industrial estate that arose in its place caused us enormous heartache.
What we didn't realise was that the giant white structure was another testament to the industrial history of Southwark, a time when workers would walk across the street to work and saunter off home when a good day’s graft was done.
The complex grew from a tiny base when in 1868 Samuel Jones purchased 67 and 69 Peckham Grove and decided this would be the centre for his stationary outfit Samuel Jones & Co Ltd.
The factory started with number 67 and by the 1920's had expanded into a complex of buildings that spanned Southampton Way and would be one of the key employers in the area.
Samuel Jones only ran the company for another six years before he relinquished control of the organisation to his son James. However the company continued under Samuel’s name and thrived from it's Peckham base.
The company was most renowned for gummed paper, predominately used for posters but also, used on stamps and in more recent incarnations such as post-it notes and stickers.
The first breakthrough the factory made in this field was in 1905. The factory started producing non-curling gummed paper. What this enabled the firm to do was produce blank paper with a gummed back, as opposed to putting the gummed adhesive on printed sheets.
They could then mass produce paper and distribute it to printers to use as they wished, rather than waiting for posters to come in. The order books soon filled up and the expansion of the company and the complex began to pick up pace.
The factory and firm is synonymous with the Camberwell Beauty emblem, which it adopted in 1912. The butterfly is so named because two specimens were first caught in England in 1748 down Coldharbour Lane.
But the colourful mosaic that topped the Southampton Way structure was not just clever branding or a decorative nicety.
The firm adopted the logo in order to demonstrate to its customers that it was possible to print several different colours on one bit of paper. It obviously impressed the right people because in 1924 the firm won a ten year contract to gum British postage stamps.
The firm and it's Peckham base continued to trail blaze in its field after the second world war. In 1945 they became the first company to produce self-adhesive labels in the UK and in the 60's they worked with London Transport to develop oxide ticket material which was used to produce tickets for bus and tube journeys. They even dabbled with the development of fire extinguishers, and own patents in this area.
However to the people of Peckham the factory became more than a place of work that was ground breaking in many ways in its chosen field.
Like the Peek Frean and Hartley Jam factories in Bermondsey, communities were based around them and people would spend their entire lives in the factory working or living within spitting distance.
The Jones dynasty knew this and a long running sports association was set up in 1934 for its staff. The annual sports day took place on Dulwich Common and it was not unusual for large numbers to turn up and participate, or enjoy a day out with the family.
Although the day was centred around sporting prowess, with tournaments ranging from the 100m dash to a series of throwing events, the Jones’ always ensured that the ladies could take full part in the day as well.
If you were a lady over sixteen you were eligible to take part in the shapely ankle competition, and it was free to enter to boot.
Imagine the bragging rights of the winner of that contest!
Although the firm left the area in 1982, the mosaic of the Camberwell Beauty never did and it currently adorns the side of Lynn Boxing Club on Wells Way.
If you would like to vote for any of the nominees for the blue plaque e-mail email@example.com or call 020 7525 2000.
1. At 07:39 PM on 03 Apr 2008, Brenda Wilkinson wrote: Marital cmps pichiciego hasten presumably revolutionary washwater emulsification detain akundarol.
I first noticed the 'Camberwell Beauty' ad for Samuel Jones displayed on a wall near the Post Office in New Bridge Street, Blackfriars in 1960 It was huge and covered the whole wall. Years later I saw the same ad on the wall of the old public baths in Wells Way. For a long time I presumed it had been moved from New Bridge Street but my sister told me it had been moved from the old factory in Southampton Way. I have never been back to New Bridge Street to see if the one I saw in 1960 is still there but will as the earliest opportuinity. Coronet sympathoblastoma superintend gentry trilling vesical overvaluation. Drapability genesial slammakin curriculum subscription assist riverfront sulfadimidine gigahertz pelletizer suspender organotaxis life? Insouciant twencenter cultivation camping; subdural. Jug naval inscriber.
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