Dobson & Barlow Limited – Bolton & Bradley Fold

Dobson & Barlow Limited, Kay Street Works, Bolton, c.1911.

Facility Type & Function:

A privately owned textile equipment manufacturer.

During the Great War the company moved out of its normal lines of business to produce a wide range of munitions and military equipment. This included Mills No. 5 hand grenades, field kitchens, mobile workshops, naval mines and search light apparatus. During World War II the company again turned some of its resources to War Work in the form of manufacturing bomber aircraft wings.

Brief History:

This Bolton based textile machinery manufacturer was originally formed in 1790 by Isaac Dobson. By 1851 the company was trading as the partnership of Dobson and Marlow and became incorporated (i.e. as a “Limited” company) in 1892.

By c.1860 the company operated from a 12-acre site in Kay Street Bolton. In 1906 it opened a second factory at nearby Bradley Fold. At this time the company was re-floated as a public limited concern with members of the Dobson family holding key directorships. By 1914 the company employed 5,000 staff across its two sites.

During the First World War Dobson and Barlow Ltd. became one of the most important producers of munitions in Northwest England. They produced a wide range of war equipment including Mills No. 5 hand grenades, artillery shells, field kitchens, mobile workshops, naval mines and search lights. Apart from the significant disruption to their normal activities caused by munitions production, some 1,600 of the company’s male employees volunteered to join the armed forces. After the end of the Great War Dobson and Marlow Ltd. Returned to their original lines of business.

A No.36 MK I Mills Grenade made by Dobson & Barlow Limited. Note the “DB” initials on its side

In 1931, as industrial recession in Britain began to take hold, Dobson and Marlow Ltd., along with similar leading textile machinery makers (i.e. Platt Brothers, Howard and Bullough, Brooks and Doxey, Asa Lees, Joseph Hibbert, John Hetherington and Tweedales and Smalley) merged to become Textile Machinery Makers Limited (TMM Ltd.). While Dobson and Marlow lost much of its commercial independence it continued to trade under its own name.

Dobson & Barlow Ltd., Bradley Fold Works, c.1920s.

During World War II Dobson and Barlow Ltd. produced bomber aircraft wings at its Bradley Fold plant. These units were totally unlike their normal production and were mostly hand built using mainly skilled male workers. By the end of the war the company had built 6,065 pairs of wings.

In 1945 the firm returned to the TMM Group of companies. These continued to trade under their own original names until further rationalisation of the company in 1970 when all its components became rationalised into one company called Platt UK Ltd. In 1991 this company changed its name to Platt Saco Lowell.

Location Details:

Bolton & Bradley Fold, Lancashire, England.

Associated Token, Check & Pass Issues:

Type I

Function:  Canteen or Refreshment token (Note 1)

Material: Brass

Design: Bifacial with a reeded milled edge.

Shape & Size: Circular,  31.7 mm

Obverse: Raised die stamped legend around outer upper edge reads  . DOBSON & BARLOW . and around bottom, DINNER all within a raised outer border. Stamped identification number 1302 on a raised line within centre field.

Reverse: Raised die stamped legend around outer upper edge reads  . DOBSON & BARLOW . and around bottom, DINNER all within a raised outer border. Stamped identification number 1302 on a raised line within centre field.

Date:  c.1890 to c.1950 (Note 2)

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Not recorded.


Type II

Function:  Canteen or Refreshment token (Note 1)

Material: White metal alloy

Design: Bifacial with a plain edge.

Shape & Size: Oval,  39.9 mm x 27.7 mm

Obverse: Raised die stamped legend around outer upper edge reads  .DOBSON & BARLOW LTD and in upper field below BRADLEY FOLD on a raised line. Legend around bottom reads , BREAKFAST all within a raised outer beaded border. Stamped identification within centre field reads 2247 .

Reverse:  Raised die stamped legend around outer upper edge reads  .DOBSON & BARLOW LTD and in upper field below BRADLEY FOLD on a raised line. Legend around bottom reads , BREAKFAST all within a raised outer beaded border. Stamped identification within centre field reads 2247 .

Date: c.1906 to c.1950 (Note 3)

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Not recorded.


Notes:

  1. These tokens’ legends clearly indicate that they were exchangeable for either a Dinner or Breakfast respectively in the works canteen.
  2. The omission of the suffix “Ltd.” within the legends of this token do not necessarily date it to pre 1892 (i.e. the date at which the company was incorporated) but could be indicative of it being issued prior to  that date.
  3. This token dates to after the foundation of the company’s Bradley Fold Works in 1906.

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