William Miller Limited – Portsmouth

A view of William Miller Limited’s Steam Baker and delivery fleet in Kent Street, Portsea (c.1910s). The sign above his premises proudly advertises the fact that the company were  ” Contractors to the Admiralty” .

Facility Type & Function:

William Miller Limited was a Royal Navy contractor who traded from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. The company operated Royal Navy ship canteens in addition to supplying goods to Royal Navy ships in various harbours within the United Kingdom and Gibraltar.

Brief History:

William Miller started business in 1881 and was incorporated as a limited company in 1898. The company’s head office was located at St. George’s Square, Portsea in  Portsmouth. From at least 1914 William Miller Limited were appointed as contractors to the British Admiralty. Their  their specialty being Canteen Tenants on Men-of-War (i.e. the running of ships canteens). They additionally supplied the Navy with goods and provisions via their own fleet of supply boats which were based in several harbours including Gibraltar, Devonport, Portland, Dover, Sheerness, Chatham, Invergordon, Queensferry, Harwich and Scapa Flow.

It is likely that William Miller Limited were one of two main contractors (the other being Richard Dickeson and Company Limited) who Royal Naval ship’s canteens until the formation of the Navy and Army Canteen Board (NACB) in 1917 which officially took over such duties from civilian operated companies.

Between 1897 and 1930 William Miller Limited also operated their own steam bakery which was located in Kent Street, Portsea. It is assumed that much of the bakery’s output was ferried out to awaiting Naval ships in Devonport.

Location Details:

Portsea, Portsmouth , Hampshire.

Associated Token, Check & Pass Issues:

Type I

Function:  Canteen / Refreshment token

Material: Bone with black lettering

Design: Bifacial with plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,  33.1 mm

Obverse:  Legend around upper edge in black lettering reads WILLIAM MILLER , LIMITED and around lower edge PORTSEA . with denomination value of 6D in centre field.

Reverse: Blank

Date: 1914 to 1917 (Note 1)

Maker: Unknown

Published References: Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page  24 – RTN 30. Private Publication. 2019.


Type II

Function:  Canteen / Refreshment token

Material: Bone with black lettering

Design: Bifacial with plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,  33.1 mm

Obverse:  Legend around upper edge in black lettering reads WILLIAM MILLER , LIMITED and around lower edge PORTSEA . with denomination value of 5D in centre field.

Reverse: Blank

Date: 1914 to 1917 (Note 1)

Maker: Unknown

Published References: Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page  24 – RTN 29. Private Publication. 2019.


Type III

Function:  Canteen / Refreshment token

Material: Bone with black lettering

Design: Bifacial with plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,  33.1 mm

Obverse:  Legend around upper edge in black lettering reads WILLIAM MILLER , LIMITED and around lower edge PORTSEA . with denomination value of 4D in centre field.

Reverse: Blank

Date: 1914 to 1917 (Note 1)

Maker: Unknown

Published References: Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page  24 – RTN 28. Private Publication. 2019.


Type IV

No Image Available

Function:  Canteen / Refreshment token

Material: Bone with black lettering

Design: Bifacial with plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,  33.1 mm

Obverse:  Legend around upper edge in black lettering reads WILLIAM MILLER , LIMITED and around lower edge PORTSEA . with denomination value of 3D in centre field.

Reverse: Blank

Date: 1914 to 1917 (Note 1)

Maker: Unknown

Published References: Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page  24 – RTN 27. Private Publication. 2019.


Type V

No Image Available

Function:  Canteen / Refreshment token

Material: Bone with black lettering

Design: Bifacial with plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,  33.1 mm

Obverse:  Legend around upper edge in black lettering reads WILLIAM MILLER , LIMITED and around lower edge PORTSEA . with denomination value of 2 1/2 D in centre field.

Reverse: Blank

Date: 1914 to 1917 (Note 1)

Maker: Unknown

Published References: Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page  24 – RTN 26. Private Publication. 2019.


Type VI

Function:  Canteen / Refreshment token

Material: Bone with black lettering

Design: Bifacial with plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,  33.1 mm

Obverse:  Legend around upper edge in black lettering reads WILLIAM MILLER , LIMITED and around lower edge PORTSEA . with denomination value of 2 D in centre field.

Reverse: Blank

Date: 1914 to 1917 (Note 1)

Maker: Unknown

Published References: Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page  24 – RTN 24. Private Publication. 2019.


Type VII

Function:  Canteen / Refreshment token

Material: Bone with black lettering

Design: Bifacial with plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,  33.1 mm

Obverse:  Legend around upper edge in black lettering reads WILLIAM MILLER , LIMITED and around lower edge PORTSEA . with denomination value of 1 1/2 D in centre field.

Reverse: Blank

Date: 1914 to 1917 (Note 1)

Maker: Unknown

Published References: Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page  24 – RTN 25. Private Publication. 2019.


Type VIII

Function:  Canteen / Refreshment token

Material: Bone with black lettering

Design: Bifacial with plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,  33.1 mm

Obverse:  Legend around upper edge in black lettering reads WILLIAM MILLER , LIMITED and around lower edge PORTSEA . with denomination value of 1 D in centre field.

Reverse: Blank

Date: 1914 to 1917 (Note 1)

Maker: Unknown

Published References: Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page  24 – RTN 23. Private Publication. 2019.


Notes:

  1. It is assumed that these tokens were for used for the payment for meals and drinks on those Royal Navy ships whose canteens were operated by William Miller Limited during the Great War prior to the formation of the Navy and Army Canteen Board (NACB) in 1917.

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