Tubbs Lewis & Company
The Textile Business
The History of Tubbs Lewis & Co Ltd had three main phases, in London, in Gloucestershire and after it was sold out of the family
It was established by Henry Thomas Tubbs and Joseph Lewis in 1854 to manufacture boot elastic, similar to the elastic found in Chelsea Boots
Henry Thomas Tubbs was born in London the son of a shoemaker who became parish beadle. He was apprenticed to the very propsperous City haberdashery wholesaler of Copestake, aka Copestake and Crampton and was originally in competition with Joseph Lewis when he went into business on his own account.
While retaining the textile business they also established a property development business which was known as Lewis and Tubbs and was never incorporated
Both partners got to be very wealthy. HTT's estate for probate was £236,000. Given that much of this was in property in the London area it is much greater than the £17 million or so reported by a standard inflation index.Joseph Lewis was born in Marple, Cheshire and was apprenticed in Whitchurch, Shropshire, before moving to London.
While Tubbs built his large private house Nether Court at Finchley, Lewis had a substantial property in Crouch End which I believe has been demolished and made charitable endowments in the area of his birth.
At first the manufacture was in the hands of outworkers but was brought into the mill system at Bridge Mills on the New North Road shown before the head office included 31 Noble StreetThis site was later a power station for the Northern Line before becoming the Gainsborough film studios which has now been redeveloed as apartments. The basin has been filled in
The following brief history was compiled by Renishaws, the present occupier of New Mill, now renamed New Mills, the premises near Wotton under Edge that was the Gloucestershire headquarters of the company. It covers the move of the business to Gloucestershire and its eventual takeover by Wolsey and then Courtaulds
Throughout its life until The Bitz of 1940 the Head Offices and warehouse were at 29-31 Noble Street in the City of LondonBetween about 1820 and 1844 New Mill changed hands a number of times. In 1844, two Wotton clothiers called Dutton and Lewis (no known relation) purchased New Mill, and shortly after, Le Gros Thompson and Co. The activities changed to the manufacture of silk products but by 1860, ownership passed to Samuel Long.
In 1870, the site and buildings were purchased by Tubbs, Lewis & Co. Ltd who reorganised the operations for the production of elasticated fabric. New buildings were added, still here today showing their dates of construction. An example is the loom and weaving shed, latterly Renishaw's former Machine Shop, which displays the date of 1895. This building is shortly to be refurbished as a restaurant for Renishaw's employees, for occupation in the Summer of 1996. Had planning consent been given during the previous year, it would have been a fitting centenary tribute! The firm had been established in London, in 1854 by Henry Thomas Tubbs JP and Joseph Lewis who acquired their initial two factories in Gloucestershire, in Dudbridge and Oakridge, Stroud.
In the 1870s they further expanded with the purchase of Abbey Mills (Kingswood) Langford Mills and New Mill, all along the valley of the Little Avon. The company later purchased the nearby Bone Mill - Huntingford, Pin Mill - Charfield and Ithell's Mill some 600 metres downstream trom New Mill.
The fourth son of Henry Tubbs, Stanley, joined his father in business in the 1890s, when William Armitage was Manager. By 1900 he took over the general management and with the death of Joseph Lewis in 1890, Stanley took an even greater interest in the Little Avon mills. He purchased "Ellerncroft", Wotton-under-Edge, a house that overlooked the valley and New Mill itself. It is said that he rose at 6.30am every morning and woe betide the site Manager if smoke was not seen coming trom the chimney at New Mill to show that work had begun! After the death of his father in 1917, Stanley Tubbs became Governing Director of the company. He was regarded as a strict employer but one who always had his employees ir. mind. Regular social events were organised for the workforce, especially an annual feast and concert that was known locally as a Tubbs "do". As a Conservative candidate, he became well intrenched in local and national politics. He was made a baronet in 1929, and his coat of arms bore the inscription, "Per deum et industriam obtinui" (which translates loosely as, "I got it through work and God''). In 1931, Sir Stanley Tubbs separated the London part of the business so he could concentrate on what was for him was of greater importance, local matters, in W otton.
The Victorian and Edwardian ladies had benefitted from the "security" of the elastic for undergarments produced at Wotton - "knicker elastic by the mile", as was said locally, but with the outbreak of the Second World War, over 90% of production was for armed forces and other Government contracts, for elasticated and braided fabrics.
Sir Stanley died in 1941, but Tubbs, Lewis & Co Ltd continued in business until 1965 when it was purchased by Wolsey, and then subsequently by Courtaulds. The company name remained as the trading title however until New Mill was purchased by Renishaw in 1981. The brass plaque left by the former owners is displayed on the wall in the Mill Reception. In a PROBITY poll in 1984, Renishaw's employees were asked to suggest a new name for the site. The result was that a simple letter "s" was added and New Mill became New Mills.