Ref NoMS 1088
TitleRecords of Hoskins & Sewell and subsidiary firms
Date1832 - 1980
LevelCollection
Extent3.20
FormatCubic metres
AccessStatusPartially closed (Content)
AccessConditionsAcc. 2008/151: Open
AdminHistoryThe earliest recorded partnership of Hoskins and Sewell dates back to roughly 1854 when Hoskins and Sewell were in partnership with Mr. Key. The only material we currently hold in this collection for Hoskins, Sewell and Key is a ledger from the late 1860s (MS 1088/1/3/6/1). When Key retired in 1874, the firm was renamed Hoskins and Sewell. The 'Hoskins' in the partnership at this time was Ebenzer who set up another firm for his son and grandson, William Parish Hoskins and William Hoskins Jnr. in 1880 which was named Hoskins and Son (for material for this firm see MS 1088/2) which became Hoskins and Son Limited on 11 December 1897 and changed its name again at least once (to H.S.L. (Berths) Limited on 18 December 1953).

According to notes written (by an unknown author) in the 'papers of historical interest' file (MS 1088/1/9/1), William Hoskins Senior, was ''a ne'er do well'' and: ''was sent abroad several times and eventually came home with the idea of making iron ship's berths (until then they were all wood) - Ebenezer set him up on his present site of Hoskins and Son as Hoskins and Son (the 'son' being William's [Snr] son William [Jnr] to make ships' berths. There was no connection with Hoskins and Sewell - unknown to Ebenezer, William (Snr) sold Hoskins and son to a Chamberlain, with the name. William [Jnr] left Hoskins and Son and went to Hoskins and Sewell Ltd and started to manufacture iron ships' berths in opposition (around 1902). William [Jnr] was chairman of Hoskins and Sewell Ltd. from 1925 - 1935.''

As recorded above, in 1897, the firm of Hoskins and Son was sold to the Chamberlain family for £40,000. From 1903, the manufactory was based at what would later be known as the Neptune Works, on Upper Trinity Street, the firm having bought the land from Hearl and Tonks who had gone into liquidation (see the deeds in sub-series MS 1088 1/5/4). The company had various offices around the Birmingham manufactories (including a woodwork factory at Hay Mills and a Tube Mill on Floodgate Street), as well as offices in London, Glasgow, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Copenhagen, Paris, Rotterdam and Trieste.

As with most firms with such a long history, Hoskins and Sewell have seen many changes throughout their history with the firm both taking over and itself being taken over by other firms. Takeovers of other companies appear to have been a regular occurrence which accounts for the amount of material relating to other firms found in this collection. How these firms fit together with Hoskins and Sewell is not always clear as records stating why the companies merged or any of the history of the firms has not been found in the material we currently hold.

By 1962, Hoskins and Sewell had merged with at least the following firms: S.B, Whitfield (Sales) Limited, Peyton, Hoyland and Barber (1933) Limited and Hoskins and Sewell (1900) Limited. S.B. Whitfield (Sales) Ltd. were sold to Hoskins and Sewell in 1958 and were then incorporated on the 15th August 1958 (see the first minute in MS 1088/4/1/2/1) as a new firm that would take on the goodwill, patents, trade marks, catalogues, etc. of S. B. Whitfield and continue trading using the name of S.B. Whitfield. The firm changed its name to S. B. Whitfield Limited on 23 September 1966 (see MS 1088/4/1/1/1).

Another of the firms connected with Hoskins and Sewell, Timberies Ltd. (for material from this firm see MS 1088/6), was incorporated on 18 May 1920. This firm was an attempt by Hoskins and Sewell to run a firm that could supply them with the wood they needed for production but could also turn a profit. Problems with getting the necessary permits to sell their wood occurred in the 1950s because the firm was deemed to be supply for just Hoskins and Sewell. This led to a change of the board of directors. In 1945, the firm was incorporated with Wales Ltd. Plycene Products Limited became Wales Limited on 06 July 1959 having previously incorporated as Wales. Note that Timberies Limited was amalgamated with Wales Ltd (see minutes of 1945 onwards re. Timberies Ltd in MS 1088/5/1/1/2-5).

The lack of records for the following companies in the collection means that their connections to Hoskins and Sewell are difficult at present to ascertain but it is assumed that they were bought out by Hoskins and Sewell:
- The Aston Cabinet Company (who changed their name to 'Aston Cabinet Limited' on 08 November 1977),
- Klinta (1964) Limited became J. A. Smith (London) Limited on 22 June 1964
- Tenarlau Ltd. , which appears to have only been in existence for a month at most; all of the directors and secretaries resigned within three weeks of the incorporation. We hold no other records relating to this firm and there is no other mention of the firm in material elsewhere in the collection.

Hoskins and Sewell Became Hoskins Ltd on 26 September 1973. Later in the 1970s, Hoskins Ltd. was bought by the Horton conglomerate. Hoskins and Sewell Ltd became Homa Castors (1986) Limited on 29 June 1987. Following this it was sold to Redland Ltd who sold Hoskins Ltd. to Scottish Heritable Trust. The firm was then sold to Nesbitt & Evans and asset stripped. The Hoskins firm still operates today as Hoskins Healthcare Ltd. where their main business concern is the construction of hospital beds and hospital equipment. The firm operates at premises at Redfern Park Way, Tyseley and is owned by the Huntleigh Healthcare Group.

Interestingly, it has been rumoured that Hoskins and Sewell made the beds for the Titanic which may very well be true but no reference to this is made in the records we currently hold. Promotional literature does however include reference to one of Titanic's sister ships, the Olympic (see 'Cabin Comfort' catalogue and 'Ships Beds and Berths' catalogue at MS 1088/1/7/2).

Further information about the history of Hoskins and Sewell and the furniture industry in Birmingham in general (1900 - 1970) can be found in a dissertation written by Robert Potter (see MS 2872, accession 2010/035).

Hoskins and Sewell, and Hoskins and Son, have been family concerns throughout their existence. A rough family tree of the Hoskins involved in running the firms, from earliest to latest, is given below:

Ebenezer Hoskins
William Parish Hoskins (the 'Hoskins' of the firm Hoskins and Son)
William Hoskins Jnr. (the 'Son' of Hoskins and Son)
H.Ronald Hoskins
Frederick Hoskins
John E. Hoskins
Col. Peter Ronald Hoskins
Herbert Ronald Hoskins

See MS 1088 12/6/1 for more admin history information.
ArrangementAs the collection is made up of material from a number of different firms, the collection has been split into series by firm. The firms have then been organised roughly chronologically with the first three series comprising the three Hoskins firms of Hoskins & Sewell, Hoskins and Son and Hoskins and Horton. The series that follow comprise the firms that were taken over by Hoskins or were subsidary firms owned by Hoskins and Sewell but operating independently and have been ordered chronologically by the earliest material that appears in that series. Each firm's series is then arranged into sub-series by the type of records.

MS 1088/1 Hoskins & Sewell (and successor firms)
MS 1088/1/1 Administrative records
MS 1088/1/2 Shareholder records
MS 1088/1/3 Financial records
MS 1088/1/4 Pattern Books
MS 1088/1/5 Deeds
MS 1088/1/6 Property and premises
MS 1088/1/7 Marketing material
MS 1088/1/8 Staff records
MS 1088/1/9 Miscellaneous

MS 1088/2 Hoskins & Son Limited
MS 1088/2/1 Administrative records
MS 1088/2/2 Sahreholder records
MS 1088/2/3 Financial Records
MS 1088/2/4 Hoskins and Sons files [internal administration]
MS 1088/2/5 Operation records
MS 1088/2/6 Pattern books
MS 1088/2/7 Staff records
MS 1088/2/8 Property and premises
MS 1088/2/9 Other records

MS 1088/3 Hoskins and Horton Limited
MS 1088/3/1 Shareholder records
MS 1088/3/2 Papers of S.J. Lloyd Esq.

MS 1088/4 S.B. Whitfield (Sales) Limited
MS 1088/4/1 Administrative records
MS 1088/4/2 Shareholder records
MS 1088/4/3 Pattern books
MS 1088/4/4 Other records

MS 1088/5 Wales Limited
MS 1088/5/1 Administrative records
MS 1088/5/2 Shareholder records
MS 1088/5/3 Financial records
MS 1088/5/4 Other records

MS 1088/6 Timberies Limited
MS 1088/6/1 Administrative records
MS 1088/6/2 Financial records

MS 1088/7 Peyton, Hoyland and Barber Limited
MS 1088/7/1 Administrative records
MS 1088/7/2 Shareholder records
MS 1088/7/3 Pattern books
MS 1088/7/4 Other records

MS 1088/8 Aston Cabinet Company
MS 1088/8/1 Administrative records
MS 1088/8/2 Financial records

MS 1088/9 J.A. Smith Limited
MS 1088/9/1 Administrative records

MS 1088/10 Trewhella Bros. Limited
MS 1088/10/1 Administrative records
MS 1088/10/2 Financial records
MS 1088/10/3 Other records

MS 1088/11 Tenarlau Limited
MS 1088/11/1 Shareholder records

MS 1088/12 Unidentified firms (material that does not obviously belong to any other series)
MS 1088/12/1 Finance and ground committee
MS 1088/12/2 Shareholder records
MS 1088/12/3 Financial records
MS 1088/12/4 Patterns
MS 1088/12/5 Correspondence
MS 1088/12/6 Miscellaneous items
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