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Report - Leicester Rubber - John Bull - Metalastik - Dunlop, Leicester - April 2013

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by Yorrick, May 14, 2013.

  1. Yorrick

    Yorrick 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

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    In February 1906, John Cecil Burton invested £400 of his personal savings to establish himself as a rubber products factor and rented business premises in Granby Place for 8/- per week.

    Within two weeks his younger brother, Hubert Henry, joined the business and together they formed an informal partnership under the name of ‘Leicester Rubber Company’, primarily selling products to the cycle industry.

    The company flourished very quickly and in November 1906 it adopted its first trade mark when ‘Swift’ was registered for the tyres it was marketing. However, the Swift Cycle Company of Coventry took exception to this registration and bought the trade mark (for rubber products) from the brothers for the sum of £50.

    The name ‘Swan’ was registered shortly afterwards but was soon considered unsatisfactory and a decision was made to use ‘John Bull’. This trade mark had already been registered for a number of different products by Messrs. Thornton and Mawby, another Leicester company, who agreed to abstain from using it for the price of £50. However, ‘John Bull’ remained as just a trade mark until 1934 when it became incorporated into the company name.

    By 1909 they had moved to larger premises in Post Office Place and the partnership became ‘The Leicester Rubber Company Limited’.
    In 1914 they began manufacturing their own products, but being unable to find a suitable factory the company purchased land on Evington Valley Road to build one. The new factory allowed the company to begin manufacturing many of the wide range of products in its catalogue and to sell into new markets around the world.
    They continued to expand there until the works covered around 7 acres by the 1950’s.

    1934 saw the company change its name to ‘The John Bull Rubber Company Limited’ and also move into manufacturing a range of motor vehicle tyres. From 1939 the factory began making items for the war effort such as gas masks and solid rubber tyres for tanks.

    After the war production slowly began to return to normal as the supply of raw materials improved, but the return to full production soon brought new problems for the company. A lack of labour in a prosperous city with an almost non-existent unemployment rate was gradually eased by the influx of new communities from around the world. The desperate shortage of space led the company to rent warehousing, offices and factories across the city and beyond.

    This situation began to hamper the company development and, after a fruitless search to find a suitable location in Leicester, a 20 acre site near Grimsby was purchased for the building of a brand new factory. The new premises were fully opened in 1956 and subsequent manufacturing began to move away from Evington Valley Road.

    In 1955 John Bull merged with Metalastik, Precision Rubbers and C.P. Engineering.

    In 1958 the group became part of the Dunlop Rubber Company Limited, but various sources suggest that they used the John Bull trade mark for several years and Metalastik for a long time.

    In 2000 Metalastik became part of Trelleborg Automotive

    In 2002 Trelleborg moved the Leicester plant to a new purpose-built 13,000 sq. m manufacturing facility on the northern fringes of Leicester.

    In 2012 the company Metalastik was dissolved, precluding any further use of the name.

    The 294,000sqft premises is for sale, complete with 13 tenants who occupy 113,000sqft, with a guide price of £7,000,000.


    Hmm. So half the site is live.

    The photos were mainly taken from the last of 3 visits. The first 2 visits were with non-member Oriental Orange and the last with The Wombat and Eeka. Interesting access on the last 2 visits (courtesy of O-O).

    This last was a pretty relaxed explore.

    That is until we were making our way towards the exit;

    I said the noise was pigeons, they said no it’s voices just through that partition, and then The Wombat said

    “pigeons don’t coughâ€.

    Oh sh*t! Time to bail.

    As we left the site we saw there was a van loading up at the cargo doors that wasn’t there when we entered.


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    Advert from a 1927 cycling magazine. I like that they show the industriously smoking chimneys and that it had 2 telephone lines..

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    These looked like slate bench / table tops.

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    And some night-time roof top shots from my second visit with O-O.

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