The Avon Rubber Company

in Bradford on Avon

Avon sign

The Avon Rubber Company had its beginnings in the Hundred of Bradford on Avon and grew into a large multinational concern.

The success of the Stephen Moulton rubber company in Bradford inspired Giles Holbrow and his son Willie to turn their old former woollen cloth mill at Limpley Stoke over to rubber production in 1875. In 1885 the Holbrows let the Avon Mill rubber business to E.G. Browne and J.C. Margetson. Browne had come back from the colonies with money to invest and James Margetson, from a Bedminster, Bristol family was involved, with his brother A.G. Margetson, in the Bristol Wagon & Carriage Works.  The Limpley Stoke Mill was equipped with a steam engine, two mixing machines, four presses and two calender machines. The initial four years, with Willie Holbrow employed as Manager and 20 men, were so successful, especially with supplying the government, railways and collieries, that they soon outgrew the works and in 1890 had moved to large vacant woollen mills in Melksham and had become a limited company as the Avon Indiarubber Company.

The Avon company’s next involvement with Bradford came in 1915, when it took over the works at Greenland Mills of the Sirdar Rubber Company, bankrupt in the previous year, to produce material for the war effort. This did not last long once the Great War was over in 1918.

Eventually in 1956 Avon took over Bradford’s George Spencer, Moulton Co. across the river, resulting in an expansion in production of 50 percent. The Kingston Mills site was redeveloped, unfortunately involving the demolition of the old woollen factory building in 1973.

By 1990 the Bradford business became inconvenient in terms of access and the company was diversifying elsewhere and splitting up into different units that were sold off, so it was decided that it would close and within five years it had gone. This left Bradford with vacant factories, where there had been the main source of employment for several generations, although Avon moved its headquarters offices to Manvers House, Kingston Road for several years.