What you should know about the Swan Brand, Swan Products Ltd TSS Business of the Month for July 2015

swan 3

A Birmingham business called Bulpitt and Sons, who carried out the manufacture of copper kettles and lamps in the early days and went on to become a limited company, registered the trademark Swan Brand in the 1920s

Bulpitt & Sons Ltd, Camden Street, Birmingham 1933
Bulpitt & Sons Ltd, Camden Street, Birmingham 1933

Stumbling across industrial heritage and people stories in the form of online forums, newspaper articles and photographic images associated with this one time major employer has revealed an interesting social history.  Memories are conveyed online of the factory’s presence in Northwood Street, and later, Camden Street, in Birmingham UK, of the innovative goods they were producing, and neighbouring manufacturers (makers of bikes and jewellery for example) are often talked about and discussed. Collective stories of  these streets and those who worked and lived in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, some dating back from the turn of the last century right up to the regeneration of the area in recent years, are representational of the bigger picture

source: www.birminghamhistory.co.uk

The company’s timeline, in fact, runs from the late nineteenth century through the 1930s (when Swan was the first to develop an electric heating element that could be immersed in water), and onward, into the next decade, to when their product(s) were part of the war effort, through to the family firm being sold to Birmingham Sound Reproducers (BSR) in 1971. So BSR acquired Bulpitt and Sons and became known as BSR Housewares with Swan Housewares a subsidiary. In 1972 BSR also bought Goblin. This is relevant, as the famous teasmade device was being mass produced under the Goblin brand from 1936 and would eventually be re-badged and sold by Swan

BSR swan 5
BSR

The Bulpitt & Sons (Swan Brand) Ltd was dissolved in 1989. Shortly before this Swan (and Goblin) had been acquired by French manufacturers, Moulinex, but at time when the market for consumer goods was changing quickly and dramatically. It became impossible to compete with the prices set by Far Eastern importers. Swan Moulinex went bankrupt in 2001 with the Moulinex brand being acquired by Tefal of France and Swan was taken over by catalogue retailer, Littlewoods in the UK. And where the old Birmingham factory at Camden Street, Birmingham were still making the water boilers for the Swan Teasmade right up until 2006, the need for quality products that would last a lifetime was diminishing. This affected the electronics industry to such a high degree that BSR eventually disappeared too

swan brand

So in the noughties, especially once Littlewoods merged with the multi-brand digital retailing giant the Shop Direct Group, Swan domestic appliances were, and still are, being sold exclusively by Littlewoods; Swan existing in the form of being the company’s own brand. And the stark reality is (and the same applies to some other old heritage brands) that there is no longer a UK manufacturing base dedicated to Swan products alone. In recent dealings TSS finds that support and after sales services are being handled by a third party business based in Stoke on Trent

swan badge

Where many famous names have been cast to history books, this brand’s timeline continues. And it remains significant that the famous Swan badge is still in existence and that is well worth congratulating; but those who are sentimental about old British brands, like Swan, should be considering what that means exactly in this modern world

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One thought on “ What you should know about the Swan Brand, Swan Products Ltd TSS Business of the Month for July 2015

  1. hi is the orange kettle going to be manufactured this year? Can you tell me the date when they will be going into production, please.

    Like

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