W.J. Bush & Co. Ltd.

In 1886, W J Bush and Co, already well established in London, purchased the herbal distillery at Figges Marsh, Mitcham, which had belonged to Messrs Potter and Moore. The copper stills and other equipment were moved to Bush’s newly built works in Batsworth Road where they wished to develop top quality essential oil distillation of peppermint, lavender and camomile.

The distilling of harvested herbs at the Mitcham works was discontinued after 1957, partly because it was no longer economic for the large stills to remain idle for all but the six weeks of each year when the crops were ripe for distilling, and partly as the space was required for the installation of more up-to-date equipment for other processes. The stills were dismantled and sold to H B Carter who re-erected them at his herb farm at Brasted, Kent.

Between 1960 and 1963 W J Bush amalgamated with two other oil distillers, Boake Roberts and Stafford Allen to form Bush, Boake and Allen. The new firm was later absorbed by the Albright and Wilson group which became part of Tenneco International. On rationalisation of the Albright and Wilson group, the Batsworth Road works were closed and demolished in 1977.

Source: Surrey History Centre.

The prospectus is published of W. J. Bush & Co., Limited, with share capital of £250,000, divided into 25,000 five per cent cumulative preference shares of £5 each, and 125,000 ordinary shares of £1 each, and £123,000 four per cent, first mortgage debenture stock.

This Company has been formed to acquire the old-established business of Messrs W. J. Bush & Co., manufacturing chemists, distillers of essential oils, &c.

The Company acquire the freehold warehouses and offices situate in Artillery Lane, London ; the freehold works at Ashgrove, Hackney ; the freehold distillery at Mitcham, Surrey ; and the freehold works at Messina, in Sicily.

The purchase price has been fixed by the vendors at £350,000, payable to £125,000 in ordinary shares and the balance in cash.

Subscriptions are invited for the preference shares and the debenture stock, and the list of applications will close before Tuesday, 23d March, at p.m., for London, and the following morning for the country.

Source: Dundee Advertiser – Saturday 20 March 1897 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

In 1915 directory listed as lavender and peppermint distillery
Map, published in 1914:



This 1918 booklet from the company published in New York has prices for its essences and a summary of the amount needed to make a batch, e.g. 1 lb of concentrated pineapple with flavour 2,000 lbs of ‘boiled goods’.

From 1951 booklet of centenary of company:
1951 Mitcham Factory Management1951 FH Priest

1951 Managers1951 Bush Long Service Group with names
Names are shown with the number of years in service in brackets.

Top Row: left to right: J.C. Gibbs (33 yrs.), J. Orfeur (31 yrs.), W.J. Hone (35 yrs.), J. Wade (30 yrs.)

Middle Row: G. Smith (29 yrs.), A. A. Windeatt (30 yrs.), G.W. Knowles (30 yrs.),J.A. Martin (31 yrs.), J.A. Rogers (31 yrs.)

Bottom Row: F.C. Caplin (32 yrs.), R.G. Rance, B.Sc. (32 yrs.), Frederick William Priest (28 yrs.), Frederick Horace Priest (55 yrs.),K.H. Grunbaum (33 yrs.), C. Whiting (32 yrs.), E.F. Rogers (31 yrs.)

1946 Institution of Engineers Obituaries (from Grace’s Guide)

GEORGE NEILSON KLEE was born in 1903 and received his technical education in mechanical engineering at the Northampton Polytechnic. After the completion of a nine years’ apprenticeship with Messrs. Farrow and Jackson, Ltd., brewers’ engineers, London, in 1928, he was appointed chief draughtsman at the Letchworth works of Messrs. L. Lumley and Company, Ltd., brewery engineers, but two years later he accepted a similar position with Messrs. Multifillers, Ltd. In 1933 he became works engineer at the Mitcham branch of Messrs. W. J. Bush and Company, manufacturing chemists, with responsibility to the works manager for the design and reconstruction of plant and buildings. After holding this position for seven years his services were lent by that firm to the Ministry of Supply and during the next two years he acted as senior mechanical engineer of the propellant planning department at Wrexham, being solely responsible to the chief engineer for the mechanical design of cordite factories. He then returned to Messrs. Bush as chief engineer and was holding this appointment at the time of his death, which occurred on 30th November 1944. Mr. Klee was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 1936.

From the 1939 Who’s who in Engineering (from Grace’s Guide):

Klee, George Nielson Klee. A.M. I. Mech.E. Engineer, W. J. Bush & Co., Ltd., Mfg. Chemists, Batsworth Road, Mitcham. Private Address: 19 Cockwood Close, N.2. Career: Northampton Polytechnic (Awarded Skinner’s Prize); 1920-24, Apprent., Farrow & Jackson, Brewery Engs.; Farrow & Jackson, Draughtsman; L. Lumley & Co., Chief in D.O.; Is Eng. Consultant to “Bottler and Packer.”

From Ancestry, George Neilson Klee of 19 Cornwood Close, Finchley died 30 Nov 1944 and left £1554 4s. 6d. to his widow Elsie Maud Klee.


Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010.
Original data: Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England. London, England © Crown copyright.

Newspaper Articles

From the Daily Express, 4th March, 1915



Lord Knutsford announced yesterday at the quarterly meeting of governors of the London Hospital that home manufacturers had overcome the difficulty which had been experienced in obtaining sufficient salicylate of soda, a drug chiefly used in the cure of rheumatism, and made from one of the by-products of coal tar.

“The whole manufacture of this drug. has been in German hands.” he said. ”and some time ago the staff had to restrict the use of it to urgent cases. Last week they received the first consignment of 56lbs. of the drug from Messrs. Bush and Co., of Bethnal Green, who have put down plant to fight the German monopoly.”

Up to date, Lord Knutsford added, the hospital had treated 2,200 soldiers without in any way reducing the help given to the civilian population. Mr John Lavery, A.R.A., is at work at the hospital on a picture of the wounded.

Note that salicylate of soda is used in making aspirin.

1 thought on “W.J. Bush & Co. Ltd.

Leave a Reply to Juan Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.