Walter Mays Ltd.

The Abbey Cork Mills of Walter Mays Ltd was built on the site of William De Morgan’s pottery, Colliers Wood, in around 1890.

1950 OS map

Walter Carden-Mays born December 1865 in Camberwell. He married in 1888 and died on 21st January 1941 in Surrey. The ‘Carden’ part of the family name was dropped at some point, and his company was known as Walter Mays Ltd.

Listed in the 1925 street directory as Walter Mays Ltd. (Abbey Cork Works), 150 & 152 Byegrove Road.

1924 aerial photo. The site for Colliers wood underground station can be seen bottom right. The cork factory is on the left of the High Street.

1934 OS map rotated to show same view as aerial photo above

Ad from Flight Magazine of 1938 :

and directory listing from same:

WALTER MAYS, LTD., Abbey Cork Mills, London, S.W.19 (Liberty 3764).—” Everything in cork “; carburettor and oil indicator floats, gauge glass washers, gland packings, strut sealing corks, anti-vibration mats, composition cork jointing to D.T.D.219A, laminated and plain.

In an entry on Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History from 1939 about suppliers to the aircraft industry, cork joints to specification DTD 219A were widely used for petrol tank gaskets and packings.

The Stone Cottage of the Surrey Iron Railway stood on the Walter Mays Ltd site for over 150 years.

Mitcham Military Service Tribunals

As reported by the Mitcham and Tooting Mercury, 16th June 1916, an employer of a cork business in Colliers Wood, appealed for his son. Although not named, it is likely that the company was Walter Mays Ltd.

Exemption was asked for a skilled mechanic, by the owner of a cork manufacturing business in Colliers Wood. The employer said the man was very valuable in his present employment and he will be practically impossible to replace. A large proportion of their manufacturers were for government uses. He employed about 17 men of whom are only three were eligible. He pleaded that his son was capable of doing almost anything in the business and his departure might cause the closing down of the business.

Three months exemption.

In the Mitcham and Tooting Mercury, 2nd November 1917, the company and employee are named in an appeal.

Mr Walter Mays, cork manufacturer, of the Abbey Cork Works, High Street, Colliers Wood, asked for a exemption for Mr T.W.S. Cavey, age 41, B1, motor driver and mechanic, residing at Birdhurst Road, Colliers Wood.

Applicant: An exemption for so long as the man remained in his employment. He was engaged in delivering all Mr Mays’s important Government contract work. The average mileage was 250 miles a week.

Counc. Baker : I suppose it is all Government work that Mr Mays does?

Applicant: Oh, yes, it is most important.

The appeal was disallowed.

In the 1919 electoral register a Thomas William Sherrin CAVEY was living with his wife Florence Louisa in 28 Birdhurst Road. He died in 1950 as stated on the Find-A-Grave website, which also says he was a Music Hall performer known as Stirling Fred.

Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

5 thoughts on “Walter Mays Ltd.

  1. Pearl Josephine

    many thanks for that – I remember the factory from the late fifties, I was only ten years old but remember going with my father who worked as a clerk there and who was married to Pearl Mays, the youngest daughter of Walter Mays junior, Unfortunatley I haven’t been able to track down any photos of the family, factory or workers from that time.


    1. glosjeff

      I found the story of my Paternal great grandfather and my paternal grandfather (Albert Walter Mays of Lavender Grove, Mitcham) very interesting. I never knew my great grandfather, but I certainly knew my grandfather, who took over the running of the Cork Factory – my brother Brynley John Carden Mays and myself Jeff Mays, used to visit the factory and swing on the old crossing gate by the Stone Cottage – the Cottage itself was used to store the raw cork before it was processed.

      Pearl Hayes – I assume the Walter Mays junior you refer to, was my grandfather. I know he had four children, my father Peter, my uncle Bill, Aunt Pat and Aunt Eileen – I believe my Nan Ethel Mays (nee Hurd and from the east coast (Canvey Island area)) had an illegitimate child who I think we used to refer to as Uncle Bert, but too many years have passed to be 100% sure.

      I’ve never heard of Pearl Mays and would be interested to hear more about her, if you have any information please.

      I have a number of photos of my grandfather, who was known locally as Mickie Mays, due to his involvement with Sport in general and the Olympics and the Triple A in particular.

      Jeff Mays


      1. Pearl Josephine

        Just found your comment!

        My great grandfather was Thomas John Mays married to Elizabeth Peggs Carden

        My grandfather was Walter Carden Mays, he had brothers Edward, Albert – your grandfather, George, Leonard and sisters, Sophia, Emily, Daisy, Elsie, Violet, Gladys.

        My mother Pearl had sisters, Annie, Emily, and her twin Ruby and brothers Walter Carden and Edward.

        So we’re def’ related.


      2. glosjeff

        Hello Pearl,

        It was really interesting to read your comment and yes, we must be related.

        My email address is ************* and I’d really like it if we could get in contact.

        I’m away for a few days, so won’t be able to respond immediately, but I would definitely like to chat about our shared heritage.

        I’m in Gloucester, two of my brothers are in Epsom and another in Croydon – where are you?

        Kind Regards



      3. Pearl Josephine

        Wow! Didn’t expect to hear back from you so quickly – thought it might be another year or two.
        I will email you soon.


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