Category Archives: Industry

ICL 2904 computer at Downs Surgical

An ICL 2904 mini-mainframe was installed at Downs Surgical Ltd., Church Path, around 1978.

The company had previously used two Honeywell computers: a 716 and a 2020. Both were batch processing machines, with no interactive terminals. The ICL 2904 came with direct data entry terminals for fast entry of orders, and also Multi-Access terminals, for which an online Sales Order Processing system was written in COBOL. The ICL 2904 operating system including a terminal message routing system and a ‘riro’ file for ‘rolling-in and ‘rolling-out’ large Transaction Processing programs.

The main computer room. The three units on the left were EDS60 disc drives. A disc pack holding 60 megacharacters could be mounted on the drive. On top of the drive are the empty disc pack cases. At the far wall are two magnetic tape decks. Spools of tape were mounted on these decks for backup purposes.

The ICL 2904 computer was based on the ICL 1900 series of computers and used a six-bit character instead of the 8-bit byte used today. This meant that the character set did not have lower case letters. The EDS60 drive, ‘Exchangeable Disc System 60’, would hold up to 60 million of these six-bit characters. One of the drives had to be online when the computer was started as it contain the ‘boot’ system. The other two drives could be used for other programs. Typically during the day they would hold the indexed sequential orders file that was updated from the terminals using the Sales Order Processing system. In the evening other disc were put online to perform batch processing. Backups were taken to magnetic tapes.

The ICL 2904 computer as seen from the other side of the machine room. The operator sat at a video terminal or console in the centre. On his left was a teletype printer that printed a hardcopy of the displays on the console; also a slow card reader for input of batch processing jobs. In addition there was a FEDS 5 disc drive that had a fixed 5 megachacter disc, with an exchangeable 5 megacharacter disc on top. To the right of the operator’s console was the main system printer.

The operating system used disc based spooling of output from batch programs. This meant that as batch jobs finished their output was written to file for printing later. The operator controlled what printouts were then spooled from disc to the printer, as he might also have to change the stationery, e.g. invoices etc. In the event of a failure with the printer this spool file could be taken off site to another ICL 2904 customer to use their printer. Heron Suzuki in Beddington Lane was frequently used for this purpose.

Advert in Computer Weekly on 25th January 1979 for more computer staff to work with the ICL 2904.

An operator was recruited with ICL 1900 series experience to work on the 2904, and was paid £3,600 per year.

Operator job offer dated 8th Feb 1978

Kempat Ltd.

Listed in the 1954 phone book as Kempat Ltd., Brassieres, Girdles, 1 Block James Estate, Western Road, Mitcham 1664.

The newspaper articles below are via the British Newspaper Archive

Adverts

Norwood News – Friday 02 January 1953

Kempat Ltd. have a few vacancies for school-leavers and teen-agers who wish to become sewing machinists; frequent rises, and when fully trained (approx. 2 years) over £6 p.w. can be earned. no Saturdays, music, canteen, also ex-employees welcomed. Apply Kempat Ltd. James Estate. Western-rd.. Mitcham.

Norwood News – Friday 22 February 1946

EXPERIENCED machinists reqd.; good wages; our best machinists earn up to £3 12s. 6d., 44 hours, no Saturdays; music while you work; willing to train inexperienced applicants. Apply Kempat Ltd., “M” Block, James Estate (opposite Gas Works), Western-rd., Mitcham.

Company ceased trading in 1962, as stated in the
London Gazette, Publication date:20 August 1965 Issue:43743 Page: 8015

Name of Company: KEMPAT LIMITED.
Nature of Business: Ceased trading on 27th March 1962 as LINGERIE MANUFACTURERS.
Address of Registered Office: Baltic House, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff.
Liquidator’s Name and Address: Paul Francis Spurway, of Baltic House, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff.
Date of Appointment: 7th August 196S.

W.E. Horsman, Son & Co., Iron Foundry in Eveline Road

William Ernest Horsman’s iron foundry that was at 34 Eveline Road, possibly between 1924 and 1938.

Photo taken 20th August 2109.

Listed in the 1924 commercial directory as W.E. Horsman & Co., general engineers.

In the 1930 commercial directory it is listed W.E. Horsman & Co., general engineers, Eveline Road, trading as “ Horseman, Ironfounders ; ” Telephone number MIT 1586. Note the spelling of Horseman with an ‘e’.

The foundry is listed in the 1938 directory as May’s Mitcham Foundry.

The use of ‘Son’ on the manhole cover shown above suggests that it was made between 1930 and 1938. The 1932 robbery refers to the offices of Messrs. W. E. Horsman, Son and Co., whereas the 1930 directory doesn’t mention ‘Son’.

From Ancestry.com, Stanley Bertram Horsman, foundry manager, was married on 9th February 1932 in Sutton. His father was named as William Ernest Horsman, occupation Ironfounder. Electoral registers show W.E. Horsman as living at 1 Greenhill, Sutton.


News Articles and Ads
Norwood News – Friday 12 February 1932

MITCHAM ROBBERY DAMAGE AND LOSS AT OFFICES

A daring robbery was successfully carried out early on Tuesday morning at the offices of Messrs. W. E. Horsman, Son and Co., iron founders and sanitary engineers, Eveline-roud. Mitcham. The front office door was forced with a jemmy, and evidently the thieves spent several hours ransacking the whole place. They attacked three safes, ripping the back out of one. Papers and documents were ruthlessly thrown all over the floors, and considerable damage done to the property. Thecentents of all three safes were emptied, and all the loose money and stamps taken away. All the workmen’s Health and Insurance cards are missing, also all the money in the hospital collection boxes.

Mr. Horsman told one of our reporters: “I don’t know whether my son’s wedding had anything to do with the robbery, but it was well known that my son, who is works manager, was being married on Tuesday. Possibly the thieves thought there might be more here, and we should not be so particular in removing things on such an occasion. We have proof that there were at least two men on the job. They must have spent hours about it. What a mess they left! It troubles me more, the damage and mess, than all the money they took. I should estimate the loss and damage at quite a hundred pounds. The collection boxes for the hospital and blind were broken open and the money taken. They found the key for the big safe, but the other two they broke open. It must have taken them hours to do that. From the appearance of the floor in my office, they attacked the safes in one corner, where a light would not be so easily seen from outside. What puzzles me is what good the workmen’s Insurance and Health cards will do them, unless they are negotiable. I understand the police have obtained some finger-prints.”

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer – Monday 14 October 1929

WANTED at once Iron Moulders, for jobbing shop: permanency for good men.—Write Horsman’s Foundry, Eveline Road, Mitcham.


The Sanitary Inspectors Report of June 4th, 1928, included complaints by local residents:

Several complaints have recently been made by residents in Eveline Crescent and Eveline Road of the nuisance from smoke and fumes from Messrs. Horsman’s Iron Foundry. I have kept observation on the works, and I find the fumes from the cupolas in which metals are heated are very strong. I have not seen much smoke, but, according to my reading of the new Smoke Act, these works are exempt from the operation of the Act.

Source: page 99, Mitcham Urban District Council minutes, volume XIV 1928-29.

1880 : Gas Workmen’s Outing

Croydon Guardian and Surrey County Gazette – Saturday 25 September 1880

MITCHAM.
Workmen’s Excursion.

— A party of tradesmen and other inhabitants of Mitcham, accompanied by Mr. William Jones, foreman of the Mitcham gasworks, left the “Nag’s Head,” Mitcham, on Tuesday morning, at 8.30, on an excursion to Kingswood, accompanied by a band, who played a variety of lively airs on the way.

The first stop was made the “Red Lion,” Kingswood, and from thence to Walton-on-the-hill. An unfortunate accident occurred here. As one of the musicians was ascending the steps of house he missed his footing, and was precipitated to the ground, where he lay for some time senseless. As soon the man was sufficiently recovered, the party entered the dining-hall of one of the chief public-houses in the place, where sumptuous repast had been prepared by the host.

After dinner the usual loyal toasts were proposed by Messrs. Rough, Baker, Wigmore, and others. Having spent some further time in the rural scenery of the surrounding neighbourhood, the party proceeded home, having spent a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Ludlow Brothers Ltd.

Birmingham based company that was listed in the 1930 and 1938 commercial directories as Ludlow Bros (1913) Ltd., galvanized holloware manufacturers, Western Road, telephone number MITcham 0848. Listed as Ludlow Bros. Ltd. in the 1954 telephone book.

Note that ‘Hollow-ware’ refers to buckets etc.

A credit note offered for sale on eBay, dated 1943, shows its address as 132 Western Road, which was part of the former Holborn Union workhouse at the corner of Bond Road. The site in 2019 is occupied by Asda.

credit note extract Ludlow Bros dated February 1943

According to Graces Guide to British Industrial History, the company was founded privately in 1868 and became public in 1913, hence that year in its name in the directories. At the time of the credit note, the ‘1913’ was typed over, suggesting that the company name had changed but stationery hadn’t yet been changed.

Lower Green West Trees and the Mitcham Rake

The trees seen on the left in this photo are much smaller than the rest. Photo taken May, 2019

The three trees at the westernmost end of the green of Lower Green West were planted after the Storm of 1987 had felled the original trees.

The London Box Sash company, situated opposite the old fire station, helped clear the fallen trees using their own saws and other equipment. They didn’t charge the council for this service, instead it was agreed between the two that all the wood salvaged from the fallen trees could be used by the company. Some of this wood ended up as Mitcham Rakes.

A ‘Mitcham Rake’ made by the London Box Sash Company. Photo taken at their premises August 2018.