Bourne Archive: Bourne Trade: T.W.Mays
http://boar.org.uk/abiwxo3TWMays1.htm Latest edit 10 Jul 2011.
Interactive version ©2010 R.J.PENHEY
The Bourne Archive
T.W. Mays & Sons, Ltd., Wool Merchants, Bone Crushers, Blood, Bone, and Chemical Manure Manufacturers.
By Sidney T. Smith, M.J.I. 1
This is a thirty-eight page booklet presented with the compliments of T.W. Mays and Son, of Bourne. It is un-dated but internal evidence indicates that it comes from shortly after 1905, and before 1909.
The back cover reads:—
T. W. Mays & Sons, Ltd.,
Bone Crushers, Blood, Bone, and Chemical Manure 2 Manufacturers,
Guaranteed Analysis and highest possible Testimonials.
Manures specially prepared for all crops.
Works: BOURNE, Lincs.
Full value given for all dead stock, and prompt attention given to fetching the same.
Agents for Messrs, Mays & Sons’ Ltd. SILVER MEDAL CHEMICAL MANURES.
GRANTHAM, SLEAFORD & BOURNE
Mr. H. B. Hurry,
Mr. G. W. Taylor,
Mr. H. DRIFFIELD,
Bridge House, Walton,
Forman and sons, printers,
being a description of the extensive works
— of —
Messrs, T. W. MAYS & SONS, Ltd.,
FELLMONGERS AND WOOL MERCHANTS,
CHEMICAL MANURE MANUFACTURERS AND BONE CRUSHERS,
Photo Redshaw, Bourne
Bourne Market Place on Fair Day.
“His corn and Cattle were his only care,
And his supreme delight a country fair.” DRYDEN.
CHEMICAL MANURE WORKS LOOKING EAST.
A visit to Bourne on Fair Day (October 31st), prompted the writing of the few pages which follow, and which it is hoped may interest the readers and serve a useful purpose.
Pages 4 to 35:—
The town itself is
of great historic charm. In very early times the Romans held and fortified the
place, and in the neighbourhood the great Car Dyke is a reminder of their
achievements. When they had left
William Cecil, first
Lord of Burleigh,
Bourne once had an
Augustinian Abbey, founded by Baldwin Fitz-Gilbert, but this was suppressed in
the 16th century. Another of its ancient buildings, the Red Hall,
long the residence of the Digby family, and where the gunpowder plotters met 10,
has been converted into the railway station, and generally the town has
undergone a modernizing process. It is on the Essendine, and Bourne and
Sleaford branch of the Great Northern Railway, and the
On market and fair
day, the town presents a very busy scene, as may be seen by the illustration we
give. Cattle and horse dealers from all parts of the country foregather here,
with merchants and their representatives, and crowds of folk from far and wide,
who are given a real
Woolstapling and Fellmongering.
“Is there not a double
excellency in this?”—Shakespeare
–“Merry Wives of
Bourne has several distinctive
trades, and does not lack enterprise, but the most remarkable, most extensive,
and one of the most typical businesses is that carried on by Messrs. T. W. Mays
& Sons, Ltd., and its ramifications are various. They have the largest
Woolstapling business in
The woollen industry
is older than all existing civilizations. Like many another art, the
manufacture of wool has risen and fallen with the rise and fall of nations. Who
first used the sheep’s woolly coat is unknown. The inscribed tablets recovered
from buried cities in Western Asia and
The seat of the Lord Chancellor of England is called “the Woolsack,” It is a large square bag of wool without back or arms and covered with red cloth. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth an Act of Parliament was passed to prevent the exportation of wool, and that this source of our national wealth might be kept constantly in mind, woolsacks were placed in the House of Peers whereon the Judges sat, hence the Lord Chancellor, who presides in the House of Lords, is said to sit on the woolsack or to be “appointed on the woolsack.” In 1666 an Act of Parliament was passed for “burying in woollen only,” which was intended for “the encouragement of the woollen manufactures of the Kingdom and preventing all the exportation of money for the buying and importing of linen.” This Act however, was repealed in 1814. It shows however, the importance attached to the woollen industry, which is of native growth.
There is little
doubt that the high quality of English wool, and the wealth it brought, was one
of the chief causes of the Norman Conquest. William of Normandy knew that the
The wool-stapler deals with the raw material of manufacture and that is Messrs. Mays & Sons’ business, their “commercial emporium or seat of trade” being at Eastgate, whither we were taken in a well-equipped motor car 12. Here are their well-fitted commodious offices, with telephonic communication all over the country, and also to the different departments; and it is a busy time for the staff when the markets at Bradford and other centres are in full swing. Here, too, are the extensive stables, many horses being kept going; and some of the warehouses, one immense shed, some hundred feet square, being in the shearing season a veritable hive of industry. Here, too, the fleeces are received, and the wool stapled.
There are four
distinct qualities of wool on every sheep, the finest being upon the spine,
from the neck to within six inches of the tail, including one-third of the
breadth of he back. The second covers the flanks between the thighs and the
shoulders. The third clothes the neck and the rumps, and the fourth extends
from the lower part of the neck and breast down to the feet, and also upon a
part of the shoulders and thighs to the bottom of the hind quarters. These are
torn asunder and sorted on the fleece being delivered after the shearing, and
it is a great sight to see the men and women at work in Messrs. Mays’ large
shed in June and July. No less than twelve or fourteen distinct varieties of
wool can be obtained by the experienced stapler, and as it is sorted it is
baled ready for dispatch to
Independent of the
quality of fineness, there are two sorts of wool which afford the basis of
different fabrics, and are somewhat differently treated in the process of
spinning. The long and the short Lincolnshire sheep are
noted, of course, for their long, heavy wool. The
It may not be uninteresting to
explain that after the removal of the first fleece the tup-hogget
becomes a shearling, the ewe-hogger
a grimmer (generally called in
But besides the fleeces, Messrs Mays are large purchasers of “farmers’ locks,” the name given to the wool cut from the sheeps’ tails prior to shearing. These locks, when carefully treated, yield a second grade wool of excellent quality; and during the Japanese War Messrs. Mays did an enormous business in this wool, which was turned into khaki and blankets for the Japanese troops. Their great sorting shed in June presents a scene of great animation, one side being occupied by women picking these “clag locks.” They do not entirely separate the dirt from the wool, but what they have picked is put into “willying machines,” the drums of which are studded with iron spikes, and which, driven by a gas engine 14, perform from five hundred to a thousand revolutions a minute, and take the excreta from the wool. This contains much nitrogen, and is a valuable consistent of the Artificial Manure made by Messrs. Mays, who waste nothing that comes to them. Formerly, the “clag blocks” were washed on the farm, and the dirt made soluble and the liquid thrown into the dykes or rivers; but Messrs. Mays deal with it, as will be seen, in a scientific manner, and it is, of course, and invaluable ingredient of their Manures.
The Malting 15 and Works.
“Famous through the World.”
Shakespeare,—Henry VI. (II).
On the opposite side of Eastgate, a little further down, we come to No. 2 Works, and here are the Fellmongering Works, with more Wool Chambers, and the Fleshing 16 and Cleaning Yards and Stores. The long range of buildings are conveniently situated on the banks of the Bourne Eau, overlooking the Fens, of which a fine view is commanded from the top storeys, Boston Stump 17 being plainly visible on a clear day. The Eau, which joins the River Glen at Tongue End, was formerly an important waterway, along which the town supplies were brought in ancient times. The handiness of the water supply greatly facilitates the operations carried on by Messrs. Mays, as will be seen presently.
Woolstapling and Fellmongering are inseparably connected. A
fellmonger is described in most dictionaries as “a dealer in skins and furs”;
but he is far more than that, as we shall show. To begin with, we may explain
for the benefit of the in-initiated that the wool shorn from the living animal
is known as fleece-wool, and we have shown how what is stapled in the large
sorting room, of which Mr. Marriott gives so excellent a photograph. The wool pulled from the skins of
animals that have been slaughtered is termed skin-wool. Messrs. Mays purchase
sheep and other skins over a very large district, many coming from
Our illustrations show how the skins are treated. On arrival they are placed on platforms in the stream, easily accessible from the doors of No. 3 Yard, as it is called, to free them from the dirt and foulness of various kinds, and in particular from the grease and oil with which it is generally imbued. The wool in its natural state contains a quantity of peculiar potash soap, secreted by the animal, and this forms into a lather, which assists the cleansing of the skins. After being cleaned, the skin side is treated with a chemical, remains for some hours, and then stoved, after which it is ready for the pulling shop. Men are to be seen “pulling” the wool in the illustration of the Clock Yard. The skins, known as “pelts,” are then dipped in the lime pits, and are prepared for market, eventually going to the tanners, where they are often split into three parts, the top one being turned into Parchment, the middle one into fine American Cloth, and the third into Chamois Leather. 18
.The “clag locks” are also dealt with in the fellmongery yard by another process, and the horse wending its way round the ring, is rotating a triple iron roller, which is crushing the dirt out of the clag-wool, which is subsequently cleansed and dried ready to be sent away, as before stated, for manufacture into cheap blankets, the excreta here also going to the Manure Works.
But all the skins are not submitted to the “pulling” process. Many are salted down for skin rugs, in which Messrs. Mays do an extensive business.
Going from the
Fellmongering Yard to the “Malting” we find the Skin Rug Department and
important one, Messrs Mays being the largest suppliers of Rug Skins in the
There are many
bye-products from the fellmongering yard. The hoofs of horses slaughtered are
sold to glue manufacturers; the fat from the sheep goes to
In connection with fellmongering it may not be generally known that Felt is made from the fibre of hair and wool. Tradition says that St. Clement, when on a pilgrimage, put carded wool between his feet and the soles of his sandals, and found at his journey’s end that the wool was converted into cloth. If wool is continually trodden, and at the same time moistened, it becomes felt. In some Roman Catholic countries, the hatters celebrate St. Clement’s Day (November 23rd) as a festival, looking upon him as the “founder” or benefactor of their trade.
Skin, it is said, can be made from anything, and though one must go to Messrs. Mays for the genuine article, an amusing story may be cited. A short time ago a gentleman entered a bootmaker’s, and was fitted with a pair of “understandings.” On asking the price he was informed that it was 25s. “Rather steep, isn’t it?” he queried, with raised eyebrows. “Well, Sir,” said the shopman, “they are made of porpoise skin, you see.” “Oh!” he ejaculated, “they skin the poor paupers up at the workhouse now, do they?”
“The worth of that is that which it contains.”
But we have not yet got to the last of Messrs. Mays’ many businesses; it is a question if we ever shall. Crossing the river, and passing over a road cut by the enterprising firm into the Fen, we pay a visit to what our guide facetiously terms “the Peppermint Works.” 19 The manufacture of Chemical Manures is one of Messrs. Mays’ latest enterprises. It seems to be a natural correlary of the fellmongering trade, but has only been established four years, and remarkable success has attended it. For three years out of four, Messrs. Mays have taken Silver Medals for supplying the Manure for the Mangolds 20 which took first Prizes at the Deepings’ Foal and Root Show, being second in the fourth year, while this year the Specimen Champion Prize for the best nine Mangolds was taken by the aid of their Manures, as well as the Acreage Mangold Championship, so that they have been awarded both the Silver Medals offered by the Society, a feat of which they may well be proud, considering the keen competition which is always to be seen amongst growers and manufacturers alike at the Deeping Show.
Within a radius of ten miles of Deeping Church, there is some of the best root-growing soil in England, 21 but what can be done by the assistance of Artificial Manure is attested by the fact that Mr. George Frier, of Deeping St. Nicholas, obtained 65 tons 1 cwt. Per acre in 1905, when he took the Championship, and Messrs. Mays the Silver Medal! But all this is by-the-bye. We were aware of it before the present visit to the works, though we had no idea of their extent, or of the amazing way in which they have been extended in so marvellously short space of time. “It is the quality,” no doubt, as Shakespeare says; but we cannot say with Macbeth that it “Sweetly recommends itself,” though Othello would probably say it is a “Nourishing dish”; Hamlet that “We shall relish of it”; Henry VI. that it “Hath won greatest favour,” and after an inspection of the Factory one must agree with Gonzalo, in The Tempest, that “Here is everything advantageous to life.” 22 22
We have no intention here of giving a treatise on the principles upon which farm production is based, or on the value of nitrogenous manure. All realize that plants feed, and that just as the bodies of animals, including man, are built of materials found in the soil, the atmosphere and in water, so are the bodies of plants. The plant, either directly or indirectly, feeds the animal. Hence the dependence of the one kingdom on the other, for the waste or excreta of the animal returns to the soil, and after undergoing certain chemical and other changes, becomes food for plants. There is, however, not sufficient farm-yard manure to re-fertilize the land after the cropping has been taken off, and the art of the good farmer is to apply himself to the economical supplementing of the land’s own resources by means of well chosen artificial fertilizers. Without them the utmost skill will not ensure anything like the full result that should follow on the farmer’s thought and labour. High-farming, or good promptly-acting artificials, raises the condition of the land. Artificial fertilizers, in short, properly and abundantly used, increase and maintain the fertility of the farm, and it is to the rapidity of their action to which their effects are due.
Few have any idea of the great skill and care which is exercised in such a factory as Messrs. Mays’ to produce good reliable fertilizers. In fact, the work is carried on under the ægis of Parliament, and so important is the process of manufacture considered, that the Fertilizing and Feeding Stuffs Act of 1894 was passed to control it, and this has been strengthened by a subsequent Act. Having donned a pair of rubber top boots, we were conducted round the Works by Mr. Percy Mays and Mr. Blanchard, the manager. The illustrations, and some of the photographs, being taken by flashlight, alone convey an idea of the various processes, but a brief pen description is perhaps necessary.
It may be taken as a broad principle that Chemical Manures consist of Phosphates, Potash, Salts, and Nitrate of Soda, and a tour of Messrs. Mays’ Works shows how the combination is obtained, and the various processes passed through before the fertilizer reaches its finished state. The scientific way in which the process of manufacture is carried on is very interesting, and would surprise many of those who merely see the finished article in the shape of what looks like light congealed mud or dust. There is the unloading Store, where the carcases of slaughtered animals, bones and blood from the butchers, offal from the tan-yard in Eastgate, and slightly tainted fish from Grimsby are delivered, the latter at times being in great quantity, and consisting of all sorts of submarine monsters. The fish and the offal are then taken to the “cook house,” where they are placed in immense coppers with great furnaces under them, and boiled to remove the oil.
The more the oil is extracted the better is the manure, for the more rapid is its decomposition. Oil retards this, and is in itself useless as a manure, though it is a valuable commercial product. The fish, offal, blood and the shoddy from the tan-yard are then taken to the Mixing Department, and treated with sulphuric acid (oil of vitriol at a certain strength to fix the nitrogen and make the phosphates soluble. It is the dried with sulphate of lime (carbide of gypsum)—the acid has partly effected this—and mixed with bone and mineral phosphates, and sulphate of ammonia (nitrogen to bring it up to the required standard.
Under the provisions of the Fertilizers and Feeding Stuffs Act, every person who sells a fertilizer is required to furnish an invoice giving the name of such fertilizer, also stating whether it is artificially compounded or not, and giving the percentage of nitrogen, phosphates, and potash. The greatest care, therefore, has to be taken in the analysis of the different Manures Messrs. Mays supply, and sometimes they obtain two analyses before sending out their Manures.
Another interesting department is the Bone Crushing. There are three mills which grind the bones to different degrees of fineness, and they are driven by a steam engine, as shewn in the photograph. The bones are made soluble by being passed through sulphuric acid, and are in another room mixed with other constituents, and taken to the Sifting and Store Shed, where the different qualities are seen in mountainous heaps. The Manure is placed in sacks, being mostly like so much fine dust; and while Messrs. Mays’ vehicles deliver a good deal, dozens of farmer’s wagons may be seen loading up in February, which is the busy season.
It may be mentioned, as shewing the constituents of the various qualities, and their use for different crops, that the “No. 1. Manure” is specially prepared for the growth and development of Swedes, Turnips, Cole, Kale, Rape, &c.
It is a well-known fact that Turnips cannot be successfully grown without artificial assistance, and that Messrs. Mays produce the best of all fertilizers is attested by Mr. J. R. Bettinson, of Cottesmore, who won first prize for the best crop of 10 acres of Turnips in the County of Rutland, given by the Rutland Agricultural Society, as a result of using their manure.
The “No. 2. Manure” for Mangolds, &c., contains a large supply of organic nitrogen, derived from the chemically-dried blood and flesh, soluble and insoluble bone phosphates, and an ample supply of phosphoric acid and alkalies (potash and soda), for which Mangolds, Potatoes, Beans,, Celery, Cabbage, Sugar Beet, and general garden produce are very grateful. There is about 33 per cent. more nitrogen in this quality, and twice the quantity of potash, with less phosphates than is found in “No. 1” quality.
Here is the analysis of “No. 2 Manure”—
Organic Matter 40 to 50 percent.
Nitrogen 2 to 3 per cent., equal to Sulphate of Ammonia 8 to 12 per cent.
Soluble and insoluble Phosphates 9 to 10 per cent.
Potash 2.50 to 3 per cent., equal to Sulphate of Potash 4 to 6 per cent.
In the “no 3 Manure”
for Wheat, Barley Oats,
The “Compound Manure,” again is a special fertilizer, consisting of the bye-products from Fellmongering Yard, with bone and organic matter, phosphates, potash, and soda, and is suitable for most crops and land.
In this connection it may be mentioned that Messrs. Mays make a special feature of testing samples of soil from farmers in various parts of the country, and in informing them what elements they are lacking for plat life, Thus it is possible to easily solve the problem, whit troubles so many, of raising the quantities of nitrogen, phosphates, potash, and lime in the soil to the highest level, and maintaining them at that standard. Or by receiving a description of the soil, the previous crop grown, and the nature of that to follow, Messrs. Mays recommend the enquirer to the most beneficial fertilizer, or, in exceptional cases, prepare a special one for them. The members of the firm are practical men, and thoroughly understand their business, hence the public have confidence in them and respect for the quality of their products.
In going through their extensive Works we cannot but express wonder, especially considering the nature of the business, of the cleanliness and order observed, there being “a place for everything, and everything in its place,” while a more intelligent body of workmen—who all show their interest in the great business—it has never been our pleasure to meet.
Pages 36 and 37:—
Messrs. T. W. Mays & Sons’, Ltd.
Silver Medal Chemical Manures.
No. 1 Manure.—For Swedes, Turnips, Cole, Kale, Rape, &c.
Delivered, packed in 2 cwt. Bags, at nearest Railway Station, in 2 ton lots or more.
£4 5s. per ton.
3s. 6d. per ton allowance if fetched from the Works.
No. 2 Manure.—For Mangolds, Potatoes, Beans, Peas, Celery, Cabbage, Sugar beet, and General Garden Produce.
£5 10s. per ton.
Carriage paid, or 5s. per ton allowance for fetching same from Works.
3. Manure.—For Wheat, Barley, Oats,
£5 10s. per ton.
Carriage Paid, or 5s. allowance for fetching.
Compound Manure.—A Special Low-priced Fertilizer.
£3 5s. per ton.
Carriage Paid, or 3s. 6d. allowance for carting.
The Gardener and Florist’s Friend.—For all kinds of flowers, fruit and vegetables.
The Photographs of the Works, some of which had to be taken by flashlight, are by
Messrs. T. W. Mays & Sons, Ltd.
I have much pleasure in testifying to excellency of your Manures for Corn and Roots, and for both light and heavy lands.
H. B. Hurry,
Numerous other Testimonials on application.
This is a
thirty-eight page booklet presented with the compliments of T.W. Mays and Son.
It is un-dated but the writer announces himself as being a
member of the
6. ^ This was Leofric, Earl of Mercia, who died in 1057. His rivalry with the Saxon House of Godwin was a clear example of the Saxon-Anglian rivalry. By his time, there was a strong Danish element in it too.
7. ^ The man of this family who is associated with
8. ^ The re-fortification of the derelict castle was begun, almost certainly by the Parliamentarian side, in October 1645. The demolition is likely to have been pursued after its owners, the Cecil family came back into control, probably after 1660.
14. ^ This will have been a large, single-cylinder, stationary engine, probably fuelled by town gas, driving various machinery through a system of belts, pulleys and shafts. See Wikipedia. The town’s gas company was set up in 1840 (Birkbeck p98).
15. ^ This name seems to have nothing to do with the Mays business. A malting or maltings is a malt house, a building in which barley grain is spread out and encouraged to sprout so as to convert some of its substance into malt for the brewing of beer and other uses. The building in question here may have been erected for this purpose and later taken over for Mays’ work. The picture shows it as having extensive floor area and rather low headroom, as might be expected but it is alongside the 1781 navigation basin and has the appearance of that period. Perhaps it was intended that the barley should be brought in by water.
picture, the modern
20. ^ A variety of Beta vulgaris. A photograph can be seen at the end of the article. It is a root vegetable used as a fodder crop, in the early 20th century it was much used for feeding sheep in winter.
21. ^ It is marine silt, fluvial silt and glacial
silt. The glacial deposits were laid down in a fan, in the bottom of the proglacial