In 1837 Ernie Hyde, a jeweller, established the company originally called Hyde & Co., manufacturing Jewellery utilising a tool shop and a machine shop. When Mr Hyde retired in 1927 the company was bought out by the then manager of the business, Ray Eccleston and another Jeweller, Joseph Hart (an established 3rd generation businessman). The name of the business was then changed to Eccleston and Hart.
During both the First and Second World Wars the company, specifically the tool shop (which had been producing dies for casting and stamping jewellery), was involved in the manufacture of fuses. Also during the Second World War several useful items were made at the tool shop including an aircraft de-icer device for the RAF, which was first used in September 1939.
After the War, Ray Eccleston’s two sons Ian and Don joined the business – Ian involved in the engineering and Don involved in the jewellery business. The company became Limited in 1959.
The jewellery business had been innovative for many years and produced the first expanding bracelet called ‘The Triumph’. The engineering division was involved in the first CV (Constant Velocity) joints for the prototype Mini back in the 1950s and produced racing brake discs for Girling and Aston Martin. At this point the company also produced fork lift truck axles for Boss Trucks.
In 1962, as the company evolved, Eccleston and Hart Limited, under licence, produced the first Buchman Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) moulding machines. As the company expanded naturally larger premises were required and the move was made to Legge Lane in 1964.
The company then diversified and began moulding EPS products as well as conversion, fabrication and cutting – new skills were trialled and developed as this new element to the business evolved.
In 1980, Ian’s son Mike joined the company and developed a new product for the engineering division in the form of an electronic power supply, specifically, uninterruptable power supplies for computer systems and also produced DC/AC inverters.
Soon, more space was needed as the company expanded new premises in Lichfield Road, Aston were bought in 1989. With the electronic and engineering division evolving and making use of new technology hot wire cutting machines were manufactured. One of the next innovations was the design, development and production of a CAD/CAM Expanded Polystyrene cutting machine with the ability to use Windows files and even the vectorisation of scanned images.
Next came the world’s first Multiple Axis (6 axis), multiple wire CAD/CAM Expanded Polystyrene profiler, with the ability to produce different shapes on either side of the machine, for example square to round, making it possible to create more complex shapes without moulding. Eccleston and Hart Ltd soon became the main supplier of EPS cutting machines in the United Kingdom.
In March 2001, the company decided to produce its own EPS material and invested in a 5m x 1.25m x 0.65m block mould plant. To accommodate this expansion factory premises at 780 Kingsbury Road was bought and the transformation of the site began, taking three years to complete.
The company acquired the property next door at 794 Kingsbury Road to increase production space and to accommodate an oscillating wire cutting line to enable the production of Polystyrene (EPS) Sheet. During an extraordinarily trying transition for the company, devastation struck on Saturday 19th June 2004 when a fire caused complete destruction of the main factory premises at 780 Kingsbury Road. Three juveniles were arrested for arson, but were never prosecuted.
Everybody at the company was, understandably, in shock and the devastation to the business was an extremely difficult situation to overcome. With determination and hard work, the company and its staff endeavoured to rebuild the business. With the premises at 794 Kingsbury Road undamaged by the fire and although inadequate for the needs of the business, a cutting line was put in place (a loan machine from business partners Airpacks Limited, in Ireland), the company, along with its committed workforce had a starting point.
Through sheer determination, resolve and engineering expertise the CNC machines were rebuilt within six months of the fire. Replacement of the factory premises however, was much more challenging and fraught with problems – the plans to rebuild on the site were taking so long that the decision was made to move elsewhere – 804 Kingsbury Road – a property that needed extensive works before the move in June 2005.
Two years later, with a new Block Mould Plant and all the other machinery in place, the company was finally functioning again and continuing to improve and develop the facilities. A much-needed extension on the rear of the building was completed in July 2007 providing extra space. New business and developments have been ongoing with the production of SuperthemEPS and other grades in development.
The WebShop was opened in 2008 and Eccleston and Hart Ltd was the first Polystyrene manufacturer to do so and it has proved to be a growing success since then. The business has continued to evolve and develop, the customers new and old, large and small, are hugely diverse. The company is proud to supply some of the film industry, the creativity employed behind the scenes is extraordinary.
In 2013, the Chairman, Ian Eccleston, after almost 70 years in the business and due to ill health, took his well overdue retirement, though he still liked to keep abreast of things occasionally!
Michael Eccleston continues very successfully, with greater effect and efficiency to manage the company. High ethics, high quality of materials and products together with excellent customer service are his mandate which has led to a strong, experienced and enthusiastic team.
In 2015 the company acquired the building adjacent at 802 Kingsbury Road. Although a proportion of the building is let to a small number of tenants, the company now has a very large extra storage facility for products, enabling a faster service for customers, particularly with Bead for Bean Bags.
The WebShop had a facelift in 2016, adding more products available to order and becoming mobile user friendly.
With Brexit approaching and the changes that may affect us potentially being far reaching, we go forward in the hope of continued success for ourselves, our customers and our suppliers. Our aim continues as always, to provide an excellent service for our customers.
Sadly, on 23rd February 2017 our Chairman, Ian Eccleston passed away at the great age of 92. He had given an amazing 68 years of service to the company – he will be greatly missed and his legacy lives on.