The Sunbury Leather Company Ltd, Addlestone, 1910

A Titanic Tale

In the archives of Surrey History Centre, Woking, is a rare photograph album for the Sunbury Leather Company Ltd of Addlestone which narrowly missed a watery fate aboard the infamous Titanic.

The album, dated c.1910, originally belonged to Stanley C Sutherland, who was born in Sunbury in 1890. He worked for the Sunbury Leather Company Ltd as a tanner in the early years of the Twentieth century before emigrating to America in 1912; originally he purchased a 2nd class ticket in April that year to travel aboard Titanic but he thankfully cashed in his ticket to travel later in the season! Stanley eventually emigrated in October 1912, taking this album with him and arriving safely. Stanley then worked for the Eagle Ottawa Leather Company, Michigan, for over 40 years and retired in 1955.

The album holds contemporary interior photographs of the factory premises, all vital for understanding the nature of the company’s work. The photographs show workmen’s attire, tools of the trade, and even risque postcards on the workshop walls! A maze of belt-driven machinery and the huge engine to power it are also captured on camera.

Situated close to the River Bourne, the original buildings occupied by the Sunbury Leather Company Ltd had been erected by the Addlestone Linoleum Company in the late 1870s.  However, by 1904, the factory had been turned over to the production of fancy leather goods. In the 1905 Kellys Directory of Surrey, the Sunbury Leather Co. Ltd are listed as ‘manufacturers of hides, Moroccos, roans, pigskins, skivers etc’. After fluctuating trade and changing ownership, wartime eventually took its toll and manufacturing on the site ceased in 1946.

Accompanying the album are Stanley Sutherlands technical notes and recipes relating to the tanning and dyeing processes that he learned during his employment at Addlestone, making this an unusually complete and detailed industrial record.

Washing, dyeing and setting skins (SHC Ref. 8015/1/p.3)

Washing, dyeing and setting skins (SHC Ref. 8015/1/p.3)

Glassing (glazing) the hides (SHC Ref. 8015/1/p.5)

Glassing (glazing) the hides (SHC Ref. 8015/1/p.5)

Photograph showing the Sutherland family, including Stanley, outside the family home (?Ashgrove), Sunbury. The chimneys of the PIM Board Company Ltd (owned by Daniel Sutherland) are in the background, c.1910 (SHC Ref. 8015/2/4)

Photograph showing the Sutherland family, including Stanley, outside the family home (?Ashgrove), Sunbury. The chimneys of the PIM Board Company Ltd (owned by Daniel Sutherland) are in the background, c.1910 (SHC Ref. 8015/2/4)

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Photograph showing Stanley C Sutherland in tanning apron standing next to pile of tanned hides, taken at the Sunbury Leather Company, Alexandra Road, Addlestone, c.1912. (SHC Ref. 8015/2/5)

Photograph showing Stanley C Sutherland in tanning apron standing next to pile of tanned hides, taken at the Sunbury Leather Company, Alexandra Road, Addlestone, c.1912. (SHC Ref. 8015/2/5)

One thought on “The Sunbury Leather Company Ltd, Addlestone, 1910”

  1. Raymond Manning says:

    Hello,
    Does anyone know of a John Manning Knight or his descendents – formerly of Elmside, Green Street. Sunbury On Thames.
    I would like to try and make contact. John had a leather business which he sold to Arnold Wills in 1949 and was a keen Beekeeper too.
    I was an old family friend and could share memories with these.

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