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Wilkinson Sword
Type Manufacture
Founded 1772
Headquarters High Wycombe, England

Wilkinson Sword is a brand name for companies that make gardening tools and razors. Wilkinson Sword's origins are in the manufacture of swords. The company was founded in London in 1772. The brand is currently owned by Energizer Holdings. Past product lines have included guns, bayonets, and other objects such as typewriters, garden shears, scissors, and motorcycles.[1] Wilkinson Sword has manufactured its products in three UK locations over the years: in London, (Chelsea and Acton), Cramlington in Northumberland and Bridgend in Wales, where they made gardening tools. In 2000 it closed its razor plant in the UK and consolidated production in Germany.

Contents

Motorcycle production

Wilkinson TMC 850cc

Wilkinson Sword produced some of the earliest motorcycles in 1903. These were two cylinder machines with French engines made by Antoine, which were marketed by a garage in Chelsea in London - one of the first motorcycle dealerships in the UK. The venture was not a success however.[2] In 1911 Wilkinson developed and manufactured the Wilkinson TMC, a luxury touring motorcycle between 1911 and 1916, when production was stopped by the first World War.[3] The first 'Wilkinsons' were originally designed for military reconnaissance by P G Tacchi, who was granted a patent for the design in 1908.[4] Demonstrated to the British military in the Summer of 1908, the Wilkinson motorcycle failed to impress the authorities, despite optional accessories including a sidecar complete with Maxim machine gun - and a steering wheel instead of handlebars.[5] Undaunted, the company continued development and exhibited a new version a year later at the Stanley Clyde Motorcycle Show at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, London in 1909. [6] Only about 250 Wilkinsons were produced before the First World War restrictions brought the line to its end in the Spring of 1916 and the Wilkinson company had to produce thousands of bayonets for the war effort. After the war they decided to continue to develop the in-line four engine - but in a new car called the 'Deemster' and they never returned to motorcycle production.[3]

Merger to form: Wilkinson Match

In 1973 Wilkinson Sword merged with The British Match Corporation to form a new company Wilkinson Match.[7] This was intended to create a bigger company, with a bigger advertising budget, to enable the company to fight its American rival in the consumer shaving market: The Gillette Company; and its British subsidiary, Gillette. In this advertising war, Wilkinson Sword made full use of its long and proud tradition of sword making in its television commercials.

Wilkinson Match was then bought by an American company Allegheny Ludlum, from Pittsburgh, who later became bankrupt. Wilkinson Match was then at various times owned by a Scandinavian maker of floor coverings, various banks; and a subsidiary of Volvo. Most of the former Bryant and May half of Wilkinson Match was closed down or sold off in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including the Bryant and May Factory, Bow and the Bryant and May Factory, Melbourne. The gardening tools division was sold to Fiskars in the 1990s. Wilkinson Match's rival Gillette is also no longer independent, with Gillette having been acquired by Procter and Gamble in 2005.

One notable former subsidiary is Sunn Classic Pictures. The company produced several films and television series, such as The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams. The company was sold to Taft Broadcasting in the early 1980s, with its library incorporated into Worldvision Enterprises. Worldvision was in turn sold to Spelling Entertainment in 1991, and merged with Republic Pictures in 1994. Today, Paramount Pictures has theatrical rights to the films, Lions Gate Entertainment has video rights to the films, Paramount/CBS DVD has video rights to the TV series, CBS Television Distribution has TV rights to the TV library, and Trifecta Entertainment & Media has TV rights to the theatrical library.

Wilkinson Sword today

Shaving products

The company is owned by Energizer Holdings who bought the Company from Pfizer in 2003. The company produces a four-blade razor that is marketed under the Wilkinson Sword brand in Europe and the Schick brand in North America and Australia. The Wilkinson Sword-branded razors are made in Germany.[8]

Gardening tools

The gardening tools company is owned by Finnish-American company Fiskars Brands and is based in Bridgend, Wales.

Disposal of the sword business

The Acton sword factory closed, and sword production ceased, as of 15 September 2005. Most of the Wilkinson Sword machinery, tools and equipment was purchased by the oldest, producing sword factory in the world, WKC (Weyersberg, Kirschbaum & Cie) of Solingen, Germany. Amongst these items were most of the current British MOD Pattern Sword and Scabbard tools as well as the original blade roll forge of Wilkinson. These are currently used to produce ceremonial swords and scabbards for military and police forces worldwide.

Robert Pooley purchased sword drawings and forging machinery from Wilkinson Sword and sent them to India. He then set up his own company Pooley Sword which finishes and engraves swords forged in India.

References

  1. ^ "Company History". http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/Wilkinson-Sword-Ltd-Company-History.html. Retrieved 2009-01-25.  
  2. ^ De Cet, Mirco (2005). Quentin Daniel. ed (in English). The Complete Encyclopedia of Classic Motorcycles. Rebo International. ISBN 13: 978-90-366-1497-9.  
  3. ^ a b Currie, Bob (1988). Classic British Motorcycles of over 500cc. Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-85260-083-7.  
  4. ^ "1912 Wilkinson-TMC 848cc 4 Cylinder Touring Motorcycle". http://www.motorbike-search-engine.co.uk/classic_bikes/1912_wilkinson.html. Retrieved 2009-01-26.  
  5. ^ Brooks, John (2000). The National Motorcycle Museum. Jarrold Publishing.  
  6. ^ "Stanley Clyde Show". http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=P19100301.2.9.3&l=mi&e=-------10--1----0-all. Retrieved 2009-01-25.  
  7. ^ *Company history
  8. ^ Transfer of production to Germany

External links








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