The Beginning

The firm of Messenger & Co., was formed at the beginning of 1875 when the co-partnership of Walter Chapman Burder and Alfred Adolphus Bumpus purchased the horticultural building and hot water heating business of Thomas Goode Messenger.

Thomas Goode Messenger was born at Ratcliffe-on-the-Wreake, Leicestershire in 1828. He subsequently moved to Loughborough and worked for his uncle, Joseph Gains[1] who ran a plumbing and glazing business. A few years after his uncle’s death in 1850, Thomas Messenger was running the business[2], which he continued to do for over twenty years. He began the process of building up the business by encompassing plumbing and gas fitting trades before expanding into hot-water heating and finally horticultural buildings. He was responsible for all the early hot-water heating and finally horticultural buildings inventions and designs that allowed Messenger & Co. to become the success that it was. Walter Burder and Alfred Bumpus essentially bought a profitable going concern, taking on all the workers, the materials, machinery, designs, clients, outstanding orders, the factory site, timber store and several of Thomas Messenger’s patents.

Messenger & Co.’s High Street Works, Loughborough, 1883-4 Town Map

In 1875, the factory was situated behind No. 24, High Street. Loughborough. eith the yard running back from the ‘backyards’ of the High Street properties reaching to the Police Court on Town Hall Passage (See Figure 1). This elongated plot, with access off the High Street, ran parallel with Wood Gate and essentially occupied the site now inhabited by the raised portion of Ramada Hotel.

By the time that he disposed of the horticultural and heating business, Thomas Messenger had already spun off the glazing and gas fitting business, by going into partnership with John Perkins. The firm, known as Messenger & Perkins, also operated from behind No. 24, High Street, sharing part of the site occupied by Thomas Messenger’s other businesses.

 

 

Whilst the date of transfer of ownership to Walter Burder and Alfred Bumpus was officially 1st January 1875, the legal paperwork for the sale was not formally signed until 10th August 1875. The transfer was announced in the Loughborough Advertiser and Independent Journal, on 7th and 14th January: –

MIDLAND HORTICULTURAL WORKS
Loughborough Jan: 1, 1875
T.G. MESSENGER

HAS pleasure in informing his friends that in consequence of the continued increase of the business as a General Horticultural Builder and Hot Water Engineer, arrangements have been made by which, in order to provide adequately increased supervision and to extend the facilities for supplying the very liberal demand of his patrons, the business will in future be carried on under the style of “MESSENGER & COMPANY” by whom the existing contracts will be carried out. All amounts due to or from him will also be received and paid by the Company.

T.G. MESSENGER takes this opportunity of thanking his friends for their very extensive favours kindly bestowed upon him during the past twenty years, and to solicit on behalf of the new Firm a continuance of their patronage, having confidence that, with the arrangements now made, the fullest satisfaction will be given.

_________

MIDLAND HORTICULTURAL WORKS
Loughborough Jan: 1, 1875

In taking to the above Business, MESSENGER AND COMPANY beg to assure the Nobility, Gentry, Nurserymen, and public generally that it will be their endeavour, by faithfully carrying out all contracts entrusted to them, and at the most moderate rates consistent with the use of the best materials and workmanship, to merit an increased patronage; and they trust by the present extension of the Firm, the interest and services of T.G. Messenger being retained in the business, – to increase the attention given to all departments, and consequently to insure even greater efficiency, and more rapid execution of works undertaken.

P.S. – Please address all letters, “Messenger and Company.”

Sale Agreement

The co-partnership paid Thomas Messenger £4,099 3s. 9d. for “the stock in trade and effects capable of passing by delivery”, including “goods wares timber merchandize stock in trade machinery and implements of manufacture and trade fixtures furniture articles effects matters and things”[3]. The co-partnership also paid £1,455 for “the articles and things not capable of passing by delivery”[4].

The sale agreement included allowance for Thomas Messenger to be paid (allowing for material, labour, and other materials) for the work-in-progress at the time of the sale[5]. Any resulting disagreement regarding the monetary amount was to be resolved by arbitration[6].

The agreement contained a list of 42 in progress contracts, for which Thomas Messenger was paid £400 up front as part payment, in addition to one third of the net profits. Also included was a clause whereby the new partnership was liable to any claims, compensation, etc., brought by existing customers.

The sale placed restrictions on the type of work that Thomas Messenger could engage in, in the future. He was not allowed to be involved with or allow his name to be used in connection with any horticultural building or hot water engineering work, within three hundred miles of Loughborough Town Hall. However, the agreement permitted him to continue his involvement “to make and sell valves and pipes and connexions for metal or Indian Rubber tubes according to his present patents[7]. However, he was not permitted to directly or indirectly connect these valves to any pipe work, boilers, etc., without the prior agreement of the new owners. Thus, he could continue to manufacture the valves but had to sell them on to a third party to install them. For which the new owners paid £5,000, together with an interest rate of 5 pounds per cent per annum, by instalments of not less than £400 per annum, beginning on 1st January 1875 and thereon each January 1st. This was dependent upon the new Company achieving an annual net profit of more than £1,200[8], otherwise alternative arrangements would come into force.

Thomas Messenger agreed to provide management consultancy to the new partnership, for a re-numeration of £200 in the first year and £100 in the second, exclusive of travelling and personal expenses. If, within the first two years, the partnership decided that they no longer required his services they could terminate the consultancy with three months’ notice.

W. C. Burder and A. A. Bumpus Partnership

The partnership between the two was set-up specifically to purchase Thomas Messenger’s business as a going concern.

Walter Chapman Burder, the son of Rev. Alfred Burder, vicar of Oakley, Essex, was born in 1848 at Islington Middlesex. He was apprenticed into the engineering trade and before coming to Loughborough in 1875, worked at Erith, Kent, for the Eastern Engineering Co. At the time, he set-up the new business partnership he was residing with his parents at Park Dale[9], Battle, Sussex.

 

Walter Chapman Burder

Alfred Bumpus, was the fourth son of Thomas Bumpus of Daventry, Northamptonshire, and born at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1851. At the time of forming the partnership he was living in Loughborough and had been working for Thomas Messenger for a couple of years, possibly in the accounts department.

 

Alfred Adolphus Bumpus

The partnership agreement[10] was signed on the 10th August, 1875 and was to run from the 1st January, 1875 for an initial period of twenty-one years with the option to renew.

They were equal partners, meaning that most decisions had to be made jointly, including being able to “take any apprentice or hire or dismiss any clerk traveller workmen and servant in the business” Neither partner could undertake any other external activities unless it was to the benefit of the partnership.

The partnership’s joint capital was £10,054 3s. 9d. equivalent to the amount paid by the partners for the business, with an additional sum of £2,000 employed by both partners in the business. Allowance was made in the partnership agreement to increase the size of the capital, if required, allowing for an interest of five pounds per cent per annum to be paid to each partner. Any (net) profits that the firm made were to be shared equally between the two partners; however, if the firm made a loss the two partners were jointly responsible for making right the loss. In the first few years of the partnership, any profits were to be paid by equal quarterly payments on 25th March, 24th June, 29th September and 25th December, was limited to five hundred pounds. In subsequent years one third of profits were to be paid out quarterly with a final reconciliation, including any repayments, made at year end. Each year on 31st December full and auditable accounts for the business were to be made up and approved by the partners. Allowance was also made for in the agreement, in the event of one of partners passing away.

 

Messenger & Co.’s Sparrow Hill Timber Yard, Loughborough, 1883-4 Town Map

High Street and Sparrow Hill Leases

The partnership also took both the High Street factory and the Sparrow Hill wood storage site, on a 21-year lease. The joint annual rent was £180 per annum[11]; £150 for the High Street factory and £30 for Sparrow Hill; payable half yearly in advance on 1st January and 1st July.

The lease included a clause for ensuring that the two sites were kept under good repair; with Thomas Messenger being allowed to examine them twice yearly; with the partnership having to make good within three months. The lease contained a clause, in which, the new partnership was responsible for insuring both the High Street and Sparrow Hill sites to the value of £1,870 and £460 respectively. The lease named several approved insurers, including The Sun Fire Office, The Norwich Equitable, The Queens’ Insurance and Staffordshire Fire Insurance Company but also allowed any other at Thomas Messenger’s choosing. Money received from any subsequent claim was only to be used for rectifying the damage and not enhancing any of the facilities.

New Direction?

Whether it was the intention of the new partnership to move the business in a new direction is not clear. In September 1875, the new firm’s advertisement in the local newspaper[12] was extraordinary low key and out of character with earlier advertisements.

MESSENGER & COMPY.,
ENGINEERS, LOUGHBOROUGH

UNDERTAKE repairs to Portable and Stationary Engines, Agricultural Implements, and Machinery of every description. Factories, &C., fitted with Shafting.

As it appeared in the local press it may well have been used as a tactic to determine whether there was an unfulfilled market for a general locally-based engineering repair and factory fit-up concern. The outcome appears not to have been a successful venture, as no further such adverts were forthcoming.

National Advertising Campaigns

Nationally, they appear to have continued using Thomas Messenger’s advertising campaigns, simply changing the name from T.G. Messenger to Messenger & Co. However, this didn’t always go smoothly for in the first quarter of 1875 advertisements appeared in The Gardeners’ Chronicle which referred to T.G. Messenger & Co. This was presumably a mistake, unless at the time it the intention was to call the new company T.G. Messenger & Co., although this seems very unlikely in the light of Thomas Messenger’s other business interests. Therefore, it was presumably an unfortunate mistake.

At the time of the sale Thomas Messenger was running two advertising campaigns in The Gardeners’ Chronicle, one for his horticultural buildings, boilers, hot water engineering, flexible hot-water pipes and valves[13]; the other specifically for his patented flexible jointed hot-water pipes[14]. The new partnership continued with these advertisements until the time when they signed the legal transfer, following which they stopped and Thomas Messenger began advertising[15] both his patent valves and elastic jointed pipes. Also from this time the new partnership, in addition to advertising horticultural buildings, started advertising Thomas Messenger’s patent tubular boiler, the rights having been sold to them as part of the deal. The advertisement claimed the boiler, patented in 1856, had already exceeded 3,000 sales[16].

Unsurprisingly the firm’s records for the 2¾ years[17] following the change of ownership show there was little overall difference in the number of customers, their geographical spread, the types of products or product combinations purchased. The orders for horticultural only products for 1875 and 1877 showed increases over the previous years, whilst that for horticultural heating was conversely lower. Those requesting a combination of horticultural products and accompanying heating (with or without boilers) accounted for between forty and fifty per content of the overall orders. Non-horticultural heating accounts for a little less than ten per cent of all sales.

It appears that the new owners did not, at least in the early years, radically change the approach or structure of the business. They continued to exhibit at local shows; in 1877 they attended the annual Loughborough Floral and Horticultural Society Show, where they displayed “some of their plain and ornamental greenhouses, vineries, &c.[18]; the following year at the Leicester Floral and Horticultural Show[19].

Change of Partners

The partnership between Walter Burder and Alfred Bumpus lasted a little over four years. In August 1879[20], Alfred Bumpus’ shares being transferred to architect Alfred William Newsom Burder, Walter’s brother.

The transfer was recorded in the London Gazette of 22nd August, 1879: –

NOTICE is hereby given, that the Partnership heretofore existing between us the undersigned, Walter Chapman Border and Alfred Adolphus Bumpus, carrying on business at Loughborough, in the county of Leicester, as Horticultural Builders and Hot Water Engineers, under the style of firm of Messenger and Company, has this day been dissolved, by mutual consent, as from the 31st day of May last. The business will in future be carried on by the said Walter C. Chapman Burder and by Alfred William Newsom Burder, – under the same style or firm, who will pay all debts owing from the said partnership.—As witness our hands this 7th day of August, 1879.

A. A. Bumpus.
Walter C. Burder.

It appears from the Indenture[21] that Alfred Burder was living in Loughborough and already involved in the business in one role or another. The indenture indicates that Alfred Bumpus who was in his early thirties was ‘retiring’ from the business.

By 1881, the firm was employing 65 men and 10 boys, which appear to be significantly less than the 120 hands reported in 1872[22].


References:

  1. Joseph married Thomas’ mother’s sister, Elizabeth Hobill Goode in 1829.
  2. Melville & Co.’s Directory & Gazetteer of Leicestershire, 1854.
  3. Indenture – Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/257.
  4. Indenture – Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/257.
  5. Formally 1st January 1875.
  6. Indenture – Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/257.
  7. Assignment of Goodwill, Stock in Trade and of a business of Horticultural Builder from T.G. Messenger to W.C. Burder and another – Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/257.
  8. A third of which equates to the £400, the amount to be paid to Thomas Messenger.
  9. The 17th century house is now converted into ‘The Powder Mills Hotel’, set in 200 acres. Originally the site of a famous Gunpowder Works, reputed to have made the finest gunpowder in Europe during Napoleonic Wars.
  10. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/255.
  11. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/256.
  12. Loughborough Monitor and News, 16th September, 1875.
  13. The Gardeners’ Chronicle, 17th January 1874.
  14. The Gardeners’ Chronicle, 17th January 1874.
  15. The Gardeners’ Chronicle Volume 4, 28th August 1875.
  16. The Gardeners’ Chronicle Volume 4, 14th August 1875.
  17. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/42 and DE2121/43.
  18. Nottinghamshire Guardian, 27th July 1877.
  19. The Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury, 27th July 1878.
  20. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/258 – Deed of dissolution of partnership.
  21. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/257.
  22. The Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury, 21st December, 1872.