William Sugg & Co
1837 - 1969
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Welcome to the William Sugg Web site!
Hello, my name is Chris Sugg and I am attempting to secure the history of a family company called William Sugg & Co through the posting of as much data as possible that I, my Father and previous family members before, have collected over several lifetimes of interest in the business!
Founded in 1837 by William Sugg, it was doubtless his father, Thomas, who inspired William to start a company - as grandson William Thomas stated in a lecture, subsequently printed, to the Liverpool Institute on April 23rd 1887:
"The great Gas Industry, (which) made its public appearance in my
grandfather's time, on the 21st January, 1807, when Pall Mall was lighted
with gas, and he made the first gas pipes, and fitted Carlton House, has
grown etc .............."
In June 2007 Westminster City Council agreed to mark the bicentenary of the "World's First Demonstration of Street Lighting by Coal Gas from a Retort Located Here" by the provision of a Green Plaque, so worded, mounted on the wall at 100 Pall Mall, London, the nearest position to the original location. The picture shows 'unveiling in the rain' by the Deputy Lord Mayor and the President of the Institution of Gas Engineers.
William Sugg & Co has a long and illustrious history in the Gas Industry of the United Kingdom. With offices and sales of gas lighting in many parts of the world, particularly during the last quarter of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century, there are many enthusiasts and collectors of Sugg products who I hope may benefit from knowing a little more about both the products that they may have collected, the enormous range of gas and related equipment that the Company produced, and the background and history of a Company that has its origins at the very beginning of a modern industry.
As far as I am aware, the only previous attempt at the history of the company was made in 1937 for the centenary of the founding. The booklet, complete with silk ties as shown above, was produced for the occasion outlining the major steps in the development of the Company. Several pages from this document are reproduced within this site. Obviously the development of the Company from 1937 onwards was dictated by many things, not least of which was the decline of gas lighting which had been the mainstay of the Company since its inception. How the Company finally embraced the 20th century in its new factory in Crawley is all part of the story which I shall attempt to unravel.
Although William Sugg & Co. Ltd was subject to an unwelcome takeover in 1969, a group of ex Wm.Sugg employees with Chris Sugg and Keith Bouracier at the helm started a new company in 1973 which in due course became Sugg Lighting Ltd. The heating products of William Sugg & Co. Ltd. having been absorbed into another company following the takeover, the once famous name now lies as a moribund company unused on a shelf.
Sugg Lighting Ltd, however, manufacture both gas and electric lighting equipment with a strong flavour of the past and the eye-catching open flame "flambeaux". In 2008 Sugg Lighting Ltd was awarded a Royal Warrant as a "Heritage Lighting Manufacturer and Refurbishment Specialist". Their website and contact information is included in the Contacts section.
Chris Sugg independently offers from his retired position a super-specialist service in interior gas lighting fixtures, spares including glassware and advice and assistance on all matters Sugg! See Contacts.
The site is split into a number of sections built around product groups which are then split further into individual products or even further groups. During the development of the site there may well be sections that carry only an introduction as this is an enormous task! However, do not let this prevent you from enquiring should you have a specific question on a 'thin' section.
Finally, I would like to add that the vast majority of documents, illustrations and pictures used on this site are from my own collection. Literally hundreds of pictures from this collection have been scanned professionally at very high resolution for the Gas Industry Archive through the auspices of John Horne for the future enjoyment, historical interest and for researchers in the future. Some items that I have included have been photographed when a collector has brought them along or even sent a picture and I apologise if I have not recorded the source. The source of independent articles that may have been quoted are given where known and my grateful thanks go to many people and any unspecified sources that help to make up this unusual history of a Company that helped to form the world we live in.
'History' section provides a sequential
story of the people and the business whilst the huge range of products
are split separately into 'Lighting',
'Cooking' and 'Heating' and a 'Technical'
section that covers gas control, carrying, measurement and testing
equipment - and anything else that doesn't fit in the obvious sections!
This last comment has now come true! In order to assist the reader in finding something relevant or of interest to their particular search I have started a section called 'Thumbnails' which, as the name implies, carries thumbnails of all the pictures on the site collected into the groups in which they are used. Thus, if you have a query about 'lighting' for instance, you can review all the pictures within this huge group without having to wind up and down many pages of full size text and pictures.
Back in 1979 my father, P. Crawford Sugg B.Sc.(Eng.),A.C.G.I.,C.Eng.,F.I.Gas E.,F.C.I.B.S., Honorary Secretary, The Institution of Gas Engineers, presented a paper to the 116th Annual General Meeting under the title of "Using gas, yesterday and tomorrow". Whilst this website is dedicated to providing Sugg specific information, the paper provided an overview of gas 'utilisation' indicating and illustrating the steady improvement in manufacture and design achieved by the British gas appliance and equipment makers during the last fifty years (from 1979) in all significant aspects of gas utilisation. Thus his paper provides an important chronological history of both appliances and manufacturers, peppered liberally of course, with the achievements of William Sugg & Co in this context. For anyone interested in the history of the Gas Industry this is an invaluable reference and, with the agreement of the Institution I have been given the opportunity to quote liberally from it as a means of disseminating the information more widely and of course filling in details for many aspects of the history of William Sugg & Co which are within this website. This paper is included as a separate section under the heading 'Gas Utilisation'.
A new section entitled 'Brassware' has been added for 2013. The Company made tens of thousands of brass components and this section describes this important aspect of the business.
For the same year, 2013, another new section 'Location Pictures' has been added to provide a space for pictures that either don't fit anywhere obvious or are additional to ones already in a particular section. If they are additional they are given a hyperlink back to the relevant section. All the pictures have also been added to the 'Thumbnails' section in the order used as before. There are currently 614 pictures on the whole site!
A few sayings about light which William Sugg would doubtless have appreciated:
"Light is the
most beautiful of materials, it connects us to the natural world, as
this world becomes more artificial its purity becomes even more
"The existence of light allows us to walk along the tightrope between translucency and transparency" Nicholas Grimshaw
"All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish a candle" Anon
objects existence as objects and connects space and form"
"Shadows are holes in light. An enlightened environment is what we all seek, politically, economically and physically" Ian Ritchie
Enjoy Your Visit
and do let me have any practical feedback.
See 'Contacts' for my email address.