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Letchford Lucifer Match Company

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Letchford Lucifer Match Company

Post by Karen on Wed 23 Oct 2013 - 16:53

I just found in a Welsh newspaper the following information regarding the LUCIFER match factory, which was owned by Messrs. Letchford.

EXPLOSION AT A LUCIFER-MATCH MANUFACTORY.

On Wednesday afternoon, between twelve and one o'clock, an explosion took place at the patent Lucifer-match manufactory of Messrs. Letchford and Company, Camden's-gardens, Three-colt-lane, Bethnal-green, within a few yards of the Mile-end station of the Eastern Counties Railway. It appears that there were a number of men and boys engaged in the dipping-room, where there was a large boiler used in drying the goods which were lying in the several compartments of the building, and at the time above named a loud explosion took place, blowing off the roof and sides of the room, and burying four men in the debris. Several police-constables and labourers, who were near the spot, soon set to work, and with the aid of shovels they dug out of the ruins a man named Thomas Ridley, aged twenty-two years, one of the mechanics, who had a lacerated scalp fracture of the skull, and external injury to the legs and body. George Killett, aged twenty-one years, was next found, also with scalp wounds, and contusions over the body and limbs. The injured men were conveyed to the London Hospital, where they now lie. Three other men and boys were also more or less injured.

Source: Cardiff Times, 25 July 1862, Page 3

As you may or may not know, Jack the Ripper wrote a threatening letter about the Bryant and May match-girls, who went out on strike just before the Ripper murders occurred. Here is the reference to that:

"The following may be taken as samples of the many letters concerning which rumours were current on Saturday. Intimation was given to the City police on Saturday morning that Messrs. Bryant and May had received a letter from a person signing himself J. Ripper, couched in the following terms: "I hereby notify that I am going to pay your girls a visit. I hear that they are beginning to say what they will do with me. I am going to see what a few of them have in their stomachs, and I will take it out of them, so they can have no more to do on the quiet. (Signed) John Ripper. P.S. I am in Poplar today." The following postal telegram was received by the Metropolitan police at 11.55 p.m. Friday night. It was handed in at an office in the Eastern district at 8 p.m.:"

"Charles Warren, head of the Police News, Central Office - Dear Boss, if you are willing enough to catch me I am now in the City road lodging, but number you will have to find out, and I mean to do another murder tonight in Whitechapel. Yours, Jack the Ripper."

Sources: Daily News
United Kingdom
8 October 1888
and
Casebook: Jack the Ripper


Last edited by Karen on Thu 24 Oct 2013 - 19:40; edited 2 times in total

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Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"
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Re: Letchford Lucifer Match Company

Post by Karen on Wed 23 Oct 2013 - 18:03

Here are a few advertisements from the various businesses held in the name of Letchford (Lucifer match company, grocer, and publisher of music sheet covers and piano forte makers). I find them all interesting for the following reasons:

- Lucifer match company because of its relationship to the Bryant and May match girls strike of 1888
- Grocer because of its possible connection to Matthew Packer (maybe they knew each other)
- Publisher of music sheet covers because of its particular connection to music halls (Mary Jane Kelly singing)



Source: Cardiff Times, 25 July 1862, Page 2



Source: Cardiff Times, 22 June 1867, Page 2



Source: Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian, Glamorgan, Monmouth, and Brecon Gazette, 24 December 1853, Page 2



Music sheet cover
'Farewell to the Exhibition'
Published by Jewell and Letchford
1851
Crystal Palace, London
Museum no. S.201-2012
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This music sheet depicts Ferdinand Sommer playing his 'Sommerphone' before Prince Albert and Queen Victoria at the closure of the Great Exhibition on 14 October 1851. The Sommerphone, named after its inventor in 1843, was the name given to the euphonium, a brass instrument used in American marching bands. 'Euphonium' is a name derived from the Greek meaning 'sweet voiced' and the instrument performs very well on low registers. The Great Exhibition was held at the purpose built Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London. It contained 13,000 exhibits celebrating the industrial revolution and the British Empire including looms, kitchen appliances and even an envelope machine. There were concerts and circus performances held in the central transept, and the tightrope walker Blondin even walked across the central transept on a tightrope pushing his daughter in a wheelbarrow.

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Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"
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Re: Letchford Lucifer Match Company

Post by Karen on Wed 23 Oct 2013 - 22:24

More information on the Letchford Lucifer Match Factory:

VISIT TO A WAX VESTA AND LUCIFER MATCH FACTORY.

The original process by which man first succeeded in producing fire, consisting in rubbing two pieces of dry wood together. This process, which is, however, still in use among many savage tribes, was speedily superseded, in the first period of civilization, by the revolving wooden disk and cylinder, and this again by other and improved methods, until the tinder-box was introduced, with its flint and steel, and brimstone match. This venerable antique kept its ground for ages, and the time is still within the memory of many living men when it constituted our most approved means of obtaining fire. However, when, with the new era of chemistry, so many and such glorious discoveries followed each other in rapid succession, to be applied with the same marvellous rapidity to the arts of life, the "manufacture of instantaneous light," as it has not unaptly been termed, also made a gigantic bound forward, and the so called briquets phosphoriques, or inflammable match-phials, made their appearance some forty odd years since. These consisted of a small phial of glass or lead, either with a bit of phosphorus inside, slightly oxodized by stirring it round with a red-hot iron wire, or filled with a mixture of cork raspings, wax, petroleum and phosphorus, incorporated by fusion. The phosphorus or the mixture in the phial, served to kindle sulphur matches dipped into it. The so-called oxygenated matches were an improvement upon the briquets phosphoriques. These matches consisted of splints, either tipped with sulphur or not, which were dipped in a paste made of a mixture of pulverized chlorate of potass, flowers of sulphur, sugar, and gum arabic, with water, and were then kept in a warm place till they were perfectly dry. To kindle one of these matches, it was dipped into a small well-stoppered phial with strong sulphuric acid in it, thickened with asbestos. These were the great improvements which more immediately preceded the invention of the friction or instantaneous light match, which, by dispensing altogether with the phial, made the process of striking a light one of extreme simplicity. Mollet's pump for kindling tinder, touchwood, &c., by compression of air, and the so-called electric lamps, were rather interesting as physical apparatus than useful for practical purposes, and Dohereiner's platinum apparatus, though a very neat and elegant instrument, was rather too dear for popular uses. Moreover, all these are now completely superseded by the instantaneous light match at present in almost universal use, which we lately saw manufactured in its most improved and most perfect form, on the occasion of a visit to Messrs. R. Letchford and Co.'s factory in Bethnal Green.
The manufacture of lucifer matches is generally associated in the minds of men with some wretched hovel in the purlieus of Whitechapel, or some other equally distinguished locality, where a few miserable boys and girls are being slowly but surely poisoned to death by the fumes of sulphur and phosphorus. That there are, unfortunately, still a few of those "congreve or lucifer manufactures" in existence, is simply owing to the authorities grossly and culpably neglecting to put in force the wise provision of the law, which requires every match factory to keep at fifty feet clear distance from any inhabited dwelling. The evil, however, is rapidly dying out, as matches can now only be profitably made in very large quantities.
Some twelve years back, when Mr. R. Letchford entered the match trade, he found that the supply of matches in this country was almost entirely in the hands of foreign makers. The matches of English manufacture were of the most common kind, with the exception of about twenty-five per cent that might be considered of respectable quality. Mr. Letchford, being a practical chemist, and enjoying in this respect a vast advantage over most British congreve makers, set at once about reforming this unsatisfactory state of things. His damp-proof matches, carefully dipped, and warranted to light every one of them, were speedily appreciated by the trade as a very superior article, although a trifle dearer than the matches supplied by other makers, who soon found it expedient to imitate the example set them. At that time the import duty on foreign matches was 4d. per gross boxes of 100, and the sale of foreign articles was beginning to flag. The reformed tariff, however, having reduced the duty to 2d. per gross boxes of any size, we were suddenly inundated again with a truly astonishing quantity of round boxes, with 500 matches in them for 1d! But the public soon discovered the worthlessness of this new importation - hardly one out of ten of these matches would light. When the free tariff came, the struggle was pretty nigh over, and the superiority of the English match over its foreign competitor was firmly established; the last blow against foreign competition in this branch of manufacturing industry being dealt again by Messrs. Letchford, through introducing their patent matches saturated with paraffin, instead of the usual brimstone coating. This is truly one of the greatest improvements introduced into the business. The paraffin dipped match ignites from the lighting composition with the greatest readiness, and burns freely, with a beautiful, clear flame, and without the least smell - very different, indeed, from the ojbectionable smell and the choking fumes of the old brimstone match, which is now only made by Messrs. Letchford to supply the demands for those who prefer the old to the new and improved, although no difference is made in the price. However, there is no accounting for tastes.
Among the very largest factories of matches in the world, the establishment which we are now about to describe occupies a most conspicuous, if not, indeed, the principal and foremost place, not even excepting the world-renowned match-works of Pollrk, at Vienna, and Bernhard Furth, at Schutterhofen, in Bohemia.
The premises, which, to give some notion of the magnitude of the works, cover an area of very near two acres of ground, were erected, some few years back, upon a plan devised by Mr. R. Letchford, and based upon the principle of the most perfect division of labour, as well as upon the principle of the greatest attainable safety to the lives and health of the people employed in the business. They are, in every respect, admirably suited for the intended purpose. They consist chief of two enormous buildings, opposite each other, with a large courtyard between. In the one building are carried on the operations of cutting, slitting, planing, and preparing the wood for the boxes; in the other, the wax vesta lights and the matches, &c., are made. On the occasion of our visit, we had the very great advantage of Mr. Letchford's own kind guidance, and of the lucid explanations of the manager of the works, Mr. Morris.
We were first taken to the waxing floor, where the taper for the vesta lights is prepared, by drawing the cotton wick through a bath of melted wax. The process very much resembles that which is adopted at the Lambeth Marsh Candle Works, with this great difference, however, that the vesta taper has to be drawn over and over again through the wax bath, until is has acquired the desired thickness, cylindrical form, and perfect finish. The wax is melted in a water-bath, heated to the proper degree by gas burners placed beneath. The regulation of the proper degree of heat to be given (between 140 deg. and 160 deg.) requires nice management. If the heat is too strong, or the temperature of the several wax-baths differs, the tape presents wavy lines and inequalities, which is objectionable. When perfect, the taper looks like the finest silk tresses. When the manager of the works has inspected and passed the taper, it is cut into lengths of twelve feet, which are taken in bundles to the entrance end of this upstairs wax compartment, where a woman (all the workers in the wax department are females) cuts it in an appropriate cutting machine, into the required lengths of one, one and a half or two inches, which fall into a box beneath. When the box is full, it is placed aside by the cutter, and an empty one substituted for it. At the ringing of a bell in the compartment below, the full boxes are emptied into the mouth of a spout, which conveys them down into the so-called girls' wax-match room on the ground floor. We follow them downstairs, and enter the same room with them. We find, in this room which is about ninety feet long by twenty-five feet wide, six rows of girls at work. They are all working at benches, with troughs before them in the one half, and tables in the other half of the room; every row is formed by about twenty girls, which gives about 120 girls for the room. The girls, with troughs before them, filled with the vesta tapers, are engaged in framing the latter for dipping. This is done by ranging the tapers on narrow slips of board with notches in each of them, placed at regular distances of about a quarter of an inch, which is effected by the girls with marvelous dexterity and rapidity. Each board, as it is filled, is pushed into the frame. Sixty boards, of 50 vestas each, complete the frame, which, accordingly, numbers 3,000 altogether. As soon as the frame is filled, the girl takes it to the lower end of the compartment, to hand it to the foreman, who enters it against her name on a slate, all the hands in Messrs. Letchford and Co.'s employ being piece-workers. There are several little boys engaged at this end of the wax-match compartment, whose occupation it is, from morning to night, to carry each of them two of these frames to the so-called dipping arcade, and bring back from the drying-rooms two frames of the previous day's dipping. But, as the process of dipping is the same for wood matches as for wax matches, it will be the better way to first bring up the former to this stage of manufacture.
The wood matches are made at Messrs. Letchford's, of the best Quebec pine timber. The splints were formerly cut on the premises; but it has since been found more advantageous to procure them direct from the saw mills, by which means the greatest latitude of selection from the very best pieces of timber is afforded. The saw-mills supply them in circular bundles of 2,000 to 2,500 splints, of sufficient length each to be divided into two separate matches. These bundles are first taken to the paraffin dipping department in the rear of the building.
This department consists of a storing-room for splints, in which the bundles are first scorched at both ends on hot iron plates, then pitched through a window communicating with another compartment, in which ten or twelve pans are kept filled with paraffin melted by steam. The heated ends of the splints greedily absorb the melted paraffin, so that the process of saturating them takes only a few seconds.
The dipped bundles are now taken to the great wood and box department over the way, which is 170 feet long and three stories high. Here they are put in a circular frame of a corresponding size, and divided into exact halves, by a circular saw worked by steam-power.
Before following the paraffin dipped wood match to the framing department, we may as well at once dismiss, in a few words, the box-making operations, &c., carried on in this part of the premises. The wood used for making the match-boxes is the best spruce. The boards are shaved into thin slices, by a travelling plane, running on a small railroad, and worked by steam power. The slices are then cut by other machines into the requisite lengths and breadths for the various parts of the box for which they are intended. The part which is to form the principal body of the box is stamped in a wooden frame, with iron knives or stampers, which serve to break the grain of the wood for bending. Every bit of wood has the letter L stamped upon it. There are several other operations carried on in this part of the building; such as the making of spiral pipe-lights, for instance, cutting reams of paper into strips by a guillotine-machine, ready for the box-makers, &c. The boxes, however, are not completed on the premises, but the materials, fully prepared, are given out to women to finish the boxes at home. This part of the business alone occupies about 200 hands, exclusive of those engaged in the building.
The steam-engine, of some ten or twelve horse-power, which works the whole of the machinery, supplies also the steam for the melting and other operations carried on in the principal building, so that fires are now altogether dispensed with in the latter, except as regards a few stoves for warming purposes in the framing-rooms, as the hot-water pipes, by which the entire factory is warmed, have been found insufficient to heat these immense rooms to the proper degree for the work carried on in them, which requires very supple fingers.
The paraffin dipped splints are taken to the wood-match-framing department, which consists of two immense rooms, each 70 feet long by 35 feet wide, and very high, with slanting roof, plenty of light, and the most perfect ventilation; which latter, indeed, is most thoroughly provided for in every part of the premises. In one of these rooms, which adjoin each other, there are about 480 girls, in the other about 180 boys, at work, in two divisions each; one being engaged, as in the wax-vesta room, in "framing" the wood matches, in the manner already described; the other, in boxing the perfected article. Of this latter anon, as we must, in the first place, follow the wax-vesta and wood matches to the "dipping arcade" at the end of the framing-room. This arcade is about 70 feet long by 15 feet wide and 30 feet high, with open doors at both ends, securing thus a thorough draught, which reduces to the lowest minimum the danger of inhalation of phosphorus fumes. The fact is, we remained for some thirty minutes in this arcade, with the process of dipping the matches in the phosphorus composition going on briskly all the time on some ten slabs, and we really should have been rather at a loss to guess the occupation of the workmen engaged from any hints conveyed through the organ of smell. The lighting composition of chlorate of potash and phosphorus, which was formerly used, has been entirely abandoned by Messrs. Letchford, who use instead a phosphorus composition of their own, which it would not be proper in us to divulge. The composition is spread on slabs, kept at a certain temperature by hot water beneath. It is levelled on the slab by means of a roller, and gauged to a certain depth, about one-eighth of an inch. In some factories, the clumsy old practice of dipping the matches in the bundle is still pursued, which makes the splints stick together, and produces uncertain lighting "heads," besides increasing the danger of accidents. The dipped frames are now placed in the so-called drying-rooms, a number of brick-built, fire-proof, arched double vaults, with double iron doors between, running from the dipping-arcade, and lined on both sides with racks, on which the frames, with the vestas, matches, vesuvians, &c., are placed, the dipped end hanging downward, to give the dippings the spherical form which liquids have a natural tendency to assume. 

To be continued.................................

Source: Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser, 17 February 1865, Page 4

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Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"
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Re: Letchford Lucifer Match Company

Post by Karen on Thu 24 Oct 2013 - 12:06

Many most efficacious precautions are taken here to guard against the danger of fire. The floor of the drying-room is covered with a layer of sawdust several inches thick, which prevents the ignition of matches accidentally dropped from the frames and trodden upon, and affords, besides, an excellent agent, ready at hand, for extinguishing partial kindlings of frames, by dropping the ignited portion into it. In the event of a wholesale kindling of all the frames in the room, the following very simple but most efficient method of stifling the threatening danger in the bud is resorted to: -
There are, as already stated, double iron doors between the two compartments of each double vault, and the same between the vaults and the dipping arcade. The air and light are admitted through a square hole in the arched roof; over each of these holes is kept suspended an iron trap fitting air-tight into the opening. By means of bell-handles, outside the vaults in the dipping arcade, the traps may be let down at a moment's notice. Well, whenever a fire of an alarming character breaks out in any of the drying-rooms, all that the workmen have to do is to shut the doors and let down the traps, when a brief space of time will suffice to put an end to the conflagration, for want of air. On account of the exorbitant premium by the fire insurance offices, Messrs. Letchford prefer being their own insurers; and every reasonable precaution has accordingly been adopted to guard against fire, or to confine any outbreak of it within the narrowest possible limits. All the ceilings throughout the premises are lined with iron plate, for instance, and the communication between all the important parts and rooms of the works is by double iron doors. An ample supply of water is also secured, by the main running all round the building, with plugs almost everywhere, and hose attached to them. The main carries a tank on the roof at the other end of the building, which holds 2,000 gallons of water; and there are also numerous stand pipes. As we are still about the dipping and drying-rooms, we may as well dispose, in a few words, of the flaming fuses and vesuvians, which are manufactured much in the same way as the matches. The splint for the vesuvians is cylindrical, however, and dipped at both ends, first in a composition of charcoal, nitre, &c., then in a phosphorus or lighting composition, slightly differing from that used for vestas and matches. The flaming fuses are dipped only at one end.
All the compositions used by the firm are made in another compartment, adjoining the dipping arcade. The compositions are melted here, by steam, in a number of pans let into galvanized iron troughs running alongside the walls. Glue is the general binding vehicle used for all the compositions. The lighting or phosphorus composition is prepared in a separate compartment, by two men, thoroughly acquainted with this branch of the business and with every reasonable sanitary precaution.
The vestas, matches, fuses, and vesuvians are now finally taken from the drying room, one day after dipping, to the proper framing and boxing rooms, where they are deposited in slate compartments ready for the boxing girls and boys, who remove the matches most dexterously and expeditiously from the frames to the boxes. As every row numbers fifty vestas or matches, the trouble of counting the number in a box is altogether saved. The vestas are put in japanned tin boxes or fancy paper boxes, round and square; the boxes contain 100, 250, &c. The girls have a bit of wet flannel lying on the bench before them, which is quite sufficient to extinguish the matches or vestas that may kindle in their rapid removal from the frames. The vesta boxes are put in parcels of half-a-dozen and one dozen, and taken to the export packer's room, where they are packed in tin-lined cases for export. A portion of them is taken to the warehouse for home consumption. The wood matches are also done up in parcels and taken to the warehouse to pack for the home trade, thus completing at the front the work commenced at the rear of the premises.
By the excellent arrangements made by Messrs. Letchford, the occupation of the workpeople and children of both sexes employed by them, so far from being unwholesome, is actually rendered salubrious. As to the children, all they have to do requires only a little manual dexterity, easily gained by practice. These children and lads and lasses earn, the smallest and least skilful, about 2s. 6d., the best hands about 12s. a week. We were shown four sisters, from eleven to sixteen years old, who thus can earn among them some 25s. a week - rather a nice help to a poor family. Even the amusements of these children are considerately cared for, a playground being expressly set apart for them. The number of hands employed on the premises ranges between 500 and 600, besides 200 working at home.
To give some notion of the enormous quantity of vestas and matches made on the premises, we may state that the wax taper used for the vestas measures some 600 miles per week, or sufficient, in the course of the year, to go round the circumference of the globe, and leave more than ample length to stretch from England to America and back again. About 24,000,000 vestas are made per week, besides some 6,000,000 paraffin matches! We cannot leave the establishment without expressing our most cordial approbation of the excellent manner in which the business is conducted in all its branches. A factory of this kind, placed in the midst of a poor district, is truly a very great benefit conferred upon the neighbourhood. - Our Own Fireside.

Source: Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser, 17 February 1865, Page 4

N.B. The reason I find all of this important is that Jack the Ripper was against women striking for rights in the workplace and in society. This is why he wrote a threatening letter to the match-girls at the Bryant and May Factory. Could Mr. Letchford, a relative of Mister R. Letchford, have been involved in the strike at the Bryant and May factory? Was he attending the meetings at the International and Educational Club in Berner Street?

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Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"
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