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Cryselco Limited

A drawing of the factory in a product catalogue [Z702/1]
A drawing of the factory in a product catalogue [Z702/1]

For sixty five years Cryselco was an important manufacturer and employer in Kempston. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has some of the company’s records [Z1098 – see below] and numerous plans for alterations to the works.

The firm was floated by London solicitor Frank Naylor on 17th September 1895 as Crystal Electric Lamp Company Limited with its works on Woburn Road in Kempston. The firm simply moved into existing buildings which had been owned by an iron founding firm. The original secretary and commercial manager was Horace Stanley Deacon, the managing director Henry Lovegrove and the works manager Francis Harrison.

On 14th July 1898 the firm was re-registered, following merger with a London firm, as Crystal Electric Lamp and Rose and Bird Limited. The name was finally changed to Cryselco on 26th September 1901.

The evolution of the factory can be traced in plans. Including the following:

  • In 1903 a cottage near the works and owned by it, presumably as housing for one of its employees, was altered and added to [UDKP184];
  • In 1915 the works were added to, the architect being James Hull [UDKP365;
  • In 1918 transformer house and corridor were built to the designs of A. Corby and Son of Bedford [UDKP377];
  • In 1919 a canteen block and lavatories were built to the designs of John Corby and Son of Bedford [UDKP380]; the works were also extended [UDKP384].

A sketch plan of the Cryselco works in 1926 [DV1/R48]
A sketch plan of the Cryselco works in 1926 [DV1/R48]

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting Cryselco Limited, electric lamp manufacturers [DV1/R48/6] found that the site in Woburn Road occupied 2.99 acres. He drew a plan, reproduced above (so see a larger version please click on the image) and made the following notes which corresponded to it.

  • A. Testing Room etc., brick and slate with a concrete floor measuring 13 feet by 18 feet by 45 feet (annotated “Gone”)..
  • A1. Acid and Petrol Shed, corrugated iron, measuring 7 feet 6 inches by 6 feet 6 inches by 18 feet (annotated “Gone”).
  • A2. A passage and cloakroom constructed of corrugated iron, wood and glass measuring 7 feet by 6 feet by 25 feet (annotated “Gone”).
  • A3. An office and filament room, brick with a flat roof, measuring 9 feet 6 inches by 9 feet by 45 feet (annotated “Gone”).
  • A4. A brick, flat-roofed passage with a concrete slab floor measuring 14 feet by 12 feet by 168 feet (annotated “Really roof and floor” and “Gone”).
  • B. General offices and private offices and a Blow Room, brick with a slate and glass roof and concrete floor measuring 25 feet by 46 feet by 200 feet.
  • C. “Same construction as B but 1st floor has been put in for Store Rooms”, 25 feet by 46 feet by 200 feet.
  • D. A brick and slate lean-to measuring 9 feet by 14 feet by 10 feet.
  • D1. A lean-to measuring 7 feet by 10 feet by 10 feet.
  • D2. Battery Houses, brick and slate with a concrete floor, measuring 11 feet by 16 feet by 32 feet 6 inches.
  • E. A corrugated iron lean-to with a concrete floor measuring 9 feet by 15 feet by 58 feet.
  • F. The Packing Room, brick and slate with a concrete floor, measuring 16 feet by 58 feet by 34 feet.
  • G. An Engine House, Boiler House and Filling Shop, brick and slate with a concrete floor measuring 17 feet by 36 feet by 77 feet.
  • H. A store shed, corrugated iron with a concrete floor measuring 13 feet by 34 feet 37 feet.
  • J. A garage, brick and corrugated iron with a brick floor measuring 9 feet by 18 feet by 9 feet (annotated “Now spirit store”).
  • K. An open cycle shed, timber and corrugated iron measuring 125 feet by 6 feet.
  • L. Lavatories, brick and composite with a tiled roof, two of them measuring 22 feet by 18 feet and one measuring 12 feet by 15 feet.
  • M. The Mess Room, kitchens, stage, lavatories and dressing rooms, with heated radiators, rooms measuring 15 feet 3 inches by 38 feet 6 inches by 10 feet; 62 feet 6 inches by 34 feet by 19 feet; 18 feet by 40 feet by 14 feet and 8 feet by 2 feet 6 inches by 22 feet.
  • N. A cottage, brick and roughcast, with a slate roof, with two reception rooms, a kitchen, scullery and three bedrooms.

The plant at the works was itemised as follows:

  • Alternating Current motors: one tenth horsepower (one); on eighth horsepower (two); one sixth horsepower (three); one quarter horsepower (eight); one third horsepower (one); half horsepower (one); one horsepower (five); five horsepower (one) and twenty horsepower (two with one spare).
  • Direct Current motors “supplied by one of two 30HP AC motors”: one eighth horsepower (nine); quarter horsepower (seven); half horsepower (six); one horsepower (five); two horsepower (four); tow and a half horsepower (one); five horsepower (two); six and a half horsepower (two).
  • 45 feet of 1½ inch shafting.
  • “Vertical Boiler for heating the works”
  • 9 feet by 4 feet drain.

Other plans are as follows:

  • In 1926 an iron building was installed [UDKP453];
  • In 1927 the works were, again, extended [UDKP457]; At some point before 1930 an new canteen was built to the designs of E. H. C. Inskip [Z1169/8/41/8/1-3] and the works were extended [Z1169/8/41/8/4-7];
  • In 1937 a miniature rifle range was installed [UDKPZ49] and the works was extended once more to the designs of E. H. C. Inskip [UDKP843 and Z1169/8/41/8/8-10];
  • In 1938 more extensions to Inskip’s designs were carried out including to the canteen and the factory generally[UDKPZ10 and Z1169/8/41/8/11-14];
  • In 1940 a store building was designed by Inskip [UDKP906];
  • In 1941 a decontamination block was planned. It was feared that the Germans would use chemical warfare against Great Britain and these decontamination blocks were designed to minimise effects of exposure to such chemicals [UDKP931 and Z1169/8/41/8/15]. Fortunately such blocks were never needed;
  • The factory was again extended in 1944 [Z1169/8/41/8/16];
  • In 1946 the entrance was altered [Z1169/8/41/8/17-19] and a sports pavilion built [Z1169/8/41/8/20-21];
  • In 1948 the stores were extended [UDKP1304].

Eight Thousand Years – A Kempston History states: “Production at Kempston ceased in 1960 but the lamps are still stored and exported to many countries in Africa and to Portugal, Iran, Malaya etc.” From 1940 to 1964 light bulbs were stored in the redundant Saint John's Church [P60/2/56-57]. In 1989 planning permission was given to build nineteen dwellings on the site of the demolished factory in what was called Cryselco Close [BorBTP/89/318].

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service holds the following Cryselco records:

  • Z1098/1/1: a ledger account book: 1911-1917;
  • Z1098/2/1/2: balance sheets: 1922-1923;
  • Z1098/3/1-3: product catalogues: 1928-1930

Cryselco Close sign May 2012
Cryselco Close sign May 2012