Swaine Adeney Brigg of London has been selling umbrellas since 1750,and got its royal warrant from Queen Victoria in 1893. The Brigg brolly achieved international fame when wielded by John Steed in The Avengers TV series. But they're not that cheap so what makes them different from more ordinary umberellas?
Swaine Adeney History
In the year 1750, John Ross founded a Whip making business at 238 Piccadilly, London W1.
James Swaine later purchased this business in 1798, having for some years been foreman of a successful whip making business in Holborn.
A royal appointment to His Majesty King George III and to his sons, The Prince of Wales and the Dukes of York, Clarence, Kent, Cumberland and Cambridge quickly followed and Swaine Adeney’s reputation for quality and excellence was established.
The Royal appointments were renewed in the reigns of His Majesty George IV and His Majesty William IV. In the year 1835, James Swaine moved his business to larger premises at 185 Piccadilly. The business continued to flourish and in 1845 Edward Swaine took his nephew into partnership and Swaine Adeney was born.
In many ways, much remains the same today, the same artisan’s crafts are used to hand-shape the fine leather goods: tooling, stitching and engraving each piece in time-honoured tradition.
The Swaine Adeney workshops in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk are (alas) one of the UK’s last studios left in the UK to craft fine leather in this way. This is where customers can send their favourite pieces for repair, however old!
In 1851, Swaine Adeney decided to put its fine products on show to the world at the London Exhibition held at the newly constructed Crystal Palace. The Exhibition was the largest the world had ever seen (attracting over six million visitors to a space four times the size of St. Peter’s in Rome).
Swaine Adeney won several prize medals at the London Exhibition, prompting the company to show its fine goods at the Paris Exhibition of 1900 (at which further medals followed). Swaine Adeney’s reputation was now growing on a worldwide stage, as the finest producer of leather goods.
Thomas Brigg and Son’s was established in 1836 at No. 23 St. James’s Street a stone’s throw from Swaine Adeney Brigg’s present location. The company specialised in the manufacture of the finest umbrellas, walking sticks and hunting crops.
During the Second World War, Brigg & Sons lost its Paris shop when France was occupied. Back home in London, help was at hand in the form of Swaine Adeney: the two firms joined forces mid-war in February 1943, to form Swaine Adeney Brigg & Sons Limited. The store became well known for the supply of its equestrian goods, which are still made to this day.
In the late 18th century, Royal tradesmen began displaying the Royal Arms on their premises and stationery. Queen Victoria ensured Royal Warrants gained the prestige they enjoy today. During her 64 year reign, the Queen and her family granted more than 2000 Royal Warrants, eight times as many as the Queen’s uncle, George IV.
In 1893, Thomas Brigg and Sons received its first Royal Appointment from Her Majesty Queen Victoria and became the first umbrella maker ever to be honoured with an appointment. Further Royal Appointments were also bestowed by Her Majesty Queen Victoria and by His Majesty Edward VI with the last bestowed by HRH The Prince of Wales.
Originally based in Papworth Everard, Cambridgeshire, Papworth Travel Goods owes its beginnings to Dr (later Sir) Pendrill Varrier-Jones, a social pioneer who founded the Cambridgeshire Tuberculosis Colony. The Colony was later to become the Papworth Village Settlement and the forerunner of the Papworth Trust. Varrier-Jones’ vision was to create not just a hospital or rehabilitation centre for TB patients, but a whole community.
The Colony began at Bourn in Cambridgeshire in 1917 however, Varrier-Jones soon collected enough funding (£6,000) to purchase Papworth Hall, and the Colony moved to the village of Papworth Everard the following year. With the Hall went most of the land in the parish and, under Varrier-Jones’ capable management, the Papworth Colony rapidly expanded. Although there were still many deaths from tuberculosis, the aim was to rehabilitate sufferers by providing treatment for them (surgery and ‘fresh air’) and giving them appropriate work.
When the Hall became too small, a new hospital was built, along with new homes for the TB patients and their families. In the 1930’s factory buildings were also constructed, to enable patients who were well enough the opportunity to work.
The Papworth Industries became a great financial success, expanding over many years under the trade-mark of ‘Pendragon’. Industries included the manufacture of travel goods, carpentry, cabinet making, leather work, and printing.
‘Pendragon Travel Goods’ evolved in the 1970s to become ‘Papworth Travel Goods.’
The brand was acquired in 1997 by Swaine Adeney Brigg.
Royal Warrants issued to Papworth Travel Goods
Warrant appointing Cambridgeshire Tuberculosis Colony as trunk makers and cabinet-makers by King George V
Warrant appointing Papworth Industries trunk and cabinet -makers by the Prince of Wales
1940 – 1947
Warrant appointing Papworth Industries trunk and cabinet-makers by Queen Elizabeth.
1952 – 2002
Warrant appointing Papworth Industries trunk and cabinet-makers by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
The Company Today
To emphasise Pendragon's speciality of fine leather goods manufacturing we adopted a new name - Papworth Leather Goods. For over three-quarters of a century luggage of distinction and quality has been produced by Pendragon in a quiet leafy village in the heart of the English countryside eight miles from Cambridge.
Traditional tools and methods of manufacture are still employed and encouraged and largely contribute to the individuality and characteristics of Papworth business cases and luggage. Papworth Travel Goods are hand-made by craftsmen with years of experience in the trade, whose first consideration is quality.
Renowned the world over for lasting quality, every Papworth case is an individual creation – top quality selected hides of many different hues and grains are carefully stored, awaiting their turn to be cut and matched to linings of gentle suedes, velvets and silks. Locks and fittings of solid brass and other metals will be carefully fitted by hand, transforming the whole into items of prestige and elegance.
From the distinctive style of our suitcase to the classic cut of our briefcases, the Papworth signature is always unmistakable.
Thomas Brigg & Sons were established in 1836.
In 1893, Thomas Brigg and Sons received its first Royal Appointment from Her Majesty Queen Victoria and became the first umbrella maker ever to be honoured with an appointment. Further Royal Appointments were also bestowed by His Majesty King Edward VII and successive Monarchs.
Up until WWII, Thomas Brigg & Sons also had an establishment in Paris.
Thomas Brigg & Sons merged in 1943 with Swaine & Adeney and were afterwards styled ‘Swaine, Adeney, Brigg & Sons’.
The Brigg umbrella is famous for its high quality and long history supplying Royal Families, Prime Ministers and distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen around the World.
Today, we are still crafting reputedly the best umbrellas in the world in our workrooms in England!!
Herbert Johnson History
In 1872, a young Lad named Herbert Louis Johnson was apprenticed, by his parents, for seven years to hat-makers Lincoln Bennett, to learn the trade. He obviously did well and in 1889 on the somewhat unlikely advice of the Prince of Wales (later to become King Edward VII), he went into business with one Edward John Glazier at 45 New Bond Street, London W1.
The story recounts that one day when the Prince of Wales was riding in the park, his top hat blew off, damaging it. The young Herbert Johnson who happened to be ‘to hand’, picked up the Royal topper and offered his professional services. The hat was duly repaired. The Prince was pleased and subsequently suggested to the young hero that he set himself up in business. All this came to pass and Herbert Johnson soon became well known for all forms of headwear for the well-dressed gentleman including Royal patronage.
Fame and success came quickly and Kaiser Wilhelm, the Czar of Russia, King George of Greece not to mention the Duke of Clarence – of doubtful fame – amongst other great names, all found their way to Bond Street.
Herbert Johnson continued to work in the business personally until his retirement in 1928. He had made the name synonymous with quality “..a man with a Herbert Johnson hat is a man apart”. He has an air of sophistication and assurance such as arises from the knowledge that he is in possession of superb quality craftsmanship”. Whether a bowler (black for the town, brown for the country or grey for driving), a classic tweed cap for shooting or fishing, a classic Homberg, a hat for racing across the Atlantic or a cap for scoring runs on the village green – it had to be from Herbert Johnson.
Today Herbert Johnson hats can be found in some of the most prestigious retailers worldwide. The company also enjoys a long, successful and continuing relationship with the worlds of both theatre and film.
The military is an equally important patron. Nearly every regiment patronises Herbert Johnson for dress caps, khaki caps and berets. Bombay bowlers and Polo caps were specially made for Lord Kitchener’s troops in Sudan.
Herbert Johnson military hats are best known for their ‘floating bevel’. This concept dates from World War 1 when Herbert Johnson supplied the ‘soft topped’ cap, then known as the ‘Jack Johnson’ in response to requests by Generals Haig and French and other senior officers for both a practical and comfortable cap for field operations. After the 2nd World War, many British Regiments who had liked the ‘soft topped’ cap for field operations, requested that Herbert Johnson produce their dress caps also in the ‘floating bevel’ style. Regiments who currently wear the Herbert Johnson hat include all those listed on the products page.