E. Elliott Limited
Edwin Elliott was born in Birmingham, England in 1878. He started work in a machine shop before going into the jewellery trade, but his eyesight was not up the task so he became office boy at the Birmingham branch of a firm from Hamburg. He learned German at evening class, also with the help of two Austrian friends. In 1903, one of them returned to Austria and Edwin took over his job which was selling imitation jewellery stones.
In 1909 Elliott started his own business at 55, Frederick Street, Birmingham as an importer and manufacturer’s agent, Galalith casein plastics material being one of his imports. He soon began machining the material to his customers’ requirements. He was also agent for a manufacturer of spectacle lenses, but in 1911 he bought them out and developed it into The British Optical Lens Company. Supplies of Galalith dried up because of the First World War but fortunately Erinoid had just started to make casein plastics in England.
In 1916 Elliott moved to larger premises in Warstone Lane which took both sides of his business under one roof. After the war, the company expanded the machining of Erinoid casein into beads, knobs, manicure sets, etc. and started to produce compression mouldings in Bakelite. The Warstone Lane premises soon became too small so the company moved to premises in Brearley Street. Here, in 1926 their first transfer moulding press was installed and Elliott’s became one of the largest suppliers of radio components, claiming to be the first large scale producer of moulded radio cabinets for Telsen in 1928.
1933 saw the installation of an Isoma injection moulding machine – the first of its kind in Britain. To cope with demand, Elliott’s bought the moulding section of Messrs. Harrison (Birmingham) Ltd. in Cheapside and became a private limited company in 1935.
In addition to custom moulding, a range of items under their own trademark (L-yacht) were produced. Optical and moulding sides of Elliott’s business combined to produce cameras, such as the VP Twin, with its Bolco (British Optical Lens Co.) lens – he also moulded cameras for Coronet, including the Midget and Vogue. Optical and moulding operations also combined to produce self-selection spectacles for sale in Woolworth’s (this was eventually stopped by the Optician’s Act of 1958).
Business expanded and a new factory covering 18,000 square ft. was leased at Bescot Crescent, Walsall in 1937. By 1938, Elliott’s workforce totalled 700. The optical department at Summer Lane received a direct hit with incendiary in 1940 and suffered considerable damage – a second bomb in 1941 also destroyed much of the moulding side (including all company records) – all machinery that could be rescued was transferred to Bescot Crescent. The Summer Lane factory was re-built and E. Elliott Ltd. became a public limited company in 1950.
The business began by Edwin Elliott and from which he did not retire until he was eighty-eight closed in 1982.