Monday, April 3, 2017

Sky-Line Bottle-Boy

Above, my Sky-Line "Bottle-Boy."  By today's standards, the name leaves something to be desired.

I did a previous post on my other Sky-Line kitchen products, but I've since uncovered some more information on the company that made them.

The story begins in the town of Burnley in Lancashire, England. It's about 20 miles north of Manchester and has a current population of 73,000.  During Britain's Industrial Revolution, the town benefited from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, making and exporting machinery and wrought iron for the booming British coal mines and cotton mills.  The Burnley Loom was considered one of the best in the world.  The textile industry also blossomed in the town, and by 1910 it could boast almost 99,000 power looms!  (During the First World War, Burnley was perhaps best known for Jennie Jackson, the "Young Kitchener," who at seven years of age raised over £4000 to help British soldiers.) After the First World War, the textile industry began to decline and there was little to replace it. The city council actively sought new businesses, and in 1937 managed to attract one by the certainly descriptive but equally unimaginative name of Platers and Stampers Limited. The company, which made chrome plated kitchen tools and gadgets, bathroom fittings and domestic bakeware, had just been bought by EKCO Products of Chicago, which was looking to expand into Europe.  Along with investments of several other businesses, the city was poised to consider itself "Little Sheffield."  That didn't happen.  However, the Platers and Stampers factory was state-of-the-art for the time, and offered wares under the Sky-Line and Ovenex brands.


Britain from Above

Before it could really get going, the Second World War intervened and the company was tasked with making munitions throughout the war and continuing with defense work until 1953.  (The afore-mentioned Jennie Jackson worked there in a clerical position and on the munitions production line.)  "Prestige" was added to the previous brands:

Returning to civilian production, in 1956 it was renamed the Prestige Group, with factories in Burnley, Blackburn and Derby.


An aerial view showing the Prestige factory of 1937 and extensions being built c1955 (s)

Read more at:

The Burnley factory continued to produce Sky-Line brand kitchen tools until the factory's closure in July 1997.  (The towns other two major manufacturers also disappeared around the same time--BEP in 1992 and Michelin in 2002.)  Today, Prestige is part of the international Meyer Group, which was founded in Hong Kong in 1951 to manufacture and market flash lights, hinges, ash trays, camping lanterns and tennis rackets. (The name of the firm is a transliteration of the Chinese words 'beautiful' (mei) and 'Asia' (yah).)  The company entered the cookware market in 1971 and today Meyer markets over 100 cookware lines in more than 30 countries.  Their British division is headquartered in Bromborough, Wirral, England, although production takes place today in factories in China, Thailand and Italy.

As for the Burnley factory, it's now a Sainsbury supermarket. Below, from Google Earth:

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