A Little Known History Of Jarrett, Rainsford & Laughton (Stratton & Co.)
In 1860 Stephen Jarrett and Charles Rainsford joined in partnership. Jarrett was a pin manufacturer and jeweller. Rainsford was a commercial traveller. The partners took on premises at 7 Broad Street, Islington, Birmingham. The success of the venture enabled Jarrett & Rainsford to move new premises at 48 Broad Street in 1870.
In 1898 the firm took on an office boy who exhibited much promise. This young man was named George A. Laughton. The partners were so impressed with him that by 1904 he was rewarded with the position of assistant manager. In 1909 the firm had moved once again to Kent Street. Laughton was very resourceful and just before the Coronation of King George V. He found a supplier who would manufacture badges and flags for the occasion. However, the supply was erratic due to the poor health of the owner of the badge making concern. Laughton invested £50 to buy the supplier out in a deal which included two hand presses and other equipment. The workers naturally wanted to continue their employment and so they came to work for Mr. Laughton. The business was named Stratton. The source for this name is said to be inspired by the hero in a novel that was popular at the time. However, George’s son who would have been around 7 years old at this time was also named Stratton.
Laughton was rewarded for his hard work and business acumen with a directorship in 1912. Jarrett & Rainsford continued in business as before whilst the firm Stratton & Co. focused on making men’s jewellery.
The firm may have had experience of manufacturing in aluminium and duralumin alloy before WWI or it might have gained its expertise during the war. Like most companies it gave up its factories and workforce to the war effort. At this time it manufactured parts for the SE5 British fighter plane, which was said to be one of the fastest and most reliable war planes.
S.E.5a AIRCRAFT OF No. 32 SQUADRON R.A.F.
The wartime censor scratched out the serial numbers but left the squadron markings.
Duralumin was invented by a German named Alfred Wilm in 1910. This material was a mixture of 90% aluminium 4% copper and 1% magnesium. Duralumin was said to be more durable than aluminium and less prone to corrosion. Stratnoid thimbles made from Duralumin were available in green, silver and copper colours.
In 1919 Jarrett & Rainsford became known as Jarrett, Rainsford & Laughton Ltd. The following year saw the firm purchase Stratton & Co. Pins and jewellery making were now back in full production after the war.
In 1922 the British Broadcasting Company (a forerunner to the BBC) was formed and it began transmitting on a limited basis.
By now Hollywood was producing films which featured stars wearing very short hairstyles. Young and not so young women who wished to appear stylish and en vogue followed suit. The influence of the flappers’ style spread far and wide.
LOUISE BROOKS (NOV 14 1906 - AUGUST 8 1995)
Many ladies desired short flapper hairstyles inspired by actresses like Louise Brooks. The desire for ladies to wear short hairstyles which did not need hair pins to hold them in place damaged the hair pin sales of Jarrett, Rainsford & Laughton (Stratton & Co.) However, there were many more avenues for this company to follow.
George Abe Laughton’s son, Stratton, was also involved in the business and it is said that he suggested the firm should join the telecommunications industry. The business filed many different patent applications and the team possessed marvellous ingenuity.
In 1925 the company filed a patent for the ‘Eddystone’ radio. The most useful role for the radio was as a marine radio. A role which obviously inspired the name.
Arthur Edwards and Harold Cox joined the board. Cox was the technical director and Edwards was the sales director. By 1927 Stratton & Co had manufactured a short wave radio set, the “Atlantic Two”.
As early as 1929 the firm was producing a wide variety of novelty and fancy goods, including “Ladye Fayre” Compactums. The 1929 advertisement shown above lists cigarette, brush and sewing equipment holders, as well as clothes brushes.
Many different radio sets were produced by Stratton & Co. The quality and reputation of the radios ensured that they were the natural choice on great expeditions in the 1930s. Both the British Arctic Air Route Expedition and the Hudson Strait Settlement Expedition used Eddystone receivers.
Advertisements are such a good source of information confirming the addresses of the premises and giving all sorts of details. The “Reduca” would keep a lady’s hair in place whilst reducing her double chin according to this advertisement. The helmet retailed from 3/6 and it was widely available from hair-dressers, stores & Boots The Chemist.
In 1936 the Everest Expedition took portable Eddystone equipment with them.
In 1939 The London Metropolitan Police Authority sent an urgent request for Stratton & Co. to tender for an automatic wireless telephone network. Stratton & Co. won the contract and with the war looming the Stratton workforce toiled day and night to complete the task. The system worked so well that the company was engaged to equip police forces in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Birmingham.
Jarrett, Rainsford & Laughton were also working with the Air Ministry making radar components. Harold Cox was in charge of this operation.
The 1947 British Industries Fair advertisement shown above shows two different models of loose powder compacts. The compact shown top right could be a Stratton ‘Star’ also known as ‘Slab’. Could the next one down be a ‘Scone’?
The 1949 advertisement shown above gives us an idea of some of the many Stratton branded lines. Stratton brand cufflinks were very popular. A loose powder compact ‘featuring the self-opening inner lid’ is shown in the middle. This compact looks like a 'Scone', although the illustration is distorted. The ‘Fonopad’ opens at the flick of a switch to store telephone numbers and addresses. The design for the 'Fonopad' was patented by Jarrett, Rainsord & Laughton Ltd.
George Abe Laughton died in 1964 and on his passing the directors decided that the communications side of the business should be sold to Marconi, who was one of their largest customers.
The firm was to concentrate on fancy goods, especially the production of vanity cases under the Stratton brand whilst also supplying to the likes of Woolworths.
As you can see from this history the owners of the Stratton brand produced world class equipment even in the darkest days of the world.