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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/2809

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1830-1985

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 23.78 linear metres

Name of creator(s): John Mowlem and Co Ltd | builders and contractors


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Collection is split into 2 main parts: (i) the records of John Mowlem and Co. Ltd; (ii) the records of the Improved Wood Pavement Company Ltd.

(i) John Mowlem (1788-1868) was originally from Dorset and had experience of quarrying in the area around Swanage. He started business in London in 1822 and built up a steady account with Vestries and other authorities responsible for paving and roads. As builders and contractors, John Mowlem and Co. undertook a lot of small jobs in mid-nineteenth century London. Business expanded towards the end of the century with notable work carried out for the Jubilee Celebration for Queen Victoria in Westminster Abbey in 1887. Further recognition for the Company was gained in 1902 when it received a Royal Warrant from the Prince of Wales; later Warrants were received in 1910 and 1920.

John Mowlem and Co. is better known today as a large contractor and much of the credit for this must go to the work of Sir George Mowlem Burt, civil engineer, and grandson of George Burt, a nephew and partner of the Company's founder. Under his guidance the Company undertook large scale public works such as the Admiralty Arch, the diversion of the low-level sewer at Millbank (for the London County Council), and other maintenance contracts for the Office of Works and the Port of London Authority. The Headquarters of I.C.I. in Millbank in the 1920's, and the Southampton Graving Dock (for the Southern Railway) in the 1930's were contracts which proved the Company's worth so that during wartime many government contracts were awarded to John Mowlem and Co. Ltd. These included the Royal Ordnance Factory at Swynnerton (1939-1942), many runways and tunnels and Phoenix Units for Mulberry Harbours, in all, contracts worth 29 million for the period 1940-1945. Post-war contracts included power stations at Braehead and Hunterston.

The Company was incorporated in 1903, reverted to being a Private Company in 1908 and reconverted into a Public Company in 1925. In 1982, the company was re-registered as John Mowlem and Co. plc.

(ii) The Improved Wood Pavement Company Ltd was incorporated in 1872 to acquire the patent of improved Wood Pavement combining the use of wood with preserving composition packed with stone, and for laying and maintaining same. The Company took over the business and contracts of Samuel Norris and Benjamin Berkley Hotchkiss, who had already laid some wood pavements in London and elsewhere. Bartholomew Lane, EC2 had been paved in December 1871.

The original offices were at 32 Lombard Street, EC2, moving to Victoria Street, EC4, in 1876: in 1922 to Blackfriars House, New Bridge Street, EC4. By 1914 the Company was a contractor for wood paving, wood block flooring, sawing, excavating, concreting and had saw mills and works at East Greenwich.

Improved Wood Pavement Company Ltd became associated with John Mowlem and Co. Ltd, government and public works contractors of Westminster and formed with them in 1941 the Mowlem Paving Co. Ltd. During the 1950s the Company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Mowlems and in 1959 it ceased to operate independently. Its name was subsequently changed to Mowlem Construction (Plant Hire) Ltd and it is now a subsidiary of John Mowlem and Co. plc though Mowlem Construction Co. Ltd.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of John Mowlem and Company Ltd, and subsidiary companies, 1830-1985; including articles of association; minutes; reports; prospectuses; financial ledgers and accounts; records of work done; works order books; inventories; letter books; staff records including wage books; property registers; photographs; awards; shareholder registers and seal registers. Also copy of The History of John Mowlem and Company, volumes 1 and 2, by F Baines.

Subsidiary companies whose records are found in this collection:
John Mowlem and Company Limited U.K. Construction Division
John Mowlem and Company Limited, Guernsey
John Mowlem and Company Limited, Southampton
Mowlem (Africa) Limited
Mowlem (Building) Limited
Mowlem (Scotland) Limited
Mowlem Computer Grid Limited
Mowlem International Division
The Artistic Blind Company Limited
The Cement Supply Company Limited (later called Constructional Services Limited)
Glasgow Stockholders Trust Limited
Grosvenor Engineering Services Limited
Edmund Nuttall, Sons And Company and John Mowlem And Company (Joint) Limited
Nuttall Mowlem Brand and Abboud (Near East) Limited
E. Thomas and Company Limited
Webber and Corben Limited
Improved Wood Pavement and Company Limited (now called Mowlem Construction (Plant Hire) Limited)
Alfred Booth and Co Limited
Booth Concrete Limited
C Evans and Sons Limited
Dixon Building Equipment Limited
Eatons Ladders Limited
Edendal Properties Limited
Ellis Richards Limited
F Parker and Co Limited
Freehold Improvements Limited
Glasgow Stockholders Trust Plc
Gravity Ladders and Randall Limited
Grosvenor Structures Limited
Hire Shops Limited
Johnsons Ladders (Woodworks) Limited
Lomount Construction Limited
Mining and Geophysical Limited
Parcar Utilities Limited
Pierhead Limited
Property Investments Cambridge Limited
Redhill Bodybuilding Industries Limited
Scaffolding (Great Britain) Limited
Sgb Building Equipment Limited
Sgb Canada Limited
Sgb Group Limited
Showex Limited
Soil Mechanics Foundations Limited
Tickner and Emmerton Limited
Thrasyllus Unit Construction Company Limited
Wc Youngman Limited
Welham Plant Limited
Youngman Forktrucks Limited


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

ACC/2809/001-077: John Mowlem and Co; ACC/2809/078-317: Subsidiary companies; ACC/2809/PH: photographs.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright rests with the City of London.

Physical characteristics:


Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The records were originally deposited as a loan at London Metropolitan Archives when the Company moved from Brentford to Isleworth in 1990, with additions made up to 2018. The deposits were converted to a gift to the City of London in July 2019 together with transfer of copyright where it was held by the depositor.


Related material:

Other relevant collections held at LMA include the records of Messrs. Higgs, builders (B/HIG), Holliday and Greenwood Ltd, building contractors (B/HOL) and Trollope and Sons, (London) Ltd (B/TRL). A large collection of site photographs has been deposited in the Greater London Photograph Library by John Mowlem and Co. plc.

DESCRIPTION NOTES Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: July to October 2009

Builders | Construction industry personnel | Personnel | People by occupation | People
Building construction | Building operations | Construction engineering
Construction industry | Industry
Contractors | People by roles | People
Corporate minutes | Business records | Documents | Information sources
Financial records | Documents | Information sources
Paving | Structural components | Building components
Company archives

Personal names

Corporate names
John Mowlem and Co Ltd | builders and contractors
The Improved Wood Pavement Company Ltd x Mowlem Construction (Plant Hire) Ltd