Mr Waring & Mr Gillow – Malcolm Dungworth – 21st September 2015.

Malcolm Dungworth is a retired Company Director who has been totally involved in logistics for the whole of his working life and is embroiled in the motor industry. At the present time he is chairman of the ‘Bamford and District History Group’ and also runs a website with Mark Denton, called ‘Vehicles Duty Of Care.’

Malcolm started his career at Leyland Motors in Lancashire and then moved to the John Peters (Furnishing Stores) Limited, Sheffield in November 1970. He had met the Company Secretary of the Group who explained to Malcolm that they had a very large fleet of vehicles which were his responsibility at the time; and whilst he might be a good Company Secretary he knew nothing about vehicles and the legislation covering the use of the vehicles. In short, the John Peters Group required somebody on the board that could take over the responsibility of the fleet, and the Company Secretary convinced the board that Malcolm Dungworth ticked all the boxes. Malcolm worked there for over 30 years.

John Peters (Furnishing Stores) Ltd was a private limited company and at its head was Manny Cussins who was also Chairman of Leeds United football club between 1972 and 1983 and Chairman of Waring & Gillow Ltd., an international trading company.

Malcolm is very interested in history and delved back to the beginning of the Gillow Company of Lancaster which is said to have been started in1695, although according to Wikipedia it was founded in 1730 by Robert Gillow who was born in 1704. In his early career Robert Gillow was a ships carpenter who sailed to the West Indies where he became very interested in mahogany. When he set up Gillow of Lancaster he started making luxury furniture which he sold to the wealthiest houses in the land. His son, Richard Gillow, who was the architect for the Customs House, Lancaster, joined the firm in 1757, and is credited for the design of the telescopic dining table.

The firm expanded rapidly, exporting furniture to the West Indies and importing rum and sugar together with mahogany. Towards the end of the 19th Century the company ran into financial difficulty and in 1897 began a loose financial arrangement with Waring of Liverpool, which was ratified in 1903 by the formation of Waring and Gillow.

Samuel James Waring was the grandson of John Waring, a cabinet from Belfast, who had arrived in Liverpool in 1835 and established a wholesale cabinet making business in Liverpool. In 1897 Samuel Waring set up a branch of the family business S. J. Waring and Sons in London and in 1897 was responsible for the merger with Gillow to become Waring & Gillow, of which he became chairman.

The company expanded rapidly and during World War I, apart from making furniture, they made tents and aircraft, employing a lot of women, because the men were away fighting the war. As the company expanded its fleet of wagons and lorries had to keep pace. The horse drawn wagons were replaced by steam lorries, and also petrol and diesel ones. At one stage they purchased an electric truck but this only lasted a short while.

In World War II the company made parts for gliders and the upholstery department made tents and kit bags etc. Again the company went into decline and the Lancaster workshops closed in 1962. About this time Manny Cussins joined the board bringing along his company, John Peters (Furnishings) Ltd., and in 1980 Waring & Gillow joined with the ailing cabinet making firm of Maple & Co., to become Maple, Waring & Gillow. According to Malcolm this was a bit of a disaster because, it greatly increased the turnover but not the profits. However this introduced carpets to the business and they set up a central distribution warehouse at Tinsley, which serviced all the stores throughout the UK.

In the late 1980s Manny Cussins announced to Malcolm Dungworth, after a board meeting, that he had sold the business to its present owners, but that he would be alright because they still required a director responsible for transport. Whilst the present owners did an excellent job at refurbishing the stores, life there had changed seriously, so Malcolm left to do some consultancy work and then worked for Sheffield Insulations Ltd., for a further 10 years until his retirement.