Saturday, 4 June 2016

That impressive building on Canal Street ................ once the offices of Michael Nairn & Company

Now I will have passed this building on Canal Street countless times in the early 1970s.

The old College of Knowledge which had me as one of its students is just around the corner, and Canal Street was a convienent short cut which avoided the busier bigger roads, and of course it had the canal.

Back then the Rochdale Canal had seen better days but it was still a fascinating spot to stop, and just watch the water cascade over the closed lock gates and ponder on what you did to rent that house that straddled the water.

All of which is leading up to Andy Robertson’s latest set of pictures taken on a bright sunny day down by the canal.

As ever there is a shed load of interesting pictures, but this one of the door way of nu 4 Canal Street caught my attention.

M Nairn & Co Ltd were the firm of Michael Nairn, specialising in floor-cloths, power looms and linoleum.

And according to that excellent site Grace's Guide to British Industrial History "at the 1862 Exhibition in London and the 1867 Paris Exhibition Nairns Floorcloth came into its own and won the prizes.  

In  1870 Nairn and Co built a six-storey factory in Kirkcaldy and by 1877 with the introduction of linoleum, Kirkcaldy soon became the largest producer of the new floorcovering in the world.

In the 1920s the family joined forces with a supplier in Erie, Pennsylvania, which manufactured a three-foot wide simulated wood grain product used to border area rugs and linoleum. 

This product was known as "Congoleum", because the asphalt materials used to make it came from the Belgian Congo in Africa. 

The new company called itself Congoleum-Nairn.
Congoleum-Nairn continued to sell "Congoleum Gold Seal Rugs" and "Nairn linoleum" through the late 1930's, until its researchers started experimenting with a new material called vinyl. 

However, further research into developing vinyl flooring was interrupted when World War II began. 

Following the war, the company continued to grow in the rapidly expanding housing market of that period.

2008 Forbo-Nairn is now the UK's only linoleum manufacturer. Forbo-Nairn have their own website."*

None of which I had a clue about when I regularly walked past the building.  

Nor would I have clocked the Latin inscription the meaning of which escapes me.  

And yes I did go to google translate but that didn’t help over much.

In time I will start looking for the history of the building.  I know it was there by 1903 which just leaves a patient trawl of the directories.

Location; Canal Street

Pictures; Canal Street from the collection of Andy Robertson

*Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History, http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Michael_Nairn_and_Co


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