Gutta Percha Company

Introduced to Britain in 1843, gutta percha is the gum of a tree native to the Malay Peninsula and Malaysia. Gutta percha is thermoplastic, softening at elevated temperatures and returning to its solid form as it cools. This made it easy to mould gutta percha into many decorative and functional objects, either by pressing the heated material into cold moulds, or by extrusion.

The Gutta Percha Company was established in 1845 by Henry Bewley in partnership with Samuel Gurney at High Street, Stratford, London. For the first twenty years, management was in the hands of Samuel Statham. The company started making decorative items such as tea trays, commemorative plaques and animal figures and industrial products included machinery belts, acid-tank linings, and tube.

By 1850 the company had moved from Stratford to 18 Wharf Road, City Road, London, where it remained for nearly a century. During the 1850s Bewley produced insulated core, supplying it for both the 1850 and 1851 cross-Channel cables for Submarine Telegraph Co. From then on insulated core became the main product of the company.

On the 7th April 1864 the Gutta Percha Co. merged with the telegraphic interests of Glass, Elliot and Co to form the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Co (Telcon), the contractor for the 1865 and 1866 Atlantic cables.