Silvertown Rubber Co Ltd

S.W. Silver & Company began in the 18th century as Colonial and Army agents, clothiers and outfitters principally to those in the Army and Colonial Service. When Charles Macintosh introduced waterproof clothing, Stephen Winckworth Silver set up a factory at Greenwich to make similar garments. He later expanded production to include insulated wires and cables. In 1852 the factory moved to Woolwich Reach on the north bank of the Thames and continued to expand, employing most of the local population. The area became known as Silvertown, a name that still exists today.

In 1860, Charles Hancock, formerly of the West Ham Gutta Percha Co., joined the company, bringing wit him his patents and knowledge of gutta percha. After taking out a patnet for waterproofing and insulating materials in 1864, Silver and Hancock decided to enter the field of submarine cable manufacture. To do this, they set up The India Rubber, Gutta Percha and Telegraph Works Co. and offered shares to the public, whilst absorbing the West Ham Gutta Percha Co.

In 1865, the first cable manufactured and laid by the company was for the Submarine Telegraph Co., running from Dover to Cap Gris Nez. The company subsequently became active in promoting Telegraph companies and in 1870 they set up the West India and Panama Telegraph Company, the Cuba Submarine Telegraph Company and the Panama and South Pacific Telegraph Company.

As well as cable manufacture the company also supplied electric generating plant to towns and cities in the UK and Europe. In the 1890s they began producing bicycle tyres and later car tyres. By 1923 the works employed 4000 people and covered an area of 17 acres. In addition they had factories in Burton on Trent and France. The company began experiencing financial difficulties in 1927 and in 1933 the British Goodrich Rubber Co. acquired a controlling interest in the company.