Bryant and May Matchworks

Information from Keith Hollick, IWM Volunteer

Bryant and May had two large sites in particular, the largest being in East London at Fairfield Road. Their second site was as a result of their taking over the Diamond match company in 1905, located at Litherland.

I live close to the London site, and in a nearby park, there is an old war memorial. This is dedicated to employees of the company who fell in the Great War. The names cannot be read, but they are in a grainy photograph that I have. Those who fell were from both sites.

The board, upon which the names of the (Liverpool and London) employees of Bryant and May, seems to have been lost or destroyed when the London factory closed in the 1970s. These names were also inscribed on a memorial cross which is still standing. Unfortunately, the names cannot be read, and the cross is behind locked gates. Both are on the IWM war memorial register.

The source of the photo of the board and names is the first issue of the Brymay magazine in 1921.


Entry for the Byrant and May Memorial Cross on the Lives of the First World War website can be found here.  

Stanley Alcock Manchester Regiment 52841
Alexander Booker The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 358432
Charles A Bowles The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 4169
John Joseph Brown The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 405054
Alfred Butler The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 266204
William Campbell The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 1503
Colford The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 52400
James Davies Royal Engineers 446568
William Derbyshire Grenadier Guards 28216
Hugh Eaton The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 5163
Thomas Haywood The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 3128
George James Holley The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) ?
Houldsworth Welsh Regiment 57567
Owen Llewellyn Johns The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 5303
Keegan The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 10855
McCombie The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 5181
Ney The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 24383
Renshaw RND Z/468
Sullivan The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 17472
C L Tanner Royal Field Artillery ?
Christopher Thomas The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 332692
William Wagner The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 266710
Wall The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 18224
Waller Royal Garrison Artillery 97780
Evan Owen Wells The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 242537
Wilson The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 18857
Deacon Norfolk Regiment 49013
Mutch The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 265043
Rome The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 201978
William C Sheppard The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) ?
Somers The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 1819



The esteem which the employees of the Diamond Match Works have for their managing director, Mr. George W. Paton, and the sympathy which they feel for him in the loss of his son, Captain G.H. Tatham Paton, V.C., M.C., was manifested at St.Andrew’s Hall, Linacre, on Tuesday evening, when they presented him with a cheque for £500 for the endowment of a bed in Bootle Borough Hospital in memory of the gallant captain.

The large hall was absolutely “crammed,” if one may use such an expressive bit of slang. Mr. W.G. Wright, local manager, presided, and the warm reception which was accorded to Mr. and Mrs. G.W. Paton on their entrance, and also to Mrs. Wright, showed the good feeling which exists amongst the workers, and those in authority over them. Others present were Councillors Beckett and Quigley, and Mr. B. Nay.


The Chairman said the occasion was both sad and pleasant. Pleasant because it showed the excellent spirit and fine feeling they had for Mr. Paton, and sad because they were to honour the memory of his son, Captain G.H. Paton, who gave his life as one of those whose heroism saved us from the iron heel of Germany. He had known Capt. Paton better than most of them, and the longer he knew him the more he loved him. Captain Paton was one of Nature’s gentlemen. He had scarcely left school and started work at the London factory when the call of his country came. It was louder to Captain Paton than the call of matches (applause). He joined up as a second lieutenant, and soon rose to the rank of Captain, but as there was little prospect of getting to France he transferred to the Grenadier Guards. He was soon in France as a Captain again, for he was a born leader of men. If there was any hard and dangerous work to be done the Guards were given the job, and so it came about that Captain Paton was always in the thick of the fighting. He was awarded the Military Cross, but like many other brave men, he was reluctant to tell how he won it. They did know, however, of the deed which won the coveted Victoria Cross. According to the “London Gazette,” it was for most conspicuous bravery when the unity of his line was broken, and his flank was “in the air,” he fearlessly exposed himself to readjust the line, walking up and down within 50 yards of the enemy under a very withering fire. He later removed several wounded men, and was the last to leave the village. He again re-adjusted the line, exposing himself regardless of all danger the whole time. As the enemy four times counter-attacked, he sprang upon the parapet each time, deliberately risking his life, and being finally mortally wounded, in order to stimulate his men. After the enemy had broken through on his left, he again mounted the parapet with a few men, who were inspired by his great example, and forced the enemy to withdraw once more, thereby undoubtedly saving the left flank. Captain Paton, like the rest of our lads, was not out to win medals so much as to “play the game.” From the kick-off they meant to win, and they had won.


As a fitting tribute of respect to the memory of Captain Paton he asked the audience to stand in silent meditation for a few seconds.

This was done, and after this touching mark of sympathy with the bereaved parents, Councillor Beckett made a few remarks. He had been on that platform on many occasions, but never on one so solemn as that night. He ventured to think that not a single person in the audience but was thrilled by the account of Captain Paton’s heroism. Captain Paton was all that a Britisher could be and should be. He believed that Captain Paton, in common with their own relatives, who had made the great sacrifice, had died not grudgingly but willingly. There were pessimists who prophesied that this great England of ours was going to the dogs. He did not believe it. There was good in the old country yet, and that was proved by the gallantry of their lads. While they tendered their deepest sympathy to Mr. and Mrs. Paton, they congratulated them on being the parents of such a son (applause). He was greatly honoured by being on the platform on such an occasion, and he had very great pleasure in handing Mr. Paton a cheque for £500 with which to endow a bed in Bootle Hospital to the memory of his son. The inscription on the bed would read “This bed is dedicated to the memory of G.H. Tatham Paton, V.C., M.C., Grenadier Guards, who was killed in action at Gonneliew, 1st December, 1917, only son of Mrs. and Mr. George W. Paton, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Messrs. Bryant and May, Ltd., and endowed by the employees of the Diamond Match Works, at Linacre, November, 1919.” (Loud applause.)


Councillor Quigley said the cheque was for the endowment of a bed which would keep alive the memory of one of the best Britishers who ever lived. After the glowing tributes of the preceding speakers it was scarcely necessary for him to enumerate the good qualities of the gallant officer. No more suitable memorial could have been erected than the endowment of a bed in the hospital. Mr. and Mrs. Paton must be very proud to think that their son – their only son – should have sacrificed his life for the good of England and her Allies. When first the idea was brought forward it was thought that a bed could not be endowed for less than £1,000, but now they found that it could be accomplished for £500. He hoped that they would not be satisfied with that, but that they would raise another £500 for the endowment of a bed to the memory of their own lads, who had laid down their lives for King and Country. They could then have one bed in the women’s ward, and a second in the men’s (applause). He hoped that they would show the same spirit in contributing to the second bed as they had in contributing for the endowment of the first. They would then have a memorial to the bravest men who ever went from a factory (cheers).


Mr. Paton said he knew that they would feel for him in the extraordinarily difficult position in which he found himself that night, and if his words were few they were nevertheless from the heart. When the chairman informed him of the affair the previous week he was agreeably surprised. He could not adequately express his gratitude to them, his fellow-workers, that they should have thought it well to mark in such a tangible form the loss his wife and himself had suffered in the death of their son. It was the most touching of many touching incidents which had happened since the day when they received news of their only son’s death. He was glad that the endowment had not cost £1,000, and he was glad they intended to “carry on,” and raise another £500 for the endowment of a bed to their other heroes. That was the best part of the gift. He found in it an expression of their brotherhood which he hoped and prayed would prevail in the future. They had not expected their boys to do otherwise than they did. They would not have been made of true British material if they had done otherwise. He felt sure that many more medals had been won but not awarded, and other men would have done medal-winning deeds if they had been given the chance. The death of those lads was a great blow to their parents, but he did not think that the men themselves would now wish it otherwise. They were now free from all pain. It was up to us who remained to make the world brighter and truer with less sham and selfishness, otherwise the sacrifice of their lads would have been in vain (applause). He had very great pleasure in handing the £500 which they had been pleased to subscribe to the memory of his son to Mr. Cunningham, representing Bootle Hospital. No monument of stone of brass could have pleased him as much as the memorial which they had chosen (applause).


Mr. Cunningham thanked the subscribers very heartily for the splendid sum which had been handed to him for the endowment of a bed. It was indeed a magnificent gift. Nearly 1,300 wounded soldiers and sailors had been received into Bootle Borough Hospital. The Linacre Council School had a bed endowed in memory of the boys who had fallen in the war, and the bed endowed by the cheque presented that evening provided a second war bed in the hospital. It would be difficult to suggest a more fitting way to memorialise the heroism and fortitude of our defenders than by endowing a bed in a hospital. (Applause.)

The Chairman moved and Councillor Quigley seconded a vote of thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Paton for being present that evening. A vote of thanks to the Chairman was moved by Mr. W. Beckett and seconded by Mr. B. Nay. Both motions were heartily carried. Margaret Byrne and Norah Jennings presented beautiful bouquets to Mrs. Paton and Mrs. Wright.


During the evening an excellent programme was contributed by the Diamond Orchestral Concert Party, which, despite its heavy sounding title is quite a talented and sprightly troupe. The chorus composed of the Misses Jane Hale, Peggy Lynch, Edith Wynne, Gertie Hemans, Marion Wright, Lena Kershaw, Carrie Stephenson, and Jimmie Lynch were deservedly popular, despite the fact that it was their first public appearance. Jimmy Lynch as “Boots” was very funny. He has a fine strong voice, and the nerve essential for a comedian. A feature of the entertainment was the dainty dancing of Miss Mima Lee, who was presented with a few flowers from Mrs. Paton’s bouquet after her clever Scottish sword dance. Her vivacious interpretations of the sailors’ hornpipe and Irish jig were also delightful. Perhaps we may be excused for suggesting that “Jimmy,” Miss Lee, and the chorus would make a nice little juvenile troupe without the older artistes, and with a daintier title they would doubtless be instrumental in raising much money for charities. Their instructress must feel proud of them.

Of the older artistes Mr. J. Lee was probably the most popular. His sons of those places which song-writers lead us to believe are heavens on earth, Tennessee, Dixie, etc., were well sung, and Mr. Lee showed himself to be an energetic dancer. Miss Cissie Duncan was an able accompanist, and Mr. J. Foster contributed several rousing pianoforte solos. Other items in the programme were as follows:- Song “Simon the Cellarer,” Mr. Maidment; song, “Two Eyes of Grey,” Miss Florrie Wells; recitation, “The Invisible Army,” Mr. Blundell; song, “Until,” Miss Bella Evans; mandoline and banjo solo, Messrs. R. Kelly and Bonfret; songs, “Some Monday morning,” and “Pat Finnigan’s Ball,” Mr. J. Birks; song, “Loch Lomond,” Miss Grainger; song. “Underneath that old umbrella,” Mr. Kelly; song, “The Heart of a Rose,” Miss G. Hemans; song “Memories,” Miss A. Roberts. The gathering ended with the National Anthem.

 From WALTON TIMES Friday 7th November 1919




Bootle Town Hall was packed to the doors last night (Thursday) when Messrs. Bryant and May, Ltd., gave a “welcome home” to the employees who left their Diamond Works to serve in the World War, 1914-1919. Mr. G.W. Paton (London), chairman of the directors, presided, and was supported by Mr. G.W. Wright (manager), Mrs. Paton and Mrs. Wright.

 Sergt.-Major Wm. Keegan said he had a very pleasant duty to perform on behalf of the workpeople, and that was to present a cheque for £500 to Mr. F.A.J. Poulsom, chairman of the Bootle Borough Hospital. It was intended that the bed endowed with the money collected should be a permanent memorial to the men who had lost their lives.

 Mr. Paton said that as a director he felt very proud of the firm’s war record. The number of men from the Litherland factory who served with H.M. Forces was 320, and of these the following thirty-two men were unfortunately killed. He asked all present to stand while he read the list.

Then, while all the employees stood with bowed heads, Mr. Paton read the following names:-

Petty Officer      Thomas Renshaw,                          Royal Naval Division;

Sergt.                   Wm. Campbell,

Sergt.                   Wm. Wagner, M.M.,                      King’s Liverpool Regiment;

Corporals             Benjamin Mutch,            

                              Joseph Henry Sullivan,  

                              Thomas J. Wall,

                              Evan Owen Wells,                            King’s Liverpool Regiment;


Corporals             Alfred Butler     

                              Patrick Colford                                  King’s Liverpool Regiment;

Bombardier         Alfred Jones,                                      Royal Field Artillery;

Riflemen              George James Holley,   

                              Owen Llewellyn Jones, 

                              John Henry Rome,          

                              Frederick William Wilson                King’s Liverpool Regiment;

Gunner                 Herbert Waller,                                Royal Garrison Artillery;

Sapper                  James W. Davies,                             Royal Engineers;

Privates                Stanley Alcock                                 (Manchester Regt.),

                              Charles A. Bowles,          

                              John Joseph Brown,      

                              Alexander Booker                            (King’s Liverpool Regt.),

                              Wm. Derbyshire                               (Grenadier Guards),

                              Hugh Eaton,      

                              Thomas Haywood                            (King’s Liverpool Regt.),

                              George Houldsworth                       (Welsh Regt.),

                              Thomas Jones                                   (Royal Army Service Corps),

                              Percy Keegan,  

                              Donald McCombie,        

                              Daniel F. Ney,   

                              Wm. Chas. Sheppard,

                              Peter Somers,  

                              Christopher C. Thomas                    (King’s Liverpool Regt.),

and                       Herbert Williams                               (Machine Gun Corps).

Continuing, Mr. Paton said every man who returned from the war had been offered situation with the firm. (Applause.) Some had come back with decorations. (Cheers.) Their names were:-

Sergt.-Major      William Keegan,                D.C.M.;

Sergt.                   Francis Catterall,               D.C.M.;

Sergt.                   Wm. Wagner,                    M.M. (killed in action);

Sergt.                   Herbert Harn,                    M.M.;

Flight-Sergt.       Charles Jones,                   M.M.;

Driver                   Andrew H. Farrell,           M.M.;

Corporal               Edward Cox,                      Croix de Guerre.

In conclusion, Mr. Paton feelingly referred to the bed which was recently endowed by the workmen in memory of his son, who was killed in the war. Great and wonderful as that gift was, the workpeople had surpassed themselves in the presentation that night, and he was pleased they had gone further and raised another £500 for their own workmates who had made the great sacrifice. (Applause.)

Mr. F.A.J. Poulsom warmly thanked the workpeople for the gift on behalf of the Hospital Committee, and said he considered it a privilege to be amongst such a charitable throng.

The Chairman then presented a silver-mounted pipe or walking stick to each of the ex-service men, and as the men – some limping and some minus limbs – received their gifts, they were loudly cheered. Mr. Paton shook hands with each one.

Coun. Quigley and Mr. F. Frith (hon. treasurer of the Hospital Committee) seconded a vote of thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Paton for their presence. This was heartily carried, and the speech-making concluded with three hearty cheers for the popular director.

During the evening a most enjoyable programme was given by the following artistes: Miss Gladys Foster (soprano), Miss Myrtle Jones (contralto), Mr. John Lindop (tenor), Mr. Randolph W. Giles (bass), Miss Constance Le Mesurier (violinist), Miss Elsie Adelaide Felton (elocutionist), Mr. Arthur Frame (humorist), and Mr. George J. Freeman (accompanist).

Credit for the excellent arrangements must be accorded to Miss Caley (Welfare Superintendent), and the delightful refreshments were supplied by Mrs. Leahy and the Misses Gallaghan, Riley, Granger, Bailey, Jones, Goodars, and Hagerty.


From WALTON TIMES Friday 2nd July 1920

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