Exceptional craftsmanship of William Sugg and other Great British Brands

British heritage brands have a long history and tradition of craftsmanship and quality. Having been in business for a long time, a reputation is built for producing high-quality products that are made to last. This reputation can be put down to the skill and expertise of artisans, who have often passed down their knowledge and skills through generations.

William Sugg & Co. Ltd are world leaders in heritage lighting and known as being ‘the heritage lighting specialists.’  Established in London in 1837 and with over 180 years of lighting experience, we are most definitely a heritage brand and very proud to be just that!  We have worked on numerous projects over the last couple of centuries helping to illuminate towns and cities across the UK.  

Great British Brands

Here we recognise some other much loved heritage British brands and great British products, and explain a bit of their history.  We hope you enjoy!

Boots: Founded in 1849

Boots was founded in 1849 by John Boot as a small family herbal medicine shop in Nottingham.

After he died, his son, Jesse Boot, then only aged 10, took over helping his mother run the family business.  At the time of writing, Boots UK is one of the most significant health and beauty retailers in the United Kingdom, with over 2,485 stores across the UK. Apart from health and beauty products, Boots also provides optician and hearing care services.

  • Boots Research Department was awarded the Queens Award for Technological Achievement in 1985 for Ibuprofen
  • The Boots advantage card is one of the largest loyalty schemes in the UK
  • Boot’s current logo is similar to the original logo, which was created by hand

When asked about the secret to their long-term success, the President & Managing Director of Boots UK, Seb James, said:

“For almost 170 years, Boots has been a loved and trusted staple of the British high street, remaining true to the ideals of its founder to provide affordable healthcare for the community. This philosophy and heritage are still integral to our business today, and our brand is shorthand for quality, trust, and accessible prices.” 

“Boots UK’s recipe for long-term success and longevity is not really a secret… it’s a matter of staying true to our values and remaining relevant to our customers by responding to their changing needs.”

Celebrating Great British brands | Boots | Clarks | Cadbury

Cadbury: Founded in 1824

One of our great British products – Cadbury’s Chocolate! In 1824 John Cadbury opened his grocer’s shop in Birmingham. He was a Quaker, so only sold tea, coffee, cocoa, and drinking chocolate.

Cadbury’s little shop grew in popularity so much that in 1831, he was able to rent a warehouse in central Birmingham, where he started producing cocoa and chocolate.

When they outgrew the factory, the then boss George Cadbury, set a new vision.

“Why should an industrial area be squalid and depressing?” he asked. “Why should not the industrial worker enjoy country air and occupations without being separated from his work? If the country is a good place to line-in, why not to work in?”

Cadbury thrived in its new location at Bournville and became famous for working conditions and social benefits for its staff.  They made having fun at work a concept that was adopted by tech giants centuries later.

  • At the time of writing, Cadbury is considered one of the world’s most popular chocolate brands
  • The recipe to Cadbury’s ‘Dairy Milk‘ chocolate remains top-secret and is kept under lock & key even today! 

Clarks: Founded in 1825

Clarks came from very humble beginnings.  Its founder, James Clark, made the very first pair of Clarks shoes in 1825 in Street, Somerset.  He made these using offcuts from his brother Cyrus’ tannery.  Within a year, the two brothers were selling 1,000 pairs a month!

Did you know..

  • C&J Clarke has over 1000 stores across the world
  • The Clark family owns 84% of Clarks.

Great British brands | Hovis | Twinings

Twinings: Founded: 1706

In 1706, Twinings was born when Thomas Twining opened Britain’s first tea room at 206 Strand in London.  Twinings is Britain’s oldest tea company.

Twinings is not only famous for its tea, but also famous for its ethical programmes.  As a business Twinings has taken an active role in trying to improve the quality of life of tea-producing communities and won the National CSR Award in 2017 as a result.

  • Twinings still operates from the same premises to this day!
  • Twinings is also the longest-standing ratepayer in London
  • The company’s logo, created in 1787, is the world’s oldest continuously used company logo.

British Gas: Founded in 1812

Frederick Albert Winsor founded British Gas, which is the largest energy supplier in the United Kingdom, in 1812.  It has expanded massively since its inception and has supplied energy services to households in the UK for over 200 years.

  • Did you know?  British Gas is actually owned by Centrica who not many people have even heard of!
  • British Gas was once rated as one of the best companies to work for by The Sunday Times.

Hovis: Founded in 1886

Richard Stoney Smith discovered a way to mill flour and maintain the wheatgerm.  Following this discovery he founded Hovis in 1886.  At the time of writing, Hovis is one of Britain’s most iconic brands worth over £324 million.

  • Hovis’ name was the result of a national competition in 1890 to name the bread brand.  Student, Herbert Grimes, made up the name by combining the Latin phrase ‘Hominis Vis’ which means ‘Strength of Man’. Hovis donated a spitfire to the RAF, naming it Hominis Vis during the First World War
  • Hovis is notorious for its engaging marketing and advertising.  the Hovis’ Boy on Bike’ ad, aired in 1973, is one of Britain’s favourite advertisements of all time.

When asked about the secret to their long-term success, a spokesperson said:

“Hovis has a long tradition of goodness and innovation and has always focused on what delights consumers. It continues to delight by ensuring that every loaf is made to the highest standards and creating industry firsts, such as Hovis Best of Both®, the first white bread with the added goodness of wheat germ, and more recently the Lower Carb range, which offers 30% less carbs* than standard loaves with the same great taste expected from Hovis.”

Rolls Royce: Founded in 1904

Henry Royce, an aero-engine designer, and Charles Rolls, a maker and seller of high-quality cars in London, teamed up to found Rolls Royce.

The Magic of a Name: The Rolls-Royce Story, Part 1″ by Peter Pugh notes…

“By the 1920s, Royce’s reputation was such that he was asked, almost ordered, by the Government to design an engine for Britain… It is safe to say that, without the [Rolls-Royce] Spitfire and the Hurricane, and the [Rolls-Royce] Merlins that powered them, the Battle of Britain would have been lost.”

  • Rolls Royce played a huge part in helping Britain defend itself from the Nazis during WWII.  Their 1940’s aero engine technology was the most sophisticated in the world  and they mass produced thousands of jet engines to support the war effort
  • During the 1950’s Rolls Royce’s strong relationship with the British royal family saw the first Phanton IV being commissioned by the, then, Princess Elizabeth II.

Great British brands | Rolls Royce | British Gas | William Sugg

William Sugg & Co. Ltd: Founded in 1837

William Sugg & Co was first established in 1837 by William Sugg, the son of Thomas Sugg who made the first gas pipes and installed them at Carlton House Gardens. Around 20 years later, William Sugg established the foot candle as the unit for the measurement of light as a means of comparison. This measurement was necessary at the time to help the company make comparisons and improve efficiency of gas lights. In 1881 the company became Limited as it expanded.

  • In 1901 William Sugg placed the four-headed lamps on top of the pillars either side of the infamous gold and black gate at the entrance of Buckingham Palace
  • In 1907, William Sugg died and subsequently, the company was taken over by family descendants

During both WWI and WWII, the company was kept incredibly busy. During both wars, William Sugg and Co. Ltd manufactured armaments including 8 million lighting components for The Great War and 12 million for WWII. This was a huge success.

In 1963, the company moved from their factory in Westminster to a new factory in Crawley which was extended to 100,000 square ft due to their expansion and success. Three years later, the company was subject of a hostile takeover bid from Thorn Electrical Industries Ltd. Due to this takeover, some of the ex Westminster employees, including Chris Sugg and Keith Bouracier, formed a new company which grew into Sugg Lighting Ltd to continue to produce gas lighting. The new company produced their first new gas light in 1973 designed for the emergency lighting during the Miners Strike. In 1999 Sugg Lighting Ltd was sold to F W Thorpe, however retained the Sugg name and more recently, in 2019, was the re-formation of William Sugg & Co Ltd as we know it today.

Some of our favourite projects

William Sugg and Co. Ltd. have produced thousands of heritage lamps over the last 180 years. Some of our favourites include mounting lights in Trafalgar Square, Downing Street and Tower Bridge, which we still maintain today.

Why choose a Traditional British Brand?

British heritage brands are valued for their reputation for quality and craftsmanship, their association with luxury and exclusivity, and their role as a symbol of national pride.

Many of these brands are known for producing products that are of the highest quality and made with the finest materials.  Consumers who purchase products from heritage British brands are often seen as being discerning and appreciative of quality and tradition.

If you would like to find out more about our history as a heritage lighting company, visit the William Sugg history website.