15 January 2018

Gap in History

I was looking through Kevin Hall's A Chronology of Filofax, I find myself reading this valuable document quite often because it is crammed full of detailed information about the company.

Through the document you can build up a valuable picture of the company and the products they have introduced over the years.

The main focus of the document is really from 1980 onwards. However the brand started in the 1920's in 1940 a bomb destroyed the company records but fortunately Grace Scurr had a copy of all the names and addresses of customers and suppliers in her two Filofax organisers. So she was able to help the company get back on its feet again.

What happened between 1945 and 1980? With the war over and the country recovering and slowly getting back to normal and industry returning to normal domestic production. What were Filofax doing back then?

Looking at various social histories on line about how industry changed over this 35 years and how society changed during the same period. Were Filofax still producing the same models all the time at their facility in Forest Road, Ilford?

I suspect there was no influence from the major changes in fashion in the 1960's and 1970's that influenced Filofax.

We know that the early 1980's models are very similar in design to those of the late 1930's, although the range of colours had expanded a little.

Can anyone supply more detail than what I have had an educated guess at?

12 comments:

  1. I agree Steve - there is a great lack of much certain knowledge prior to the 1980s, and I would love to have more. As far as we can tell, the business seemed to tick along without much changing. The products offered did evolve somewhat, but apparently not very much. One day I hope to have enough information to trace this evolution. As it stands we have the pre-war catalogue and then nothing for the next 43 years!

    I also think there was a preserved relationship to Lefax in the US, for which Filofax originally started out as UK importer, but solid evidence of the nature of this relationship, and how it might have changed over time, is currently lacking.

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  2. One piece of info I can supply is that, in 1981, Norman & Hill (Filofax) sales were located here:
    Plough Yard Works
    Plough Yard
    Hearn Street
    London
    EC2A 3PR

    So I think Forest Road, Ilford was later.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Max for that additional address. I think the Ilford site was used for just production, because it mentions over 100 people being laid off from there in the document so quite a sizeable work force back then.

      Hearn Street seems to have disappeared possibly due to redevelopment in that area. I will try and find an old street map of London.

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    2. I found the street and yard a little further to the south of the postcode centre. Looked like a construction site on the satellite image.

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    3. Found it. Well there won't be anything there to see now will there!

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    4. I have found a photo of the premises before it was demolished here. It was this building #7 where they were based according to another letter header.
      Postcode now is EC2A 3LP.

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    5. And you can read about the new development at the site here. A 40 floor tower block of flats plus a theatrical connection.

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    6. By coincidence I just spoke to someone who'd purchased a Filofax from this Plough Lane location in 1976. It was used as a print works.

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  3. Replies
    1. No I think she died many years ago. She retired in 1955.

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    2. She died in June 1987 aged 94. She sold her shares in the company for just £1500 in 1980 just before the boom in sales.

      Details found here:

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1987/07/14/the-fax-of-life/01911039-1874-4ad5-9d22-0afde83685b7/?utm_term=.10e4825c6d85

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