James Grove

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James Grove

Post by DJ » 13 Feb 2019, 14:49

The James Grove name lives on in the James Grove Recreational and Sports Ground Trust and more recently in the naming of Halesowen Town’s James Grove Lounge. Born in 1824, James Grove started his button making career in 1857. The Bloomfield Works, situated next to the Grove, commenced button manufacturing in 1865 and this operation was instrumental in the formation and early history of Halesowen Town. But the James Grove name and original button industry is now also very much still alive and kicking in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire. In this Cotswold town, Courtney and Co. have revived the old button-making tradition using the James Grove name and a new James Grove Heritage Centre is also being created.

Following the demise of James Grove & Sons Ltd. in December 2012 after 155 years of trading, a Birmingham Post article from 2014 explained that the liquidation process meant “much of the machinery was flogged off to the Far East, while the majority of the archives and company records went in a skip”. Some of this material may well have documented the early relationship with the football club. The article also reported that “As luck would have it, however, an eagle-eyed entrepreneur spotted some of the materials, including pattern books and dies, on an online auction site, and snapped them up. In 2013 James Grove & Sons was re-born as Grove Pattern Buttons, based in Camden Drive in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.”

David Courtney, owner of Courtney and Co. in Bourton-on-the-Water, takes up the story in an interview with “MakeItBritish”:

“There was an article in Country Life magazine back in the Spring of 2013 in which a call was going out to save horn button-making in the UK. It followed the collapse of James Grove & Sons Ltd. which had been trading for 155 years when it went into administration in December 2012. Sadly, there was no chance of saving the company, but we made a very hasty decision to acquire the last button-making and finishing machines and much of the heritage of James Grove from the liquidator with the intention of leasing it out to the company leading the revival effort. Sadly, this did not work out at all and this company closed in December 2015. We knew, however, that as long as we held the means of production, we retained a chance to get things up and running. We just didn’t know how at that moment in time.”

After intensive efforts, Courtney and Co. subsequently restarted button-making production in the Autumn of 2016.

A 2018 update from Courtney and Co. explains “We have much more to do and look forward to developing our range in 2019. Hopefully, it will be the year when horn buttons will be commercially produced once more. To do so, we are investing in new machines and premises and aim to launch the ‘James Grove Heritage Centre’ in which we aim to showcase much of the company’s heritage that we acquired 6 years ago together with more material we have obtained since. The new centre will also serve as a place of reference for people to come and inspect old pattern books and dies, understand the art of button-making and find out more about a company that was once the largest horn button maker in the world”.

A more recent Courtney and Co. update from early 2019 describes recent progress of the James Grove Heritage Centre, made with the help of Peter Grove. “Our story began almost 6 years ago when we acquired the last remaining specialist button turning and finishing machines left in the UK after the sad demise of James Grove & Sons Ltd. in December 2012. But we also secured as much of the company’s heritage as we could with the dream of bringing it back to life one day. Well, we are getting much closer to making this a reality. Over the past few months Peter Grove has been working with us to launch the James Grove Heritage Centre. Much more than that, he has also passed on an impressive collection of memorabilia, historic records, pattern books and cards and much more that he and his family had accumulated over the years. Last week, we received over 30 interpretation boards from our printers ready to be mounted on a section of the walls of our showroom and offices in Bourton-on-the-Water. The idea is to create a place of reference which tells some of the story in words, pictures and props of this venerable company, but one which goes much further to show how buttons are made and which materials are used, set within a library of button dies and button samples which go back several decades. We hope this is of interest. In the hope that it is, we will keep you appraised with progress over the coming weeks.”

DJ, February 2019
Further reading at:
https://courtneyandco.uk/blog/latest-ne ... GL6vdSLTMo
https://makeitbritish.co.uk/british-des ... ufacturer/

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Re: James Grove

Post by andy » 13 Feb 2019, 18:02

What an interesting article. Cheers Dave. I don't suppose there is any hope of finding anymore information on the Town though as I guess you would already have done it. :)
Proud owner of FOUR Georges O0 O0 O0 O0

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