The Colello lampshade factory, 1940-1978

Photo:Partners at work at the lampshade factory

Partners at work at the lampshade factory

By Jonathan Blatchford

Acquired by the Partnership

Colello Ltd was set up to manufacture lampshades in 1925 by George a’Court Emberson with his own capital of £350. In October 1938, Colello acquired David Dewsbury Little of 94 Bond Street. At this point, Colello was an independent company that was supplying lampshades to the Partnership. However, two years later in 1940, the decision was taken by the Partnership board to acquire the lampshade factory outright. The business continued to operate from New Bond Street until the lease on the building ran out in 1946.

To Clearings

With the end of the lease, the factory transferred its operations to Clearings. This was a good decision as it put the factory near the lighting stockroom and the lighting factory, where bases for lamps and chandeliers were assembled and wired. At the time of the Partnership’s acquisition, Mr Emberson had left the business, but he retained later to become the Deputy Manager of the factory. By the 1950’s, the business consisted of the manufacture of lampshades made of silk, paper, card and plastic, and a small amount of gift-work including the manufacture of trays and bookends. It was difficult, intricate work. The lampshade work-room at Clearings was filled with highly skilled Partners.

Growth of operations

By the end of the 1960’s eleven Partners and six outworkers made lampshades largely for Peter Jones, under the directorship of the Manger Mr R Tubb. The business was now known as Taylor and Penton, although many still called it Colello. Frequently, lamps shades in the factory were made with a lining, using materials from Cavendish Textiles. The factory also took special orders, making up lampshades with customer’s own material.

Closure

In 1978, the decision was taken to close the lampshade factory. With its focus on hand-sewing, the factory’s capacity was small and would not be able to keep with the growing demands of the ever expanding Partnership. Even a small eight-inch lampshade took an hour and a quarter to make!

This page was added by Jonathan Blatchford on 19/09/2014.
Comments about this page

Thankyou Jonathon Blatchford for the lampshade article, George A'Court Emberson was my Father-in-law's Uncle, we did know about the lampshade business but not in the depth you described. I can only imagine George died quite a lonely man, in respect of the fact he never married, or maybe I am naive. I am glad he became part of the company again. My father-in-law always insisted that George ran a shop called Madam George and sold ladies fineries, I somehow think this was untrue and maybe the story was a family joke.

By linda Johnson
On 27/02/2015

Hi Linda,

There is a small element to your story that has a ring of truth to it! I was doing some research as a volunteer at the Heritage Centre on the Colello factory; I was the manager of the lighting department at Peter Jones when, sadly, the factory was closed. A small group of ladies made some wonderful shades just for us!

It was always thought that George A'Court Emberson started the factory but I found papers that indicated that was not the case! In October of 1924 he purchased from Alice Maude Payne of London W10 a company called Colello Ltd. Trading under the name of Madam Colello, she was in the business of making lampshades.

The whole business " stock, fittings, fixtures, furniture, registered name, goodwill (including introduction to all clientele)" was sold by her for the grand sum of £350!!!

I can well understand that, with a name like Madam Colello, your family made the assumption the trade was in other goods!!! Who knows maybe she did have another string to her bow!!! However I have tried to delve deeper into the history of the Madam, but so far drawn a blank. It would be great if anyone else out there knew of something!

By Geoff Pilgrim
On 14/03/2015

Thankyou so much for clarifying the family story we had. Being an amateur genealogist I like a mystery and the Madame George story had to exist in some form or other, I just didn't know where to look, until I came across your article.

By linda johnson
On 08/07/2015

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