Merryweather and Sons was originally established around 1690 by a Nathaniel Hadley whose factory on Cross Street in London manufactured - among other things - pumps and fire-fighting apparatus. The first fire engine factory was built in 1738 at the corner of Bow Street and Long Acre and was used for the manufacture of hand engines and leather hose, and later for steam engines.
For a time the company was called "Hadley - Simpkin" (after a master plumber who invented a kind of fire pump). In 1791 Henry Lott joined the firm and it became "Hadley, Simpkin and Lott". At some point Lott took over full control of the company and when he retired handed it over to his nephew by marriage, Moses Merryweather, who had apprenticed there in 1807.
Merryweather had three sons who joined the company in the latter half of the 19th century including James, who was responsible for promoting its products internationally.
In 1862 a new factory was built in York Street, Lambeth, for the manufacture of steam engines. In 1873 the Long Acre factory was destroyed by fire and a new building constructed to be used for offices and as a show room. In 1876 another factory was built in Greenwich Road and three years later the Lambeth factory was closed.
As "Fire Engine Makers by Appointment to His Majesty the King", Merryweather and Sons sold fire-fighting apparatus to cities around the world. By 1913 its machines were being used across the UK, in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Burma, Egypt, India and Singapore and China. No Merryweathers appear to have been sold in Canada, however.
The standard Merryweather Petrol Motor Fire Engine in the years leading up to the First World War came with the choice of either a 50 or 60 horsepower, 4-cylinder water-cooled Aster motor, 3-speed transmission and a chain drive supplying power to the rear wheels. The whole unit could attain a speed of 30 mph "and upwards" on level ground, "with corresponding hill climbing capabilities". Merryweather fire engines were generally equipped with their patented "Hatfield" three-cylinder reciprocating water pumps driven off the engine through a clutch and drive-shaft.
The recent history of the firm is a little murky. At some point the company moved to Wales, but its
stock ceased being traded sometime in the early 1980's and reports suggest that the company's papers
were destroyed at that time. Records show that in 1999 a company named "Morris Merryweather
Fire and Safety Equipment" went into receivership but we do not know if the two are related.
To see more images relating to Merryweather and Sons, go here.