Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Fletcher Millers revisited

Pictures and information provided courtesy of   Brian Oldham  who worked at Fletcher Millers from 1956 as an apprentice mechanic and worked through to the 80s during which time it changed to Burmah, then Burmah Castrol and finally BP, Brian progressed to garage manager.

Fletcher Miller was started in 1935 by the Miller family. The story goes whether true or not, is that one of the brothers owned a chemists shop in Dukinfield, his brother is said to have walked in the shop one day with a bottle of oil, and one of water. He said "If we can make these mix we could make a fortune". It was eventually found that whale oil and water would do this and the mixture was the ideal medium for cutting oil with lathes and machines that needed to be lubricated and cooled, the oil lubricated and the water cooled.
The firm originally was located in Alma Mills, Dukinfield but moved to Hyde after a disastrous fire there. It then moved to the old Tinker Shenton boiler works on Furnace Street and they continued production there. They also had depots at Blantyre Scotland, West Bromwich in the Midlands, Bristol, Wandsworth and Rotherhithe.

GUY OTTER Engine is a Gardner 4lk

AEC MAMMOTH MAJOR  MK111 Engine is AEC 11.3 litre

 TRUSTY DIESEL  Engine is Gardner 6lw


This is the garage next to Rosemount church where Fletchers were based. Before Fletcher Millers owned it, this was owned by Joseph Hoyle transport and the garage was named as such.


Milk float used by Fletcher Millers during the 70s for transporting drums between departments

Thank you Brian,

While I was sorting this post out an email came in quite by chance, which too was about Fletcher Millers. Allen Miller had read another article on the blog and got in touch. Perfect timing indeed, over to Allen  

I am Allen Miller and related to the family. 
John Miller was my Father’s uncle and he went to work for Fletcher Millers after WW2 ended. This would be at or about 1949, when my father and mother (Joan Miller ne Shaw) moved to Bush Hill North London. There my dad took over the then late Sidney Miller’s round in North London. Sam Miller (another brother) had the distribution round for cutting oils in the black country around Birmingham. I new Sam well he was my uncle and Beryl his daughter. I met John Miller (founder) once but I was only very young then.

When I was a young man I went to the Wandsworth production and distribution centre with my father and met some of the chemists there. I also met Mr. Robertshaw who was the production manager. I do not remember going to Alma Mills (Hyde) production but I know there were two chemists there who did most of the design work called Messrs. Bickerton and Birchenoff.     

My dad got the Ford’s order for Dagenham and the Ford tractor plant at Langley and became a director of Castrol Industrial Oils division very soon afterwards. 

My father’s cousin was ‘Bobby’ Miller he took over from John Miller as Managing Director when ‘Uncle John’ died. Bobby moved off to Malta with his wife Christine in the early 80’s and then moved back to the UK after about 3 years there. He then went to live on the northern part of the Isle of Man in Jurby at a house called Ballaterson Manor. I went there once to visit him. Christine was no longer around then and I never met her.

My uncle on my mother’s side Eric Shaw went to work for FM’s and later Burmah when they took over things. Burmah were in a bad state then. They had bought many Tankers for the oil run from Bahrain at the time when there was an oil glut and let them rot in the Norwegian Fjords. My dad was 55 then and he was made redundant when Burmah ran short of cash. Eric was kept on more or less to retirement age. He was the one responsible for making the frame for the picture below.

In the pictures you will see some hand-outs that Castrol distributed. There were several of these dusters made and this is just one of them. Another one were the matching salt and pepper cruets the bottoms of which you can see in the next photo as being from Castrol. We also had a cigarette lighter with a model of Castrol house inside it, but the plastic degraded and I belive it was scrapped. My father also had a long-service plate similar to the one on your website. I am not sure where it is – maybe in our attic somewhere.

Dad tried to get me into the oil business but I went my own way. I am an electronics engineer and now at 65 still going strong.
Best Regards,
Allen Miller    

From 'Grace's Guide To British Industry'

Of Alma Mills, Dukinfield, Manchester. Telephone: Ashton-under-Lyne 1844/5. Telegraphic Address: "Emulsion, Dukinfield".(1937) of Hyde, near Manchester
1921 Patent - Improvements in or relating to back plates for gas and like stoves or cookers.
1937 Oil chemists to the engineering trades. "Clearedge" Translucent Soluble Coolant. "Cooledge" Water Soluble Cutting Oil. "Lardedge" Mineralised Lard Oil. "Rodol" Rust Preventatives. "Swift" Sulphurised Straight Cutting Oil. [1]
1937 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Metal Cutting Oils , such as Roebuck Oil, (neat and water soluble), Drawing Compounds, rust Preventives (liquid and solid), Easing Oil, Degreasing Compounds, Belt Dressing, Case-hardening Media, Oils for Engineering, Marine and Industrial purposes. (Stand No. D.309) [2]

1958 C. C. Wakefield and Co acquired Fletcher Miller, which was also involved in industrial oils[3].
A few of their adverts

You can still by the toy tanker


Tom said...

These are the comments from the Blogs facebook page when some of Brian's photo's were shown.

Brian Ibbotson I worked there in the early 60s on the maintenance. Ken Capper foreman. Sammy Mellish boiler man.Ronnie Pollitt bricklayer Jack Sellars plumber, an so on.Fond memories.
26 July at 17:24 ·
Tony Whitehead My Uncle Arthur ( Sherwin) worked for Fletcher Miller for most of his working life!
26 July at 19:57 · Like ·
Patricia James My first job was at Fletcher Miller's - Office Junior!
27 July at 08:48 ·
June Oreilly My father, Bill Johnson, worked at Fletcher Millers, later Castrol as a tanker driver. He loved his job, took him all over the north west. He drove the first largest tanker that Burma Castrol brought into the company. He had more than 30yrs service. Sadly he had to retire when he had a stroke.
27 July at 22:38 ·
Nancy Morris My father in law, Bill Morris, worked at Fletcher Millers / Burmah Castrol throughout the war years at up to his retirement in the mid 1970's.
27 July at 22:56 · Unlike · 1
Sharon Oldham
Sharon Oldham June Oreilly, your Father drove a Foden DG 6 wheel tanker reg no KMA 817 It was awkward to drive because the accelerator pedal was in the centre, the only waggon Fletcher owned like this, Sadly my father in law remembers the stroke was after the works do, he said he was a cracking lad,
28 July at 18:07 ·
June Oreilly Thank you for that Sharon, it's brought a tear to my eye, loved my dad so much, he died so young. He loved working there. They used to work Saturday mornings to clean the wagons, I remember he always brought home Handforths pies for dinner. Amazing wha...See More
28 July at 21:49 ·
Sharon Oldham Pleased to have been of some assistance June
28 July at 21:56 ·
Tom Wigley June when the blog was first set up a few years ago by myself and Nancy, we did not have any idea just how important some of the posting and information were going to be. Emails came weekly from people across the world who had been moved to tears and w...See More
29 July at 09:51 ·
Tony Whitehead I've not lived in Hyde since '87 so these blogs are FANTASTIC for me...,along with BBC RADIO Manchester....l sometimes forget where I am wink emoticon
29 July at 11:30 ·
June Oreilly Thank you Tom. Xx
29 July at 21:04 ·
Christina Howard Lovely Photo
30 July at 22:14
Jen Mack Hi Sharon, I know Oldham is a common name in those parts (not so common in South Australia where i now live), but somewhere down the road I am probably related to your husbands family, as they are also from Hyde. My maiden name is Oldham. My Dad is Colin Joseph Oldham. I wonder if he doesn't mind telling me his fathers and fathers fathers names. PM is fine. My Grandfather had several brothers you see
31 July at 07:49 ·
Sharon Oldham Hi Jen Mack, only just seen this sorry, I myself didn't realise how common a name it is around here until I met my Husband. his grandfathers name was Jack Oldham and his great grandfather was Harold Oldham. There does appear to be a few different groups of Oldhams about Hyde though.
31 July at 21:10 ·
Tony Whitehead Poor Joan Olham, recently passed. Wife of Arthur Oldam who passed a couple of weeks ago. Both born, lived and died in Gee Cross. They leave a son, Peter married to Susan with 3 Oldham kids!!
31 July at 22:21
Tony Whitehead Above please swap Olham to Oldham???
31 July at 22:22
June Oreilly Joan worked in the cake shop in GX with Brian's mum for years. God help anybody said anything wrong, they would get told off. Best pies round about though. Meat and tater, pie on a muffin, brilliant. No wonder I had a fat a..e. Lol Happy days.
31 July at 23:37
Tony Whitehead That's right June..., the price of pies and cakes varied according to WHO the customer was ha ha ha!!!!
6 August at 12:38 ·
June Oreilly Spot on there Tony.
6 August at 21:04 ·

jacqueline ridgway said...

I worked at Fletcher Miller's later Castrol from 1954-1963 in the Sales Order Office, I used to tyoe all the orders Thursday afternoon for all the deliveries to the Motor Industry and others in the Midlands. The Director was Arthur George and Mr Bob Miller was also at the Office. A Colleague I worked with was Joan Bradshaw and Mr Gibson was my boss and Eric Artingstall was his assistant. It was a good company to work for and they had very good Christmas Parties. My name is jacqueline Ridgway nee Holt.

Chris Han said...

Gorgeous vehicles, I remember seeing the AEC trundling along the roads as a kid.

Unknown said...

I worked at FM in Hyde as a young man from 61 to late 63 when I left to join the army. I started in the femol anti freeze dept and moved into the main works on to the experiential floor. We used to make Klix hand clean jelly. Harold Gradwell was the shop foreman.