History

Speedings Ltd was established in 1827 on the banks of the River Wear in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, which makes the company the oldest manufacturing business in the City of Sunderland – a fact of which we are immensely proud.

1827

1827

The original Speedings sign at Monkwearmouth

Speedings is one of the oldest surviving companies in Monkwearmouth. James Speeding & Co. was established as ships’ Merchants. Wearside proved the ideal location for such an enterprise at this time with its ever increasing shipbuilding and repair yards.

1852

The York firm of John Craven & Sons, civil engineers, came to Sunderland to build the South Docks. During this period, a son Hiram, met and married in the town, the daughter of Thomas Speeding.

1860

1860

A Craven & Speeding Brothers advert from 1860

Hiram went into partnership with his two Speeding brother in-laws to establish the rope making firm of Craven & Speeding Brothers. The factory eventually dominated the junction of Roker Avenue and Fulwell Road.

1880

1880

Hiram Speeding

A son, also named Hiram, joined the firm and from the outset showed himself to be a driving force applying his considerable energy to the development of the company, even to the extent of acquiring plantations abroad to cultivate raw materials.

1893

By this time, the firm had become well established and had taken over Whickham Street school buildings in Monkwearmouth for their businesses.

1913

Originally Mr Thomas Speeding was a ship owner associated with Speeding Marshall and Co. of Newcastle, but in 1913 he joined the family business of James Speeding and Co. and then became Speedings Ltd.

1914

Speedings remained a family business until this time, when the firm amalgamated with another local company called Davidson Hoseason who were well known for making and hiring tents. The outbreak of the First World War, July 28th, brought the company extra work. As well as providing goods for the Royal Navy and the Merchant Fleet, they supplied new lines such as, webbing belts made of strong woven fabric and canvas kit bags.

1916

A Sunderland businessman, former town councillor and magistrate, Mr Thomas Speeding of Southcliffe Roker, died on Saturday June 12th, ages 81 years old. He was actively connected with the Sunderland sail tent and life belt making company of Speedings LTD, until approximately 5 years ago.

1924

1924

A Craven & Speeding Brother cart from 1924

Craven and Speeding Brothers employed over 400 workers when it became a major production force within British ropes, until closure under the name of Bridon Fibres and Plastics Limited.

1939

The Second World War on September 1st, brought a further increase in the output.

1945

Mr William Rodgers became Director for Speedings.

1949

1949

The Speedings shop floor in 1949

A woman called Joan Quinn started work at Speedings in Whickham Street, Monkwearmouth when she left school. She worked on the factory floor making fenders, which are plastic cylinder tyre pieces of rope matting, hung over the ships side to protect it from the impact. Flag making was also a part of the work that was produced at Speedings.

1956

David Rodgers, son of William Rodgers, joined his father by working at Speedings. By this time, the main focus of the company’s work was in the maritime business with the manufacturing of canvas, life jackets, life buoys and the routine servicing of life rafts. The production of flags also continued throughout this period.

1960

1960

This is a letter that Speedings sent to one of it's employees wife after he passed, dated 1960. It is a very lovely letter and clear that he was very respected amongst his community.

1977

Camper & Nicholson’s bought Speedings, running the business as part of its existing operation.

1978

1978

Ray McKeever working on a rented tent

Ray McKeever is working on one of our rented tents in the above picture. He is still currently an employee at Speedings.

1980

1980

Billy Wells being presented with a 25 years service award

From left to right, George Howes, Billy Wells, David Rodgers and Fred Crawford. Billy is being presented with an award for his service of 25 years.

1983

Speedings was sold again only 6 years later. Joseph Hammal and David Rodgers became Directors of the company. Jobs were cut at this point, which made only 14 employees left working at Speedings. The main thrust of the business changed again, as the maritime arm of the business slowed down. The experience Speedings held in the use of canvas materials was adapted to begin production of items for use by the fire service with cylinder covers and salvage sheets being main items sold.

1985

At this time, Speedings began manufacturing goods for the fire service.

2002

Speedings began to manufacture for the Ambulance Service.

2004

Speedings moved to Leechmere Industrial Estate, Unit 4 Queens Court Business Centre, Carrmere Road, Sunderland.

2010

Robert Hammal took over the business from his father Joseph Hammal.

Present day

Present day

The current Speedings workforce

We presently manufactures goods for all fire services and most ambulance services in the UK, as well as several companies around the world. Speedings currently has 40 staff employed and we continue to expand year after year.