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“Golden Hammer” - a history of Garton & King


Two particularly notable events have occurred in the Company’s History. My father, Henry Holladay, joined the Company in 1932 and became a Director in 1933. A compulsory purchase order on the Waterbeer Street foundry meant finding a new site for a Foundry. He was much involved in planning the layout of the new foundry premises in Tan Lane. The foundry building was completed in June and this resulted in the first notable event, its opening in late July 1939. Unfortunately world events put paid to any meaningful celebrations which originally included producing a History of the Company which had already been researched and put into draft form by my mother, at that time Nancy Lovely and engaged to my father. Her original version survives, but the events of 1939 meant it was never put into print; her well-researched but shorter History is published for the first time elsewhere on this website (see The 1939 Notes). In August 1939 Henry Holladay and Nancy (nee Lovely) were married in St Davids Church, Exeter.

The second event was the 300th anniversary of the Company in 1961. The Timeline shows the progress of the Company up to that event. To celebrate this event the first ‘Golden Hammer’ booklet was produced, put into print and circulated privately. It drew heavily on my mother’s research and consisted originally of nine chapters. It was printed by the Exeter printers W V Cole & Sons and written by Sam Ellacott, as mentioned here in my father's preface to Golden Hammer, in which he also refers to the Golden Hammer sign which hung on the company's premises (see The Golden Hammer Sign).


        S. E. Ellacott worked in our Foundry for a time and later became a schoolmaster, author and illustrator, so he was the obvious choice to write this book. It is based on facts, gleaned from Church records and old newspapers, but shows the firm as being a live part of the City of Exeter and linked with the lives and fortunes of some of its citizens.

       The present Golden Hammer, which is made of very hard wood—probably oak, fell down from its bracket just after my Uncle (Hugo Holladay) arrived in 1895,  and John Gould King then told him that this had happened before,  soon after King had come to Exeter (1868), due to the great age of the sign.
        It still wears its years with apparent ease—how much of this story it has in fact seen I leave you to judge, and hope you will find the tale worth reading.


Exeter Foundry

Some years after the 300th Anniversary, Henry Holladay drafted a further Chapter, to which I have added another to complete the story. These two (Chapter 10: Restructuring and Foundry Closure, and Chapter 11: Garton King Appliances Ltd.) are included in the version which is reproduced here on this website. The handy A5 version of Golden Hammer was put into print in January 2014, and includes Chapters 10 & 11 (copies are available, see the Book Sale page).

So, we start at the very beginning……Golden Hammer Chapter 1: The Contented Shopman

August 2021
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See also:
Golden Hammer - List of Chapters
The 1939 notes
Waterbeer Street FoundryTan Lane Foundry
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