Established in 1852, Bradbury & Co. Ltd. was Britain’s and Europe’s first sewing machine manufacturer and would, for over 70 years, produce a wide range of sewing machines, gaining world renown. The company also made prams, bicycles, machine tools and was also one of the pioneers of the British motor cycle industry.
The company was formed by brothers Thomas and Frederick Sugden and George Bradbury in Oldham in 1852. In 1859 the business took the name Bradbury & Co. and in 1866 the construction of the two-storey Wellington Works factory was begun.
In 1874 Bradbury & Co. became a limited company. By 1890 the company employed around 600 factory staff, with a further 800 employed at 60 depots, and was producing 30,000 sewing machines a year. By 1898 Bradbury & Co. Ltd. had produced its first motorcycle.
By 1914 Bradburys was reducing its reliance on the sewing machine market through diversification in the motor industry.
During the First World War Bradbury & Co. Ltd. supplied motorcycles and bicycles to the British Forces. After the war the company reintroduced its range of sewing machines and other products but by the end of 1923 the company was experiencing financial problems and it is believed that all production ceased around this time.
In May 1929 Bradbury & Co. Ltd. was officially dissolved. The Wellington Works factory has since been demolished and the site redeveloped.
Bradburys were keen users of overprints, particularly in the Victorian period, and there are at least four varieties of overprint on the 1d lilac.