History of Shirtmaking from the 1840s to 1950s
and the involvement of Powell & Henderson


This "Special RADIAC Supplement to The Outfitter, October 14, 1951" provides some interesting background information; not only of the origins of factory made shirts in the UK, but also the involvement of two generations of Powell and one of Henderson.

The development is traced from the partnership of McIntyre & Hogg to the company of McIntyre Hogg Marsh & Co (and the brand name RADIAC) which later merged with English Sewing Cotton and subsequently took over Tootal. What follows is an extract from this booklet, sometimes paraphrased:


In the middle of the 1800s, shirtmaking became an important industry when three pioneers appeared on the scene - Peter McIntyre, William Tillie and Joseph Welch. Peter McIntyre was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1819 and in 1844 joined his brother in law, William Thompson, to found a shirt wholesaling business with connections in Glasgow and Londonderry, N.Ireland. Peter McIntyre came to live permanently in Londonderry in 1850. He broke with his existing partner and, in 1855, entered into a lasting association with Adam Hogg; forming "McIntyre & Hogg".

Adam Hogg was also a Scot who had come to Londonderry as a manager for the shirt manufacturers Tillie & Henderson [this Henderson is not thought to be a relation] and, for a short time, he was also with Welch Margetson, another shirt manufacturer. With two experienced men in control, expansion was swift, and it became necessary to hold stocks of shirts in London; with a warehouse opening at 9-10 Addle Street, EC2 - right in the heart of the City of London.

Although, in Londonderry, the cutting of the shirts and some sewing was done in a Factory - in Foyle Street - the greatest part of the work was done in countless homes and collected weekly from the out-stations. The centralised factory system came with the introduction of sewing machines, which "McIntyre & Hogg" took up in 1857. This enabled more people to be employed centrally and soon the original factory became too small to accommodate the growing firm. In 1861, the partners embarked on an ambitious project for a new factory on the corner of Queen Street and Patrick Street, Londonderry. The plans were by Robert Young of Belfast and the building was carried out by a local contractor, William McClelland. In 1863, the new factory (known as "City Factory") was opened. In the 1870s, the firm was employing 600 workers in the City Factory and more than 2,000 workers in Derry and the surrounding area.

Soon after "McIntyre & Hogg" was founded, the need was felt for a factory in London. Sometime in the late 1860s, premises were taken at Copperfield Road, Mile End. In 1868, Henry Powell (1848-1929) joined the business and moved to Spa Factory (as the Mile End premises were known) in 1871. A factory was opened in Bristol in 1872 and transferred to Cheddar in 1873.

With settled conditions at home and abroad, the 1870s and 1880s were a boom period and the firm's home trade was reinforced by the extension of export markets (Australia, South Africa and the East & West Indies). To meet this growing demand, the Cheddar branch was enlarged - by this time it was known as the "Taunton Manufacturing Company" - and in 1882 a fine new warehouse was built in Basinghall Street in the City of London (lasting until it was destroyed in the blitz during the Second World War).

In 1884, two new partners were admitted - JP McIntyre (Peter McIntyre's eldest son) and HJ Marsh, joint managers of the London Warehouse. In 1891, the name of the business was changed to "McIntyre Hogg Marsh & Co". In 1904, a new London factory was built at Upton Park, London E13 to replace Spa Factory in Copperfield Road. The early part of the 20th century was again one of consolidation and expansion, with mass production centred on the Londonderry, London and Taunton factories. In 1901, the factory space of "City Factory" had been doubled, by completing the block in Patrick Street and North Edward Street; taking the workforce up to over 800. In 1907, the trade name "Radiac" was introduced. In 1908, a limited company was formed "McIntyre Hogg Marsh & Co Ltd" with JP McIntyre as its first Chairman and a board comprising RL Hogg, HS Marsh, AG Hogg, RH Marsh, LW McIntyre and Henry Powell (1848-1929).

During and after the First World War, controls were imposed on the industry; and the shirt trade, like many other businesses, went through a major recession. But progress was made steadily and the fashions demanded by the "bright young things" of the 1920s were met just as readily as those of their fathers and grandfathers. During this period, HF Powell (1876-c1974), Henry Powell's son, was controlling the Londonderry and Taunton factories, and it was he who nursed them through the Second World War years, ensuring that shirts for the forces were turned out in ever increasing quantities.

In 1931, Robert Henderson (1913-1988), HF Powell's nephew, was apprenticed to the firm in Londonderry. After being in the army during the Second World War, he returned to City Factory, Londonderry to become manager. Robert Henderson subsequently became Production Director. The firm merged with English Sewing Cotton Ltd and subsequently took over Tootal Ltd, but retained the better known Tootal name. Robert Henderson became Director of Tootal Men's Wear.

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Family members
Henry Powell (father)
HF Powell (son)
Robert Henderson (nephew of HF Powell)


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Revised on 29 September 2011