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Morrison and Austin (1873-1886)

Morrison and Austin

Worship Street, London; wholesale cabinet and chair makers, upholsterers, looking glass manufacturers, bed, mattress and bedding manufacturers, carvers and gilders (fl.1873-86)

Morrison & Austin was listed at 48 & 50 Worship Street (1873); additional location at no. 85 Worship Street (1877); 48, 50, 24, 28 & 30 Worship Street (1883) [The Furniture Gazette Directory, 1873, 1876 & 1877]. They were recorded as wholesale cabinet makers and looking glass manufacturers at 85 Worship Street in The Furniture Gazette: Classified List of the Furniture, Upholstery, and Allied Trades (1886).

In July 1876 the firm advertised their Excelsior silvering process for glass. In March 1877 they added a looking glass manufactory and further workshops in Worship Street. Their catalogue that year included 1,800 objects, demonstrating their growth with new designs by their own artist, including a buffet. At this time the firm employed sixty to seventy workmen indoors with a similar number elsewhere and all the upholstery, stuffing and polishing was carried out on the premises. Work was not only of cheap form but with highly finished qualities [The Furniture Gazette, 1 July, 1876; 10 March 1877].  

They participated in the Third Annual Furniture Exhibition, 1883. In 1884 they opened an extensive steam cabinet factory at 85 Worship Street fitted out with every type of labour saving machinery of the most improved innovation. Mr Morrison apparently met customers himself at the counting house of 48 & 50 Worship Street, where the upholsterers’ workshop, polishing shops, packing rooms and storage rooms were housed with showrooms on the upper floor. Their showrooms in Worship Street displayed mirrors, overmantels, cabinets, bedroom suites, stuff-over furniture & upholstered suites, dining room suites, bent wood furniture, library fittings, chair & couch frames. The Furniture Gazette illustrated a drawing room cabinet, and drew attention to the fashionable articles of croquet chairs and garden furniture and the publication of a new catalogue featuring 1500 designs in Early English, Jacobean, Queen Anne, Chippendale, Sheraton and other fashionable styles, over 270 pages with price list of 140 pages [The Furniture Gazette, 5 May 1883; 26 April 1884; 8 May 1885].


Drawing-room Cabinet by Morrison & Austin published in The Furniture Gazette, 1 May 1885, p. 259

Drawings in The Cabinet Maker, March 1884 (illus. Agius (1978), p. 167) showed the mechanised band sawing, fret cutting, mechanised incising, fluting and papering up processes at Morrison and Austin’s new Steam Cabinet and Chair Works.

Morrison & Austin purchased the entire cabinet stock and goodwill etc. of Shipman & Co. of 29 & 31 Wilson Street, Finsbury; the stock was to be sold at advantageous prices on 24 March 1885 [The Furniture Gazette, 1 March 1885]. In November 1886 they erected a spacious new block of warehouses and offices in Worship Street, where they intended to carry out the greater part of their business and by this date had the telegraphic address of ‘Morans, London’ [The Furniture Gazette, 1 January 1886, 1 November 1886].

Advertisements and editorial in The Furniture Gazette indicate that the firm were manufacturers of various designs, including ‘The Climax’ Nursery Carriage Chair [12 July 1879], bedroom furniture, illus. [4 & 11 December 1880], W. Randall’s patent combination chamber cupboard [8 July 1882], examples of patent nursery carriage/chair made in mahogany, walnut, birch or oak [16 December 1882] and the patent ‘Premier’ folding chair, the patent ‘Convertible’ chair and the patent self-adjusting reclining chair [1 October 1885].

Nursery chair

Morrison & Austin advertisement published in The Furniture Gazette, 12 July 1879, p. xiv

They also advertised several staff vacancies in The Furniture Gazette; e.g.‘ to upholsterers for a man to undertake drapery work in the house in the country’ [2 June 1877] and a furniture draughtsman [1 January 1881]. 

Sources: Agius, British Furniture 1880-1915 (1978); Smith & Rogers, Behind the Veneer.  The South Shoreditch Furniture Trade and its Buildings (2006).