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About us

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The company was founded in 1844 when apprentices slept in the cellar and the boss counted his pennies in the attic at night!

It was Mr Charles Roope Heward who opened the doors at 16 Shaftesbury Terrace, Pimlico, and expanded so fast he promptly shut them again in 1846 and moved to 7 Portland Place, Commercial Road – not a good move because in 1864 the premises were compulsory purchased by the railway company and demolished.

The business was restarted in Homerton and Mr Heward’s son, Charles, became a partner in 1870.
The firm was then known as C.R. Heward & Son, a fact which can be confirmed as many of the cast iron manhole covers in Homerton streets still bear the name to this day.

In 1890 Charles Roope Heward retired, and onto the scene came Frederick Charles Heward and the power games began; he became a partner together with David Dean in the branch business at West Green Road, Tottenham in 1902 and the branch title altered to Heward Son & Dean.

The Gas Light & Coke Co was installing gas mains with 20 pairs of C.R. Heward & son’s fitters and they dug up so many streets that Heward Son & Dean‘s horses could not get through. The result was that Mr Frederick Heward retired from C.R. Heward and Sons in 1928 and confined his activities to the now Heward & Dean Ltd. He subsequently decided to take up the cloth as a late vocation, but in spite of having turned his collar round the other way he remained company secretary.

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Naturally heaven smiled down and the company prospered during which time Heward & Dean Ltd delivery horses sailed forth with ‘Hotspur’, the company trade mark, making cast iron ranges for the kitchens of the growing housing estates all to be black-leaded by giant gin-drinking ladies, the backbone of the growing industrial area, whilst the posh houses took delivery of knife polishing machines complete with Oakey’s emery powder to keep the country scullery maids busy.

Then came the First World War, the casualties and the depression. However, the crisis passed and a short period of stability followed. The industrial area of north London flourished with manufacturers of every sort (transmission engineers were the order of the day) including line shafts, pulleys, belting, hangers – a whole era now past. Then another war and more casualties. Heward & Dean was ready, classified as an essential undertaking and with factories close by making Mosquito aircraft, tank landing barges and all the paraphernalia of war. How could it go wrong? Under the leadership of Donald Dean and Arthur Clegg, the company made its contribution to those traumatic times and come the dawn of peace they guided it to a new era. With shortages of almost everything, a large domestic hardware division sprang up to supply pots and pans to homes, hospitals and canteens while engineering geared up for peacetime activities.

It would be fair to say this trade, in spite of shortages and extended deliveries, enjoyed a privileged situation for many years, almost up until the early 70’s, independent or multi-national it was all there for the taking.

Then came decimalisation and the EEC and slowly the tables turned. Heward & Dean Ltd was lucky – somebody decided to build the Victoria Tube Line and there it was sitting almost on the main contractors site.

Four years of bliss, everything went down the gianthole, there must be more spanners buried under the streets of London than parking meters on the streets above. Then followed North Sea Gas and pipelines to span the country. Then, suddenly, the big projects were over and the company branched out into air products and automation. This went well until the mid-70s when investment in capital plant was falling off. Fortunately during this period another division of the company was reaching into education in line with the schools building programme centred on new workshops and the coming of age of technology.

Now led by Jack Norridge and John Clegg, the company continued in it's old tradition as an engineer’s merchant to surrounding industry, whilst the education division reached out to Northern Ireland, Bermuda, Hong Kong and the Falklands, a situation which continued in the late 80s.

Along the way the company had developed a disciplined and efficient administration, backed by strong buying power through its shareholding in THS Tools Ltd, a company which keeps the independents independent.

Following two more changes of ownership during the 90s, the current owners took over in 2006 pushing the business forward whilst maintaining the traditional values of Heward & Dean.

Sales Director Stephen Clifford has worked for the company since 1979 and is therefore steeped in the tradition of Heward & Dean. He has seen three changes of ownership, the last of which resulted in him becoming an equal shareholder in the company.