In the year 1750, John Ross founded a Whip making business at 238 Piccadilly, London W1. James Swaine later purchased this business in 1798, having for some years been foreman of a successful whip making business in Holborn.
A royal appointment to His Majesty King George III and to his sons, The Prince of Wales and the Dukes of York, Clarence, Kent, Cumberland and Cambridge quickly followed and Swaine Adeney’s reputation for quality and excellence was established.
Jermyn Street: History of Swaine Adeney Brigg
The Royal appointments were renewed in the reigns of His Majesty George IV and His Majesty William IV. In the year 1835, James Swaine moved his business to larger premises at 185 Piccadilly. The business continued to flourish and in 1845 Edward Swaine took his nephew into partnership and Swaine Adeney was born.
In many ways, much remains the same today, the same artisan’s crafts are used to hand-shape the fine leather goods: tooling, stitching and engraving each piece in time-honoured tradition. The Swaine Adeney workshops in Northamptonshire are (alas) one of the UK’s last studios left in the UK to craft fine leather in this way. This is where customers can send their favourite pieces for repair, however old!
In 1851, Swaine Adeney decided to put its fine products on show to the world at the London Exhibition held at the newly constructed Crystal Palace. The Exhibition was the largest the world had ever seen (attracting over six million visitors to a space four times the size of St. Peter’s in Rome).
Swaine Adeney won several prize medals at the London Exhibition, prompting the company to show its fine goods at the Paris Exhibition of 1900 (at which further medals followed). Swaine Adeney’s reputation was now growing on a worldwide stage, as the finest producer of leather goods.
Thomas Brigg and Son’s was established in 1836 at No. 23 St. James’s Street a stone’s throw from Swaine Adeney Brigg’s present location in Piccadilly Arcade. The company specialised in the manufacture of the finest umbrellas, walking sticks and hunting crops.
During the Second World War, Brigg & Sons lost its Paris shop when France was occupied. Back home in London, help was at hand in the form of Swaine Adeney: the two firms joined forces mid-war in February 1943, to form Swaine Adeney Brigg & Sons Limited. The store became well known for the supply of its equestrian goods, which are still made to this day. Here is a short film illustrating the making process of a few of their goods
By Royal Appointment
In the late 18th century, Royal tradesmen began displaying the Royal Arms on their premises and stationery. Queen Victoria ensured Royal Warrants gained the prestige they enjoy today. During her 64 year reign the Queen and her family granted more than 2000 Royal Warrants, eight times as many as the Queen’s uncle, George IV.
In 1893, Thomas Brigg and Sons received its first Royal Appointment from Her Majesty Queen Victoria and became the first umbrella maker ever to be honoured with an appointment. Further Royal Appointments were also bestowed by Her Majesty Queen Victoria and by His Majesty Edward VI.
Today, there are around 850 Royal Warrant Holders. (The number changes as firms are appointed, or lose their warrants.) Royal Warrants continue to be a prestigious mark of recognition to those who are regular suppliers of goods and services to certain members of the Royal Family.
Swaine Adeney Brigg (7 Piccadilly Arcade, London, SW1Y 6NH)