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Jepson and Co Ltd History

Jepson & Co Ltd was established as a family company in 1894 and remains family owned to this day. The founder, George Henry Jepson started from a sweets and tobacco shop as a sole proprietor on Division Street in Sheffield, but soon began specialising in a glass, sign and poster writing, which made a natural transition to hand painted number plates.

Sign writing to plate writing

This number plate change came about on January 1st 1904 when motor vehicles were required to be licensed, and the company were called upon to hand write registration numbers in white letters and figures directly onto motor vehicles. This was the start of Jepsons as a number plate manufacturer, working alongside the original signwriting business. To help production on a larger scale, George Henry Jepson purchased a George Mann lithographic printing machine for making multi-coloured shop window tickets for butchers, bakers and green grocers. Following this in1910, the business acquired the Sheffield Novelty Nameplate Company and added their line of products to their own, including the embossed brass individual letters and figures to be applied to a base board, creating easily interchangeable signs.

Developing nationally

The methods taken from the interchangeable signs led to Jepsons developing their range of embossed aluminium number plates, which would go on to replace the handwritten method, and this change meant that the company could go on to provide registration plates for motor cars and garages via post across the country. With nationwide delivery becoming more accessible, our biggest customer became Railway and General Stores Ltd, of London, who exported our products to South Africa, starting a long tradition of exporting and working with overseas distributors.

Innovating by the Jepson family

During about 1925 George Arthur Jepson, George Henry’s son, began developing a more cost effective way of printing, coming up with printing on the material celluloid, a predecessor to acrylic, instead of onto tinplate. This was done using the George Mann printing machine which was bought as Jepsons number plate making success began.

By the 1930s, the company remained successful with its main trade in number plates, shop window tickets and notices for mines and factories unfortunately this was until the wars took their toll. During the First and the Second Great Wars the business adapted to the austere climate facing wartime Britain and helped the war effort in small part through targeting their metal working experience to spraying and assembling steel helmets.

Refining production

The business adapted with the dramatic cultural changes occurring in the 1950s and 1960s, for example refining production of embossed number plates as more and more cars came onto the road. An advanced stove enamelling system coupled with a conveyor belt system was developed by the experienced staff at Jepsons to decrease the time required to cure the plates, meaning that over 1000 blank plates could be stoved each day, ready for sale and hand digit riveting at our trade customers’ premises. Eventually Consequently, Jepsons became masters of their own production and were producing the white and silver digits themselves along with the blank plates all in-house, which made the business more prosperous.

Continuing to grow

Realising that production was outgrowing the Wellington Street factory, the company moved to its current location on East Bank Road in 1976 , where they oversaw change from pressed aluminium number plates to acrylic, realising the potential in the reflective material. Working with customers to define their needs and adapting quickly meant the company was able to they supply customers with this new style of plate before competitors and establish long standing relationships with customers, many of whom are still working with Jepsons today.


Article Published : 16th October 2017