J Fuller & Sons Ltd Sheet metal workers & Coppersmiths are a family business with a long history. The company of J Fuller was begun by John Bean Fuller in Clerkenwell, London in about 1892 but the story really began on 9th Feb 1787. It was then that John’s grandfather William Fuller began an apprenticeship in Canterbury to become a brazier. His son, Edward followed him into the profession of brazier/coppersmith/tinsmith (also in Canterbury).
It was Edward’s son, John Bean Fuller who sailed from Whitstable to London to settle there as a journeyman tinplate worker. He started his own business in Clerkenwell at the age of 55. I believe he may well have taken over his nephew’s tinplate business (established for 20 years) in Clerkenwell when he died young.
John’s son (another John) took over, and the company grew, with 5 of his sons and one daughter working there. They moved to 289 St John Street in 1920 and were there until 1961.
My father started working there in 1936 and did his last days work in 2011 at the age of 90. My mum kept the books until she was 84. I have just completed 40 years and hope to do many more. A real family business.
- LPG Water boilers
- Various Beekeeping Equipment
- General Light Sheet Metal Work
- Copper/Brass work
- Soft soldering
- Leaded light work
The work has changed over the years. It has always been predominantly catering equipment but many of the staple items when I started, such as water urns, pudding steamers, fish kettles, insulated tea urns and bread tins have gone out of fashion. Now the main product is an LPG Boiler for use in mobile catering units. Incidentally, we have always made gas water boilers and I am just starting a new project to recreate one that we made in the 1920s as seen in our old catalogue.
We have also been making stainless steel equipment for beekeepers to process their honey and wax for 50 years.
The coppersmithing skills were largely lost with my great grandfather when the company became general sheet metal workers, but I have always had an interest and have learned the basics from a book called “The Art of Coppersmithing” by John Fuller. This was not ‘my’ John but my 2nd cousin 4x removed! He emigrated to America and wrote the book in 1894. My favourite quote from the book is where the author refers to “in Canterbury, England, one of his kinsfolk could yet be seen working at the brazier’s bench at the advanced age of 87” He was referring to Edward, my 3rd great grandfather.
The factory today is not that far removed from how it would have been when the business started – the products are still hand made using many of the tools that my ancestors used 100 years ago. The wooden benches are probably from that era as well!
I am very proud to be a seventh-generation metal worker and also extremely pleased to have worked with my parents for over 30 years.
Unit 22, Imperial Park, Rawreth Lane, Rayleigh Essex SS6 9RS
Telephone: 01268 782368