Speedings was first established in 1827 as James Speeding and Company, a ships’ stores merchants; they were one of the many companies formed at that time to supply the increasing numbers of sailing ships plying trade routes worldwide. This was during the heyday of British rule when we still boasted the largest merchant fleet in the world. Speedings also built up a well-respected sail repair loft. The majority of Company trading took place locally in the Sunderland and Wear area, which had one of the largest concentrations of shipbuilders, ship stores and repair yards of the day.
After trading solely as a family business for many years the directors decided to amalgamate with another well-known company, David Hoseason, who were specialists in the making and hiring of tents. Thus Speedings Ltd were formed in 1913 and premises were acquired in Whickham Street, Monkwearmouth.
With the transition from sail to steam Speedings too moved with the times. Increasing the range and variety of their stores and adapting their existing sail-making skills to that of producing ships’ awnings, tarpaulins and hatch covers for the new breed of ocean trader.
The advent of the First World War brought additional business to the company with an increase in marine canvas requirements both for naval and merchant vessels, as well as orders for small items such as webbing belts and canvas kit bags.
The outbreak of the Second World War provided new opportunities again, ranging from kit bags to providing hangar linings for the protection of barrage balloons. Many Royal Navy ships were fitted out with Speedings awnings and canvas outfits in accordance with Admiralty specifications. HMS Hood, HMS Kelly, also Cossack, Victorious, King George V, Triumph, Albert, Belfast, Illustrious, Prince of Wales and Sheffield, to name but a handful of the most famous that were among the many ships Speedings provided for.
During the 1980s Speedings started to manufacture various products for the local Fire Brigades – Tyne & Wear and Durham. The demise of the North East shipbuilding industry at the end of the 1980s had a huge impact on the company and a decision was taken to expand our involvement with the Fire Service nationally – this decision was to ensure the company’s survival and resulted in continued growth and sustainability.
Therefore the business now operates predominantly within the Rescue Services industry. With all fire services within the UK using personal protective equipment manufactured by Speedings.
Speedings’ ability to manufacture products in both large and small quantities has been of huge benefit to our customers and has seen a continued and sustained growth in our ‘Consultancy and Design’ service. This bespoke process allows us to take a customer’s initial thoughts and ideas and convert them into a detailed product design. The transition from design to production is seamless as we manufacture from our factory in Sunderland – enabling our Product Design Team to oversee the complete process thus ensuring the customer gets exactly what they asked for.
The product range has expanded hugely from those early days in the sector, Speedings are now a market leader in the manufacture and supply of equipment such as:
- Cylinder Covers
- Sharp End Protection Sets
- Airbag Protection Systems
- IEC Response Bags.
- Retractable Personal Lines
- Incident Command Surcoats
- Incident Command Wallets
As a family owned and managed company we pride ourselves on personal attention, quality products, reliability and customer service – these principles being the cornerstones to Speedings longevity and continued growth.
The company is now run by Robert Hammal. Speedings relocated from its Monkwearmouth base to Leechmere Industrial Estate in 2003, and currently employs 37 staff. In 2004, Speedings was accredited with ISO9001:2000 status. This standard ensures, through third-party visits, that the high standards of workmanship and customer service that have kept Speedings going for almost 200 years, are maintained.
For more information, go to www.speedingsltd.com