Alexander Tom Cussons

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Alexander Tom Cussons
Born 14 July 1875
Holbeck, Leeds, England, UK
Died 20 August 1951 (aged 76)
Ruthin Castle, Wales, UK
Education Ossett Grammar School, England
Occupation Businessman
Spouse(s) Emily Jane Kidd
Children Marjorie Cussons (1902–1983)
Leslie Cussons (1907–1963)
Alex S. Cussons (1914–1986)
Parent(s) Thomas Cussons (1838–1905)
Elizabeth Cussons (1843–1905)

Alexander Tom Cussons (14 July 1875 – 20 August 1951). Born in Holbeck, Leeds, England to Thomas Tomlinson Cussons (1838–1905) and his wife Elizabeth Cussons (née Ashton, 1843–1905). Alexander was the Chairman of Cussons Sons & Co, maker of the brand Cussons Imperial Leather and other toiletries.

Career[edit]

Tom Cussons was apprenticed in the town of Ossett.[1] He then moved to Swinton, Salford with his parents. There Cussons worked in partnership with Ernest Jonathan Lake in the firm of Lake, Cussons, and Company. The firm operated as a wholesale druggist until 25 January 1894 when the partnership was dissolved.[2] Tom then continued in business with his father. In 1905 his father died and Alexander Tom took complete control of the Cussons Company. The family purchased a farm in Kersall in Manchester which was above an old bleach works at the foot of the hill. In 1907 Tom Cussons bought this factory and began manufacturing soap, glass bottles and many other products. Imperial Leather was created and manufactured there. The factory closed and was demolished in 2007. Under Tom Cussons the company grew. In 1917 Marks & Spencer penny bazaars began to stock Cussons products. In 1920 Cussons purchased a fine old perfumers named Piesse and Lubin based in Bond Street in London. Tom's daughter Marjorie was sent to work in the firm and learn about the perfume business. The firm was eventually absorbed into the main business in Manchester and ceased to exist in the 1950s. In 1921 Cussons acquired Bayleys of Bond Street. In 1947 he made Cussons Sons & Co into a public company.[3] He also made Cussons into a multinational company, with sales in many Commonwealth countries.

Cussons established the company head office at 84 Brook Street, London in the district of Mayfair. Tom Cussons is best known for manufacturing Imperial Leather soap. However he also manufactured a number of soaps which have since been discontinued. These included Apple Blossom, Linden Blossom, Lilac Blossom and Blue Hyacinth, and beautiful rose perfumed soap that led to the naming of the famous Wendy Cussons Rose. The rose was bred by Gregory & Sons of Nottingham, and was intended to be named after Tom's daughter Marjorie, but instead she asked for it to be named after her brother's wife, Wendy as she bore the name Cussons. The rose was extremely successful over many years, winning awards, and is still available in 2009, over 50 years after its introduction. Another rose, Julie Cussons, a beautiful salmon coloured floribunda bred by Gareth Fryer of Knutsford, was named after Tom's great grand child, Julie, who died at the age of two in 1985.

Family[edit]

The family originated from Osset, Yorkshire. Alexander Tom Cussons was the father of three children, with Emily Jane Kidd. The three children were Majorie Cussons (1902-1983), Leslie Padison Cussons (1907-1963) and Alexander Cussons (1914-1986). Marjorie Cussons, later Marjorie Goodwin, was an international hockey player, who played for England before joining Cussons as Marketing Director and developing the Imperial Leather brand throughout the 1940s,50s and 60s becoming President of the Cussons Group in the 1970s. Marjorie referred to herself and was widely known as 'The Mother of Imperial Leather'. Marjorie married Leslie Goodwin (a Manchester Soap Maker and former Managing Director of Cussons Sons and Company Ltd). They had two children, Hugh Cussons Goodwin (later Marketing Director of Cussons) and Natalie Jane Goodwin ( a qualified concert pianist and later a leading female racing driver in the 1960s becoming British Women's champion three times and the only woman to race professionally at Monaco). Hugh attended Uppingham School and Natalie attended Roedean School. Leslie Padison Cussons married Winsome Wheal. Leslie soon became the chairman of Cussons Soap from the early 50's until his death in 1963. Leslie and Winsome had three children, Barry Cussons, who died at about the age of ten, Leslie Nicholas Cussons and Simon Hamish Cussons. Leslie and Simon both attended Oundle School.

Leslie Nicholas ("Nick") Cussons married Geraldine Mary Ellis in September 1962 in Toft Church, Knutsford, Cheshire. From 1959, Nick Cussons participated in Motorsport, becoming a Historic GT champion in 1992. Nick and Geraldine had two children, Emily Sara Cussons (born 3 October 1964) and Benjamin Piers Cussons (born 16 March 1966). Emily Sara Cussons married Robert Mark Stanley on 20 June 1998 in Toft Church, Ollerton, Knutsford, Cheshire. Emily and Robert then had Olivia Jane Stanley (born 11 April 1999) and Eliza Isobel Stanley (born 1 June 2002). Benjamin Piers Cussons then married Serena Mary Jane Yeoward on 28 September 1996. Benjamin and Serena had two children, Grace Annalise Cussons (born 28 March 1998) and Alexander David Cussons (born 6 July 2001).

Hugh Cussons Goodwin married Linda Cardwell. They had two children, Alistair and Suzanna Goodwin. Hugh was as talented musician and played in his own jazz band, The Sunset Seven, in the 1950s and 60s with his sister Natalie. They played in the Cavern Club in Liverpool. Hugh subsequently divorced Linda and married Carol. Hugh died in his 60s and soon afterwards, Carol also died. Natalie Goodwin married Nick Shrigley-Feigl, the son of Austrian Industrialist Franz Shrigley-Feigl, in 1975 and they had two children, Francis Henry Shrigley-Feigl in 1976 and Tanya Jane Shrigley-Feigl in 1977. They lived in Knutsford, Cheshire until divorcing and Natalie then moved to Plumley and subsequently to Northwich.

Alexander Stockton Cussons was born on 30th December 1914 and due to the poor air quality in Manchester at the time, he became asthmatic and was sent to Switzerland to be schooled near Montreux, and as a result he became fluent in French, and also spoke some German and Spanish. Whilst he was at school, he played in a jazz band as the drummer. He returned to England to work at Cussons Soap, where his father sent him out to South Africa to establish a manufacturing base there due to the impending war and shortages that would occur in England. Imperial leather was manufactured throughout the war at this factory, and Alex served in the South African army during the war. Whilst in South Africa, he met and married Wendy Grace Johnston (born 1st October 1925), on 25th February 1947, and they departed to Nigeria on their honeymoon on a flat bottomed river steamer up the west coast of Africa. There they stayed with lifelong friends, the Cottgreaves, before returning to London and rationing in England. They returned to South Africa to continue the African manufacturing operation, and Jeremy Alexander was born on 2nd September 1950 in South Africa.

Interests[edit]

Cussons was a collector of rare orchids. He was a member of the Manchester Orchid Society, since renamed the North of England Orchid Society (NEOS). He was also a founding member of 'The Orchid Club' in 1924, which has since been disbanded. Through his company he donated a trophy to The Orchid Club. Today the trophy is used by the North of England Orchid Society. Cussons put his collection up for sale on 24 February 1948. At that time the collection amounted to over 6,000 plants. The collection was kept at Vine Street in Kersal, Salford. Cussons' interest in orchids resulted in Cussons Sons & Co issuing adverts featuring the flower. The adverts showed a picture of Imperial Leather soap surrounded by orchids, with the tagline 'both equally exquisite'.[4] Regretably the whole collection was destroyed by a bomb that landed at the bottom of the garden in 1941 and exploded, splintering the glass houses the orchids were kept in and completely shredding the collection. Profoundly affected by the destruction of the collection, he moved away from Salford to South Manchester, where he considered it safer.

Cussons was also a collector of tropical fish. They were kept within his orchid houses. His interest in tropical fish resulted in Cussons Sons & Co issuing a series of adverts; the adverts featured Imperial Leather soap surrounded by tropical fish. Later a book inspired by his collection was published.[5]

Cussons was also interested in rugby, and supported the Swinton.[6]

Residences[edit]

Tom Cussons owned a Victorian mansion in Kersal, Salford called 'Oaklands', which was the former home of the Victorian chemist. The property was within walking distance of Cussons' factory. However Oaklands was severely damaged in The Blitz of 1941, and Tom Cussons later moved to Whitefriars, a house he owned next to the cricket club in Hale Manchester, and not far from the then small Manchester airport, called Ringway, converted after the war into civilian use. The Cussons family owned many large family homes around Cheshire. Leslie Cussons lived at Hale Bank Farm in Hale and owned an estate called Polebrook Hall. Marjorie Goodwin lived at Edgworth in Hale, a large Edwardian Mansion now demolished. Alex Cussons owned Parkdale in Bowden, a large Victorian mansion now the home of the Vegetarian Society. Nick Cussons owned Stretton Hall in Stretton and Natalie Shrigley-Feigl owned Kerfield House in Knutsford.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 1891 Census for the United Kingdom
  2. ^ 4 May 1894, The London Gazette
  3. ^ University of Salford, Campus Report Autumn 2002
  4. ^ Buxton, R., Yearsley, G. (1997). A History of the North of England Orchid Society
  5. ^ Fraser-Brunner, A. (1950). Cussons Book of Tropical Fishes
  6. ^ Swinton and Pendlebury Journal, 24 August 1951 "Soap manufacturer who won world recognition"
Preceded by
Thomas Tomlinson Cussons
Chairman of Cussons Sons & Co.
1905–1951
Succeeded by
Leslie Cussons