Connolly Leather Ltd was a British company that supplied highly finished leather primarily to car manufacturers, founded in 1878. The term is also used to describe the particular brand of leather itself, when fitted in a car interior.
Connolly supplied most if not all of the leather for the British car industry, including but not limited to Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, Jaguar, TVR, and MG-Rover (which under its umbrella includes Land Rover, Range Rover, Rover cars, and MG) as well as non-British makes including Lexus, Ferrari and Lincoln. This leather was also used for the seats in the Supermarine Spitfires used in World War 2.
In addition to car upholstery, Connolly Leather has been used in the manufacture of high-end audio loudspeakers such as the B&W Signature 800 series as an expression of the quality and luxury status of the item. Connolly Leather was also used in other products: even "retro" transistor radios from British manufacturer Roberts.
Connolly leather gained such prominence in the world of luxury travel including private jets and yachts, that it was selected for such high profile projects as Concorde and the luxury liner, Queen Elizabeth 2. Connolly also reached the world of interiors and design, with Mies Van Der Rohe's original Barcelona chairs upholstered with Connolly leather as well as the benches in Britain's Houses of Parliament together with many other parliaments around the world. Connolly earned a Royal Warrant, being appointed Leather Tanners and Curriers to Queen Elizabeth II.
The family started a retail business, Connolly Luxury Leathergoods Limited, selling exclusive and bespoke leather goods and accessories. The business developed a high profile clientele which included celebrities, socialites and industry leaders. Today, Connolly accessory designs can be found in museum around the world.
The company also sold leather-care products (e.g. Connolly Hide-Food); restoring leather is sometimes known as "Connollising", thanks to the reputation of the company.
Although "Connollising" is somewhat shrouded in secret, it basically involves scrubbing down the leather with a cleaner/soap while using a stiff brush (such as a nail brush) or slightly abrasive sponge which thins and removes most of the original surface color & finish. The leather is then moisturized and recolored, bringing it back as close to original condition as possible. Connollising involves the leather surface more than the leather itself. Connollising can not fix cracks or extremely dry leather. Connollising fixes the "wear and tear" of the surface due to typical usage and age (and possibly some neglect).
Although the words "Connollising" and "Connolised" are supposedly legally protected, most restoration companies employ a similar if not the same technique to restore leather and "bring it back to life," except they can not advertise it as "Connollising."
An attempt to expand into the American market in the 1990s failed badly and Connolly Leather ceased trading in June 2002. However, in 2003, Jonathan Connolly established C B Leather Ltd and resumed the manufacture and production of high quality leather and now sells under both C B Leather and Connolly.
The recipes to Connolly Hide-Food and their Leather-Cleaner have since been sold or licensed and have returned to the market.