Russell Hobbs

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Russell Hobbs
IndustryHome appliances
HeadquartersFir Street, Oldham Road, Failsworth, Oldham, M35 0HS
ParentSpectrum Brands

Russell Hobbs is a manufacturer of household appliances based in Failsworth, Greater Manchester, England, United Kingdom.[better source needed]

Technical history[edit]


A CP1 coffee percolator

After working with REME in World War II and leaving in 1947 as a major, Bill Russell (22 July 1920 – 16 February 2006), from High Wycombe, joined Morphy Richards and helped to design a pop-up toaster, an electric iron and a hairdryer, when working as Chief Development Engineer. Peter Hobbs (3 May 1916 – 11 April 2008), from Tunbridge Wells, was a major during the war in the Royal Engineers, and also worked for the home appliance manufacturer, Morphy Richards, as manager of the South African division of the company. He had returned to the UK in 1952, after a disagreement with Charles Richards over sales policy, and worked for another company, where he was trying to design a coffee percolator, with reference to a German patent. Later in 1952 Bill Russell had a disagreement with Donal Morphy and joined Hobbs to form Russell Hobbs Ltd.

In 1952, they designed the world's first automatic coffee percolator, the CP1,[better source needed] with Russell's ingenuity and started the Russell Hobbs company at 1 Bensham Lane in Broad Green, Croydon, Surrey, near the A213/A235 junction south of Mayday Hospital.

Product development[edit]

Russell was in charge of product development, and Hobbs was the sales director. Russell's de facto ultimate safety test for any new product was to pour half a pint of boiling gravy on it. The company was always in profit from day one.[citation needed] In the late 1960s it was chiefly manufacturing automatic electric coffee pots, vapour-controlled electric kettles, and tea makers.


  • In 1952 the company introduced world first coffee percolator.[1]
  • The automatic electric kettle K1 (a world first),[2] designed in October 1955, used a bi-metallic strip at the rear of the kettle: steam was forced through an aperture in the lid of the strip and this knocked the switch, turning the kettle off. It became
  • In 1960, the K2 kettle was introduced, which was manufactured for the next thirty years, and was possibly its best known product.[3]
  • They designed the world's first fully programmable kettle, the M2.[better source needed]
  • In 1977 they made the first all-plastic kettles, the Futura.[citation needed] However it was still the 'normal' shape of a kettle, and distrusted (would it melt?), and only when Redring introduced the Autoboil in 1979 did kettles become the taller jug shape adopted today. Tefal introduced the cordless kettle in 1986. Plastic kettles used the Polyoxymethylene acetal copolymer (POMC), also known as kemetal, celcon, hostaform or ultraform.
  • In 1997 it introduced the Millennium kettle that used a special flat OPTEC element to boil water in half the time, with a limescale filter.[citation needed]

Product range[edit]

Russell Hobbs Legacy kettle

The company also makes:


Regent Mill at Fir Street in Failsworth, next to the Rochdale Canal

Spectrum Brands Inc.[edit]

In 2010, Spectrum Brands Inc. acquired Russell Hobbs, Inc. and in 2011, the Russell Hobbs business in the UK was reorganised to become Spectrum Brands (UK) Ltd. Spectrum Brands in the UK now design and manufacture consumer products in addition to Russell Hobbs, including the brands Remington, IAMS, Eukanuba, Tetra, FURminator, Rayovac and VARTA.

Russell Hobbs Inc.[edit]

In December 2007, two companies in the small household appliance business, Salton, Inc. and Applica Incorporated, merged. Applica became a wholly owned subsidiary of Salton. In December 2009, the combined company (formerly known as Salton, Inc.) changed its name to Russell Hobbs, Inc.[better source needed] Russell died on 16 February 2006 aged 85.[4] Hobbs died on 11 April 2008 aged 91.[5]


Salton, a US manufacturer of kitchen gadgets, bought Pifco (including the Russell Hobbs brand) in 2001. [6]


Polly Peck collapsed and Russell Hobbs was bought by Pifco Holdings, originally known as Provincial Incandescent Fittings Co. Ltd, based in Failsworth on 5 April 1991. The Pifco brand is no longer used by Russell Hobbs, but was licensed for use by KB (Import and Export) Ltd in 2007 who went on to market a range of electrical items under the brand, from LED Christmas lights and lighting to heating and cooling appliances.[better source needed]

Polly Peck[edit]

TI sold off their consumer brands, with the company going to Polly Peck International, on 11 December 1986 for £12 million, along with Tower Housewares (a utensil – pots and pans – manufacturer based at Womborne near Wolverhampton). The subsidiary was known as Russell Hobbs Tower. Creda would be sold to GEC in June 1987. In the late 1980s Russell Hobbs sponsored sports events.

Tube Investments[edit]

In 1962, they needed to expand the company to increase production and needed more capital. They were forced to sell the company to Tube Investments (TI), a conglomerate of electrical appliance brands who also owned Creda (a competitor of Hotpoint's range of products – GEC at the time owned both Hotpoint and Morphy Richards). Production was moved to Wombourne in Staffordshire, where it was shared with Creda and to Blythe Bridge in Stoke-on-Trent, in a former aircraft factory later owned by Indesit which closed in December 2007. The Blythe Bridge site on Grindley Lane was shared with Simplex Electric Co Ltd (owner of Creda), and Simplex-GE, a joint venture of TI with GE of America that made electrical switching equipment. Simplex also made tungsten-iodine floodlighting (halogen lamp). Russell became technical director of Creda, then managed Turnright. As part of the Electrical Division of TI, it was headquartered at Simplex House on Ealing Road in Alperton, Middlesex. The Domestic Appliance division of TI was later based at Radiation House on the North Circular Road in Neasden. In the mid-1970s Dimplex diversified into coffee percolators and electric kettles due to former Russell Hobbs engineers joining the company. In the mid-1970s the company tried to persuade the French to buy its electric kettles, but they still preferred to boil water with saucepans (and did so for the next twenty years since French people have a liking for black coffee which is prepared differently from tea). The use of electric kettles across Europe was sporadic. In the late 1970s the managing director was David Durham. The heyday of the TI Group was in 1978, but by the early 1980s, the TI Group was facing difficulties, with its workforce halving. TI Group formally referred to Russell Hobbs as TI Russell Hobbs.


  1. ^ Pickup, Gilly (2015). "The Automatic Kettle". What the British Invented: From the Great to the Downright Bonkers. Amberley Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-1-4456-5-0272 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "Russell Hobbs Celebrates 50 Years". October 5, 2005. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.
  3. ^ Kate Watson-Smyth. "The Secret History Of: The Russell Hobbs K2 kettle". The Independent. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  4. ^ "William Russell". The Daily Telegraph. London. 4 March 2006. Retrieved 8 January 2010.
  5. ^ "Peter Hobbs". The Daily Telegraph. London. 19 April 2008. Retrieved 8 January 2010.
  6. ^ "US gadget king takes over Pifco". This is Money. London. 3 May 2001. Retrieved 22 January 2017.

External links[edit]

Media related to Russell Hobbs at Wikimedia Commons