The History of The Atlas Stone Company and Marley-Eternit in Meldreth

The Atlas Symbol is still on the Marley Eternit Building
Malcolm Woods
Letter heading for the Atlas Stone Company
Linda Clarke
The Atlas Arch
Malcolm Woods

In 1902 Arthur Charles Davis, a Portland Cement Manufacturer in Cambridge (later Sir Charles Davis, Bt., D.L. and Lord Mayor of London 1945/6) formed a partnership called The Atlas Stone Company whose main objective was to pioneer and develop the manufacture of products containing cement.

In 1903 a Private Limited Company was formed and Mr. Davis’s brother, Mr. F. W. Davis joined the Company as manager and six months later was made a Director of the Company.

In 1928 the Company had widened its interests by the establishment of a factory at Meldreth. This was on the site of the Meldreth Lime and Cement works, which first started in 1897 and by 1911 was capable of producing 350 tons of lime and cement a week. In 1901 a tramway had been built connecting the works with the railway station where eventually Puffing Billy would run.

In 1929 the production of the first asbestos cement sheets took place at the Meldreth Works. This was the same year the Chairman’s son, Mr. Bernard Davis, became an  Executive Director and material was manufactured from two second-hand Hatschek machines purchased in Yugoslavia.

Asbestos cement products played an important part in the war effort and concrete products were also in demand for the repair of war damage, and the manufacture of air raid shelters. The Company’s sales of asbestos cement products increased steadily until 1953 when, for the first time, they exceeded 30,000 tons.

In May 1975 The Atlas Stone Company was taken over by the Belgian Company Eternit.

Following the takeover by Eternit sales increased year by year rising in excess to 100,000 tons in 1973. The original second-hand machines, although preserved for a number of years as items of historic interest had by now been removed and new machines added. With these additions came a new innovation for the UK in the form of a Resegone machine imported from Italy for forming ridges from the flat Hatscheck material. Again somewhat later the Company introduced injection moulding machines for the production of goods which previously occupied a great deal of manpower in hand-moulding.

Finally, in 2005, Marley Roofing and Eternit Building Materials merged to become Marley Eternit.


Comments about this page

  • The 2014 edition of The Buildings of England: Cambridgeshire (Yale University Press) revised by Simon Bradley from the original by Nicholas Pevsner contains this comment on the Eternit factory: “1930s brick with economical Deco touches”

    By Bruce Huett (09/10/2016)
  • Interested in your item about the Atlas Stone Company. I worked on the Dartford, Kent site for this company in 1959. I was in a team making paving stones – site was in Greenhithe near Dartford. Can elaborate if required.

    By John Arnold (20/02/2012)

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