The author has placed these products, by deduction, in chronological order, oldest first. The glass jar product doesn’t mention the Limited company status (just Fleet Products), has the Droitwich address and the logo doesn’t have the red stripe. The tubby tins have the red striped logo, limited company status and the Malvern address. The flat tins mention the logo as a registered trademark, carry a weight declaration and the Fleet (Line markers) Limited name.
Photo: Allen Prior
This jar or crème-style product contains a yellow/buff coloured paste (assumed to be the equivalent of 61). The description is “The modern dressing”, presumably inferring the solid webbing cleaners are very much old fashioned. Indeed, all manufacturers were following the new way – product that are clean and easy to apply and durable in use. I have no information on whether the Patent Pending got anywhere, or what it was that was patentable.
On the label
Fleet (Dressings & Polishes) Ltd, Malvern Link.
The Modern Dressing for webbing, canvas, buckskin.
Directions: Apply evenly with a sponge or brush. Will not powder or rub off. Replace lid after use.
On the inside of the lid is printed:
Use FLEET WHITE for all Canvas, Webbing and Buckskin Equipment and FLEET LEATHER DRESSING for all Footballs, Boots, Harness, Saddlery, etc. from N.A.A.F.I. & LOCAL STOCKISTS
Photo: David Pratt
One tin the author has carries a small self-adhesive label with “WAX F97” printed on it and a pencilled $1.00 (US dollar), another tin has just “F97” with a pen-marked 1/6. The contents are an oily paste (some clear and light oil has separated to the top) sealed with a polythene membrane.
Photo: David Pratt
A comparison of the colours of Pickering’s and Fleet’s paste products – the colour of green is much the same in hue but the Fleet is a touch darker in tone.
This tin of polish-type web cleaner has survived from the owner’s days in the Army Cadets in the early 1970’s, when still wearing battledress with 1937 pattern web belt and gaiters. Colour described by owner as “pea green”.
There is no mention of a Ministry of Supply specification number like Pickering’s or Propert’s so just a commercial competitor like Quippy.
Manufactured by Fleet (Line Markers) Limited, Malvern & Stratford upon Avon.
The tin is marked ‘Apply with a small wet brush’ and ‘For W.D. canvas’ and the contents weigh 6oz in contrast to Quippy’s volume measurement of 100ml and makes Pickering’s 3oz tin seem rather less than generous.
Photo: David Pratt
Curiously, there is no colour type marked on the tin and it appears exactly the same as the 97 coloured product pictured further up the page. The tin has a screw-off lid and the remaining contents (along with the instructions of ‘apply with a small wet brush’ indicate that this product wasn’t a paste of the Pickerings type but a compressed, water soluble powder block as in original Blanco itself. Indeed the block can still be wetted and colour applied to webbing which you certainly can’t do with dried up Pickerings. However this tin is certainly post-1957 when the company became limited and this is somewhat at odds with the pre-1957 jar of paste illustrated at the top of the page described as “The Modern Dressing”, no doubt referring to the ‘old dressing’ of wetted blocks.
Fleet was established in 1953 by Peter McGuffie to supply a substitute ‘Blanco’ to the British Army. In 1957 Fleet became a limited company and employed 12 people. In the early 1960’s the volume of the ‘Blanco’ market disappeared when national conscription stopped. As the market for Blanco dwindled in the 60’s the company turned it’s skills in pigmentation to the manufacture of line marking paints and machines for sports surfaces. By 1968 Fleet machines became the industry standard. Today, worldwide, Fleet produces over 100,000 litres of marking paint a day and if you have ever wondered how razor-straight pitch markings and painted pitch logos and emblems at the best sporting venues and events are done, more often than not it’s down to Fleet. To this day Fleet still supply the Royal Household Cavalry and other armed forces of the world with Fleet Renovator for their white webbing.
The company’s Managing Director is now Iain McGuffie, Peter McGuffie’s son.
Fleet ( Line Markers) Ltd, Fleet House, Spring Lane, Malvern, Worcestershire, WR14 1AT