Villa Laboratories Ltd

Villa polish
Photo: David Pratt
There is a circular tin lid from a ‘Darry’ polish container in the National Trust collection at Snowshill Manor and Garden, Gloucestershire. The label reads ‘A SUPERB POLISHER AND CLEANER. Manufacturers Darry Polish Works, Water St, Liverpool’. Also seen is a tin of Darry brand Metal Polish which states it is made by Villa Laboratories Ltd, CARLISLE, Liverpool, Glasgow and Dublin. The exact nature of the Glasgow and Dublin connections has yet to be established but the Glasgow connection may just be related to sales representation. An advert in the Glasgow Herald of 29th June 1956 states “THE MANUFACTURERS of Spott Cleaner & Darry Silicones Cream have a vacancy for a REPRESENTATIVE with established connections, wholesale and retail grocers, Co-operative, and multiples, for Glasgow and district; existing connections handed over; permanent progressive position offered to a salesman of real ability; commencing salary £9 10s per week plus generous commission with expenses paid on a requisition basis; own car an advantage. – Applications, giving fullest particulars, to Sales Director, The Villa Laboratories Ltd., Carlisle House, Chatsworth Square, Carlisle.”
The Villa Laboratories Ltd, Collier Lane, Carlisle

C.T. Cardno was the owner and George Cardno the office manager. There was an entrance to Collier Lane via the lane between Timpsons and Pullars Lane. Polish was boiled in large tubs on a gas ring. Around 1944-45 a tub fell over and ignited the contents which spilled and ran into the lane and blocked drains in Botchergate when solidified. The Villa Laboratory also manufactured head-ache tablets branded Embex. This was done on the first floor near the office. Villa’s products were Villa boot polish, Darry Floor Polish, Spott Cleaner, Darry Silicones Cream, Darry Metal Polish and Embex Pain Relieving Tablets.

Villa polish boxIn 1942 a four minute film advertisement for Embex. It was produced by Empire Film Productions at Nettlefold Studios in Walton-on-Thames (a studio that prior to WW2 made quota quickies for US film companies and in the 1950’s became later Walton Studios and closed in 1961). The end credits said C.J. Taylor’s Embex – quite who CJ Taylor is and the relation to Villa Laboratories isn’t yet known – perhaps the brand name was sold on at some point.

In an office, a man points out mistakes in a letter that his secretary, Miss Smith, has typed for him. She retypes the letter as the voiceover describes how difficult it can be to concentrate with a headache. Her boyfriend calls but she turns down a date because of a headache. In different scene, a man in a factory struggles to operate a machine because of his headache. In a kitchen, a woman suffers while preparing food on a stove because of her headache. The voiceover describes a remedy to stop these sensations, and all the afflicted characters are shown taking Embex tablets and feeling relieved. The secretary rearranges her date with her boyfriend and has a good time, he gives her some Embex tablets, and she says that she must get some more for next week. Voiceover and end packshot show C.J. Taylor’s Embex Pain Relieving Tablets. End shot of a Union Jack flag, and the title “An Empire Film Production”

Collier Lane lies between Botchergate and the Carlisle Rail Station (Citadel Station) and ran from the junction at Crown Street through to Court Square (running through the Hallmark Hotel). Access is somewhat easier now as the old rail sheds adjacent to Collier Lane have been removed and replaced with car park and pedestrian access.
Collier Lane, Carlisle
Crown Street end of Collier Lane.
Collier Lane, Carlisle
Court Square end of Collier Lane (seen exiting vis the stone archway under the Hallmark Hotel).
Collier Lane, Carlisle
The Dollar Exports Board (DEB) was set up in 1949 at the instigation of the Board of Trade with the active participation of a number of bodies and interests, including the Federation of British Industries (FBI), the National Union of Manufacturers, the Association of British Chambers of Commerce (ABCC), the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the City Advisory Group. It encouraged and assisted manufacturers to export to the hard currency areas of Canada, the United States of America and the Caribbean. It became the Dollar Exports Advisory Council (DEAC) in June 1951 and the Dollar Exports Council (DEC) in December 1951. In 1959 it was reconstituted as the Western Hemisphere Exports Council (WHEC), becoming a constituent of the British National Export Council in 1965.

An entry in the records of the Dollar Exports Council archive in November 1950 shows correspondence from Villa Laboratories Limited (manufacturing chemists; Carlisle) requesting address of Board of Trade official closest to Carlisle.

The last record found so far for the company is an advert for a sales representative placed in a newspaper in 1956.