Originally printed issue 63  December 1995


The above slogan proudly appears on current literature of Letchworth company STODDARD MANUFACTURING CO. LTD. who are celebrating their sixtieth anniversary. Once described as one of the Garden City's new enterprises - with the passage of time it is now one of the oldest companies in the Garden City. Not only surviving the recession but expanding and currently exporting to over 68 countries.

The Chairman - John M. Stoddard (a member of our Society) is well known as a JP and former Board Member of the Letchworth Garden City Corporation and a current Founder Governor of the Board of Management of the Heritage Foundation. John heads a family business which is now managed by his son Michael who is Managing Director. John's wife Sheila still retains an interest as Company Secretary.

During the war the company was housed in Fenners Buildings in The Wynd, as Kingswood Manufacturing Co. Ltd. Sheila's father, William Cater (who also owned Central Dairies in Station Road) had purchased a patent from an inventor who had designed a machine to make circular Lathe Brushes that were used by the Dental Technicians for the final hygienic polish of artificial dentures. Until 1934, Lathe Brushes were made my hand - by the hand-drawing method - the traditional brushmakers craft. The company still has one of the early machines which John describes as "an example of good solid engineering typical of the 1930's".

John - formerly a Journalist and reporter on the "Citizen" was appointed Printing Manager of Letchworth Printers on his return from RAF service, but decided to take up the challenge together with Sheila to build up a family business making brushes for Dentistry. The first new factory was built in 1950 in Icknield Way adjacent to the old Sigma Instrument Company. A second factory was built in 1960 on the same site and the company title was changed to Stoddard Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

The range of products was increased from the Lathe Brushes and polishing mops used in the laboratory. to include a specialist range of Tooth Polishing brushes used by Dental Surgeon's in the powered handpiece. These small brushes, and rubber  prophy polishers, are used to remove plaque and to polish a patients teeth after treatment.

With the changes in the National Health Service since 1950 it became company policy to diversify. John describes himself as somewhat of an entrepreneur and an Industrial Division was set up to specialise in special purpose brushes for Industry, ie. circular brushes for use on machinery - filled with various materials including wire, Nylon, etc. They also developed the design of new Gun cleaning equipment for the Ministry of Defence and are current contractors to the MOD.

Wishing to also have a foot in "leisure" the company developed a range of products for the larger swimming pools - ie Public Pools, Leisure Centres and Schools. The first brush kit designed was a special brush 36 inches wide with 8ft clip-on extension handles. Called the "Letchworth Pool Kit", it was designed with the co-operation of, and testing by Mr Scott, the pool Manager at Letchworth's open air swimming pool. The current Swim Pool range includes life saving appliances, pool lane ropes with floats - and of course a variety of cleaning brushes specially designed for the larger pool owner. 

But it is their range of brushes for Dentistry that has enabled the company to expand into world markets and to become a leader in their field. The latest brush production machines are CNC computer controlled using the latest technology.

Another factory unit is now in operation on Shaftsbury Industrial Estate. With over 130 local people on the pay roll, the company is proud that the "family spirit" has continued over the years with many employees serving for over 25 years. And when overseas visitors arrive they are always taken on a tour of the world's first Garden City - the home of this unique member of our Industrial base.