Records of Quiggin and Co. Ltd

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The contents consist of ledgers (1907-1933), a general ledger (June 1924 - June 1938), a cashbook (March 1936 - June 1938), monthly abstracts of general balances (1899-1949) and Isle of Man account books (1951-1961). Staff records include a register of employees (1898-1972), wages books (1899-1951) and a book containing staff monthly signatures for salaries (January 1941-June 1954). Items documenting product sales such as a record of sawn pitch pine logs (1930-1947) and price lists (1898-1939) are present.

Further material consists of various newspaper cuttings about Quiggin and Co. Ltd (1961, 1972, 1977 & 1986), a strip cartoon advertising tantalised posts from Quiggin’s, notes on the company’s history, illustrated trade catalogues, measurement guidebooks and general publications on rope making, building materials and fibres for marine cordage.

Administrative / Biographical History

Quiggin and Co. Ltd rope makers and timber merchants was founded in 1821 by brothers William Quiggin (1792-1857) and Robert Quiggin (c.1794-1862). Robert’s son Edward Todd Quiggin (c.1831-1899) joined the company in 1850 and eventually inherited the business upon his father’s death in 1862. Robert installed the 120-fathom rope walk which ran through the yard (called Lake Yard) on reclaimed land on the north bank of the River Douglas and into the Nunnery grounds. Quiggin and Co. Ltd was especially famous for their rope making and exported its produce throughout the world. A valuable client was the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company (IOMSPCo) and Quiggin’s at one point had a subsidiary company in Liverpool selling the manufactured rope. In 1895 Quiggin’s spent £6,000 on four-acres of land from the Nunnery Estate to construct the timber yard and in 1972 it expanded after a further two acres were purchased.

In 1899 Edward Todd Quiggin died. His widow sold the business to John Joseph Taggart (c.1847-1914) and Edward Cannell (c.1861-1922). Taggart had been associated with Quiggin's since 1869 and Edward Cannell was an ex-banking clerk who superintended the financial and official operations of the Company. In June 1910 Cannell and his family emigrated to Canada; thereafter Taggart ran the business until his death in 1914. In 1914 Taggart’s son-in-law George William Dean (c.1872-1956) inherited the business, turning it into a limited company in 1917.

During the First World War Quiggin’s sheds in the timber yard were used to store hay for the war effort. They also provided much of the building materials for the construction of Knockaloe Alien Detention Camp in the western part of the Island. During the Second World War Quiggin’s sheds housed military vehicles and hemp. In 1935 George Dean’s son Reginald (Rex) Dean (1904-1985) joined the business, taking over in 1956. As the 20th century progressed the demand for traditionally made ropes declined: the firm’s biggest client, the IOMSPCo had switched to using man-made fibre ropes by 1956. This development led the Company to concentrate on its other business elements such as the supply of building material - timber, bricks, plaster products, plywood, sheet material, drainage pipes and ironmongery.

Rex Dean ran Quiggin and Co. Ltd right up to his death in 1985, after which two of his sons took over the business, until on 1 August 1995, Quiggin & Co. was acquired by the Douglas Steam Saw Mill & Timber Company Limited.

Conditions Governing Access

No regulations or restrictions are implemented on this material.

Advance notification of a research visit is advisable by emailing library@mnh.gov.im.

Other Finding Aids

Printed summary list is available for consultation

Archivist's Note

The biographical information was gathered from MS 09338 deposit and the Manx newspaper the Peel City Guardian (26 September 1914). Isle of Man newspapers available online at http://www.newspapers.gov.im/Default/Skins/IOMDemo/Client.asp?skin=IOMDemo&enter=true&AppName=2.

Fonds-level description created by Eleanor Williams (MNH Project Archivist), July 2016.

Separated Material

Separated material held by Manx National Heritage includes a collection (1 box and 6 outsize items) of photographs showing the workshop, staff at work and various portraits.

Related Material

Related material held by Manx National Heritage includes further Records of Quiggin & Co. Ltd (reference number: MS 10527) and the records a sister company named Heywood Quiggin Ltd (reference number: MS 10528).