E TAYLOR and Son, Stalybridge’s longest established family retail business, helps to light up the lives of its clients and customers.
From humble origins, the Melbourne Street-based commercial and industrial electrical and lighting specialist now spans four generations of the Taylor family.
And in March 2020 the business, that specialises in doing electrics for car showrooms for firms such as Mercedes, Audi, Land Rover, Volkswagen and Toyota, celebrates its centenary.
Today the business is run by third generation Peter and his wife Barbara while their son Ian also works in the family concern that employs between five and eight – currently it is six. They have always employed local people and many have moved on to start their own businesses.
Yet back in 1920 the company, founded by Peter’s grandfather Edwin, was far removed from what it has evolved into.
Peter explained: “Edwin had a lock up near the Hippodrome Theatre and charged accumulator batteries for radios, topping them up with acid and charging them.
“There was not a lot of electricity about in those days when there were gas lights.
“Then in the 1930s he started to do electrical installations.”
Peter’s father Eddie later joined the business and they won contracts to wire the new Springs and Brushes council house estates in Stalybridge.
Edwin was heavily involved in Stalybridge life serving as a councillor for 28 years and being mayor in 1960/61 with his wife Mary mayoress. He was later made an alderman and freeman of the borough.
The business moved in 1973 from rented property on Market Street to its current home on Melbourne Street where they had scope to expand its shop and also had extra car parking.
From wiring local council homes, E Taylor and Son evolved its lines of business that currently involves contracts with major car dealerships.
They also do residential and commercial properties and are able to offer a complete package from design to installation. And they work on new builds as well as renovations of old property.
Recent jobs have included the Old Library, Uppermill, where the Correspondent is based.
The business has done work throughout the UK, but today tends to seldom stray south of Birmingham because jobs further afield become a logistical nightmare.
The company has in its 97 years survived the great depression of the late 1920s and early 30s, the Second World War, recessions and the three-day week.
He added that since the financial crash in 2008 it has been hard work with the construction industry badly hit and a lot of electrical contractors have gone to the wall.
Peter, 65, puts their success down to an ability to move with the times with new lighting ideas and innovations.
He said: “We are currently very big on LED lighting and conversions that save the costumer money in the long term.
“When I started in the business we had fluorescent fittings and 150 watt bulbs. Before 2000 it was a case of replacing bulbs and fluorescent tubes, but since then there has been more of a design role.
“With LED it offers a lot more freedom, and things are a lot better nowadays as they can get a better light for less money. If they save 90-per-cent on running costs, it will not take long to get their money back.”
Peter says there has been enormous changes in the last 20 years ago and predicts exciting innovations in the next 20.
He explained: “Already we are seeing smart homes where you can control gadgets in your home, such as television, video, and CCTV, from your mobile phone.
“It is definitely a young man’s business and Ian is very much into installing that sort of technology.”
Peter believes the future is bright with more confidence in the economy than for many years.
“I don’t think Brexit will affect the construction industry which I think will expand in the next 10 years with people wanting smart homes,” he said.
Peter admitted their shop, with its extensive range of electrical fittings, has been hit by the internet and big discount stores.
“I feel the trend is reversing because of bad experiences with buying off the internet and people are returning to town centres where, in our shop, they can physically see what they are buying,” he explained.
Peter, having reached retirement age, says he and Barbara are trying to do less but are finding themselves doing more.
He said: “It is difficult being a family business, but we are trying to find an escape route, though it will be a slow process.
“I will still want to have an input and help out, either as a consultant or in the shop.”
Like his father, Peter has also been heavily involved in town life. He was chairman of the new defunct Stalybridge Chamber of Trade for many years.
And in more recent times he helped set up a business forum and the community website: stalybridgetown.com