The Company of Thomas Ward & Sons Ltd was founded by Thomas Watkins Ward and his three brothers in the 1920s and operated from Suez Street, Warrington Lancashire. There were two subsidiary companies “Wardonia Ltd” and “Morgan Guard Razor Co. Ltd”. Wardonia was also the registered trade mark of Thomas Ward & Sons Ltd.
The name of Thomas Ward & Sons Ltd first appears in the Sheffield Trade Directories in the mid 1920s at Wardonia Works, Countess Road and they are described as “Cutlery and Razor Manufacturers”. The Sheffield Records Office have a 1926 reference to Thomas Ward & Sons Ltd of Countess Road and 87 Eldon Street who were described as cutlery manufacturers. By 1927 it had changed to cutlery and razor blade manufacturers. (Eldon St. address having disappeared) At a later date the company had showrooms at Wardonia Buildings, Warrington, Cheshire and Morley House, 26-30 Holborn Viaduct, London E.C.1.
In September 1928 the Patent Office in London granted patent No.296,597 jointly to John Henry Morgan and Alfred Stewart Mumme. I have in my collection an original document dated December 1929 in which Morgan and Mumme “assigned and transferred their entire right in the said invention” to Thomas Ward and Sons Ltd. This design changed very little in the next 50 years.
From my research at the Sheffield Archives Office it very quickly became apparent that Thomas Ward and Sons manufactured very little themselves of their shaving items, razor blades were often purchased as blanks from different suppliers including Souplex by the 10,000’s. Handles, guards, caps, boxes, shipping boxes, razor blade wrappers and razor blade packets were all bought in from suppliers all over the country, and assembled into sets to be sold on under the “Wardonia” trade mark.
In the early years Wardonia produced a vast number of different sets, with very British sounding names such as the “Sandhurst”, “Oxford”, “Cambridge”, “Golden Arrow” and the “Derby” to name but a few. They also sold razors in France under the Wardonia name and in Italy under the name “Loredana”, whether these sets were produced in England or in those respective countries I have still to ascertain.
In the early 1970’s the introduction by Wilkinson Sword of its “bonded cartridge” razor and Gillette’s “Trac II” cartridge razor, along with Bic’s disposable razor (1975) was the beginning of the end for the safety razor with the double edged razor blades. In the latter years Wardonia only seemed to be selling their Barrel-Hole and Barrel-Hole Slotted razor blades, plus the “Derby”, “Devon” and the “Traveller” sets, (many of which are still available today)
Thomas Ward & Sons Ltd ceased trading in July 1984 and the premises were sold, but Wardonia Ltd continued to trade from 61, Union Street, Harthill, Nr. Sheffield concentrating on cutlery, plate, scissors and penknives. They continued to sell razor blades, holders and sets but they were manufactured for Wardonia. The metal safety razors were much sought after by the retail trade. Wardonia Ltd ceased trading in 2000 when Mr. T W Ward son of the founder decided to retire.
The Wardonia Works (also known as Chaucer Yard) on the corner of Clough Road and Countess Road have recently been recommended for conservation by Sheffield Council, which should ensure their survival as they were due to be demolished and replaced by housing.