J and J Cash Ltd
It was with great sadness that we heard recently that J and J Cash have gone into administration. We would like express our sympathy to the employees and their families and hope that a buyer can be found for the company.
Given this recent news, we though it may be of interest to our visitors to know more about the history of the firm. J and J Cash is one of the oldest companies in Coventry. In the early 1800s Joseph, Josiah and Newman Cash were described as stuff merchants, dealing in textiles. Whether these included ribbons is not clear, but by 1846 Joseph and his sons Joseph and John were ribbon manufacturers with offices and a warehouse on Hertford Street. They opened their first factory, in West Orchard, the same year.
At this time Coventry was the centre of ribbon weaving in England and around half the population of the town made a living from the industry. Thousands of ribbons were produced each week and used by women to decorate their dresses, hats and hair. Cash’s was just one of many ribbon weaving companies, but the family were Quakers and like other Quaker businessmen were concerned with the well-being of their workers.
In 1857 John and Joseph, now running the company in their own right, built a cottage factory next to the canal at Kingfield in Coventry. This consisted of two rows of houses which Cash’s rented to weavers. Each house had a topshop above the living spaces with a loom powered by a steam engine provided by Cash’s. The houses were of a much higher standard than most weavers’ dwellings and even had small gardens. Other benefits provided by Cash’s included an annual trip to the seaside for their workers, a canteen, a mutual improvement society, a sickness benevolent fund and a welfare officer.
John and Joseph Cash were active members of Coventry society. Joseph helped set up an early co-operative society called the Coventry Labourers’ and Artisans’ Friendly Society in 1843. Both were trustees or shareholders of various charities, banks and the Technical Institute in Coventry. John Cash also served as a Councillor. Both were friends of George Eliot.
In 1860 the ribbon industry suffered a severe slump. Many companies went bankrupt, but Cash’s survived by branching out into other narrow woven goods. These included cotton frillings, patented in 1860. Later in the 1800s they began making woven nametapes, badges and clothing labels, which were to be their main products for over 100 years.
In the early 1900s Cash’s set up factories in the USA, Canada and Australia. After the Second World War Cash’s took over several of the remaining ribbon weaving companies, until by the 1970s they were the only narrow weaving company in Coventry. The company continued to be run by members of the Cash family until 1976.
In the 1970s Cash’s introduced a range of woven pictures and bookmarks, including birds and butterflies. However their main products have continued to be labels, badges and nametapes.
The Herbert has a large collection of sample books, ribbons, badges, labels, bookmarks, pictures and catalogues from Cash’s. Most of this collection is kept in store but can be viewed by appointment. The History Centre has a number of archives related to the company.