Cottam Brush Ltd. started in the Hendon area of Sunderland. At the time most large towns had a brush manufacturer, and our founder Samuel Cottam, saw the opportunity in Sunderland.
At the time, Sunderland was a large town with industries including ship building and coal mining and Cottam Brush expanded by supplying these local companies.
Samuel Cottam died, leaving the company to his son George William Cottam.
In time George was joined by his sons, Edmund, George William Jr and Ernest.
Oldest son Edmund inherited the business. After several disputes among the brothers, George William Jr and Ernest opened their own brushmaking business in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland called Cottam Brothers.
Despite a difficult start (due to the Great Depression and the General Strike) the brothers managed to build a successful brand, supplying Sunderland and the wider area.
40s & 50s
Cottam Brothers expanded to occupy an entire building, including a wood mill which allowed for in-house manufacturing of wooden brush backs.
The business became a limited company, with Ernest as the first chairman. After retiring, Ernest remained director until his death in 1981.
In 1949 George William Jr retired, handing the reins on to another George – Ernest’s son and the grandfather of our current MD.
The company purchased its first vehicle in 1955 – an old Jowett van which cost £87-10s. Up until this point deliveries had been made by hand cart!
Cottam Brothers Ltd bought the original company (now called Samuel Cottam Brushes) and almagamated into one premises.
In the late 50s the company realised their factory buildings were unsuitable for modern production. The buildings were demolished and building began in 1960 on the same site, as it offered access to Sunderland’s industries. At the end of the 60s the site was over 22,000 square feet.
David Cottam joined the company in 1976. As a qualified Chartered Accountant, David is now our Financial Director and has helped Cottam grow its strong financial position.
Other developments in the late 20th Century include the purchase of Samuel Woodcock and Sons Ltd, and our innovation in cleaning brushes for the defence industry – something which we still do today.
In 2001 Ben Cottam, our MD, joined the business after graduating in engineering at Sheffield University. Three years later, Ben took on the role as MD and is the sixth generation at the helm of the business. In 2007 Cottam HQ moved to Hebburn, South Tyneside where it is currently based in a large, purpose-built premises.
Today, Cottam Brush has two customer-facing divisions – Catalogue and Custom and we employ 21 members of staff working in the UK and China.
Now based in Hebburn, South Tyneside, we’ve operated in our purpose-built warehouse since 2007.
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic (the company’s first pandemic since the Spanish Flu!) we have built a brand with a strong e-commerce offering and are currently in the process of planning for the future.