John W Sutcliffe founded Sutcliffe Pressings LTD in 1885 at the age of just 20. A sheet metal worker by trade he originally focused on industrial repairs later moving into photography equipment. In 1903 he decided to produce oil cans and it was around this time he moved from the joint premises he shared with a relative to new premises which were located in the centre of Horsforth. Atlas House was to be the home of Sutcliffe Pressings LTD until its demise. It wasn't until 1920 that Mr Sutcliffe decided to produce toy boats and it was only meant to be as a sideline however the boats success prompted more models to be added to range. Sutcliffe Pressings LTD became renowned for its boats and its unique repair service and grew from strength to strength in the coming years adding Submarines and a wide selection of oil cans to the range. John W Sutcliffe remained in charge right up until the mid 1950's when at the grand old age of 89 he passed away leaving the family business to his 3 sons Kenneth, Harry and Ted. However it was Ken with his with his wife Joan who were to take charge of Sutcliffe Pressings and continue producing these brilliant toys right up until the 1980's when the company closed its doors.
Herbert Goodban was the factory foreman. He worked there for nearly all his working life and came up with the idea for several of Sutcliffe's toys. His enthusiasm for the factory helped with its success and he remained a loyal employee right up untill the companies demise in the 1980's. Herbert Goodban played an important role in Sutcliffe's history and his prototypes are highly sought after by collectors around the globe and therefore can often demand high prices. The picture to the right shows Hebert's original sketches of Jupiter and Commodore along with Herbert's very own models of the boats he designed!
Ken and Joan Sutcliffe took charge of Sutcliffe Pressings LTD in the mid 1950's and were to play a big part in the companies success. They introduced a variety of toys to the range including dust pan and brush sets, cranes and dumper trucks. They also introduced plastic boats which was a first for the company however it was said that Ken was not a big fan and they soon returned back to there roots of making toys from tinplate. Sutcliffe Pressings became one of the worlds most famous tinplate boat manufacturers and all from a small suburb on the outskirts of Leeds. However there sucess did not last and in 1984 Ken and Joan were forced to close the factory doors for last time. Ken continued to produce a small number of boats after the factories demise. Throughout the late 80's and early 90's Ken and Joan were a regular at toy fairs were they sold left over stock from the factory. It is said that within minutes of arriving they were swamped by dealers all wanting one of Sutcliffe's fantastic toys. It also gave the unique experience for collectors to be able to meet the man who made these beloved toys. If you asked, Ken or Joan would happily sign the box of their toys and today you can find several examples that have their signature. Ken sadly died in 1999 but Joan continued to sell at toy fairs. She was said to be overwhelmed by the demand for Sutcliffe products and the high price they were able to fetch. Joan passed away in 2009. The picture to the right shows Ken and Joan Sutcliffe visiting the Horsforth Village Museum in 1994.