Over 130 years of History as a North Dry Cleaner
In 1887, two sisters, the Misses Ramage operated a small successful personal Laundry in Syrma Place. One of the sisters married Mr J Taylor who realised that it was essential that the business have more machinery and larger premises. These were obtained and the County Laundry and Dye Works emerged as a competitor to other local laundries.
In 1917 the Laundry moved to Wycliffe Road. Mr Taylor’s eldest son Henry Lumsdon Taylor was apprenticed to the Hartlepool Laundry as a Dyer and later moved to Cardiff as an improver. After seeing service as a sniper in France with the famous Quayside Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers and a commission with the Royal Flying Corps, Henry returned to the family business.
New Plant including Dry Cleaning Machinery was obtained, and in conjunction with Mr Patterson of British Laundry Machinery Co. Ltd., a major supplier of equipment the domestic service was successfully inaugurated during the inter war years.
World War II brought it own challenges and it was not long before the Laundry was processing 10,000 bundles of Soldiers laundry each week in addition to some 5,000 household bundles and Dry Cleaning. Henry Lumsdon Taylor also found time to command a Company of the Home Guard and to cope with rationing problems he organised the Luxdon Gardens which grew sufficient vegetables to provide staff with a good midday meal.
During the Post War years the business bloomed with the introduction of the domestic Cellopac services pioneered by H Lumsdon Taylor and together with the Overall Replacement Service for Factories the business was now serving over 12,000 homes and processing 14,000 overalls per week.
In 1961 a serious fire destroyed the main premises but with the help of other regional laundries the business was continued until a new Factory was opened on Wycliffe Road in 1962.
At this point in time the Laundry operated 11 Sunderland Depots (or shops) with another 11 scattered around County Durham (from Barnard Castle to Seaham Harbour) as well as 1 in Gosforth.
As well as County Luxdon Laundry Limited other Companies in the Group included (at various times) Central Laundry Limited, Roker Laundry, South Tyne Properties Limited, De Mille Cleaners Limited, Cardiff Laundry Investments Limited (Vaughan’s of Cardiff) & Holdsworth Laundries Limited.
Under the stewardship of Mr J Lumsdon Taylor the business battled against the tide of the mass market domestic washing machine but eventually moved away from domestic and retail services and concentrated solely on Commercial Laundry and Linen Hire.
Following some financial irregularities the business was operated by the Brooks Service Group plc, a national company with Factories in Kent, Bristol, Leeds and Sunderland (on Wearfield, Sunderland Enterprise Park) but the pressure on prices and the commodity nature of the business eventually took its toll and the business fell in to administration in February 2007, the Wearfield facility closing a short time afterwards.
The Luxdon and associated names and intellectual property were purchased by a County Durham based specialist laundry company during 2007 and Summer 2008 saw the re-launch of the Luxdon brand and Services to domestic customers in Sunderland and South Tyneside; to provide the sort of Service and Quality orientated Cleaning that the Ramage Sisters had in mind in 1887.