Object of the Month
Take a look at our latest 'Object of the Month', chosen by a member of the museum team!
This month's object has been chosen by our Assistant Curator, Macaulay.
Edward H. Taylor Beehive
Within the grounds of Mill Green, a beehive can be found tucked away in a corner of the gardens. The hive is not abuzz with bees so it's safe to approach and find the maker's label, which reads 'E. H. Taylor, Welwyn'. This name represents a long history of internationally significant hive-makers, whose history began in the late 19th century.
In 1880 an apiary was established by Thomas Bates Blow in Welwyn. Thomas Blow began working with bees at the age of 14, and later assisted with establishing the Hertfordshire Beekeepers' Association. In 1893 Blow's site was moved close to Welwyn North railway station and in 1900 Edward H. Taylor took over from Blow. Taylor didn't own the company for long, and in 1919 he was bought out by the Gavin family. However, Taylor's name remained for the rest of the company's history.
Photograph taken September 1937
Taylors became a household name in the beekeeping world, establishing themselves as a reputable business renowned for their craftsmanship. The Beehive Works proximity to the station aided the company's success by transporting raw materials and sending their hives around the country. Their catalogues demonstrate Taylors were a pioneering company experimenting with innovative designs for hives and beekeeping equipment.
Workers enjoyed an active social life, with Beehive Work's cricket and football clubs. A visitor to the Works in 1926 described an up-to-date model factory working under the 'new spirit of cooperation'. Taylors supplied beekeeping veils and gloves to Winston Churchill's home in Chartwell, where rations for sugar for the bees were received during WWII. In 1955 Taylors were reportedly selling 3,000,000 honeycomb sections a year, the only factory in Europe to be making them.
Taylor's continued to make hives and beekeeping equipment until 1982 and the factory closed in 1984. The site is where the homes on the appropriately named Honey Mead cul-de-sac now are. But the Beehive Works that were located there for over one-hundred years left their mark on the hives and beekeeping equipment exported all over the world and still in use today.