Consumer Products

Domestic Appliances

Domestic Appliances

LG Hawkins & Co Ltd

Leonard George Hawkins founded his company LG Hawkins & Co. Ltd in 1913, after a visit to the USA, where he saw the growing market for electrical appliances for the home.

He believed the UK market also had potential.

Initially he imported products from the USA under the ‘Universal’ brand name.

During the war, as he couldn’t get space on the transatlantic ships for these imports, he started to make them under license in his factory at 114 Charing Cross Road, London.


By 1922, LG Hawkins was making not only Universal products, but also ‘Miller’ electrical fixtures and ‘Vacuette’ suction sweepers. (known today, of course, as vacuum cleaners).

By 1928, the LGH product range had extended considerably to include an automatic tea maker, a coffee percolator, toasters, electric irons and a ‘VioRay’ artificial sun ray lamp.


During the 1930s, the demand for small electrical appliance for the home grew steadily, and LG Hawkins moved to bigger premises at 30/35 Drury Lane, London.

The building has been described as a ‘rabbit warren’, containing some 50 rooms.

As well as offices, products were assembled and packed there.

LG Hawkins had a stand at the 1937 British Industries Fair in1937, where its product range now included lighting, heating, Sun Ray Fires, washing machines, kettles, toasters, vacuum cleaners and hair dryers.


In 1939, Pye bought LG Hawkins and Co Ltd.

Leonard Hawkins had been friends with CO Stanley, Pye’s Chairman, for some time; both Pye and L G Hawkins used Ark Publicity as their advertising agent. Ark was owned by Stanley, before he bought Pye Radio in 1928.

Leonard Hawkins was appointed as a Board member of Pye Radio and attended the first ever meeting of that Board in 1929. He is the person in the centre on the adjoining photo.

1940s & 1950s

After WW2, LGHawkins & Co Ltd, continued trading under its own name, not Pye. It prospered as the demand for small electrical appliances increased dramatically.

The 1957 British Industries Fair showed that the product range had expanded again, to include various heaters, wash boilers, pressure cookers and the ‘Hostess Trolley’.

A salesman at that time said the ‘big sellers’ were pressure cookers, hair dryers, toasters and kettles.


Pye Polly electric tea and coffee maker.


In 1962, the Greater London Council decided to completely renovate the Drury Lane area, moving out both the Covent Garden Market and other companies in the area, offering incentives for companies to move.

So LG Hawkins moved to Hastings on the South Coast into a purpose built factory. There were many inducements to make this move and even the road leading to the new factory was called Drury Lane!

1960s to 1980s

By 1962, Pye had acquired Ekco & Co Ltd, who had a factory in Malmesbury which made a range of heating appliances.

Ekco’s products were then moved to Hastings, enabling Malmesbury to focus on telephones and PABX systems.

The company was then renamed as Ekco Hawkins and later Ekco Hastings.

In the 1980s after the Philips takeover of Pye, the Hastings factory became part of the Philips Small Domestic Appliances Product Division.

The factory was eventually closed as part of Philips’ global rationalisation.

The Hostess Trolley

First introduced in 1931 it was initially aimed at the industrial catering market being all metal plate and tubular steel, rather like a hospital trolley.

After World War 2, it was redesigned for the domestic market, making it more like a piece of furniture, covered in wood effect.

It became very popular in the 1950s and 60s when dinner parties were in vogue.

Essentially it was a method of keeping food hot and plates warm, enabling the hostess to keep her food hot whilst she entertained her guests.

There were different models, ranging for a sideboard model with a heated lower compartment and a heated upper surface, to the full trolley on wheels which typically had three pyrex dishes on top and two heated shelves below.


But the Hawkins brand name lives on.

Hawkins Cookers Ltd is an Indian company based in Mumbai.

It manufactures kitchenware but probably its biggest selling product is pressure cookers, which are sold under the brand name of Hawkins.

While their biggest single market is India, the company has sold over 95 million pressure cookers world wide; it has 65 different models and 8 different types.

Hawkins factory in Thane, Maharashtra, India.