The Avon India Rubber Company Limited was formed in 1890 on the banks of the River Avon in England. At the time, Avon had two mills, one known as Avon Mill, on the banks of the River Avon at Limpley, and another at Melksham (also on the banks of the River Avon).
Avon’s earliest orders for rubber products, were obtained from the War Office, the India Office, railway companies, wagon works and collieries.
The Melksham site became the Company’s Corporate Headquarters and remained so for over 100 years. By 1890 the entire business had been moved to Melksham and a decision was taken to form a limited company to be named “The Avon India Rubber Company Limited”. The prospectus included a message that “the adoption of India Rubber appliances in all branches of trade is increasing daily … and there is every reason to believe that the company will become even more financially successful in the future”.
In 1910, research began into the manufacture of golf balls. They quickly went into manufacture and by 1914, sales of golf balls amounted to £5,000 for the year. Some years later, this profitable business was sold on to Dunlop who still manufactures golf balls today.
In 1921, the first tennis ball was made at Melksham and within a year thousands of dozens weekly were being sold through the famous House of Wisden. The Avon tennis ball was the first to be mass produced in stitchless form.
In 1956, when George Spencer Moulton and Company was acquired, the pioneers of the rubber industry in the West of England were united. Founded at Bradford on Avon in 1848 by Stephen Moulton, the company had achieved world renown for the design and development of its products for the railway industry. Subsequently, automobile and aircraft products had been developed, as well as tennis balls. The acquisition included the jointly owned French company, Societé Française des Caôutchoucs Spencer Moulton, located in Paris and later moved to its present site in Malesherbes where it is now known more simply as Avon Spencer Moulton. It also included Abbey Mills and Kingston Mills in Bradford on Avon.
In 1957 Avon bought Henley’s Tyre and Rubber Company of Gravesend, Kent and the manufacture of Henley tyres was transferred to Melksham. Note: Tennis balls were also offered under the Henley’s Tyre name, I don’t know if they were manufactured by Avon or Henley.
It was in 1963 that the word “India” was dropped from the title which was shortened to Avon Rubber Co Ltd.
This unusual Avon 6 ball tennis tin contains the “India” name, so it would have to date from 1963 or earlier. What makes this item so unique, is the fact that it held 6 tennis balls and is about 16 inches tall.