Bandalasta.com

MYTH # 1

"Bandalasta was moulded by the Streetly Manufacturing Company (SMC)."... This is incorrect, Bandalasta was most definitely moulded by Brookes and Adams. SMC certainly moulded some BEATL products and in fact went on to become the producers of "Beetleware".


ARTICLE LINK

Here is a Link to a PDF of an article on Beatl Tableware, from Woman's Magazine, August 1929: -

Table-Ware for Summer-Time


BEATL ADVERTS

Here is a Link to a PDF of adverts which appeared in "Punch" and "The Sketch" in 1930 and 1931: -

Beatl Ads.


SPECULATION!!!

Some very early (circa 1856) moulding powders were made from a mixture of wood flour and Shellac. Shellac is made from the secretions of the Lac beetle. Could this be the real origin of the term "Beetle"?


THE SALES PITCH

BANDALASTA was the name given to a series of plastic wares made from a synthetic resin discovered and developed by British Chemists in the 1920's. BANDALASTA was produced by an English firm, Brookes and Adams.

The following description was adapted from a BANDALASTA sales catalogue from about 1927.

The synthetic resin was ground up with a suitable "filler," and a dye added to produce the required colour. The requisite quantity of this powder was taken, the various colours being carefully weighed and blended by skilled workmen, the quantity being sufficient to fill the mould producing the shape required. The article was then moulded or shaped under a pressure of 2 tons to the square inch in hardened and beautifully polished steel dies, hydraulic machinery giving pressures up to some hundreds of tons being used. Heat was applied during the process that caused the resin to soften and flow. The heat and pressure was maintained for several minutes, when a chemical change took place, the resin hardened, and the article took the shape of the mould. At the end of this time the resulting piece of BANDALASTA was removed from the mould and allowed to cool, and subsequent heating could not soften it again.

The edges were then trimmed and the surface polished by special machinery and the result was the beautiful BANDALASTA article that could not be successfully imitated by any other process.

ADVANTAGES.

BANDALASTA Ware had, amongst others, the following distinctive points: beautiful and attractive colours, lightness, non-fragility; all these advantages made it eminently suitable for use in the Home, Garden, for Motoring, Picnicing, Boating, Camping, etc. It had no smell or taste.

COLOUR.

BANDALASTA was made in a variety of beautiful marbled and translucent pastel shades. In the Marbled shades no two pieces were exactly alike, but all the pieces of the same colour number were blended so that they could be built up in complete sets.

LIGHTNESS.

BANDALASTA was extremely light; for instance, the complete Morning Tea Set with Tray and Teapot T42P weighed only 1 lbs. Compare this with a similar article in China. which would weigh at least twice as much.

NON-FRAGILE.

BANDALASTA was not sold as being unbreakable, a claim which would have been absurd, but the makers did claim that, given equal treatment, BANDALASTA would not fracture so easily as Glass or China. Plates or similar flat articles would stand much rougher treatment than deep articles such as drinking horns or cups.

THE TECHNICAL BIT

In 1924, Edmund Rossiter, a research chemist for The British Cyanides Company Ltd. (later to become British Industrial Plastics), developed a process for the condensation of Thiourea with Formaldehyde. The result of the process was the production of a "water-white" synthetic resin syrup. This was a major breakthrough in the development of plastics as prior to this, the phenolic resins used in the production of Bakelite had been straw coloured or brown. In 1925, processes were developed to turn this "water-white" syrup into white and pale-coloured moulding powders by combining the resin with cellulose pulp. These became known as BEETLE moulding powders and were the first white 'paper filled' moulding powders to be produced anywhere in the world

WHY BEATL?

In 1925, The British Cyanides Company exhibited their synthetic resin syrup at the Wembley Exhibition. Samples of the resin distributed at the exhibition were contained in small glass bottles each with a coloured label showing a Beetle as the Company's trade mark. Customers would refer to the resin as "that Beetle resin of yours", and so the name stuck.
Beetle Brand

Some years later, when production of "Beetle" tableware began, it was believed that customers were not too happy about tableware being associated with the name of an insect. The name was therefore changed to BEATL and the story goes that this name was suggested by a shareholder and was a contraction of the phrase "BEAT ALL".

adapted from "The Story of B.I.P." by Cyrils S. Dingley, F.P.I.

THE REST OF THE STORY

In 1925, a new company was established in order to produce these new moulding powders, this company was known as The Beetle Products Co. Ltd. Before too long these moulding powders were being used by several companies, including Brookes and Adams, to produce tableware and household items in a range of colours and marbled effects and BANDALASTA was born.

A significant point in the success of BANDALASTA came when The Beetle Products Co. Ltd. managed to persuade Harrods of London to mount a display of Beetle products in November 1926. The display was a huge hit and Harrods had to give more floor space to the display to cope with the demand. The success at Harrods was followed by displays at some of Londons other top stores, Selfridges, John Lewis and Peter Jones to name but three.

A few months later a new subsidiary of The British Cyanides Company Ltd., Beatl Sales Ltd was formed. It's purpose was to act as a sales agent for the moulding companies, buying the products from the moulders and invoicing customers. Beatl Sales Ltd. was also responsible for organising and staffing the displays in the London stores.

THE BEATL SHOP

In 1927, Beatl Sales Ltd. opened a shop in London's Regent Street called, suprisingly, The Beatl Shop. The shop sold Beatl products from various manufacturers, but the three main ones were "M.L.", "Linga Longa" and of course "BANDALASTA". Beatl Sales continued for a few years, eventually folding. We are not sure when the Regents Street shop actually closed, but it was still open in 1932. If anyone has any further information it would be gratefully appreciated.
Beatl Shop

219 Regent Street in 1930
(Picture Courtesy of London Transport Museum)

and in 2008!

"BEATL SHOP - Situated at 219 Regent Street, London, the shop window of the world. An entrancing showroom of the most beautiful creations the Moulder's Art has yet achieved."

British Plastics & Moulded Products Trader, 1932.

Here is an interesting article from British Plastics and Moulded Products Trader, October 1931.: -

Service.

The Beatl Shop.

"We do not agree with the restricted definition given by the office boy that Service is "a word used in advertisements.'' In these modern times it is proving itself to be an essential feature of the successful undertaking and in the Plastics Industry especially it plays a prominent part. The moulder views his customers' problems and puts thought into them as if they were entirely his own. The powder manufacturer in turn lays himself out to assist the moulder in every way, and puts at his disposal the benefit of his knowledge of his raw material and its efficient manipulation. Service in this industry of ours seems ever to be taking on a fuller meaning, and an example of it in its fullest sense is the scheme of publicity which the Beetle Service is extending to the moulders of Beetle Powders and the users of mouldings made in that material. Beatl Sales Ltd., the sister company of The Beetle Products Co. Ltd., has a fine shop in Regent Street, where "Everything in Beatl" is displayed and offered direct to the public. It is quite an asset to the moulding trade to have a shop window in one of the finest shopping streets in the world, making a full display of the plastic moulders' art. Realizing the potential value of their shop as a means of advertisement, Beatl Sales Ltd. are trying an experiment by offering to give a large part of their window to showing as well as offering for sale to the public those products of their customers in which a Beatl moulding forms a component part. At the time of writing the Beatl Shop is devoting the centre of its window to the goods of the well-known English perfumery house of Yardley, who have a new line of English complexion cream put up in jars of which the lids are beautiful examples of Beatl mouldings in a delicate ivory tone. There is also a perfume testing stand in a representation of lapis-lazuli. We understand that Messrs. Rolls Razor Ltd., who use Beetle moulding powders for moulding shaving soap bowls, shaving stick holders, shaving brush handles and other lines, are going to take advantage of the opportunity thus afforded, and will shortly be having these lines on show. If this cooperative effort, and the publicity it affords, meet with the success anticipated, it is the intention of Beatl Sales Ltd. to extend the offer to other trade users of Beatl mouldings. We cannot help offering a word of congratulation to those behind this progressive extension of an already highly efficient service. We hope that benefit will result to them and their customers; and, further, that it will help to connect up in the mind of the public the Plastics Industry with some of the many other and older industries. It is generally felt that the man in the street knows only too little about "Plastics," and we always welcome any effort which helps to overcome this ignorance and familiarize him with the products and potentialities of our trade."

EXHIBITIONS

Brookes and Adams exhibited at several Industrial Fairs during the 1930s, oddly enough they exhibited in the Fancy Goods section of these fairs rather than in the Plastics section.

British Industrial Fair, 1932

Brooks and Adams Ltd.
Stand No. D 132.

"Utility and beauty are combined in the articles manufactured by this firm. Visitors to the Fair will undoubtedly be attracted by the Banda wood and Bandalasta non-fragile moulded articles which this firm have to offer, comprising table-ware, household articles, picnic sets, and novelties all in artistic shades and patterns. The picnic sets are specially designed for close packing." British Plastics and Moulded Products Trader, February 1932.

Beatl Sales Ltd.
Stand No. F 46a

"Visitors to the Fair should not fail to see the beautiful "Beatl" ware which will be exhibited at this stand. These products should be of exceptional interest, as their range is so wide, including all kinds of table-ware, lamps, cigarette boxes, cosmetic containers, picnic outfits, all kinds of fancy goods, trays, as well as door furniture, panels, bathroom and electrical fittings, all made of non-fragile material in the most tasteful and artistic shades." British Plastics and Moulded Products Trader, February 1932.

British Industrial Fair, 1934

Brookes and Adams Ltd. Stand No. F 82a

"This will be a very interesting exhibit to all dealers in modern table-ware. There will be numerous examples of Bandalasta specialities, including many seasonable novelties in this light and non-fragile material for picnics, camping, yachting and home use. Another very interesting feature of the exhibit will be new lavatory fittings and bathroom specialities in non-tarnishing marble and coloured effects." British Plastics and Moulded Products Trader, February 1934.


Round about 1932, thiourea formaldehayde was replaced by urea formaldehyde which could be worked at much lower temperatures and at this point some of the beautiful marbled colours of the previous five years began to disappear, but the name BANDALASTA lived on.