Grace’s Guide to British Industry says that Arthur Beale was established as a rope maker called John Buckinghams circa 1500. Our Sign says “Established 400 years” but the sign is 60 years old! We have never moved from our current spot but in those days the Parish of St Giles area was surrounded by fields, possibly growing the flax we used to make our rope. The Church of St Giles in the Fields still stands across the road.
John Buckingham not only made rope and twine but sacks and mats too. The town of London gradually encroached on St Giles and the company needed more space to meet the demand so they set up other rope walks in Islington and also on the banks of the Fleet in Kentish Town.
In 1864 the Alpine Club of Great Britain being distressed by various climbing rope failures decided to set up a committee to carry out strength tests. Out of all the ropes they tested only three met their standards. All three were made by Buckingham and Sons of Broad Street, St Giles.
In 1890 the 15-year-old Arthur Beale joined the company as an office boy. Broad Street was redeveloped and renamed Shaftesbury Avenue. Arthur Beale junior was born in 1899. In 1901 the company became known as Beale and Cloves (late John Buckingham) and soon after just Arthur Beale.
The Alpine Club Rope grew in popularity and was used throughout the world. It was ordered for all the early Everest Expeditions as well as by Shackleton for his polar exploits. In fact, we also supplied Shackleton’s Ice Axes and specialist pulleys. Our archives have many letters from famous explorers together with signed order forms from Ernest Shackleton.
After the 1st World War Arthur Beale began to concentrate on yachting equipment although it also had a busy rigging shop supplying equipment for the MOD. They had a department which hired out flags and decorations for banquets and ceremonial events. They even put the flag pole on Buckingham Palace and Arthur Beale himself broke the flag for the King's Coronation.
In 1932, Arthur Beale Senior passed away and his son Arthur took over the running of the shop.
In the middle of the last century, the yachting part of the business boomed. Arthur Beale was one of the founder members who set up the original London Boat Show.
During the 1960's boating became a popular pastime with many middle-class families and the introduction of economical self-build boats such as the Mirror Dinghy increased participation further.
For the last fifty years, the shop was managed by Mr Coleman. He made an excellent job of it until recent times when a failure to adopt new products and practises left the company in decline.
Alasdair Flint, a keen sailor, and his team bought the shop in 2014 and are now looking forward to making it an icon of British yachting and exploration.
Alasdair Flint is a keen yachtsman who has owned and maintained a varnished wooden yacht for the last thirty years. During that time he has sailed single handed across the Atlantic and made several Arctic voyages including meeting polar bears in Spitzbergen and more recently climbing the world’s most northerly volcano for which he, and fellow skipper Tim Loftus, were awarded the prestigious Tilman Medal by the Royal Cruising Club.
Alasdair studied Scenic Construction at RADA in the 70's and set up Flint Scenery Company which built high quality stage scenery for prestigious companies such as Glyndebourne Opera. He set up Flint Hire and Supply in 1981 to fill a need for a specialist supplier of backstage hardware for the entertainments industry. The company grew to be one of the largest specialist supply companies in the world with 40 staff and a turnover exceeding £5 million. The growth of the company was partly due to a highly successful catalogue which has become a “Backstage Bible” and is admired worldwide.
In 2018 he handed over Flints to a management team via a successful MBO so he could concentrate on growing Arthur Beale.