Chronography of companies, credit ratings, banks and bailouts

Page last modified 17 March 2023


Home Page


See also Price levels and general economic events.


For airline companies see Aviation.

For armaments companies see Military

For car companies see Road Traffic

For clothes and textiles, see Clothing, Cosmetics

For film companies see Film Production

For food companies see Food

For jewellery companies see Clothing, Cosmetics

For photography companies see Light

For railway companies see rail travel.

For shipping companies see Marine/sea

For soap companies see Sci-Tech-Hygiene

For universities see Universities non-UK and Universities UK.


Banks and Finance � see below

Books and Stationery � see below

Electricity, nuclear � see below

Electronics Music and Information processing � see below (see also Computing)

Insurance � see below

Medical Cosmetics and Pharmaceutical � see below

Mining industry � see below

Oil industry � see below

Shopping Centres- see below

Shops (Department Stores) � see below

Steel Industry � see below

Telecomms � see below

Travel Leisure and Hotels � see below


15 January 2018, The British public sector contracting company Carillion went into liquidation, threatening the jobs of its 43,000 employees and the viability of 30,000 subcontractors, in areas as diverse as school meals, infrastructure construction, and army bases.

1995, Ebay was founded. It was originally called Auctionweb and changed to its current name in 1997.

1987, In the UK, Rolls Royce was privatised. A second tranche of British Petroleum was privatised.

1986, In the UK, British Gas was privatised.

1982 In the UK, the National Freight Corporation was privatised. Britoil was privatised. Amersham International was privatised.

18 July 1950, Richard Branson, head of the Virgin companies, was born.

1930, Unilever was formed by a merger between Lever Brothers (founded by Lord Leverhulme) and the Dutch firm Margarine Unie. Both firms used the same raw materials, oils and fats, for soap (Leverhulme) and margarine (Margarine Unie). The new company then diversified into cosmetics, food and drink.

29 December 1924, John D Rockefeller donated US$ 1 million to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

1900, The Blue Circle cement group was formed when many small companies manufacturing Portland Cement merged into one company. They continued to market under their own brand names until the 1920s they all adopted the Blue Circle trademark. The company name became Blue Circle in the 1970s.

1886, British Oxygen Company was founded. It was originally known as Brin�s Oxygen Company, changing its name in 1906. The only demand for oxygen originally was for stage limelight; then it was used for carbon dioxide in drinks. The main demand, for oxy-acetylene welding, came after 1900, also for medical uses.

4 January 1877. Cornelius Vanderbilt, who rose from poor agrarian roots to amass a US$100million fortune in shipping and railways, died aged 83. He had started a ferry service to Staten Island at age 16 and by 30 he controlled almost all the Hudson shipping business, by undercutting his competitors.

21 December 1844. A group of unemployed workers in the mill-town of Rochdale, Lancashire, formed the first Co-operative shop in Toad (T�owd) Lane. They called themselves the Rochdale Pioneers, and soon had 50 members. Each member received a dividend, or share, of the shop�s profits. It cost one shilling to join.


Banks Auctioneers and Finance

22 February 2013, The Credit Agency, Moodys, downgraded the UK�s rating from AAA to AA1.

21 February 2012, A second bailout of Euro 130 billion was agreed for Greece.

16 May 2011, The European Union agreed to a Euro 78 billion rescue deal for Portugal.

6 April 2011, Portugal asked for a bailout from the EU.

21 November 2010, Ireland asked for a bailout from the EU.

2 May 2010, The EU and the IMF agreed a Euro 110 billion bailout for Greece; Greece would adopt austerity measures.

27 November 2009, Dubai requested a debt restructuring following on from heavy investment in building projects; the announcement caused shares to fall worldwide.

15 March 2009, The Bank of England cut rates to a record low of 0.5%, where they remained in 2015; it also announced �75 billion of quantitative easing.

11 December 2008, Bernard Madoff was arrested in the US on charges of running a huge Ponzi scheme.

13 October 2008, The UK Government bailed out the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB and HBOS, using billions of pounds of taxpayers� money.

15 September 2008, As the global Credit Crunch took hold, Lehman Brothers, the 4th largest US investment bank, collapsed.

14/7 2008, In the midst of the Credit Crunch, the Spanish bank Santander bought the troubled UK bank Alliance and Leicester.

14 March 2008, In the midst of the Credit Crunch, investment bank Bear Sterns was bought by rival JP Morgan for US$ 236 million (UK� 155 million).

22 February 2008, The Northern Rock Building Society had to be taken into State control due to the subprime mortgage lending crisis.

18 February 2008, The UK Parliament passed an emergency Bill allowing the nationalisation of Northern Rock.

13 September 2007, In the UK, Northern Rock bank sought emergency funds from the Bank of England due to liquidity problems, precipitating a run on the bank.

9 August 2007, The French bank, Paribas, halted withdrawals from three of its funds due to �complete evaporation of liquidity. The Credit Crunch had begun.



5 July 2006, Kenneth Lay, former Chairman of Enron, died (born 15 March 1942)

5/2006, The verdicts came in from the Enron trial (see 2 December 2001). Mr Lay, a chief executive of the company, was found guilty on all charges against him, including conspiracy, false statements, securities fraud and bank fraud. Lay died before sentencing whilst on holiday in Aspen. Mr Skilling was found guilty on 18 out of 21 charges, and was sentenced to 24 years 4 months in prison and ordered to repay US$ 26 million; he appealed.

24 January 2002, In the US, Congressional hearings began into Enron.

9 January 2002, The US Department of Justice announced it would begin a criminal investigation of Enron.

2 December 2001, In the US, Enron, a Houston-based energy-trading conglomerate, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after a planned buy-out by Dynergy fell through.This was the largest bankruptcy in the US to date; Enron had debts in excess of US$ 40 billion. See 8 November 2001.

8 November 2001, The Enron Corporation was forced to write down its earnings back to 1997 by 20% and reduce its retained earnings by US$ 2.2 billion, following an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Enron had concealed its partnerships with Chewco and Joint Energy Development Investments, which kept a US$ 600 million debt hidden from Enron�s balance sheet. See 2 December 2001.

24/10.2001, Mr Fastow resigned as Chief Financial Officer of Enron, with a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation pending.

16 October 2001, Enron reported a US$ 618 million third quarter loss.

14 August 2001, Mr Skilling, CEO of Enron since 1997, unexpectedly announced his resignation �for personal reasons�. Enron stock, which investors had been assured was going to reach US$ 100, plunged to below US$ 40.


14 November 2002, Argentina defaulted on a US$ 805 million payment due to the World Bank.


Nick Leeson, Barings

2 December 1995, In Singapore, rogue trader Nick Leeson was sentenced to 6 � years in prison. He had been extradited from Germany and pleaded guilty to fraud and forgery.

29 September 1995, Former Barings Brothers trader Nick Leeson agreed to return to Singapore to face trial for deception. On 2 December 1995 he was sentenced to 6 � years in prison.

2 March 1995. Financial dealer Nick Leeson was arrested at Frankfurt Airport after a week-long manhunt. The derivatives trader, working for Barings Bank, see 26 February 1995, had bet on the Japanese futures market, and assumed that the Nikkei would rise; it fell, especially after the Kobe earthquake. Barings lost �860 million. Later in December 1995, after apparently striking a deal with the Singapore authorities, Leeson was sentenced to six and a half years.

26 February 1995. The 200 year old Barings Bank went into receivership. One of its brokers, Nick Leeson, had lost US$1.4 billion speculating on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. See 2 March 1995.

26 January 1995, Baring Brothers, Britain�s oldest merchant bank, went into receivership after one of its futures traders, Nick Leeson, racked up losses of over �800 million.


1991, The Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) collapsed leaving an estimated US$ 5 billion liabilities unpaid.

9 December 1991, �420 million was found to be missing from pension funds controlled by the late Robert Maxwell, who died on 5 November 1991.

5 November 1991. The body of the millionaire publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell was found at sea hours after disappearing from his yacht off the Canary Islands. The funeral was in Israel on 8 November 1991.

28 February 1991. British banks announced major job losses, despite a cut in interest rates to 13% on 27 February 1991. Barclays planned to shed 5,000 jobs. Overall, some 30,000 banking jobs were expected to go in the next two years.

25 December 1989, The Bank of Japan announced a large rise in interest rates, leading to the collapse of Japan�s bubble economy.

1987, The Nationwide Building Society was formed, from a merger of Nationwide and Anglia. Anglia itself was formed in 1967 when the Northampton Building Society (formed 1848) merged with the Leicestershire Building Society.

1986, The Trustee Savings Bank was formed as a limited company. It was formed from the many trustee savings banks which in the 1800s looked after the savings of the working classes, especially in the industrial cities. The first such bank was set up by the Reverend Henry Duncan in 1810 as the Parish Savings Bank at Rothwell, Dumfriesshire. By 1820 there were nearly 500 such banks across Britain. From 1817 such banks were legally required to invest their deposits in Government bonds. Mergers reduced their number from 70 to just four in 1976 � one each for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

1985, Enron was founded as the result of a merger between Houston Natural Gas and InterNorth. The Chairman of the new company was Kenneth Lay.

1983, The Microfinance movement began when Nobel Prizewinner Muhammad Yunus founded the first Grameen (Village) Bank in the Bangladeshi village of Jobra. He lent to women, as they were a better credit risk than men.

6/1983, The first issue of a new type of mortgage-backed security known as a Collateralised Mortgage Obligation was made. This effectively converted bundles of household mortgages into bonds, and the buyers of these bonds knew nothing about the soundness of the mortgages they were buying into. So long as house prices kept rising, the odd default could be absorbed of course.

7 October 1982, In the UK, the major banks cut their base rate from 10.5% to 10%..British Steel warned that one or more of its large plants would have to close.

14 August 1982, Barclays Bank opened on a Saturday, for the first time in 13 years.

1968, The Girobank was established to operate as a bank using Post Office branches.

26 January 1968. The two British banks, the National Provincial and the Westminster, merged to form the National Westminster Bank.

27 June 1967. Barclay�s Bank, in Enfield, north London, opened Britain�s first cash dispenser.

29 June 1966, Barclaycard, the first British credit card, was introduced.

11 January 1966. Barclays Bank announced plans to go into the credit card business with its Barclaycard, available free to both customers and non-customers of the bank. The card would have a limit of �25, and higher amounts could be spent following a telephone check. Hoteliers objected vigorously since promoters make their profit by taking a discount from the amount charged to the card, typically 5% to 10%. Barclays announced that the discount would be 3% to 5%.

25 August 1958, Midland Bank was the first bank to announce it would offer personal loans, from September 1958.

27 November 1947. Austrian banks were nationalised.

1 March 1947. The International Monetary Fund began operating.

27 May 1946, The Bank for Reconstruction and Development, an organisation first proposed at the Bretton Woods Conference and constituted in 1945, began operations.

1 March 1946, The Bank of England was nationalised by Act of Parliament.

27 December 1945. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, commonly known as the �World Bank�, was established. The Bank began operations, officially, in June 1946 at its headquarters at Washington, DC. The IMF was also established this day.

1 January 1944, In the UK, the Abbey National Building Society was formed from a merger of the Abbey Road Building Society (founded 1874 in Abbey Road, London) and the National Building Society (founded 1849).

30 April 1933. The USA came off the Gold Standard to prevent a drain on gold stocks.

25 April 1933. Canada came off the Gold Standard.

6 March 1933. The growing financial crisis in the USA caused all banks to close for 4 days.

27 December 1932. South Africa came off the Gold Standard.

22 July 1932, The Imperial Economic Conference began at Ottawa.

11 July 1932. The World Bank called for a return to the Gold Standard.

11 December 1931. Japan abandoned the Gold Standard.

25 October 1931. France and the USA agreed to retain the Gold Standard.

28 September 1931. Denmark abandoned the Gold Standard. Norway, Sweden, and Egypt abandoned it on 27 September 1931.

20 September 1931. The Pound was poised for a fall after Britain announced it was abandoning the Gold Standard because of heavy pressure on the nation�s Gold Reserves. A 30% devaluation took the pound from US$4.86 to about $3.50. Ramsay MacDonald�s Labour government took many measures, including spending cuts and cutting unemployment pay, but the economic crisis sweeping the world was too severe.

30 August 1930, Warren Buffett, US investor and philanthropist, was born.

20 August 1930, The Imperial Economic Conference at Ottawa ended.

20 May 1930. The Bank for International Settlements was set up in Basle, Switzerland. It had two purposes; to handle the payment of reparations by Germany after World War One, and to establish an institution for central-bank co-operation.

13 November 1929, The Bank for International Settlements was founded.

1927, In the UK, the Moneylenders Act stipulated that all moneylenders must have a licence costing �15 and must not charge more than 48% per year. However these requirements were often ignored.

28 April 1925. Britain returned to the Gold Standard. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Winston Churchill, told the House of Commons he will not renew the Act of 1919 which suspended the Standard. Symbolically, this measure signalled a return to pre-War stability and a Victorian era in which Britain was pre-eminent. However Cambridge economist John Maynard Keynes warned that the USA was not actually adhering to a Gold Standard; it was manipulating the price of gold, at great expense, to ensure it stayed level with the US Dollar. For Britain to return to the Standard meant subjugating UK economic policy to that of the USA.

12 December 1914The New York Stock Exchange reopened, for the first time since World war One began. It was hoped to raise money for the war effort, but stock values plummeted.

1913, Britain had seen major concentration in its banking sector, with the number of retail banks falling from a peak of 755 in 1809 to just 17 in 1913.

8 June 1911, The Birkbeck Bank, London, crashed.

1907, The Swiss National Bank was founded.

5 February 1901. The world�s first billion-dollar business deal. J Pierpont Morgan bought a billion dollars worth of mines and steel mills.

14 March 1900. The US Dollar went on the Gold Standard, under President McKinley.

8 October 1897, In America, the Dow Jones company was set up by the financial journalist Charles Henry Dow, 46. He took the price of 12 stocks and averaged their price to create the Dow Jones Index.

1896, Barclays Bank was founded.

30 June 1893, Anthony Drexel, US banker, died (born 13 September 1826).

6 August 1891. The first traveller�s cheque, devised by American Express, was cashed.

1884, Lloyds Bank was founded.

1882, The Bank of Japan was founded.

12 September 1877, Chase National Bank was founded by New York banker John Thompson, then aged 75.

1875, The German Reichsbank was founded.

8 March 1874, 12 people met to discuss forming a building society, which came to be known as the Abbey Building Society (originally the Abbey Road Benefits Society, formed in Kilburn, London).

24 September 1869, An American financial disaster, �Black Friday�, occurred when a shrewd and unscrupulous investor, Jay Gould, attempted to corner the gold market.

16 September 1861. The Post Office Savings Bank was instituted in Britain.

1 May 1859,

1856, Credit Suisse Bank was founded in Zurich.

1853, The Halifax Building Society was founded, in Halifax, West Yorkshire, as the Halifax Permanent Benefit Buiulding and Investment Society.

1849, The National Building Society was formed.

1847, The Woolwich Building Society was founded.

1836, The Birmingham and Midland Bank (later Midland, then HSBC) was founded, by Charles Geach. In 1992 it was acquired by the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, HSBC.

1834, The National Provincial Bank (later National Westminster) was founded.

1833, The London and Westminster Bank (later National Westminster) was founded.

13 September 1826, Anthony Drexel, US banker, was born (died 30 June 1893).

22 April 1823, The Baltic Exchange, London, was established, as the Baltic Club.

24 February 1822, Thomas Coutts, founder of Coutts bank, died (born 7 September 1735).

18 January 1800. The Banque De France was established, under Napoleon Bonaparte, to finance the war.

3 June 1792, State Street Bank, Boston, USA, was founded when Governor John Hancock signed the Bank�s Charter.

17 May 1792, 24 merchants met in Wall Street, New York, to set up the New York Stock Exchange.

1 August 1778. The first savings bank opened, in Hamburg.

5 December 1766, Christies auctioneers held their first sale.

1765, Lloyds Bank was founded in Birmingham by a Unitarian button maker, John Taylor (1711-75) and a Quaker ironmaster, Sampson Lloyd (1699-1779).

25 December 1762, Barings Bank was founded in London, UK.

23 February 1743, Meyer Rothschild, founder of the banking dynasty, was born in Germany.

7 September 1735, Thomas Coutts, founder of Coutts bank, was born (died 24 February 1822).

3 February 1730, The London Daily Advertiser published the first ever Stock Exchange quotations.

4 October 1713, Sir Francis Child, English banker, died (born 1642).

1695, The Royal Bank of Scotland was founded.

27 July 1694. The Bank of England was founded, by Montagu, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with government backing. Its remit was to carry out all the monetary business of the government and to obtain interest on the government�s money.

1 November 1693, The Bank of Scotland was founded.

1683, Mitsui Bank, Japan, was founded in the Surugacho district of Edo by Japanese merchant Mitsui Hachirobei Takatoshi.

21 November 1579, Sir Thomas Gresham, who founded the Royal Exchange, died.

23 January 1571. The Royal Exchange, founded by financier Sir Thomas Gresham, was opened by Queen Elizabeth I as a bankers meeting house. Its foundation stone was laid on 7 June 1566.

7 June 1566, Sir Thomas Gresham laid the foundation stone of the first Royal Exchange in London.

Books and Stationery

15 July 1995, Amazon sold its first book.

1973, The Virago Publishing Company was founded by Carmen Callil (born 1938). It specialises in books about women.

1908, Mills and Boon was founded as a general publisher by Gerald Mills and Alan Boon. From the 1930s it specialised in romances.

1906, Foyles Bookshop was founded on Charing Cross Road, London, by the two brothers William (1885-1963) and Gilbert (1886-1971) Foyle.

1879, Blackwell�s book shop was first set up in Oxford. It had a major role posting books to India, from which has derived its current role of supplying universities and libraries around the world.

1820, WH Smiths was founded as a newspaper and stationery business. It began as a newspaper shop in London in 1792; by efficient use of the stagecoach system, the shop got ahead of its competitors in newspaper distribution across the country.

1797, Hatchards Bookshop was founded on Piccadilly, London, by John Hatchard (1769-1849).


Electricity, nuclear

1 October 2008, The French power company EdF acquired British Energy plc, which operated 8 of Britain�s 10 nuclear power stations.

1996, In the UK, British Nuclear Power was privatised. British Rail was privatised.

1995, In the UK, Powergen was privatised. National Power was privatised.

29 March 1993. Two Hoover executives were fired by the American parent company Maytag after the free-flights fiasco. The deal whereby any Hoover purchase over �100 entitled the customer to a flight worth �400 was vastly over-subscribed and cost Hoover over �20 million.

1 April 1948. Britain nationalised the electricity industry.

25 February 1902. In the USA, Herbert Cecil Booth founded the Vacuum Cleaner Company Ltd.

13 December 1816, Ernst Werner von Siemens, founder of the electrical engineering giant Siemens in 1847, was born.


Electronics Music and Information processing � (see also Computing)

19 August 2004, Google was listed as a private company.


International Business Machines (IBM)

2 October 1992. In the USA, IBM announced it was to lay off 40,000 workers, 25% of its workforce.

17 January 1992, IBM announced its biggest ever loss, US$ 564 million.

14 February 1924, The Computing-Tabulating-recording Company (see 15 June 1911) changed its name to IBM, International Business Machines.

15 June 1911, The Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company was established. This later became IBM., see 14 February 1924.


1981, Mercury, a UK telecommunications company, was set up in 1981, ending the monopoly of British Telecom.

1970, The Virgin Company was founded by Richard Branson as a mail order record retailer. In 1972 he opened a shop on Oxford Street, London. He also started Virgin Atlantic Airways in 1984.

1968, The Amstrad electronics firm was founded by Alan Sugar. It is named after his initials, AMS, plus �trading�.

1950, The electronics group Racal was founded by Raymond Brown (1920-91) and Calder Cunningham (died 1958).In 1984 it bought the security company Chubb and in 1985 it launched Vodaphone, Britain�s first commercial cellular telephone service. This side of the business was hived off as a separate company, Racal Telecom, known since 1991 as the Vodaphone Group.

1 January 1939, Hewlett-Packard was founded in Palo Alto, California, by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard.

30 November 1931. EMI was formed by the merger of His Master�s Voice and Columbia, see 1898.

1898, The Gramophone Company was founded, to import gramophones and records from Germany. It adopted as company image a painting entitled His Master�s Voice. In 1931 The Gramophone Company joined with others to form EMI.

23 September 1889, The Nintendo Company was founded, as a playing card company.

14 July 1888. Businessman Jesse L Lippincott founded the world�s first record company, the North American Phonograph Company, in Pennsylvania.



1885, The General Accident Insurance Company was established in Perth, Scotland.

1859, The Equitable Life Assurance Society was founded in New York by Henry Baldwin Hyde, aged 25,.

1848, The Prudential Insurance Company was founded. From 1854 it pioneered the door-o-door sale of life insurance to industrial blue collar workers, with premiums collected every 4 weeks as a rule.

1762, The Equitable Life Insurance Company was founded.

1710, The Sun Insurance Office was founded; it specialised in fire insurance. In 1959 it merged with Alliance Insurance (launched 1824 with the then-huge sum of �5 million capital). In 1965 London Assurance (founded 1720)joined the group. In 1984 Phoenix Assurance (founded 1782) joined the group.

3 December 1591. The earliest recorded fire insurance policy. 101 persons, mainly brewers, agreed to pay out a maximum of 10 thalers to any fellow memberwhose property was damaged by fire.

18 June 1583. The first life insurance policy was sold in London. William Gibbons took out a policy whereby his relatives would be paid �383 if he died within 12 months of the policy date; the policy was underwritten by 16 individuals. Gibbons did indeed die in May 1584, and Richard Martin then disputed the policy and refused to pay out. The courts decided he had to pay. Many more such life policies were issued but it was not until 1923 that the Life Insurance Companies Act was passed.


Medical Cosmetics and Pharmaceutical

10 September 2007, Anita Roddick, environmental campaigner, died (born 23 October 1942). She founded the Body Shop chain in 1976, which was sold to L�Oreal 30 years later for �625 million.

1989, Smith Kline Beecham was formed, from a merger of Smith Kline (which began as a drugstore in Philadelphia opened by Smith Kline in 1830) and the Beecham Group, so-called from 1945.

1976, The first Body Shop opened, in Brighton.

18 October 1966. Death of the cosmetic company founder, Elizabeth Arden.

23 October 1942, Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, was born.

19 October 1933, The 1,000th Boots chemist opened, at Galashiels, Scotland. By 1939 the chain operated 1,200 stores across the UK.

13 June 1931. Jesse Boot, who founded Boots the Chemist, died aged 81 in Millbrook, Jersey.He was created Baron Trent in 1929.

2 November 1926. Imperial Chemical Industries, ICI, was formed, from the merger of four companies; Brunner Mond, Nobel Industries, United Alkali and BritishDyestuffs.

1923, BUPA (British United Provident Association) began as the British Provident Association and became BUPA after amalgamating with other regional associations. By 1990 it was Britain�s leading private healthcare provider, providing for around 3 million people.

1896, Boots chemists now had 60 shops across 28 different towns. They began selling books and artists materials, because bedridden people might need these things to pass the time.

1883, The first Boots chemist opened, in Nottingham, the home town of its founder, Jesse Boot, the son of a Wesleyan herbalist.

1880, The Wellcome Group was founded in London by two US chemists, Silas Burroughs (1846-95) and Henry Wellcome (1853-1936).

1873, The Glaxo Pharmaceutical Company was founded by Joseph Nathan (1835-1912), initially as a dairy food import business from New Zealand. The company name, Glaxo, combined �Oxo� with the Greek word for milky, galacticos. The company moved into vitamins such as vitamin D from cod liver oil in the 1920s, and then bought out several pharmaceutical companies.

1 August 1863, German pharmaceuticals company Farbenfabriken Bayer was founded.

2 June 1850, Jesse Boot, founder of Boots chemists, was born. As a child he accompanied his father, a herbalist, into the woods to identify plants for herbal remedies. Jesse�s father died when Jesse was aged 10, and from age 13 he helped his mother in their small household soap and cleaning products shop. By raising sales volume to above �20 a week he was able to secure wholesale discounts and undercut the established chemists. The dispute with these other shops only gave him kore publicity and his sales reached �40 a week.

1849, The Pfizer pharmaceuticals company was established when Charles Pfizer and his cousin Charles Erhart set up a small chemical company in Wiliamsburg, a then-rural part of Brooklyn. They manufactured the drug Santonin, used for treating intestinal worms. In 1957 Pfizer set up a plant at sandwich, Kent, UK, to manufacture penicillin.

1823, Merck Company began as the Philadelphia company Zeitler and Rosengarten, founded by German-born chemist George David Rosengarten, who had migrated to the USA in 1819. He acquired a 50% share in the company Zeitler and Seitler, which made quinine sulphate. In 1905 this company became Powers-Weightmann-Rosengarten, and became Merck and Co in 1927.


Mining Industry, see also Geology for general mining timeline


Oil Industry

1984, Enterprise Oil (UK) was privatised.

1979, In the UK, British Petroleum was privatised.

1972, The Standard Oil Company became the Exxon Corporation.

1909, British Petroleum was founded as the Anglo Persian Oil Company. It then began operations in Iraq and Kuwait. However its Persian operations were nationalised in 1951. It then reorganised as British Petroleum in 1954.

1907, Henry Deterding founded the Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company.

1911, Under US anti-trust laws the Standard Oil Company was broken up into 34 entities; 14 of these remained by 1990.

7 April 1902. The Texas Oil Company, or Texaco, was founded.

10 January 1870. John D Rockefeller and his brother William founded the Standard Oil Company of Ohio, later known as Esso.

1886, Burmah Oil was founded by Scotsman David Cargill, for transporting lamp oil from Burma, where it was plentiful, to India. It absorbed Castrol in 1966 to become Burmah Castrol.

1833, The origin of the Shell Oil Company. Marcus Samuel (1798-1870) opened a small shop in London�s East End sellingcurios and ornamental seashells. The seashells became so popular that he organised transport from the Far East,. In 1890 his son, also Marcus Samuel (1858-1927) began using this transport to sell paraffin from the Black Sea to the Far East. He designed a special oil tanker that would meet the safety requirements of the Suez canal and so was permitted to transit it. This was the Murex, which first sailed through Suez in 1892 with 4000 tons of oil. By 1897 oil transport was the largest part of the business. In 1898 his company began prospecting for oil in Borneo. Meanwhile the Royal Dutch company had been fo0rmed in 1890 to prospect for oil in Sumatra. Both companies, although competing, merged in the 1890s due to the threat from the much larger US oil company Standard Oil.


Shopping Centres

2008, Westfield shopping centre, Shepherds Bush, London, 150,000 sq m, opened.

2008, Liverpool 1 shopping centre, 130,000 sq m, opened.

28 September 2000, The West Quay shopping centre opened in Southampton. This immediately upped Southampton�s Experian ranking in terms of UK shopping centres from 38th to 13th; the ranking subsequently improved further to 7th by 2002.

1999, Bluewater shopping centre, Kent, 155,700 sq m, opened.

1998, Trafford shopping centre, Manchester, 137,400 sq m, opened.

1990, Meadowhall shopping centre, Sheffield, 132,000 sq m, opened.

10/1990, Lakeside Shopping Centre, Essex, opened. 130,300 sq. m.

1986, The Metro Shopping centre, Gateshead, 165,000 sq m, opened.

1985, Merryhill shopping centre, Dudley, 148,000 sq m, opened.

1982, St David�s shopping centre, Cardiff, 129,500 sq m, opened.

1975, Manchester Arndale, 130,000 sq m, opened.


Shops (Department Stores)

27 January 2018, Ingvar Kamprad, founder of the IKEA chain, died aged 91.

2 June 2016, British Home Stores, once a flagship of UK High Streets, went into liquidation. No buyer had been found for the 88-year-old business, putting 163 stores and 11,000 jobs on the line.

11 March 1985. The Al-Fayed brothers won control of the House of Fraser Group to become owners of Harrods. They defeated a bid by Lonrho.

1961, The first Mothercare store opened in Kingston upon Thames. The chain was founded by Selim Zilkha (born 1927), who noticed this gap in the market. By the early 1990s there were some 250 Mothercare stores in the UK. In 1986 the chain merged with BhS and Habitat to form the Storehouse Group.

8 May 1947. Death of the American department store founder, Henry Gordon Selfridge.

27 January 1929, Mohamed al Fayed, owner of Harrods, was born.

1928, The first British Home Stores opened in Brixton, London.


8 August 1919, F W (Frank Winfield) Woolworth, US merchant and founder of Woolworth stores in 1879, died.

1909, The first Woolworths store in the UK opened, in Liverpool. By 1958 the UK had 1,000 Woolworths stores.

22 February 1879, F W Woolworth opened the first Woolworth 5and 10 cent variety store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. A previous Woolworths 5 cent store in Utica, New York, opened earlier in February 1879, had failed; the first ever Woolworths customer had been a woman buying a 5 cents coal shovel. However by the end of the first year�s trading Woolworths had made a net profit of US$ 1,516.60. The new 10 cent lines facilitated a fourfold increase in the variety of goods offered.

13 April 1852. Frank Winfield Woolworth, the American chain store pioneer, was born in Rodman, Jefferson County, New York State.


1909, Selfridges opened on Oxford Street, London, the first department store in Britain. The chain was bought by Kingfisher in 1982. It was Britain�s leading retailer until overtaken in 1986 by Marks and Spencer�s.

1900, Great Universal Stores was established in Manchester by George Rose.

28 September 1894, The first Marks and Spencer store opened, as a Penny Bazaar at Cheetham Hill, Manchester.

1877, Peter Jones opened a drapery shop on the site of the current Peter Jones store, Sloane Square London. It was taken over by John Lewis. The current store building dates from 1936.

1875, Libertys Store, London W.1, was founded by Arthur Lazenby Liberty (1843-1917). He had begun work as the employee of a Regent Street Oriental goods trader in 1862, then set up his own store.

1874, Macy�s Department Store, New York, created a Christmas display of dolls in its shop window, starting a tradition soon followed by other stores.

1864, John Lewis (1836-1928) opened a small drapers shop on Oxford Street London called John Lewis. This expanded to become a department store and in 1905 he bought Peter Jones in Sloane Square. In 1937 John Lewis bought the Waitrose chain.

11 January 1864, Harry Gordon Selfridge, American retailer, was born in Ripon, Wisconsin.

1849, Harrods Store, Knightsbridge, London, began when Charles Henry Harrod (1800-1885) took over a small grocery store on the current site. His son Charles Digby Harrod (1841-1905) expanded the business. The current store, occupying the entire block, was built 1894-1912.

1832, Kendals department store, Manchester, was established.

1813, Harvey Nichols department store, London, was established.

1810, Heals department store, London, was established.

1778, Debenhams department store, London, was established.

1760, Hamleys toy shop was established by William Hamley in London. It was originally called Noah�s Ark, and moved to Regent Street in 1906.


Steel industry

20 October 2006, Corus announced that it had accepted a �4.3 billion offer from Tata Steel.

1998, In the UK, British Steel was privatised.

29 June 1990. British Steel revealed that its Chairman, Sir Robert Scholey, received a 79% pay increase in 1989, taking his annual pay to �308,541.

15 February 1980, As the UK steel strike continued, middle management passed a vote of no confidence in the board of executives.

17 January 1980, British Steel announced it would axe 11,287 jobs by end-March 1980.

15 February 1951, Britain nationalised the iron and steel industry.

23 February 1901, The United States Steel Corporation was founded.The US iron and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie (1835-1918) sold the Carnegie Steel Corporation to the US Steel Corporation for the unprecedented sum of US$ 447 million.Carnegie then made several philanthropic donations; beneficiaries included US and Scottish universities.



6 March 1992. British Telecom announced 25,000 job cuts, over 10% of the workforce.

1984, In the UK, British Telecom was privatised.

1981, In the UK, Cable & Wireless was privatised.

1 January 1947. Cable and Wireless was nationalised.

1 January 1912. The British Post Office took over the National Telephone Company, for the sum of �12,515,264.

1 August 1877. In Boston, USA, The Bell Telephone Company was formed, headed by Alexander Graham Bell.


Travel Leisure and Hotels

23 September 2019, British travel agent Thomas Cook went into liquidation;150,000 holidaymakers needed repatriation. The company had taken on too much debt and expanded into areas such as Turkey and Tunisia that were then hit by terrorism fears. It also had to bear physical shop costs whereas many of its competitors were online-only, and Brexit and good weather in the UK reduced demand for foreign holidays.

10 November 1993. Euro Disney announced losses of US$ 900 million after its first year of business. Europe-wide recession, high interest rates, and high unemployment were blamed by management for the losses. The 10,000 staff feared further job cuts on top of the 950 already dismissed.

14 August 1974, Clarksons and Horizon Holidays collapsed, leaving over 5,000 stranded abroad.

15 December 1909, The first Radisson Hotel was opened in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The 16 story building was constructed by heiress Edna Dickerson and had 425 rooms. By 2009, there were 420 Radisson hotels worldwide.

29 September 1899, Billy Butlin, holiday camp owner, was born in South Africa.

4 October 1859, Death of German publisher Karl Baedeker, whose travel guides became famous.

3 November 1801, Karl Baedeker, guide book publisher, was born.


Back to top