J. Hudson & Co. Whistle Manufacturer History. By A.Strauss

The First J.Husdon Police Whistle , Manchester City Police, Made at 17 Mark St. Adress Pre 1882 & The  84 Buck. St.
                                   J. Hudson & Co. Whistle Manufacturer History

J Hudson & Co.
ounded in the 1870s in Birmingham by Joseph Hudson
(1848- 1930) and his brother James Hudson (1850 - 1888) . The Company was to be come the world manufacturer of whistles and is still active today as Acme Whistles

Sample 1. First J.Husdon Police Whistle , Manchester City Police, Made at 17 Mark St. Adress Pre1882 . More samples by Hudson with details
in other entries  here                                                               
                                                       A.Strauss whistle museum               


17 Mark St. Birmingham (J.Hudson workshop) 1870 - 1882
84 Buckingham St. Birmingham   1882 - 1884
131 Barr St. Birmingham  1885 - 1888
13 Barr St. Birmingham    1888 - 1909
244 Barr St. Birmingham   1909 Onward.


The company was family run for over 100 years and 3 generations; Joseph Hudson's son, James Clifford Hudson, and his grandson, Leon Clifford Hudson  ran the company after Joseph retired. Today named Acme Whistles the company's manager and owner is Simon Topman.

While studying the company's history  I divided the history of the company to four periods that seemed right upon studying the patents, materials, design & construction of actual whistles, the whistles well reflect the periods.

 First period -
 divides to Early first period ; Up to Hudson winning the contract of supplying the Metropolitan Police with 7000 whistles at 1884 and after that contract,
later first period.
Early beginning; Joseph Hudson started working at the age of 12, at various jobs, later he began working for Bent & Parker a long established company of army supplies and whistle makers in Birmingham.
at 1970 age 22 he started his own Business with younger brother James. The 1884 contract gradually made Hudson the largest whistle manufacturer for British Empire Police and other general services.
The 1890's sees Hudson faced with the rise of many competitor makers and companies .
The continuos Growth of Hudson at the end of the Victorian era and the end of the first period, can be viewed by few events,  related to 10 other whistle manufacturers, events which are parallel to the company's growth.
timeline ;

* 1898 Hudson purchased Black & Co. and kept making their models.
* 1898 J Barrall ends his whistle making Business.
* 1901 Hudson is making whistles for J. Stevens & Sons.
* 1904 Hudson purchased R. A. Walton.
* 1907 Hudson purchased S. Auld  Whistle making business
             and kept manufacturing their models especially the Round " pignose " type known as 'Glasgow type police call'. *1) FOOTNOTE
* 1904 Hudson is filling whistle orders along with De Courcy for W. Dowler & sons who stops  manufacturing whistles.
* During this period, Coney & Co. stopped making whistles and Hudson is making their models.
* In early 1900 Hudson is making whistles on a small scale for Bent & Parker.
* At an unknown date c, late 1890s early 1900 T. Yates stops manufacturing whistles.
* Circa 1908  H. A. Ward  stops making whistles.
To sum it up, in a period of 10 years. 1898 to 1908 all other whistle makers actually end making whistles, leaving Hudson and De Courcy as the two major whistle makers in England.

 Second period
Starting 1909 at a new Building in the northern part, 244 Barr St., saw a change in their whistle making as well as expanding to more markets in the continent and over seas, with an office in [[Paris]] a large 1910 French catalog, and new connections with U. S. A.  sporting goods companies and distributors, Hudson is left with just one smaller British competitor A. De Courcy & Co from 1909 to 1927.

In 1927 Hudson purchases Alfred De Courcy  patent rights, tools and stock.
Hudson is becoming the world largest whistle maker gaining the Thunderer Registered Trademark. The Acme thunderer whistle and its variations becomes the world largest selling type whistle.

This transition time 1925 -1930 sees 3 generations of Hudson family running the business together and resembles the end of the Golden age of whistle making.

Speaking of history one can see a strong connection between the flourishment of the Victorian Era and between the rise and fall of the British empire and British companies changes.

 Third Period  -  1927 to 2000 Modern Era .
The beginning of this period certainly stands in the shade of the Great Depression and the changing demand of the market using more and more plastic materials for making calls and whistles, trying to keep costs down and competing in a market that was flooded with cheaper tin and cast base metal whistles, made in Germany, Japan, U.S.A. & other countries.

On October 26 1940, the factory received a direct hit from a German air raid, no one was injured but the factory suffered a major crisis which took months to recover . The ARP whistles were made during the next few years and dated whistles for army, navy and RAF equipment as well as for Civil Defence.

In 1949 the firm is newly-constituted as J. Hudson & Co. (Whistles) Ltd. . Leon C. Hudson becomes its first managing director.

The 1950s & 60s saw the growing demand for Hudson sports whistles, Olympics and other sport events in 5 continents.

At 1957 A. R. Topman becomes an assistant general manager and about 40 years later his son Simon Topman would become the owner and the Managing director of the company .starting the fourth period of the company developments.

 Fourth period -2000 onward, Nowadays 21 Century.
The factory name changes to Acme whistles and the factory sells about 5 million whistles year and keeps registering new Patents for whistles. The period is marked with a growing competition from far east and Chinese manufacturers .

Most of the whistles sold are made of plastics were once, more whistles constructed from sheets of brass were made, but many old partly hand made models of high quality are still being produced in a traditional way.

Some Patents, Registered Designs & Trade marks 
   1885  No.435         whistle-diaphragm disk
   1891  No. 19868 Threepiece & Knop Glasgow type Escargot
   1897 No.19640  London type escargot with parallel sided mouthpiece.

   1898  No.19700     whistle-diaphragm disk
   1907   No.1112       Whistle combined with pocket knife
   1907   No.25619     Whistle attached to a wrist strap
   1908   No. 5727      Two piece top for GSW's
   1908 No. 10898       Two additional caps to cover barrel ends and a heavy  wire toothgrip on Escargots
   1911   No. 28999    Unibody GSW
   1923   No.213487   Groove in cap for Escargot-type
   1923   No. 214519   Pressed top
   1924 No. 21487       Groove in hump back cap for wiring

Registered Designs 

  1895 no.256361        Double end whistle Metropolitan plus Round pea whistle-type
  1893  no. 217010         Oval whistle
  1897  no. 311230         Oval whistle with oval Porteous top
  1909  no. 540164        Pillar top
  1910   no. 571215        Finger gripo loop knop for escargots
  1924  no. 705987        Compass replacing top cap

Registered Trademarks

The Metropolitan 1884
The Acme 1886
The Kinglet 1907
Acme city  1907
Emca 1922 (Acme in reverse)
Acme 1927

* The above tables shows essential patents and registered designs out of many and up to 1927.

Catalogues ; * 1935 Acme whistle catalogue ( English )
                          * 1910 Acme whistle catalogue ( French )

Models & Whistle types  See Samples here
While many makers concentrated on limited variety, J Hudson & Co practically made most of the common whistle types & Bird-calls, Duck calls, Dog Calls, Fox calls, & musical whistles
as well as sound effects & slide whistles and novelty combination whistles.
Some models as the ''Thunderer''  & the ''Metropolitan'' general service whistle, cylindrical type being popular during most of the company's history up to date.


Hudson was the only Maker in U.K actually using Wood, Horn, Bakelite, Plastic & Silver Beside other metals ,while other firms were making either solely metal or other materials, J Dixon & Sons at the 19th century being the exception.

Anecdotes & Facts

* An Ashtray made of pewter signed J. Hudson 1863 is probably the earliest work stamped by him.

* A corkscrew and whistle combination from 1876 is marked by J.Hudson.

* When the Factory was bombed, piles of whistles scattered, a 12 years old boy sneaked one, he later served as a Railway conductor for over 40 years using that whistle, upon his retirement he visited the factory and handed back the whistle dated 1940 saying he felt he should return it.

* An original Titanic stamped Acme Thunderer whistle supplied at 1912 to the whistle line, was recently sold at a London auction for £3100.

Body stamps

Hudson stamped General service type whistles that were ordered for thousands of various police forces, Constabularies, Railway companies, Fire Brigades, companies, and for distributors world wide as well as for general services and police forces in the British Colonies.
Address stamps are more commonly found on the GSWs than other types as the Escargot-type .
some early police small arms inspection marks, Army Broad arrow stamp appeared on dated whistles and others.
Many of Hudson stamps carry the address and supply an easy tool to date .
* Metropolitan police whistles had a hand engraved number at the back of the very early ones and punched on later ones .
The book "Collecting Police whistles"by Gilchrist & Topman, gives an in depth look at some of the variations and classifies these as MP-1 to MP-22 .
* The Mark st. address is not known to have been used on any whistles , and beside the addresses mentioned at the top table , the address Barr Street Hockley was used on many whistles post WWI.
* The stamp of 131 Barr St. is extremely rare on escargot-type.
* Early GSWs have a Patent & J Hudson & Co stamp on the diaphragm.
* Acme was and is a common stamp on Hudson whistles and so was the name Emca ( same letters in reverse ).
* At times Initials consisting of a single letter or two are used as abbreviations; 'MH' for Mental Hospital 'FB' for fire Brigade' P' for prison or police 'T' for tramway and others.
* Stamps of particular model or popular names at one time or another "International", The King's Own, Taxi call etc.

*1) Proffesional whistles were mostly reffered to as "calls" while the term whistles was used more in
the context of toys . a more in depth look into the subject is in another entry
. (A.S.)

* I hope to coninue the article in the future...in the mean time I added samples and notes there other entries  here    . 
And also

Avner Srauss
Whistle museum notes 2008. ( All rights reserved ).
Whistle museum, A.Strauss All rights reserved, /2009/03/22 please do not use any part of this web page without a written permission from the authorץ

  ההיסטוריה של ג'וזף האדסון גדול יצרני המשרוקיות באנגליה ותור הזהב של ייצור המשרוקיות


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  • 9/18/2011 5:38 AM Michael Conneely wrote:
    I found the information that you supplied was very helpful in answering some questions I was seeking information on. Thank you..
    Reply to this
  • 11/10/2012 6:42 PM Ron Fagg wrote:
    My step grandfather was a drill seargeant in the Canadian army stationed in Sandgate, Kent. He married my widowed grand mother in 1918 and they moved to Canada. [My grandmother actually sailed to Canada on the sister ship to the Titanic]
    I have my grandfathers whistle made by J.Hudson & co in Birmingham marked 1911.
    What can you tell me about this whistle and any value attached to it ?

    Ron Fagg, BC, Canada
    Reply to this
  • 12/30/2012 11:01 PM Jim Warner wrote:
    Thanks for providing information on the Hudson Company. It has helped me date a fire brigade whistle from 84 Buckingham St, Birmingham, 1882-1884. The whistle is from the Harborne Fire brigade and is very rare and in superb condition.
    Reply to this
  • 2/23/2013 3:02 PM Steve Jennex wrote:
    Hello. Stumbled on your website, and hope you can help me. I am in Canada, and while scuba diving found a whistle that says "THE Metropolitan". Beneath that is the British broad arrow symbol, and underneath the symbol, the words "J. Hudson & Co. Ltd. Birmingham 19 England". I'd love to get a date on it.
    Reply to this
  • 6/4/2013 5:50 PM mike tweedie wrote:
    yes--I have 1 also,was wondering about the value also.
    Reply to this
  • 6/18/2013 1:48 PM jo wrote:
    I have a Hudson whistle with the broad arrow on it but no date or street number on the address, no 'patent' markings either. Any ideas how I can find out more info on this?
    Reply to this
  • 1/28/2014 4:46 PM Christine Williams wrote:
    My late mother Gladys Williams work for Hudsons also my aunt Rosie Bibb long before my mother and used to talk about leon Hudson, later my uncle Vincent Williams came to work in offices at Hudson, I remember standing outside the blue gates as a child for my mother to finish at 1pm
    Reply to this

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