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Section: Manufacturer's and their Products
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Salts: Company Overview - Past, present and future.

Salts Healthcare is believed to be one of the oldest 'family run' businesses in the country. The Salt family can trace their origins back to the early 1700's when two brothers, John and William Salt, were apprenticed to locksmiths in Wolverhampton.

By the time of his death in 1755, John Salt was firmly established as a 'Surgeons Instrument Maker' and Cutler and the business was taken over by his son William who had been learning the family trade in London as a journeyman to a Mr La Roche in Silver Street near Golden Square.

William Salt appears to have been a typical Midland metal worker of the period and appears in the Wolverhampton directory of 1770 as a Cutler and the Birmingham directory of 1780 as a 'toyman'. Salts maintained surgeons instrument making as their main business but also traded in other wares.

The 1783 medical register for Staffordshire and Warwickshire shows 82 medical practitioners, some of which were no doubt supplied with instruments by Salts. However, medical practitioners replaced their instruments infrequently, hence Salts' other businesses as Cutlers and toy makers. New advances in medicine required instruments to be updated and new instruments to be developed, and this led to a steady trade for Salts.

William Salt died in 1793 and the family firm passed to Richard Salt, who moved the firm to larger premises in Dale End, Birmingham in the early 1800's. The Salts prospered during this period and Richard opened a second premises in Coleshill Street, still majoring on surgeons instrument making. After his death Sarah, Richard's wife, ran the business for a brief interim period. This was unusual as at this time the domestic ideology was on the rise and a woman heading a business was much more uncommon than in the 18th century or today. The business then passed to Richard's son, Thomas Partridge Salt.

1845 saw changes for Salts. Thomas Partridge Salt had died during the Cholera epidemic in 1840-41, aged 45, and his wife Mary, with their son, moved the business to bigger and more prestigious premises in Bull Street, Birmingham.

The third quarter of the nineteenth century saw trade in Birmingham pick up and greater prosperity for Salts. In 1854 Salts were first mentioned with their new exalted status as 'Cutlers to Her Majesty' as well as surgical instrument makers and truss manufacturers. In 1863 Salts was granted a Royal Warrant and became Cutlers to the Emperor of the French in 1867.

Salts was one of 57 exhibitors at the 1867 Paris Universal Exhibition and was awarded an 'Honourable Mention'. A key figure in Salts' success at this time would seem to have been T P Salt. The firm had changed from Salt M & Son in 1865 to Salt & Son in 1867. T P Salt had become influential in local matters in the 1850's.

T P Salt was also at the forefront of his field. In 1866 he published 'A Treatise on Deformities and Debilities of the Lower Extremities'. The Frontispiece notes a General Knolley presenting his compliments and commenting that the work is a 'valuable contribution to Science'. There is an original copy of this treatise in the Birmingham library. In 1865, TP published 'On Rupture: Its Causes, Management and Cure, and Various Mechanical Contrivances Employed for its Relief'. In additon, he subscribed to the production of J A Langford's 'A Century of Birmingham Life 1741-1841' published in 1868.

T P Salt obviously enjoyed his work and took an active interest in the business, as recorded in a case book of the period, where it is revealed that he attended to a diverse range of conditions from amputations to back complaints. In addition, patients were seen by Ashton T Salt, the great, great grandfather of Philip Salt, the current head of the firm.

The economic depression of 1866-68 did not appear to affect Salts, who by this time were 'surgical instrument makers and anatomical mechanicians to the Prince of Wales'. They also patented the desirable 'Orthonemic' Truss. Salts were keen Europeans even then and they exhibited at the 1876 Brussels International Exhibition, particularly stressing their 'trusses and other new inventions in aid of medicine and surgery'. It was in the last quarter of the 19th century that they began to concentrate on medical products and dropped cutlery making.

T P Salt led the firm from Bull Street in 1863 to Cherry Street in 1900, via Corporation Street. 1941 found the Salts concentrating on artificial limb production, but the focus changed in 1945 when contracts for artificial limb makers were reassessed in the run up to the National Health Service.

In 1948 Professor Brian Brooke returned from the US full of enthusiasm for the work the Americans were doing with colostomy patients. He asked Salts if they could make collection devices similar to those being produced in the US. An approach to the American manufacturer by Mr Ted Salt for a supply or licensing arrangement proved fruitless, so Salts did some basic development work and went ahead with a limited range of 'handmade' bags. Over the next several years Salts continued to improve the bags and, although it was not profitable, they were delighted to be able to radically improve the lifestyle of stoma patients. This led to a wide range of stoma care products.

On 28 August 1996, Salt & Son Ltd acquired the business of Eurocare and their factory based in Horsham, West Sussex. This acquisition strengthened Salts' position in the UK and overseas ostomy market. A highly specialised team is now based at Horsham designing, developing and producing our innovative range of ostomy products. During this time the Company began trading as Salts Healthcare.

As a leading manufacturer and supplier of health care products, Salts Healthcare now provides a truly international service for a global market place, whilst retaining the traditional values that only a highly personalised service can offer. Salts Healthcare has acquired skills and indepth knowledge in a number of fields and specialises in:

OEM Hydrocolloids
Developed for ostomy products, wound and skin care and other surgical procedures.

Stoma Care Products
Confidence and Second Nature are full product ranges offering freedom and choice for the one and two piece user.

Home Delivery
Salts Medilink 24 Hour Home Delivery Service is an efficient, confidential and discreet service supplying any make of ostomy and continence products.

You will also find Salts are the leading manufacturer and supplier of orthoses, including orthopaedic footwear - either from stock or through a Made-to-Measure service that also includes surgical corsets, callipers, shoe adaptions, plastic orthoses, insoles and helmets, as well as Salts Bodyworks 2000 range - upper and lower limb orthotic braces. Suppliers also of the MND Oxford Collar, providing comfort and support for people with Motor Neurone Disease - not to mention a comprehensive range of breast care products.

Salts Healthcare is committed to continually investing in patient care. Recently awarded 'Investors In People', Salts Healthcare believes in putting people at the forefront of its business, aiming to exceed all customers' expectations, both internal as well as external.

Salts is a company that has been caring for three hundred years and intends to continue to lead the way into the next millennium and well beyond.

"We want to grow, but not for growth's sake - we want to grow profitably and we want to grow organically. We have invested a lot in manufacturing over the last two or three years and we are continually building that side. Our export side is growing all the time too. The biggest part of our business though is still about direct contact with the patient and the service we offer the patient - particularly on the ostomy side. We want to be the best and to drive this company forward and achieve greater and greater success. I think product development is particularly important in this industry and we are continually striving to reach the highest possible standards in this area."

Copyright 1999 Salt & Son Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Salts Healthcare Lord Street Birmingham B7 4DS

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In memory of Mich from NL.
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