A FIRM now based in Greenford is celebrating its centenary.

Mills Ltd started life selling army surplus engineering tools from a corner shop in Churchfield Road, Acton.  

At the time, it was known as Mills & Dickinson, run by Arthur Mills and Sidney Dickenson, though by 1922 Mr Dickinson had resigned his share of the partnership, leaving Arthur and his wife Louise to run A Mills of Acton on their own.

After the First World War, British-manufactured products were in high demand and the new shop was surrounded by the engineering workshops and factories of west London.  

Buying tools from MoD auctions, Mills soon established itself as a prime source of specialist tooling for the newly established auto and aerospace industries.

In 1926, Arthur and Louise opened a second shop called The Tool Mart in King Street, Hammersmith, and during the 1930s, a further satellite branch in Leeland Road, West Ealing, though all branches were consolidated into the Churchfield Road premises by the beginning of the 70s.

The family which started the business is still very much in evidence today.   Arthur and Louise handed over the running to their son, Maurice, after the Second World War.  

In turn, Maurice’s son, Jerry, now managing director, joined in the late 70s.   Two years ago, Jerry’s son, Elliot, came on board, marking four generations of the same family.

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A video telling the story of Mills’ achievement in reaching its hundred-year milestone is now available to view on YouTube.  Simply search for “Mills 100 years”.

It was Maurice Mills, who introduced the Mills trade counter, still attracting significant business from tradespeople today, but popular in the Sixties with apprentices, who included Roger Daltrey of The Who and Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience.  

The trade counter even supplied the inmates’ workshop at Wormwood Scrubbs!

During the 1980s, Mills moved to the Park Royal trading estate and tailored their output for the service and maintenance industries, in addition to the growing telecoms,  data communication and cable TV markets.  

This inspired Mills to put together customised tool cases for specific trades such as aerospace engineers, electricians and cable installers.   By now, A Mills of Acton had become Mills Limited.

Early in the new millennium, the company, requiring more space, moved to its current site on the Fairway Industrial Estate in Greenford.

Today, due to the country’s demand for ever faster broadband speeds, Mills is poised to increase its share of the expanding communications market place.  

And, with entrepreneurial spirit still flourishing, who would bet against it being around for another 100 years.