Cotto’s was a company which produced ‘white goods’ and operated from a factory in Digby Street, Scunthorpe.
It was set up by Rufus Frank Cottingham who founded it with a war gratuity of £20 after World War One. The company specialised in washing machines, dryers and heaters and even made devices for removing incendiary bombs during World War Two.
Their motto was “Cotto’s Does The Nations Washing ” though as well as supplying the home market their products were exported to India, New Zealand and South America.
Mr. R F Cottingham started his business in his early 20’s making and mending tins and pans in his cycle shed in Mary Street. He later progressed, owning a shop at 12 Market Hill and a ‘Turnover’ works on Frodingham Road manufacturing tin plate and sheet metal for the domestic market .
In 1929 the Enterprise & Silver Dawn bus company, which had been set up some 14 years earlier by former Frodingham works foreman Charles Chatburn, moved from its depot in Digby Street to its new bus station just off Scunthorpe High Street, Cotto’s then moved into the vacant premises. Cottingham kept the Enterprise name for his works and developed his business a such a rate that by the mid 1930’s it was described as the largest sheet metal works in the county employing 300 people. He invested and speeded up production to a rate where a product was produced every five minutes. In every detail, even the screws and nuts were manufactured at Cottingham’s Enterprise works, there were even special departments for electro-plating, galvanising and stove enameling for washers.
During World War Two the company started to make a devise that allowed house holders to tackle incendiary bombs which were dropped by the Germans. Called the Bomb Gobbler it allowed people to tackle the bomb and render them harmless in a few minutes.
The advert above says,
“The Bomb Gobbler is a simple safe and certain device for removing incendiary bombs. It is self locking and needs no effort to manipulate.”
After the war the company continued to invest and produce ‘white goods’ and by the 1960’s it had diversified into sheet metal fabrication and general engineering.
Rufus Frank Cottingham died in 1971 but the factory continued under the guidance of Bernard Copley – the company ran until 1986 when in October it was reported the company had gone into voluntary liquidation.
Complaints had been made for some years about the appearence of the Cotto’s factory with the issue being raise numerous times at Scunthorpe Borough Council Meetings.
In 1976 a spokesman for Cotto’s said, ” The yard isn’t pretty, but we have industrial waste in the shape of sheet metal off-cuts which are piled in the yard in between removal.”
At the end of 1986 planning permission was granted to Northern Counties Housing Association to redeveloped the site and it is now the site of a sheltered accommodation complex called Cottingham Court, after Rufus Frank Cottingham (see below).
Below are a number of photos and adverts depicting the company.