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Barrow & Gale was founded in 1760 under the name of Hepburn and Sons by John Hepburn, having moved to Bermondsey from Chesham and there opened a tannery. There are records of the Hepburn family working from Long Lane in Bermondsey throughout the 19th century, eventually coming work with the Gales in both Deptford and Bermondsey. Samuel Barrow, originally working as a tanner himself, from 1848 set up his own company Samuel Barrow and Brother, based in the Grange. Then in 1901 there was the merger of Hepburn and Gale with Ross and Co, another leather company from the 17th century, which possessed the rights to manufacture ministerial boxes for the government, and over time became a larger supplier to the British Army, for items such as saddles and bayonet scabbards, especially during WW1, but also in the Boer and Crimean Wars.

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