A tank manufacturer founded by a 'captain of Birmingham industry' is today celebrating more than 150 years of business in Birmingham.
JA Envirotanks, part of Joseph Ash Ltd, will gather clients and employees at Bank restaurant in Brindleyplace for the occasion. Guests will also include the Mayor and Mayoress of Birmingham and city historian Chris Upton.
The company was founded in 1857 by Joseph Ash, the son of Thomas Ash, a chemist in Birmingham's Stafford Street.
Described as "one who for considerably more than half a century was a captain of industry in Birmingham," in his obituary a 1915 edition of The Birmingham Post, Joseph was educated at King Edwards School and, at the age of 13, entered a zinc business founded by his father in High Street.
He branched out with his own firm at the age of 33, starting his own business in Meriden Street making hard ware items and railway stores.
The Great Western Railway Company extensively used Joseph Ash for many of its track-side requirements such as water towers, lamp sheds and lube tanks for keeping their operations well oiled.
In 1864 Joseph Ash joined forces with John Pierce Lacy who provided galvanizing experience for his iron and steelwork.
Ash & Lacy remained the group parent company of the business until its recent takeover by Hill & Smith.
Joseph also founded Joseph Ash & Son in Rea Street South, Digbeth making galvanized roofing and metal storage tanks, which in later years was managed by his oldest son Thomas Henry.
This gradually expanded to a site occupying hundreds of acres of land bordering on Rea Street South, Moseley Street and Charles Henry Street.
Two impressive Victorian office blocks were built in Charles Henry Street to house the growing number of administration staff which was required to run large expanding business.
Opposite the galvanizing factory in Charles Henry Street, slum back-to-back houses were demolished to make way for a new tank manufacturing unit.
As well as all the business activities, Joseph fathered eleven children and took a great interest in local philanthropic movements.
He was for many years actively engaged in promoting the affairs of the Birmingham Blue Coat School and was a generous supporter of the hospitals of the city, of the General Dispensary, the Blind Asylum, the Deaf Institution, and the Harborne Industrial School.
He lived for many years in Yardley, but moved to Leamington Spa in 1885. He died aged ninety-one at his house Gaveston, in Guys Avenue with the funeral taking place on August 4, 1915 at Old Milverton Church, Leamington.
JA Envirotanks general manager, Simon Proctor - a former pupil Birmingham Blue Coat School - said the history of the firm, and of Joseph Ash, was a huge asset to the business.
He said: "The historical aspect highlights the depth of experience of the company and shows we are a solid enterprise.
"We have been here for 150 years and have every intention of continuing to perform solidly into the future."
Mr Proctor, who joined the business since 1983 and worked his way up the ranks, said the company continued to vale a family atmosphere and benefited from low staff turnover.
Now part of the Hill & Smith group, Joseph Ash sees annual turnover of about £29 million, with JA Envirotanks represent approximately 20 per cent of the business.
The company, still based in Charles Henry Street, currently employs 50 staff and now focuses on environmental storage solutions.
Mr Proctor said: "Since the late 1980s we have evolved alongside the Government's environmental legislation.
Rather than just supplying tanks we now offer environmental solutions for the 21st century."
The company was now looking ahead at opportunities presented by the 2012 Olympic Games, Mr Proctor said.
"Diesel tanks for stand-by generators and for public transport used to transport visitors to the Olympic zone will all be needed and we hope to be able to supply them."