Trollope and Colls Ltd can trace their origins back to 1778. The company was formed from two distinct family businesses (see bibliography for further details on the history).
The first business was that of Joseph Trollope who set up as a wall paper hanger in St Marylebone moving to St George, Hanover Square and then in 1787 to Parliament Street, Westminster. He was a specialist in exotic wall paper, especially Chinese painted paper, with work undertaken at Lullingstone Castle, The Vyne (Hampshire) and Burghley House. He retired in 1800.
George Trollope, younger son of Joseph took over the running of the family business along with his brother Joseph Amos Trollope. In 1830 he became paper hanger to King George IV, and in 1842 to Queen Victoria. The firm expanded into interior decoration. Later, in 1849, it expanded into estate agency, letting and controlling property for the Grosvenor Estates. A separate branch of Cabinet-makers, bearing the family name, was opened at West Halkin Street, becoming known as "The Museum of Decorative Arts" (run by George Robinson). In 1851, the firm became formally known as George Trollope and Sons.
George Trollope and Sons were notable for their speculative development of Mayfair, in Eccleston Square, Eaton Square and Warwick Square. Because of delays in a development at Hereford Gardens, Grosvenor Estates were highly critical of the Company and it therefore lost its exemptions to various Building Acts. Further setbacks were industrial disputes in 1859/1860 and 1894. By the end of the 19th century, the main branches of the family firm were, in descending order, building, estate agency (at Hobart Place), and interior decoration (at West Halkin Street). The latter was involved in contracts to fit out the interiors of liners.
Colls and Sons of 3 High Street, Camberwell, was started in 1840 by Benjamin Colls a painter and decorator who had previously worked in Camberwell and had an opportunity to develop Jackson's Place, Camberwell (belonging to his father-in-law Thomas Jackson). In 1844 he branched out into plumbing and glazier work and in 1853 became a builder and contractor with new premises at 240-246 Camberwell Road. A branch opened in the City at Moorgate in 1858. Most of the business pursued was contract work on workmen's flats, schools and Anglican Churches in South London (e.g. St Philip, Battersea and St Luke, Camberwell).
Increasingly attention had turned towards the City where Benjamin Colls used his experience as a master builder when Chairman of the City Lands Committe. This development into office building was continued by his sons William and John Howard (e.g. Institute of Chartered Accountants 1889-1892). J. Howard Colls was responsible for drawing up the standard contract (1880) and the firm was involved in a famous case Colls V Home and Colonial (1900) over the issue of 'Ancient Lights'. A branch of the firm was founded in Dorking to secure work on houses of City magnates living in Surrey.
In 1903 the new company of George Trollope and Sons and Colls and Sons Ltd was formed with George Howard Trollope and John Howard Colls as joint Chairmen. Both had been presidents of the Central Association of Master Builders. The merger did not include the Surveyors, Auctioneers and Estate Agency at Hobart Place. There was a new headquarters for the firm at 5 Coleman Street, City; the cabinet-making continued with a new contract from Harland and Wolff, Belfast for the Royal Mail Line; the branch in Dorking continued.
The firm came to specialise in civil engineering. A.B Howard Colls did pioneer work in reinforced concrete during the First World War, when many docks, viaducts and railway bridges were constructed. Their work extended to reinforced concrete pipes for drainage, then later to suburban housing, garden cities and work in the Far East. The Second World War left much of the City to be redeveloped and elsewhere new opportunities arose in the field of atomic energy. Trollope and Colls Ltd (as the firm had been known since 1918) joined forces with Holland, Hannen and Cubitt to form Nuclear Civil Constitution (responsible for Trywsfynnd Power Station, North Wales).
In 1968, the firm was taken over by Trafalgar House Investments Ltd but retained a separate identity. Appropriately enough, the company was responsible for the new precincts at Guildhall, and the repairing of the roof of Guildhall following the Second World War.
Chronology of Companies
1778 Joseph Trollope, wall paper hanger
1800 Joseph Amos and George Trollope
1840 Benjamin Colls, painter and decorator
1851 George Trollope and Sons
1903 George Trollope and Sons and Colls and Sons Ltd
1918 Trollope and Colls Ltd
1969 Trollope and Colls Ltd, owned by Trafalgar House Investments Ltd.
Selected Major buildings
George Trollope and Sons:
Haymarket Theatre 1869
Claridges Hotel 1897
Baltic Exchange 1903
Colls and Sons:
Institute of Chartered Accountants 1889-1892
St Philip, Battersea 1870
Liverpool and London and Globe Insurance Co., Bank 1904
Trollope and Colls Ltd:
Lloyds Bank, Head Office, Lombard Street, 1931
Shell Mex House, remodelling 1931
Trinity House, Tower Hill, 1950s
Daily Express, Daily Mail, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Fleet Street, various dates
Debenhams, Wigmore Street, 1905-1908
Northwick Park Hospital, 1970s
New Stock Exchange, City, 1972-1975
Trywsfynnd Power Station, 1962
Interior work for Queen Mary (Cunard liner)