Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 13, 2020
Webpage updated: March 13, 2020




W H Ham and Sewell was the trading name only used by Messrs W H Ham Limited following the acquisition during 1962 of Messrs Rowland Sewell and Son, of North Hill, Plymouth.

This new acquisition was a fairly new business.  Mr Rowland Frederick Sewell was born at 24 Cross Park Terrace, Heavitree, Exeter, on May 25th 1898, the son of a commercial traveller.  In 1951 he was trading in partnership with his wife, Mrs Hilda Eleanor Sewell, as a stationer and bookseller at number 4 Portland Ope, Plymouth, selling Twinlock loose-leaf books, ledgers, cash books and wage and analysis books as well as suspension filing equipment.  Mr Sewell was at that time resident at 9 Woodford Villas, Hermitage Road, Plymouth.

In 1954 Mr Sewell was joined by his son, Mr Michael Arthur Sewell, who on Wednesday September 7th 1955 married Miss Lorna Mary Paul, daughter of wholesale newsagent Mr Leslie Francis Paul (1903-2000), at Emmanuel Church, Compton Gifford  The business then became Mr Rowland Sewell and Son and was trading as stationers, booksellers and office equipment suppliers from a shop on North Hill.

Around this time the office machinery and typewriter manufacturing firm of Messrs Remington, Rand Limited, who had an office at 43 Woolster Street, closed down their repair office in Plymouth and their service engineers transferred to Messrs W H Ham Limited.

But this expansion in business meant that the premises at North Hill were too small and so the whole operation moved to a Armada House, 172 Armada Way, where it re-opened on Wednesday October 20th 1965 as a Business Equipment Centre.  This was managed by Mr H J Rooker, assisted by Mr P O'Donoghue, sales manager for business equipment, and Mr W J Cunningham, merchandising manager.  The stationery shop in Ebrington Street continued to do business, with Mr W Launce as its manager.

In 1966, after spending many years at home raising their children, Mrs Lorna Mary Sewell opened the Polytechnic Bookshop in Mayflower Street.  However, in 1971 she swopped the role of running the Bookshop with her husband and went back to managing Messrs Louis F Paul Limited, the wholesale newsagents.

Both Mr Rowland Frederick Sewell and his wife, Mrs Hilda Eleanor "Nora" Sewell died in 1976.

The Hampshire-based Terry Printing Group, which already owned Messrs Underhill (Plymouth) Limited, took over Messrs W H Ham and Sewell in July 1984.  However, the Group went into administrative receivership on Thursday January 9th 1992, following which Messrs W H Ham & Sewell was saved by a piece of luck -- Mr Martin Luck, to be precise.  He had joined the firm as a sales assistant straight from school but had been made redundant ten years previously.  Now he was able to acquire his old employer for an undisclosed sum and expand the business into a two-floor retail unit still in Armada Way but between Cornwall Street and New George Street.

Several years later this thriving location was closed down and the business moved to a hidden unit in the Armada Shopping Centre, where it concentrated on art and craft products.

In the meantime, Mr Harold Stephen Rooker, died at Mount Gould Hospital, Plymouth, on Monday February 18th 1991, shortly before his 87th birthday.  He was survived by his widow, Ethel.  The funeral took place at Efford Crematorium on February 22nd 1991. 

Mr Michael Arthur Sewell, who had suffered from terminal cancer for many years, passed away at his home on September 25th 2006.  He was survived by his widow, Lorna, and three children, Sarah, Andrew and Richard.

The Martin Luck organisation went into administration on Thursday April 22nd 2010.