Howard & Bullough American Machine Co.

also known as Cumberland Plastics

A 300ft long, 4-story brick mill off the side of Interstate 95 heading north into Massachusetts

About this Property

#Reason for Demolition

The 4-story, half a million square foot building was condemned by Attleboro City officials in 2014. About 20 small- and medium-sized businesses were forced to relocate. The building was most notably home to a plastics manufacturing company for many years.

Elements were salvaged on site like wooden beams and floors. Construction started on the building in April 1894 and demolition began almost exactly 121 years later. 1

Interestingly, there is some confusion as to where this building is actually located — its street address as well as its city and state. The company listed Pawtucket as its location on almost all of its literature. The Attleboro city assessor has the building listed at 0 Pleasant View St, but there is no such street in Attleboro. News reports in Pawtucket’s Evening Times in 1894 put the location of Howard & Bullough American Machine Co on Pleasant View in Pawtucket, but there is no Pleasant View St anymore there either. Full story is below.

#Current Events

The site is still undeveloped in 2020. While condemnation by the City put its demolition on a fast track, it is really unfortunate that another use for this large plot of land was not found first.

#History

Fred M. Roddy & Cumberland Plastics

Fred M. Roddy was the inventor who revolutionized the plastics industry and later founded Cumberland Engineering. Roddy invented machinery used to granulate plastic. Granulated plastic then could be molded into any other shape. The machines continue to be sold internationally. He formed Cumberland Engineering in Kingsport in 1939, and later, moved the company to Attleboro. ACS Group purchased Cumberland Engineering in 1999.

Howard & Bullough American Machine Co., Limited

Written by George W. Randall

The American company manufactured a full range of British designed machinery for the cotton-textile industry in North and South America. At its peak the 500,000 square foot factory employed eleven hundred people. Howard & Bullough (H. & B.) were offered the twenty-five acre site and a ten year tax exemption worth $60,000 as the lure ahead of other potential locations. Construction of the $80,000 plant began in early April 1894.

The Attleboro facility was one quarter the size of Globe Works, the Howard & Bullough parent company factory in Accrington, England, which had earned a strong international reputation for high quality machines. Both were served by rail branch lines to facilitate intake of raw material and fast distribution of finished product. Extreme right in the drawing below, adjacent to the chimney, can be seen the coal yard, in front, facing the rail track is the imposing administrative block with its conical turret.2

H. & B. was the first direct investment by a British manufacturer in the United States.

More at Kinlochcastle.blogspot.com

#In the News

Pawtucket or Attleboro?

Posted: Sunday, June 28, 2015 12:30 am

Modern maps put the gigantic Howard & Bullough American Machine Co. building on a 20-acre parcel bordered by Turner Street to the north, Mann Street to the south, Branch Street in Pawtucket to the west and Interstate 95 to the east — more or less.

But, what’s its address?

That’s a source of endless confusion. The city assessor has it as 0 Pleasant View St. The problem is, there’s no such street in Attleboro, real or on paper, according to the planning office. A document published by the Massachusetts Historical Commission put the factory on Turner Street at Pleasant View Street. But the map included in the commission publication puts Pleasant View in Pawtucket, and not near an intersection with Turner in Attleboro.

Furthermore, a call to the Pawtucket Planning Office determined there’s no Pleasant View Street in that city, either. There’s a Pleasant View Way, but it’s not near the factory.

News reports in Pawtucket’s Evening Times in 1894 put the location of H & B on Pleasant View, so it’s possible it was once a street, but not anymore. Meanwhile, the road that runs parallel to the building’s original front door is Mann Street in Attleboro.

But, that leads to more confusion.

On some maps, the road is alternatively referred to as Mann Street and Fred Roddy Avenue. And in a larger issue, anyone who did not live in Attleboro or Pawtucket would have thought the plant was in Pawtucket. The company listed Pawtucket as its location on most — if not all — of its literature. It also listed offices in Boston, Atlanta and Charleston, S.C. All of those came with street addresses, however, except for Pawtucket.

Clearly, Pawtucket officials were disappointed the plant was not built in their city. While the factory is only about 100 feet to 200 feet from the Pawtucket line, that’s not good enough to reap tax revenue. So, Pawtucket officials did what any reasonable municipal officials would do: They tried to get it moved. Not the plant, the state line.

In 1898, a special commission representing both states discussed changing the border. A report in The Evening Times does not say why the discussions were under taken, but it was plain one of the goals was to get H & B out of Massachusetts and into Rhode Island. Needless to say, Attleboro didn’t like the idea.

The plant apparently got a 10-year tax break from Attleboro, but by 1911 it was producing the equivalent today of a half-million dollars a year in tax money. So, seeing money on the horizon, the city said: “No.”

This is how The Evening Times put it on March 31, 1898:

“There was objection on the part of some of the residents of Attleboro, and the Massachusetts commissioners could not see their way clear to granting the request.

“This was one of the things that was important to the Rhode Island members, and it was hoped for the benefit of Pawtucket that this could be done, but the commissioners of Massachusetts would not make any agreement which would include the works within the Rhode Island line.”3

  1. “Tearing down old Attleboro plant a lengthy task”, Rick Foster, Sun Chronicle, June 13 2015. Captured in 2018 from https://www.thesunchronicle.com/devices/news/local_news/tearing-down-old-attleboro-plant-a-lengthy-task/article_96916c87-c77b-5df6-a74d-986ca09814aa.html 

  2. “Howard And Bullough American Machine Co., Limited. Cotton Machinery Manufacturers, Pawtucket, R. I. The North American Connection,” George W. Randall, June 25 2016. Captured November 3 2020, from http://kinlochcastle.blogspot.com/2016/06/howard-and-bullough-american-machine-co.html 

  3. “Pawtucket or Attleboro?”, Jun 28 2015, updated Jun 28 2015. Captured in 2018 from https://www.thesunchronicle.com/devices/news/local_news/pawtucket-or-attleboro/article_80fbafb3-b10a-5f90-b0a2-6aa31b5d46b5.html