Minor British Institutions: Winsor & Newton

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The Independent Online

You may not have realised, but those squidgy tubes of paint that artists use are a British invention. The collapsible, screw-cap tube mechanism seems an obvious way to store paint nowadays, but, when it was patented in 1842 by the Winsor & Newton company it was something of a revelation, a small contribution to the golden era of British inventiveness.

Winsor & Newton's breathtakingly vivid range of colours won a medal at the 1851 Great Exhibition, you know. For the paint tube alone Winsor & Newton ought to have earnt their place in the affections of British artists, young and old.

Yet the company has other charms: it still makes its paints in Harrow, one of the last manufacturing firms in the capital, and its semi-pyramidal tubes of ink are cutely famous too.

The firm has come a long way since 1832 when William Winsor and Henry Newton, chemist and artist respectively, set up in business at 38 Rathbone Place, London. A perfect marriage of the arts and science indeed.