Company History

In recent years Henry Bath has continued to develop its global network of Exchange Approved warehouses. As the trade flow of commodities that Henry Bath handles for its clients continues to shift East to feed the global manufacturing base, we continually re-evaluate our presence in each of the key port locations across the world to ensure that we provide our clients with a global platform of Exchange-approved storage depositories for holding, making and taking delivery of physical commodity products.

In 2003 the LME listed new Henry Bath warehouses in the ports of Busan and Gwangyang in South Korea and in Dubai. In 2004 the Company opened commodity warehousing operations in Shanghai, Johor, Chicago and Antwerp. Continuing the pioneering spirit of the Company heritage, in 2008 Henry Bath was the first warehouse company to establish LME-approved storage facilities in Istanbul, Dubai, Johor and Incheon for the new LME steel contract, once again re-uniting Henry Bath with ferrous metals.

THE BATH FAMILY MOTTO, "He Conquers Who Endures". 

The Bath family history reaches back to Sir Walter de Bath, Knight who was Sheriff of Devon, England during the reign of Henry III in 1217. Henry Bath, a descendant of Sir Henry Bath, was a Cornishman born in Falmouth, England in 1776. Henry Bath's copper trading business was founded in 1794.

(Left: Founder, Henry Bath).

By 1822 he had moved his headquarters to a wharf in Swansea, Wales (Bath's Copper Ore Yard in Bath Lane) and taken his son, Henry Bath II into partnership. Bath & Son owned and operated a fleet of vessels and developed trade with Chile, exporting coal and returning with copper ore and sodium nitrates.

The Bath operation covered all aspects of the copper trade, including sampling the ore on arrival, weighing it, setting freights and landing charges, and finally arranging for its sale by the ticketing process. 

In 1846 Henry Bath II established the Swansea Iron Shipbuilding Company and in 1849 launched the steam yacht "Firefly" intended for use on the coast of Chile. Many of their ships were built at Bideford in North Devon, England and were named after the letters of the Greek alphabet such as Alpha, Beta, Gamma Delta, Iota, Kappa, Epsilon, Theta and Zeta (built at Glasgow). The Hollywood actress, Catherine “Zeta” Jones, is reportedly named after the Henry Bath ship “Zeta” that was captained by her great grandfather. Other vessels' names were inspired by the novels of Fennimore Cooper including Scout, Hawkeye, Uncas, Delaware, Pathfinder, Mohican and Deerslayer. There were vessels called Henry Bath and City of Valparaiso. Records exist of all these barques, often referred to as "Cape Horners" and as many as 30 ships formed the Bath fleet.

On a visit to Chile, Henry Bath II and his brother Edward met and married the two daughters of Charles Lambert another prominent Swansea shipbuilder and copper merchant. This association brought into the company copper smelting operations in Chile, at Coquimbo and Port Tennant, Wales.

Henry Bath Issue the First LME Warrant in 1883

Henry Bath II and brother Charles who managed the fleet and copper yards opened an office in London during the 1850's. Transactions were initially carried out there rather informally in various trading offices, and frequently over coffee, which was then very fashionable, in the Jerusalem Coffee House, just off Cornhill.

In January 1877 the London Metal Exchange Company was formed to provide a more regulated forum for their transactions, and its first venue was in a room over Christie's, the makers of hats, whose premises were situated at number 4, Lombard Lane. Henry Bath was a founder member of the London Metal Exchange.

With the opening of the London Metal Exchange the firm began to take on business on an increasingly widening international aspect and in 1875 an office had also been opened in Bentinck Street, Liverpool, England along with associated metal warehouses. The very first London Metal Exchange warrant was issued by Henry Bath on 20th December 1883 and remains to this day, completed of course, in our company archives.

(Right: The first LME Warrant issued in 1883 by Henry Bath).

In recognition of the Company's prominent role as a leading and founding member of the London Metal Exchange, and to facilitate the process of handling and storing metals, in 1890 the British Government passed a Special Act of Parliament which empowered Henry Bath & Son to issue transferable Certificates and Delivery Warrants from their own office. An amendment to this bill updating the process was made in 1920 and remains in force today (the original Government Bills are still held in our company archive and can be downloaded from the link above).

Henry Bath Diversifies

In 1888 the company had a ship breaking business and bought The Great Eastern for £16,000 pounds sterling. This was the largest ship in the world at the time, designed and built by the renowned engineer Isombard Kingdom Brunel. It was broken up and sold for scrap at its final resting place Tranmere at Birkenhead, England. One of the ship’s masts now stands at Liverpool FC’s Anfield football stadium as the club flag pole. Ironically this was the year that Charles Bath died, the last of the founder's sons.

(Left: Cutting tin ingots).

After the Second World War, the company diversified into buying and selling steel and continued as a privately owned family firm until the early 1970's, when it was bought out by the British Bank of Commerce in Glasgow.

In 1975 the company became an important member of a major Australian mining group, MIM Holdings. The Company was taken over by Metallgesellschaft (MG), a major German corporation for the purpose of physically handling and storing non-ferrous metals around the globe.

During the period 1995 to 1999 Henry Bath expanded its operations by acquisitions in Singapore and the USA. Additionally, Henry Bath added Rotterdam to its list of European operations and moved into the handling and storage of cocoa. In Liverpool a major programme of property development was undertaken for a general goods warehousing operation, now sold, to maintain our strategic focus on our core business of storing Exchange-traded metals & commodities.

In June 2005, Henry Bath issued the first LME Warrant for plastics and in April 2008 we were amongst the first LME approved warehouse companies to store and issue warrants for the LME's new contracts for steel billet.

The full history of Henry Bath can be downloaded here.