Frederick Carkeet William Bryant
Frederick Carkeet William Bryant (1843-88) was the son of William Bryant founder of the match company Bryant and May. Frederick Bryant acquired Woodlands Park as a country house in 1879, and substantially rebuilt it in 1885. There is an article about the building work in 'The Builder' of 20th November 1886. 'The Victorian Country House' by M. Girouard (OUP, 1971) asserts it was one of the first country houses to have electric light in the 1880s. In 1884 Frederick, with his older brother and senior partner in the firm, Wilberforce, registered Bryant and May Ltd, with a large capital. The financial press was soon condemning the firm's annual reports as 'the most cynically meagre and imperfect documents published by any board in the country', and using insider dealings to rig the share prices for its own ends (Financial News). Widespread mistrust of the company was fuelled by the famous matchgirls' strike of 1888, when the Bryant brothers took on Annie Besant. The matchgirls had their main grievances, arbitrary fines and deductions, remedied, and secured the right to a trade union, albeit short-lived, collapsing after a strike in 1903.