John Pidgeon's long family history in the bathroom industry stretches back over five generations to his great-great-grandfather Edward Humpherson who started a business in King's Road, Chelsea in 1876. He formed Humpherson & Co. with his son Frederick who had just finished a four-year apprenticeship with Thomas Crapper of Marlborough Road in Chelsea. At that time the family lived opposite Crapper's business and Frederick's younger brother Alfred was later also apprenticed to Thomas Crapper. Frederick's apprenticeship papers are still in the family archives and a photocopy is featured in AJP's showroom.
The business was successful from the start due to the brilliance of Frederick who designed a range of sanitary fittings over a relatively short time, many of which were patented. These included 'The Improved Syphon Cistern' which was exhibited at the International Inventions Exhibition in 1885 and won the Bronze Medal.
Most famously of all his work, it was Frederick Humpherson – and not Thomas Crapper – who designed 'The Original Pedestal Washdown Closet' that in 1885 received the Sanitary Institute of Great Britain's Certificate of Merit.
This WC (Water Closet) was named 'The Beaufort' after Beaufort Street in Chelsea where Frederick had his main showrooms on the corner of Fulham Road. By this time, his younger brother Alfred had joined the company and it continued to expand to the point where they needed larger premises. In 1902 they purchased a large site at Holmes Place, just a short distance along Fulham Road from their showrooms. These new purpose-built premises were named 'Beaufort Works' and years later became famous as the first of the Holmes Place Health Clubs.
Alfred Humpherson (John Pidgeon's great-grandfather) inherited the family firm from his brother Frederick in 1919. On Alfred's death in 1945, his daughter Edith Pidgeon (née Humpherson) became its owner from whom Geoffrey Pidgeon (her son) took over the business. Geoffrey is John's father.