Join John Mason International this International Women’s Day to celebrate the pioneering work of its female founder, Mary Mason. Established in 1884, Mary started the business from her home after seeing the increasing need for a coal merchant and removal contractor in the area, she founded the business from her home of 85 High Street, Wavertree, Liverpool.
Mary had previously helped her husband John with his carting business – experience which proved useful for her new venture. She defied the conventions of the time as a female business owner, and could be considered, one of the world’s first female entrepreneur.
Mary started her business during a time of common gender inequality, “In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, women activists fought hard for equality. The focus was largely on securing the right to vote and equal pay for equal work.” (www.internationalwomensday.com, 2019)
“Female employment in Britain was growing and many Victorian women took on wage-paying jobs,” notes Simon Hood, John Mason International director. “It was also common for women to carry on family businesses after the death of a husband.”
A demanding job
“She would have had a very busy life, looking after all aspects of the new business including managing the logistics of the new operation, bookkeeping, correspondence, arranging deals and handling clients,” Simon explains. “And, as the mode of transport was horse and cart, caring for the horse would have been part of Mary’s role. All the accounting books have been well preserved and are stored within our company archives – each one completed with meticulous attention to detail, demonstrating Mary’s organisation and management skills right from the start.”
“But it wasn’t the norm for women to start businesses, especially within the transport sector. Women were usually doing work deemed suitable – like innkeeping, millinery or working as a governess. Mary Mason clearly showed strong entrepreneurial spirit which is particularly impressive considering the circumstances and societal pressures on her during this time.”
Mary’s son, Leslie Mason, joined her in 1887 – helping expand the business to include general carrying, offering to ‘carry anything, anywhere’.
“The fact that Mary ran her own business meant that she had a degree of independence that many other Victorian women did not,” Simon comments. “Her foresight also meant she provided an opportunity for her son John to be fully employed from the age of 17 and for him to grow the company.”
In her personal life, Mary Mason was a religious lady and studied the Bible in her spare time. After she stopped working within the business, the company developed even further – with her stable foundations at its core.
“More than 130 years later, our company is still thriving – expanding and providing quality moving services,” Simon explains, “Mary probably didn’t imagine the company would ultimately progress from undertaking local coal deliveries and removals to relocating families all around the world. We are also pretty sure she would be delighted that her great granddaughter, Caroline Mason, continues to represent the female Mason family members on the current board of directors.”
John Mason International is proud to celebrate the life and work of our founder, Mary Mason, whose hard work and determination created one of the UK’s largest international moving companies of today, from her home in 1884.