Marley Plumbing, Drainage, Ventilation

The year is 1923, the young sergeant Owen Arthur Aisher returns home from Scotland Yard to see his father in South England. Proudly his father presents to him a newly acquired invention. The young man though describes it as virtually “bloody useless“. However, this device is actually the foundation of Marley’s success.

The following article tells you more about the company history of Marley. Initially sceptical towards the matter, son Owen Arthur would later go on to become of Englands most wealthy businessmen, be knighted by the Queen and introduce hula hoops to Europe!


  • Brief overview Marley
  • Marley subsidiary Germany
  • Detailed company history
  • Sir O. A. Aisher, figure and anecdotes

Brief overview Marley


In the early 1920s The Marley Joinery Works produces doors and windows
1924 Owen Aisher (senior) begins tile production as The Marley Tile Works in Harrietsham, Kent
1926/7 Foundation of Marley Tile Company
1928 New sites including near the sand quarry in Leighton Buzzard
1934/5 Change of corporate form into plc
1935 Factory in Riverhead, Sevenoaks (later headquarters) and other new sites
1939-1945 Concrete products for the allied forces
1945 Owen Arthur Aisher (junior) becomes president
1948 Inspiration from the US, production of asphalt shingles
1952 Introduction of vinyl floor tiles
1953 Subsidiary Germany
1960 Opening of the first UK store
1961 Stores in Germany (Kiel, Brunswick)
1974 Name changes into Marley
Begin of the 1980s Ten concrete tile factories in the UK
1985 last Aisher (Jack Edward) president retires

O.A. Aisher next to a conveyor belt

The Marley company was founded out of necessity, after World War I buildings needed to be rebuilt. Clay was rare, however there were large quantities of sand available instead on British soil. A special pressing machine used during manufacture of sand tiles allowed Marley founder Owen Aisher (senior) regional production. The first products included doors, windows and concrete tiles. Over the course of time the business expanded their product line and included articles like flooring, rain pipes, folding doors and ventilation appliances.

Marley ventilators and fresh air heat recovery units are available in our creoven online shop.

Our selection of Marley products

Marley subsidiary Germany

The Marley Deutschland GmbH company for building materials was founded in 1953 as first British subsidiary in a foreign country. Since 2003 the former family business has been part of the international Aliaxis group with headquarters in Belgium. On the factory premises near Hanover Marley employs more than 400 permanent workers (status 2017). The German site equals a surface of 126,000m2 or just about 18 football pitches.

This is Marley
Productions for buildings under construction and retrofitting
Delivery to house and apartment owners
More than 2000 products, most notably rain pipes and tubes
Partially made in Germany
Specialised online retailers and distribution partners
More than 100,000 orders per year
Delivery to 32 countries
High-quality resources
Quality checks
Ventilation for spaces without windows

Professional ventilation technology has been part of Marley’s range since 1981. In 2014 an innovative fresh air heat recovery unit was added to the product line. The focus of the brand has been on DIY ever since its foundation. “Do it yourself“ should be fun and most importantly feasible. The company aims to offer the best products for every single project.

Benefits of the Marley Fresh Air Heat Exchanger
About 70 percent of the energy consumption in a private household can be traced back to heating. Increasing energy prices and climate change caused by CO2 desperately call for new solutions.

The integrated ceramic element inside the MEnV180 fresh air heat exchanger allows up to 85% heat recovery, reducing your heating costs in the process.

  • Ideal heat distribution for thermally insulated buildings
  • Energy-efficient ventilation, reduction of costs
  • Continuous ventilation without loss of heat
  • Healthy indoor climate, no humidity, no mould
  • Protects health and building materials
  • Reduced heating costs: Up to 85% heat recovery
  • One MEnV180 unit covers about 20m2
  • If required, air supply ducts with pollen filter are available
  • Fresh air for good quality of sleep
  • High-quality materials: synthetics and stainless steel
  • Subtle design, can be retrofitted at any point
  • Product and assembly videos available

Detailed company history

Owen Aisher (senior) was born in Godshil on the Isle of Wight (South of England) in 1876. Sadly, he was orphaned at 10 years old. He quit school early and received little eduction. However, the boy was eager for knowledge and learned from his environment. At 12 years old he worked as a smith, later on he would occasionally plaster houses and worked as a roofer. Owens older brother was a journeyman plasterer and taught him some tricks. As a young man, Owen tried out several jobs, joined the military, worked in agriculture. Along with his wife and family he moved to Harrietsham, Kent in 1920. Thanks to cooperation with an investore he founded his own business in the same year, located in a shed. Owen returned to his roots of construction, an occupation that was in great demand after World War I. Doors and windows from Aishers production were of high quality and were suitable for distribution to homecomers from the colonies. The name “Marley Joinery Works“ is likely based on a farm or street in the area.

His son, Owen Arthur Aisher had no idea that one day he would become a millionaire, let alone a knight. He was born in 1900 and entered an interesting career. After completing school he joined the police force, became sergeant later on and began work at Scotland Yard at 20 years old. On home leave he would help his father product doors and windows. When Aisher senior bought a blockmaking machine in 1923, his son did not find the procedure technically sophisticated. Up until that point, clay or Welsh slate had been used to build high-quality houses. However at that time there was also a shortage of tiles made from clay, slate stone quarries had had their days. Suddenly, sand became increasingly more important for the production of roof tiles and slabs. Buildings that were erected in the 1920s and later were covered with sand and cement tiles.

Kent Rockwell’s Quarry painting gives a wonderful impression of a sand quarry, dated around 1920.

Concrete roof tiles could be made from locally available sand and gravel with the help of a special press. Owen Arthur soon realised the benefits and left the policeforce in 1924 to become part of his father’s company. The Aishers started the production of their concrete roof tiles at the right time seeing that not long after the DIY trend thrived. The “Supply and Fix“ service of the Marley business supplied constructors with tiles and Marley employees began work on the roofing.

In 1926 Aisher senior founded the Marley Tile Company which produced roofing tiles. The certificate of incorporation was issued on 18 January 1927. Together with son Owen Arthur and other family members (Jack Edward Aisher) Aisher senior worked in the family business. In the following year, a production facility was founded in Leighton Buzzard, northwest of London. The location was chosen because of a large quarry with the desired sand. Many producers of tiles and roofing moved to this area for easier access to resources and mines.

⮩ Machine used for production of tiles, patent of Jack Edward Aisher, 1936/37
In the early 30s Aisher junior and his father developed a method for producing concrete roof tiles that were manufacturered in Kent and sold from there. Sand, cement, colour and water were mixed, laid in palettes, picked, dried and stacked with a conveyor belt. Marley Ltd was founded in 1934, and the Marley Tile Company started in 1935 in Riverhead, Sevenoaks. This location would later become the company’s headquarters with subsequent subsidiaries in Avely, Essex and Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire. Tiles remained part of the product line despite several expansions and new products. The four basic tile designs were Bold Roll, Mendip, Wessex und Modern.

⮩ Pictures of old tiles and advertisements
During the Second World War Marley produced components for the Mulberry harbours in South England. These harbours played a decisive role in the D-Day landings of allied forces in Normandy on 6 June 1944. After the end of the war Owen Aisher (junior) took over the position of director of the Marley company. He remained president for 37 years from 1945 to 1982, restored production capacities for roof tiles and started production of synthetic materials in the construction industry. The manufacturing of asphalt shingles began in 1948 based on a concept he saw during his travels in the US.

Starting in 1953 Marely opened several subsidiaries all over the world. The first factory outside the United Kingdom was opened in Germany with a staff of 13. Before the war there had already been trade connections for paint. This made it easy for Marley to take a step into foreign countries. In 1960 the first shop was opened in the UK and 18 months later a new one followed in Germany. South Africa, Finland, Austria, Italy, New Zealand and Brazil would become part at a later point as well.

Owen Arthur Aisher put his heart and soul in the business and was a sailing enthusiast. In 1957 he acquired the EVAINE yacht. This gem was built in 1936 and had a total length of 21.3 metres. He planned on winning the first America’s Cup after World War II in 1958.

In the biography of sailor Des Sleightholme “A Funny Old Life“ (2001) several encounters with the “Marley Millionaire“ are described. Mr Sleightholme was working as Aisher junior’s PR consultant and scout. In order to prepare for the America’s Cup he was sent to the US with a spying camera and diligently detailed everything he could find out, including but not limited to the love life of a US sailor.

Mr Sleightholme describes Owen Arthur Aisher as an “opportunist of vision“. He could turn everything into profit and never stopped working mentally. Twice he beckoned to to Sleightholme at receptions “See this flooring“ and overjoyed “Get a sample back to the factory now!“. Mr Sleightholm immediately had to look for the domestic staff and pay them a small sum. As we know, the idea of the American tiles would turn out to be a complete success.

When the hula hoop hysteria hit America, Aisher phoned the factory “Save all offcuts of 25mm tubing, welc them into 70cm (or whatever) circles, store them and wait!“. The hula hoops were produced in a German factory in 1954. A couple of weeks later Marley successfully entered the European market.

However, according to Sleightholme, Aisher was an ingenious boss, yet not an easy one.
One time the assistant bought a couple of small key fobs from the US as souvenirs for Aishers main staff in England. When he handed over the moderate bill to his boss, he was less than pleased. “You pay it! I never authorised it!“ was his reaction. Sleightholme said that he “flew home a bit poorer but wiser“.

Owen Arthur Aisher also caught the attention of Queen Elisabeth II. In the course of festivities on the occasion of her birthday in 1981 various citizens of the Commonwealth were honoured. Sir Owen Arthur Aisher was made Knight Bachelor. He passed away in 1993 at the right age of 93 years in South England.

Kindly supported by Marley Deutschland GmbH

Historical photos: