Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

English Electric Co

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Turbine-generator nameplate, Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry
English Electric turbine-generator unit, ex-Back o' th' Bank Power Station, at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry
Rotary Converter. Exhibit at the National Slate Museum.
Rotary Converter. (Detail). Exhibit at the National Slate Museum.
1922. Condenser.
1922. Condensers.
1926. List of offices.
1926. Steam Turbines.
1926. Motors.
1926. Locomotives.
1926. Water Turbines.
1926. Fullagar Oil Engines.
1927. Electrical Works at the Consett Iron Co.
1929. 132 kV transformer with on-load tap changing gear.
1931. 1500 H.P. Fullager Engine and Generators.
1931. Electricity Developments at Tunbridge Wells.
1931. Electric Locomotive and Train for the South Indian Railway.
1933. Oil - Electric Rail Coach.
1933. Induction Regulators.
1933.Double Deck Trolley Bus AEC and E. E. C.
1934. Tram Blackpool 249. Exhibit at Crich Tramway Museum.
February 1937. Fractional H.P. motors.
September 1937.
1942. 30,000 kVA, 132/33 kV Transformer.
1945. Mine locomotive.
August 1946.
1947. Nelson Research Laboratories, Stafford.
October 1949.
1950. Automatic Computing Engine (ACE).
December 1950. Electric plate warmer.
April 1951.
Admiralty "Deltic" Engine 1952.
July 1953.
February 1954.
July 1954.
October 1954.
December 1954.
1955. Deltic Locomotive built at the Dick, Kerr and Co works then owned by EE. Exhibit at the Shildon Locomotion Museum.
February 1956.
February 1959.
November 1968.
Thunderbird Mk1 Surface to Air Missile (SAM). Exhibit at the National Museum of Flight.
P.25 Lightning F.2A. Exhibit at the National Museum of Flight.
Insulation Tester. Exhibit at the Bakelite Museum.
English Electric - AEI Machines. Perigrip Brake.
English Electric - AEI Machines. Perigrip Brake. (Detial).

of Queen's House, Kingsway, London, WC2 - Registered Office. Works at Stafford; also at Bradford, Preston and Rugby. Telephone: Stafford 700. Telegraphic Address: "Enelectico, Stafford". (1937)

of Marconi House, Strand, London. (1958).


English Electric was a 20th-century British industrial manufacturer, initially of electric motors, and expanding to include railway locomotives and aviation, before becoming part of The General Electric Company GEC.

1918 The English Electric Company was formed as a public company, chaired by Sir Charles Ellis, who was also chairman of John Brown and Co[1]. The company acquired[2]: Coventry Ordnance Works and Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Co of Bradford.

1919 English Electric acquired[3] Dick, Kerr and Co of Preston, which owned:

Dick, Kerr and Co's traction activities were concentrated in Preston and continued there until 1930.

English Electric also bought the Stafford works of Siemens Brothers Dynamo Works.

1920 10,000 employees [4].

1920 Working arrangement with Siemens Brothers and Co to reduce sales costs.

1921 Mr Walter Rutherford resigned from the board and management of the company and Mr P. J. Pybus, joint managing director, has been appointed managing director.[5]

1921 Formalised the sales arrangement with Siemens Brothers and Co in the form of a joint venture English Electric and Siemens Supplies Ltd which had taken over the sales activities of the company and some of those activities of Siemens[6].

1924 Siemens Brothers and Co was a substantial shareholder in English Electric Co, as a consequence of the purchase of the dynamo works at Stafford[7].

1925 Had worldwide experience with the Fullagar diesel engine which the company had developed for land use and was proving to be a very reliable means of driving electricity generators[8]

1925 After holding the position of Works manager of the English Electric Company at Stafford for the past two years, Mr. A. H. Sturdee is leaving to join the engineering firm of Ruston and Hornsby, Limited, as chief works manager of that company's five works at Lincoln. He is to be succeeded at Stafford by Lieutenant-Colonel C. Hardie, D.S.O., of London.[9]

1926 Some of the constituent companies, Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Co and Dick, Kerr and Co, had built flying boats during WWI. The aircraft department closed after the last English Electric Kingston flying boat was built.

1927 See Aberconway for information on the company and its history.

1927 Also see Aberconway for information on the company and its history.

1927 One of the UK's major electrical-machinery and plant manufacturers, others beings GEC, BTH, Metropolitan-Vickers, and C. A. Parsons and Co [10].

Late 1920s EE was in a parlous financial state. A complex financial reorganisation, apparently backed by American Westinghouse interests, was needed to save it.

1930 The manufacture of electrical equipment was moved to Bradford. Tramcar, bus body, and rolling stock production stayed at Preston.

1930 The man most associated with EE, George Nelson, became managing director.

1930s EE supplied equipment for the electrification of the English Southern Railway system, which gave it a strong position in the traction market.

1937 British Industries Fair Advert for domestic electrical goods; fuse gear and fuse fittings. Electric Cookers, fires, Water Heaters, Washing Machines, Iron, F.H.P. Motors. High Rupturing Capacity Industrial Fuse Gear. Distribution Boards, Fuse Switchgear, Overhead Busbar System. sub-station Fuse Gear. Rural Distribution Fuse Fittings. Cartridge Fuses. (Electricity: Industrial and Domestic Section - Stand No. Cb.609) [11]

1939 Acquired Samlesbury Aerodrome in Lancashire and starts construction of the Handley Page Hampden and Handley Page Halifax.

WWII: development in the Guided Missiles Division at Luton on analog computers, based on thermionic valve technology and intended for military applications. The machine resulting from this development was code-named the Luton Analogue Computing Engine (LACE).

1942 The company took over Napier and Son, an aero-engine company, and this helped establish the company's aircraft division. Company factories were converted to build the Handley Page Halifax heavy bomber.

1944 Producing 180 bhp engines for rail cars at the old Willans Works at Rugby.

1945 and after: EE invested heavily in aircraft design. W. E. W. Petter, the chief designer at Westland moved to English Electric to set up the new aircraft division, leading to major successes in the 1950s with the English Electric Lightning interceptor aircraft and the Canberra tactical bomber, which was still flying in 2005 in reconnaissance and other roles with many air forces, including the Royal Air Force.

1946 English Electric Co acquired the holding of Cable and Wireless in Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co[12]. This reflected an intention to diversify the business from heavy electrical engineering to (what was seen as) the new field of electronics. As well as the whole of the share capital in Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co, this also gave EE 42% of Marconi International Marine Co and the entirety of Marconi Instruments Ltd[13]. Established English Electric Valve Co to hold the ex-Marconi valve business.

1949 the National Physical Laboratory chose the English Electric Co as industrial partner in computer development, following its Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) project; industry was seen to be needed to improve reliability and performance of the machine. The new computer was called the Digital Electronic Universal Computing Engine (DEUCE) [14].

1952 The Nelson Industrial Estate at Kidsgrove, Staffordshire was begun with construction of a building for electrical engineering on West Avenue which was the "main works" of English Electric

1953 Manufacturer of TV sets [15]

1954 Production of the LACE computer was transferred to Kidsgrove but cut short by the increasing competition of digital computers.

1955 the first version of DEUCE was released, built at Kidsgrove.

1955 EE took over the Vulcan Foundry and Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns, both with substantial railway engineering pedigrees. EE also made steam turbines.

1955 Four industrial groups formed to exploit the information being made available by UKAEA on design of nuclear power "furnaces" - Industrial Atomic Energy Group involving AEI and John Thompson with electrical generating expertise from Metropolitan-Vickers and BTH; English Electric Co and Babcock and Wilcox; C. A. Parsons and Co and Head, Wrightson and Co; GEC and Simon-CarvesLtd[16].

1958 EE's aviation business was set up separately, as English Electric Aviation Ltd.

1958 Establishment of a joint company with Automatic Telephone and Electric Co and Ericsson Telephones to develop and manufacture transistors in greater quantities[17] called Associated Transistors[18].

1960 EE tried to take over one of the other major British electrical companies, GEC.

1960 Rights issue, to fund developments in electric power, EE's share in the purchase of Hunting Aircraft and establishment of Associated Transistors[19]; English Electric Valve Co's interests in transistors had been merged into that company also.

Early 1960s Under government pressure EE rationalised its aircraft division, which later became part of the new British Aircraft Corporation (BAC), English Electric having a 40% stake in BAC.

1961 Group with 22 subsidiaries. Employed 84,200 persons in the group [20]

1961 English Electric Co acquired W. H. Dorman and Co[21].

1962 New wholly-owned subsidiary formed: English Electric Traction to bring all railway related activities under one management. These included The Vulcan Foundry, Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns and W. G. Bagnall[22].

1962 The Luton factory was closed; computer production was relocated to Stevenage, later to become part of ICL.

1963 New wholly-owned subsidiary formed: English Electric Diesel Engines to bring under central control all of its interests in diesel engines, including those in W. G. Bagnall and the Deltic division of D. Napier and Son [23].

1963 English Electric's guided weapons division was taken over by BAC.

1963 LEO Computers was merged into a joint venture with English Electric which was named the English Electric LEO Co.

1964 English Electric LEO Co became a wholly owned subsidiary of the English Electric Co. English Electric's Marconi computer operations were merged with it, forming English Electric Leo Marconi.

1966 Acquired Ruston and Hornsby and Davey, Paxman and Co to become part of English Electric Diesel Engines Ltd

1966/7 Acquired J. G. Statter and Co, a small company involved in transformers and switchgear[24].

1967 English Electric took over transformer and switchgear company Combined Electrical Manufacturers Ltd, at the same time as AEI was also acquiring a company involved in transformers[25].

1967 Supplied the turbine generators for Retford power station.

1967 in the first deal arranged by the Industrial Reorganization Corporation, English Electric Co took over Elliott Automation to form the leading European group in computing and process control.

1967-1968 Failed bid for EE by Plessey Co.

1968 Details of their Mechanical Engineering Laboratory at Whetstone. [26]

1968 Announce agreement to develop hydraulic turbo-machinery. [27]

1968 English Electric Leo Marconi was merged with International Computers and Tabulators (ICT) and others to form International Computers Limited (ICL).

1968 English Electric Diesel Engines Ltd was renamed English Electric Diesels Ltd, which included Davey, Paxman and Co, Dorman (Stafford), Napier, Kelvin (Glasgow), and English Electric.

1968 GEC took over English Electric Co [28].

1968 One of the 2 new companies formed to design and build nuclear power stations was named Balfour English Electric Nuclear[29]

1969 Balfour English Electric Nuclear was renamed British Nuclear Design and Construction.


See English Electric Co: Aviation


See English Electric Leo Marconi
See English Electric Co: KDF9 Computer

Domestic Appliances

See English Electric Co: Domestic Appliances


See English Electric Co: Railways


See English Electric Co: Television

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [2] Wikipedia
  • The Modern Diesel edited by Geoffrey Smith. Published by Iliffe and Sons 1944
  • AA. [3] Image courtesy of Aviation Ancestry
  • 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  1. The Times, 1 October 1919
  2. The Times, 1 January 1919
  3. The Times, 16 July 1919
  4. The Times, 29 April 1920
  5. The Engineer 1921/03/18
  6. The Times, 28 April 1921
  7. The Times, 30 May 1924
  8. The Times, May 14, 1925
  9. The Engineer 1925/01/16
  10. A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 7: The City of Birmingham (1964)
  11. 1937 British Industries Fair Advert p572; and p360
  12. The Times, 26 April 1946
  13. The Times, 20 July 1946
  14. The Staffordshire University Computing Futures Museum Kidsgrove Page [1]
  15. Choosing your Television Set. Published by Freelance in 1953.
  16. The Times, 17 March 1955
  17. The Times, 6 May 1958
  18. The Times, 24 December 1960
  19. The Times, 24 December 1960
  20. 1961 Guide to Key British Enterprises
  21. The Times, 30 May 1961
  22. The Times, 5 May 1962
  23. The Times, 6 May 1963
  24. The Times, 13 May 1967
  25. The Times, 13 May 1967
  26. The Engineer of 5th January 1968 p19
  27. The Engineer of 9th February 1968 p240
  28. The Engineer of 5th July 1968 p10
  29. The Times, 5 February 1969