Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Kirkstall Forge Engineering

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1873. 1000-ton hydraulic press made under Haswell’s patent, for Cammell of Sheffield
November 1950.
April 1951. Axle for Thornycroft.
April 1951.
January 1952.
February 1952.
March 1952.
April 1952.
April 1952.
September 1954.
July 1962.

of Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds, design and production of axles for heavy road vehicles.

1919 Private company founded to acquire the business carried on by Kirkstall Forge Co[1].

1949 Private company.

1949 Company made public[2]. Directors intended to transfer the steel bar department to a separate subsidiary. About 1800 employees.

1961 General engineers and manufacturers of steel bars, drop forgings and axles for heavy motor vehicles. 1,800 employees.

1964 Acquired Regent Axle Co of Burnley, which would provide increased capacity for manufacture and machining of gears for axles[3].

1967 Steel Bar Division, which had a poor profit record, was sold to Flather Halesowen Ltd of Sheffield; a jointly-owned sales company had been established Kirkstall Bright Steels Ltd. Purchased pressed axle casing business of Charles Roberts and Co of Wakefield; separate operating subsidiary established at those premises[4]

1970 Acquired Precision Power Units Ltd of Cheltenham, which would be renamed Kirkstall Hydraulics Ltd[5].

1974 A new computer system, Composit 77 database management programme, was installed to report faults and their causes and costs.[6]

1974 Acquired by GKN, to become part of GKN Transmissions. The last member of the Butler family left the board[7].

The business was taken over by the Dana Corporation, who transferred production overseas, and closed the works. Some important old buildings and historic machines escaped destruction, but may be destined for 'demolition by neglect'.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 7 June 1949
  2. The Times, 7 June 1949
  3. The Times, 13 October 1965
  4. The Times, 15 November 1967
  5. The Times, 27 October 1970
  6. The Engineer 1974/03/28
  7. The Times, 21 March 1974
  • 'The History of Kirkstall Forge through Seven Centuries 1200 - 1945 A.D.' by Rodney Butler