Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Suffolk Iron Foundry (1920)

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February 1937.
1938.
‎‎
August 1946.
Suffolk Colt. Mower engine.
1957. Suffolk Swift 10".
1958.
1958.

Sifbronze welding of Gipping Works, Stowmarket, Suffolk. London Office: 90 Judd Street, WC1. Telephone: Terminus 3720. (1929)

of 13 St. Andrew Street, London, EC4. Telephone: Central 1488/9. Telegraphic Address: "Utilware, 'Phone, London." (1937)

Contents

General

Louis Tibbenham established the Suffolk Iron Foundry in Stowmarket, to service the local engineering industry with castings.

On a train trip to London, he met Mr Milne (of C. S. Milne and Co) who was producing oxy-acetylene welding equipment and was told that ‘welding’ was a new process for engineers to join metals and would replace the traditional cast iron structures. Mr Milne wanted some ‘cast iron’ rods, which were duly produced by Sifbronze and proved to be very successful.

Louis Tibbenham investigated this “new” process further and developed a brass rod with the rather attractive additive of a few horseshoe nails. These innovations eventually led to a range of rods and also flux powder, which was initially sold via their sole agent, the British Oxygen Co, whose main interest was the supply of welding gases.

The name Sifbronze was created from the initials of the business (SIF) and it is assumed that ‘bronze’ sounded more upmarket than brass, hence the name Sifbronze. As the process was new to engineers, there was the need to pass on technical assistance and advice; this was done via a small leaflet ‘SIF TIPS’ which was freely circulated in the late 1920s and mailed to all their customers (Sifbronze were now competing with BOC). Demon blowpipes and gas regulators were added to the range and Frank Tibbenham, the elder son of Louis, took on the responsibility in the business for Sifbronze.

1920 Private company.

1929 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Lawn Tennis Posts (for grass or hard courts) Patent Marking Pins, Lawn Markers, Clock Golf, Golf Course Requisites, Tennis Ball Cleaner, and "Drake's" Bowls Marker and Shingler Lawn Mowers. (Stand No. B.28) [1]

1937 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Mangles, Lawn Mowers, Scales and Weights, Spring Balances, Mincing Machines. Sundry items in Cast Iron (ferrous). Electric Fires. Sports Goods. (Stand Nos. A.707 and A.606) [2]

1937 Manufacturers of welding rods. "Sifbronze" Welding Rods.

1939 See Aircraft Industry Suppliers

WWII. Demand increased dramatically during the war for the production of munitions and Halifax bombers. Suffolk Iron Foundry was also busy with the production of bomb trolleys and grenades etc.

Post-WWII. After the War, the foundry moved into the production of mangles, mincers and lawn mowers, developing the famous Suffolk Punch mower and producing its petrol engine on site.

By 1960 Qualcast had acquired Suffolk Iron Foundry (1920) Ltd, maker of Suffolk Punch lawnmowers[3]

1961 Ironfounders, engineers, manufacturers of machined castings, lawn mowers, domestic articles and appliances, welding materials and accessories, automotive components and equipment for H.M. Forces. 700 employees.

Qualcast formed a large public company Birmid Qualcast, with the acquisition of Birmetals and eventually becoming part of Blue Circle.

1970s With the advent of TIG and MIG welding processes, the range of consumables was expanded further, especially with the introduction of SIFMIG shaved aluminium wire. Sales were still direct to the welder, but in the 1970s distribution outlets were being formed and Sifbronze started to change its marketing policy in favour of selling via a network of distributors. There has been continuous development of the product range to meet changing market demands (Hilco electrodes, flux cored wire) and the purchase of Eurobraze added the GasFlux process and specialist products.

1975 Atco Mowers lawnmower production moved from the West Midlands to the Stowmarket site of Suffolk Iron Foundry (1920) Ltd.

1980s Sifbronze was taken private in an Management buy-out led by Paddy Tibbenham, allowing Paddy and his team to concentrate on further developing the Sifbronze product range.

Products

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] WWS Group
  1. 1929 British Industries Fair p161
  2. 1937 British Industries Fair p421
  3. The Times, Apr 09, 1960