The Basic Industries of Great Britain by Aberconway: Chapter VI
CHAPTER VI. LEEDS: IRON, STEEL AND ENGINEERING
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Leeds Forge Co
- 3 Airedale Hematite Co
- 4 Monkbridge Iron and Steel Co
- 5 Kirkstall Forge
- 6 Kitson and Co
- 7 Hunslet Engine Co
- 8 Hudswell, Clarke and Co
- 9 Manning, Wardle and Co
- 10 John Fowler and Co
- 11 J. and H. McLaren
- 12 Karrier Motors
- 13 Yorkshire Patent Steam Wagon Co
- 14 Mann's Patent Steam Cart and Wagon Co
- 15 William Asquith
- 16 Joshua Buckton and Co
- 17 Dean, Smith and Grace
- 18 Campbells and Hunter
- 19 Fairbairn, Lawson, Coombe, Barbour
- 20 Harding, Rhodes and Co
- 21 Prince Smith and Son
- 22 Hattersley and Son
- 23 Hall and Stells
- 24 George Hodgson
- 25 Greenwood and Batley
- 26 J. Hopkinson and Son
- 27 David Brown and Sons
- 28 Thomas Broadbent and Sons
- 29 Jonas Woodhead and Sons
- 30 Yorkshire Copper Works
- 31 Thomas Smith and Sons
- 32 Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co
- 33 Henry Berry and Co
- 34 George Mann and Co
- 35 Clayton, Son and Co
- 36 See Also
- 37 Sources of Information
The industries of the district centred in Leeds and carried on by Joint Stock Companies comprise
- (1) iron and steel-making, with a capital of £4,665,000, employing at present 7,300 hands;
- (2) light locomotive building, with a capital of £1,924,000, employing at present 5,650 hands;
- (3) machine tools, with a capital of £1,646,000, employing at present 4,550 hands;
- (4) textile engineering, with a capital of £2,696,000, employing at present 12,600 hands;
- (5) general machinery, with a capital of £6,861,000, employing at present 22,260 hands.
Owing to the recent depression in trade, much short time has been worked, and 33 per cent. may be added to the number of hands actually employed to bring the figure up to the normal conditions of employment in good times. As it is difficult to obtain very accurate figures as to capital engaged by private firms, 33 per cent may be added to the figures of capitalisation given above. This would bring the total of employment up to 69,800 men, and the capital engaged to £23,725,000. The number of firms in the district association of the Engineering Employers' Federation is sixty-seven, and, of course, there are many who are not connected with that body.
The origin of the Leeds iron industry, which has for many generations produced the finest quality of malleable iron known to the mechanical engineer, is much the same as that of the Durham and the Sheffield districts. The local ores were worked by the Romans by the aid of the charcoal of the forests on the Pennine range, and their use was revived in the Middle Ages, with the same fuel. In later centuries, the coal, which, as already stated, is found in rich and numerous seams between Lincolnshire and the western boundary of South Yorkshire, has been the means of a great development of all the trades above mentioned, which embrace iron and steel-making and every kind of engineering construction, from heavy machinery and locomotives down to the finest mechanical appliances used in the textile factories, in connection with which Leeds, Bradford, Keighley and Huddersfield, as woollen and worsted spinning and cloth-working centres, are so well known. The textile trades do not go further back than the thirteenth century. It was the wool-staplers of Bruges and other Flemish towns who bought and wove the wool which Yorkshire exported. But between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries both the finished iron and the woollen goods of Yorkshire assumed importance as articles of export. They were conveyed by wagon to Hull, and thence to London and the Continent. Then came the canal, and afterwards the five great original railway systems which tap the district; and, not to be backward in modern ideas, Leeds has now made herself a port for seagoing steamers entering the Humber by enlarging the locks and deepening the canal which enters the River Aire, on which the city is situated. There ought now to be little difficulty in bringing Spanish ores by water up to the district furnaces, and, with the excellent coke which the inexhaustible Yorkshire coal-fields produce, Leeds may yet rival the north-east coast as a steel-making centre.
The famous blast furnaces at Low Moor, near Bradford, were established about 1788 by the firm of Hird, Dawson Hardy, and were until recently owned by members of the same families, of whom Rt. Hon. Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy, afterwards Earl of Cranbrook, and the Hon. Alfred Erskine Gathorne-Hardy, the Railway Commissioner, were distinguished representatives. The Bowling Iron Co used until about thirty years ago to work malleable iron in the same locality, when it ceased business operations. The Farnley Iron Co's works were founded in 1840; they produced a brand of iron used all over the world by British railway engineers, but they have now gone out of the trade, since their acquisition by Brown Bayley's Steel Works of Sheffield. The business was managed by Mr. Robert Armitage, who sat in Parliament for Central Leeds.
There are two other firms who completed the original group supplying what is known in the engineering world as "Best Yorkshire" iron —viz., the Monkbridge Works and the Clarence Works in Leeds, owned by Taylor Brothers and Co. The latter firm has now ceased to manufacture iron and has removed its works to Trafford Park, Manchester. Low Moor and Monkbridge still remain in the trade. The pig iron they produce is subjected to elaborate after-processes, which result in a finished iron of a quality so remarkable as to sell at double the price of Staffordshire iron, its nearest rival in the trade. Notwithstanding its high price and the competition of mild steel, which has superseded it for many purposes, "Best Yorkshire" iron is still used where severe percussive shocks have to be endured, as in the case of shackles, hooks and piston rods of railway carriages and locomotives, and of suspended colliery cages and other mining appliances, where life is at stake and where intense toughness of fibre is required. In all the railway systems of Great Britain, India and the British Colonies, and where British engineers are in control of Brazilian and Argentine railways, this class of iron is largely used for such purposes. Considerable quantities are exported to Japan and the Transvaal; while the United States, in spite of their high import duties, have been substantial consumers. The use of mild steel has, however, largely reduced the consumption of "Best Yorkshire" iron, and to-day Low Moor makes pig iron also by the usual hot-blast process. The capital of the Company is £1,000,000 and it employs 1,500 men.
Leeds Forge Co
The Leeds Forge Co, which has a capital of £1,300,000 and employs 1,500 men, commenced business as manufacturers of corrugated furnaces for marine boilers, the invention of the late Samson and William Fox. For many years there was scarcely any shipping line of note to which they were not supplied. To-day, while the making of this type of furnace is still part of the firm's activities, the advent of other types of boiler has caused an almost complete cessation of the original demand. Now, Leeds Forge is chiefly engaged in the construction of all-steel railway rolling-stock, which is built here on the pressed-steel system. The famous Riviera Express— "The Blue Train" is a product of these works. In 1923 a controlling interest in the Leeds Forge Co. was acquired by Cammell, Laird and Co, and as orders increased the Newlay Wheel Co was also taken over by that firm.
Airedale Hematite Co
The Airedale Hematite Co, founded by Ledger and Cooper, was acquired in 1889 by Sir Walter Scott, Bart., the well-known railway contractor. He entirely reconstructed the works, which have since been known as the Leeds Steel Works, with a capital of £575,000 and employing 1,000 men. The plant originally consisted of three blast furnaces and two Bessemer steel converters, but subsequent developments, by adding to the Company's plant, have greatly increased its productive capacity. The works now cover an area of 40 acres. While making steel sections, joists, channels and angles in great variety, Leeds Steel Works are famed for tramway rails. This firm's output totals one-third of a million tons. It has made so per cent. of all the tramway rails now in use in the United Kingdom, and was the first to produce tram rails in one length of 60 ft. The firm's energies are now engaged in making high-grade irons for foundry and forge-work, and basic iron for other steel works. It owns iron mines in Lincolnshire, and deals weekly with over 2,000 tons of ore.
Monkbridge Iron and Steel Co
The Monkbridge Iron and Steel Co began business in 1851, and shortly thereafter was purchased by Mr. James Kitson, father of the first Lord Airedale. Since then the management has been continuously in the hands of the Kitson family. As Sir James Kitson, the late Lord Airedale was for many years an M.P. for one of the Leeds divisions. This firm has built up a large and prosperous trade in high-grade iron and steel, chiefly for railway work, both at home and abroad, and its products include "Best Yorkshire" iron. The Monkbridge Co. was one of the earliest to install Siemens steel furnaces. Its present-day products are mainly railway wheels, axles and tyres. There is also an important business done in crankshafts and all kinds of forgings, which are made in steel of specially high quality. The capital is £500,000 and the firm employs 700 men.
Founded in 1779 by the Butler family, who are still in control, the Kirkstall Forge was converted into a limited company in 1908. The forge occupies an historic site close to Kirkstall Abbey, where, tradition says, iron was smelted by the monks about 1152. Two water-wheels and helve hammers, erected in 1600 and 1740 respectively, were at work on the manufacture of iron up to 1921. The Butlers have taken an important part in Leeds affairs for many years, and one of the present Directors, Mr. H. M. Butler, was for a period M.P. for a Leeds constituency. A member of this firm, George Beecroft (father of Geo. Skirrow Beecroft), published in 1831 his "Companion to the Iron Trade" and "Beecroft's Price Tables." This calculator has gone through many editions, and is still a standard work in the trade throughout the world. The preface to the first edition, from which the following is an extract, is interesting to read to-day:
"The Compiler having been brought up in the Iron Trade, and being frequently applied to by operatives to assist them in making calculations enabling them to contract for the Foundry and Smith's Work of public edifices and other erections, has long been of opinion that a small publication, comprising a set of Tables, showing the Correspondence betwixt Weight and Measure, in the various sizes of Wrought and Cast Iron, could not fail to be acceptable to the public; particularly as the Iron Trade is daily increasing in importance, whether we regard the great improvement in its manufacture, the increase in its consumption, or its adaption to so many useful purposes, both in a domestic and public point of view."
Kirkstall Forge is noted for railway work of all kinds. As well as the usual mild steel and bright shafting, these works are now making great quantities of forgings, axles and drop stampings, particularly for heavy motor transport. The capital is £500,000 and the firm employs 1,000 men.
Kitson and Co
James Kitson (mentioned previously in connection with the Monkbridge Iron and Steel Co.) built the Airedale Foundry in 1839 for locomotive engine-building, and the records of the firm since then form an excellent history of the development of this branch of engineering from its earliest days. James Kitson built his first locomotive in an old mill at Hunslet, and had to pull down a wall of the building to get it out. The Kitson family has always been in control of the firm, and remains so at the present time. The capital engaged is £335,000 and the firm employs 1,000 men. Over 5,400 locomotives of all types have been built here, and Kitson's engines are found in all parts of the world. The firm supplied the first engines designed to haul traffic across the Andes, and on occasion to act also as snow ploughs.
Hunslet Engine Co
The Hunslet Engine Co was established in 1864 by the grandfather of the present Chairman, Mr. Alex. Campbell. From the beginning the Company has specialised in the design of locomotives for difficult service, such as are found in newly-developing countries where narrow gauges combined with heavy loads are the chief problem to be solved. This business has also produced great numbers of mining and works locomotives.
Hudswell, Clarke and Co
The business of Hudswell, Clarke and Co dates from 1861 in connection with the lighter types of locomotives.
Manning, Wardle and Co
One of the oldest-established firms in locomotive-building, Manning, Wardle and Co, now likely to be absorbed by another company, commenced operations in 1858. Its product is the medium-sized general locomotive, of which many hundreds are in use all over the world. This firm is in intimate relation with Kitson and Co.
John Fowler and Co
John Fowler, founder of the firm of John Fowler and Co (Leeds), was the first to apply steam to agricultural machinery. He took out his first patent in 1850. In 1860 he built the famous Steam Plough Works, having just been awarded a £500 prize by the Royal Agricultural Society for having demonstrated, by actual trial, that steam was an economical substitute for horse-power in ploughing. The business to-day occupies extensive, well-equipped works covering 15 acres. Its capital is £464,000 and it employs normally 1,500 men. The present Managing Director is a grandson of the founder. The firm's products have included railway locomotives of all types, steamrollers, colliery winding gear, electrical plant and traction engines. At the commencement of the present century the demand for cultivating machinery became so great that the electrical and locomotive branches were discontinued, although the firm still undertakes light locomotive building, chiefly for plantation work. Since the War brought a falling off in the agricultural trade, the Company has taken up the manufacture of steam wagons, concrete mixers, road scarifiers, motor road rollers and light railway plant. It is the world's largest maker of cultivating machinery, and thousands of sets have been built for work all over the globe.
J. and H. McLaren
With a record of sixty years' experience and the benefit of continuity of family management throughout, J. and H. McLaren have a reputation for agricultural equipments. The business was founded in 1876 by the late John McLaren in conjunction with his brother, Henry McLaren, the present Chairman. The Company's irrigation machinery is in use in nearly all the British Colonies and in most foreign countries. It makes steam and motor cable tackles and implements of every description, covering all classes of cultivating. Among the products of these engine works to-day are internal-combustion engines, steam road rollers, and traction engines. They have gained the gold medal at the International Exhibition at Dunedin, New Zealand.
The firm of Karrier Motors at Huddersfield builds commercial vehicles. It was established in 1920, owns extensive modern works and is one of the leading concerns in the industry. The capital is £650,000 and 2,000 men are employed in making motor lorries of all types, and also road-sweeping machines.
Yorkshire Patent Steam Wagon Co
The Yorkshire Patent Steam Wagon Co was founded in 1900, and is engaged solely on the production of a wide range of steam wagons. Its products include special wagons for municipal services, such as street washers and gully emptiers.
Mann's Patent Steam Cart and Wagon Co
Mann's Patent Steam Cart and Wagon Co commenced business about the same time as the previous firm; its products are also very similar, and it has built up a good connection.
Established in 1865, on a small scale, by the late William Asquith, the firm of Wm. Asquith (1920), Halifax, now owns up-to-date works, including a large new foundry, covering 13 acres, and, with a capital of £600,000, employs 1,000 men. The original family is still associated with the business. The present Chairman, Mr. J. W. S. Asquith, is a nephew of the founder. Since the introduction of high speeds and the development of high-speed drilling, the firm has specialised in machines for drilling and boring, and produces the best of this type on the market. It has become the largest drilling machine maker in the world. Asquith machines are to be found in all engineering, ordnance, electrical, locomotive, shipbuilding and automobile works of any importance, both in this country and overseas.
Joshua Buckton and Co
At one time machine tool-making in Leeds kept seven or eight firms busily employed, but, for one reason or another, many firms have given up business altogether. Of the survivors Joshua Buckton and Co is the best known. This business was commenced by the late Joshua Buckton in 1838, and has been engaged on the construction of machine tools ever since. It occupies large, well-equipped works where the heaviest type of machine tools are made, and, with a capital of £150,000, employs over 300 men. The old order-books show many names, now only of historic interest, such as York Railway Co., Edinburgh and Northern, Leeds and Thirsk, and Brunswick Ducal Railway Companies.
The late Mr. Wickstead was connected with the original firm as the inventor of the testing machines which have been long recognised as standard machines both for commercial and research testing of materials, and his name is known in every part of the world. He was the author of many technical treatises on this subject read before the British Association and other learned bodies, and he was, for a time, President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Nearly all universities, technical colleges and schools in this country, and very many in foreign countries and in the British Dominions, number Buckton Testing Machines among their equipment. These machines are also to be found in most Government Research Departments and in all the large iron and steel and engineering works throughout the country.
Dean, Smith and Grace
Among lathe-Makers, the firm of Dean, Smith and Grace of Keighley takes a leading position. It was established in 1865. Over many years it has maintained a sound reputation for this kind of tool. The present Managing Director, Sir E. Smith, K.B.E., has been Mayor of Keighley. On a comparatively small capital, a very considerable business is done and a large turnover attained.
Campbells and Hunter
Campbells and Hunter is the only other firm in Leeds now chiefly engaged in machine tool manufacture. Incorporated in 1889, it had a previous history of about thirty years as a private concern. The business has a reputation for shipyard tools and drills for boiler manufacture. There is scarcely a shipyard on the Clyde, or in any other shipbuilding area, where this firm's tools are not to be found. An extensive gear-cutting department is another feature of the firm's activities. J. Parkinson and Son, Shipley, are makers of milling machines and Sunderland gear planers. Stirk and Sons of Halifax produce planing machines, and there are more than forty smaller firms in the local machine-tool trade.
The magnitude of the general engineering trade of the Leeds district is evident from the fact that besides the firms mentioned there are no fewer than 113 others engaged in this business, employing in all at least 13,260 men and boys, with an aggregate capital of certainly more than £3,000,000. The distribution of this capital ranges from the £250,000 of Crofts (engineers) of Bradford, and the £208,000 of R. W. Crabtree and Sons of Leeds, down to firms working on every amount between these figures and £5,000. It is, of course, impossible to get a complete statistical view of the industry, as there are firms who do not disclose either the amount of their working capital or the number of men they employ.
Fairbairn, Lawson, Coombe, Barbour
In textile machinery Fairbairn, Lawson, Combe, Barbour takes the lead. It is an amalgamation of separate firms in Leeds, Belfast and Dundee. The history of the Leeds firms dates back to 1812, when Samuel Lawson started operations at Hope Foundry, at that time. Peter Fairbairn founded the Wellington Foundry in 1828 in Leeds. These two works created the machinery that made the flax and linen trades, and which is also used in the jute industry. In 1900 Lawsons and Fairbairns were amalgamated, and the united companies began to design and undertake the complete equipment of mills and factories.
Samuel Lawson took an active part in the civic life of Leeds. He died in 1866, and the business was carried on by his three sons, John, Edward and Thomas, who in turn were succeeded by the two sons of John Lawson, viz., Arthur and Frederick. The former took a very active part in public life, and was created a baronet in 1900, while Frederick Lawson became Mayor of Leeds in the same year. Both died in 19t5. Thereafter the management of the Hope Foundry centred in the hands of the late H. Lawson Whalley, whose mother was a daughter of the founder of the firm. The long-standing family connection with the management is maintained in the person of Capt. Lionel Lawson, D.S.O.
Peter Fairbairn, maker of the first flax-spinning machine, and founder of the Fairbairn branch, was born of humble Scottish parentage in 1799. Foreseeing the textile developments that took place in Yorkshire, he came to Leeds and commenced a business that grew into the large Wellington Foundry. He became Mayor of his adopted town and received a Knighthood. The late Sir Andrew Fairbairn, son of the founder, was actively engaged in the business for many years. Prior to amalgamating with Lawsons in 1900 the company underwent various changes of name, but always retained Fairbairn as part of the firm's title. The family connection with the business is maintained by Mr. W. F. Wailes-Fairbairn, who is a member of the present directorate. The Wellington Foundry covers 11 acres, the capital engaged is £1,400,000 and the firm employs 3,000 men. It owns works at Lille in France.
Harding, Rhodes and Co
The firm of Harding, Rhodes and Co has been established over a century. It became a limited company in 1892, and absorbed two competing firms in 1895. The Chairman, Colonel T. W. Harding, is the son of the founder. The firm is the largest manufacturer in the world of steel card and hackle pins, and the only one in Great Britain making combs and pins for textile machinery. The capital is £250,000.
Prince Smith and Son
The firm of Prince Smith and Son, textile machine makers, was founded at Keighley towards the end of the eighteenth century by William Smith, and now owns very extensive premises at Burlington Shed, Lawkholme, Strong Close and Devonshire Works, Keighley. It is larger than all the remaining Keighley textile machinery makers added together. Its history provides a story of sustained and steady progress, based on the introduction of ever-improving designs and methods of manufacture. The capital is £1,650,000, and 2,000 hands are employed. Throughout the 130 odd years of its existence the business has been in the hands of the Smith family. Recently it has been converted into a limited company, with a capital of £350,000. The senior Director is Sir P. Prince-Smith, son of the late Sir Prince-Smith, Bart. Another is Mr. William Prince-Smith. The firm's textile machinery covers the entire field of wool-combing, drawing and spinning. The range of machines necessary for this is very extensive, and the skill and ingenuity which these machines display in fulfilling their respective functions are amazing. The firm's reputation is world-wide. There are few worsted mills anywhere whose machinery does not bear its name.
Hattersley and Son
Another Keighley firm, established in 1789, is George Hattersley and Son at Screw Mills, where Richard Hattersley commenced the manufacture of bolts and screws. The building became known as Screw Mill, and continues so to this day. Later the developments proceeding in the textile trade caused him to commence the manufacture of machinery for the new industry. This venture was successful, and the firm now owns the extensive North Brook Works, which date from 1800. The founder was succeeded by his son, and then by his grandson. The business continues in the control of the original family, and its present Chairman is Mr. A. Smith, of the fourth generation, who has as colleagues his three brothers. The first power loom was made at these works in 1834. It was broken up by a mob of hand-loom weavers while in transit between Keighley and Bradford. However, this set-back did not hinder the march of progress. Rapid strides were made after 1866. The first revolving box loom was made in 1866. This was followed ten years later by the Dobby or Heald Machine, a product of the Hattersley firm, which they patented and which is still known as the "Keighley Dobby." The earlier products paved the way to still further improvements, and the firm now makes many hundreds of different sizes and types of looms. It has also a world-wide reputation for wool-preparing machinery. Standardisation is a vexed question in the manufacture of textile machinery. It has received the attention of this Company, which recently produced a standard model loom with all parts interchangeable. The business became a private company in 1888. This is a case of very extensive trade and large turnover done on a small capital of only £90,000, with 1,000 men in employment.
Hall and Stells
Hall and Stells, Park Works, was founded at Keighley some eighty years ago by the late William Stell. From small beginnings the firm has worked up a commanding reputation, and has to-day as its head a son of the founder. It specialises in the manufacture of machinery for working wool in all its different branches, on a relatively small capital of £250,000, with 1,400 men.
The business of George Hodgson was established in 1849, at Frizinghall Works, Bradford. The firm makes power looms for weaving cotton, linens, woollens and worsteds. In this particular branch of the textile machine trade it has a great reputation. For firms engaged solely on power looms it holds the record in honours gained at International Exhibitions. The Directorate is headed by Sir F. Eley, Bart.
The activity of the Leeds district in this class of engineering work is shown by the fact that there are forty-four other firms turning out textile machinery with a capital that may be estimated at £620,000. They employ collectively about 4,000 men.
Greenwood and Batley
With regard to the firms engaged in the production of general machinery, Greenwood and Batley, with a capital of £600,000 and employing 1,500 men, may head the list. This firm was founded in 1856, and is still under the control of members of the two families associated with its inception and with the formation of the Iron Trades Employers' Insurance Association, Ltd. The works occupy a site of 20 acres on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The products of the firm are: hydraulic, steam turbine, electrical, textile machinery, ordnance, and machine tools. The manufactures in the Hydraulic Department include chocolate and cocoa machinery and oil mill plant. Greenwood and Batley are among the largest makers of this class of machine in Europe. Their machines are to be seen in every country where oil-bearing seeds are treated. Construction of the De Laval Steam Turbine was begun towards the close of last century, and now keeps a large section of the works busily employed. The Electrical Department was started about fifty years ago, and a large business is done in electrical equipment of all kinds, including electric labour-saving trucks, the manufacture of which this firm introduced into the United Kingdom. On the textile side of the business have been designed and built large plants for treating waste silk and ramie, and the firm has supplied many installations in Europe and the Far East. In Japan, 7o per cent. of the silk machines in use came from these Leeds works.
Perhaps the name of Greenwood and Batley is best known for their special machinery for arsenal equipment and the manufacture of cartridges and rifles. During the War they attained an output of 10,000,000 rounds of ammunition per week for the British Government, and were at the same time supplying several of the Allied Governments. The first Whitehead Torpedoes made in this country were manufactured here for the Admiralty. Naturally, much of this class of work is strictly confidential. The Machine Tool Section is principally engaged in the production of heavy forging machines and special machinery, for which the firm has an exceedingly high reputation. Included in the latter is minting machinery, and it may here be noted that the "Great Seal of England" is struck on a special medal press manufactured by the firm. It has made complete minting plants for numerous foreign countries.
J. Hopkinson and Son
Established in the year 1843, the firm of J. Hopkinson and Son of Huddersfield was registered as a limited company in 1920. This business has grown from small dimensions, and now occupies a foremost place as manufacturers of all kinds of valve and boiler mountings. A new factory was built in 1904 to cope with the great increase in orders received. The works cover an extent of 15 acres, and are laid out and equipped on the most modern lines. The firm's capital is £600,000 and it employs 1,500 men.
David Brown and Sons
The Park Gear Works of David Brown and Sons of Huddersfield were established in 1860 by the late David Brown, who was originally a patten-maker. To-day the firm is managed by the sons of the founder, and in two generations it has grown enormously. Its capital is £510,000, and it employs 1,000 men. It is the largest manufacturer of gearing in Europe. Among its chief products are double helical speed transformers for collieries, worm reduction gear units for all industrial drives and worm gearing for all mechanical purposes. Gear-cutting on a large scale keeps a section of the works constantly busy, and machine tools for the production of gearing are also made. Over sixty years' experience, devoted entirely to the design and manufacture of accurate gearing, is behind the products of Park Gear Works, and in this particular branch of engineering they hold the first place.
Thomas Broadbent and Sons
Thomas Broadbent and Sons of Huddersfield has had continuity of management since its foundation in 1864. Electric cranes of all types, electrical winches and capstans, hauling gears, hand cranes, locomotive steam cranes, and also hydro-extractors are made at the Central Ironworks. The last-named product is extensively used in the textile trade, and this firm has already over 10,000 machines in use. It is the largest maker in the world of hydro-extractors.
Jonas Woodhead and Sons
Jonas Woodhead and Sons is a firm of spring manufacturers founded in 1847 in Bradford, but removed to Leeds about thirty-five years ago by Jonas Woodhead, the grandfather of the present Managing Director. Originally the firm manufactured all kinds of ironwork, axles and springs for the road vehicles of the period. The advent of the motor car gave Jonas Woodhead and Sons an opportunity, of which the firm was not slow to take advantage. It soon became the leading maker of automobile springs, and as such manufacturer to the Rolls-Royce, Daimler, Sunbeam and other well known firms. About 1920 the firm concentrated on laminated springs. The whole plant was rebuilt and new machinery installed to improve and facilitate the manufacture. The business continued to grow, and the development has extended to include railway and tramway springs, of all designs and weights from 3 lb. to 500 lb. for automobile, railway and tramway use. The entire share capital of £200,000 is now held by S. T. D. Motors. (see Chapter XXIV). An interesting fact about this business is that most of the employees have worked with the firm all their lives. At present there are two instances of three generations simultaneously at work. In one case, grandfather, father, and son operate adjacent steam hammers.
Yorkshire Copper Works
The manufacture of non-ferrous tubing in this country is generally considered to be a preserve of the Birmingham district. It may come as a surprise to many to learn that Leeds has what are probably the largest works in the world, solely engaged in the making of copper and brass tubes. Fifty years ago this industry was started at Haigh Park on the southern boundaries of the city, and the present owners, the Yorkshire Copper Works, have been established just over twenty years. The works cover 20 acres on the firm's own estate of 100 acres, and are the best equipped and most up-to-date in the country. Solid drawn copper tubes are made in all sizes from 0.005 in. to 24 in. diameter, a range probably unapproached by any other firm in the trade. They are supplied for all purposes, including shipbuilding, marine and general engine work, printing and textile machinery, aeroplanes, motor cars, etc. The British and foreign navies obtain tubes made here, and very many of our greatest liners are fitted with "Y.C.W." tubing. Locomotive boiler-tubes are regularly supplied to the principal home and overseas railways. A recent development has been the equipment of several beet sugar factories with their complete outfit of tubes.
Thomas Smith and Sons
The firm of Thomas Smith and Sons (Rodley) owns one of the largest crane works in the United Kingdom. Since its foundation in 1820 the management of the business has remained entirely in the hands of the Smith family. The founder had one son, the late Thomas Smith, and the present Directors of the private company formed in 1917 are the latter's three sons. Begun in a very small way to manufacture various lifting devices actuated by hand, the business has made steady and continuous progress. When steam power was introduced, the firm applied the new invention to handling problems, and a steam crane was evolved. This was about seventy years ago. Steam cranes were originally all of fixed types, then came those built on carriages, followed by others which moved by their own power, and last of all came steam travelling (locomotive) cranes. Smith's cranes were used on such important undertakings as the Manchester Ship Canal, Assouan Dam, and the Sudan Barrage. After steam came the electric motor, and again the Rodley firm was in the van in making use of the new prime mover. Cranes of from 1 to 100 tons, having one, two, three or four motors are constructed according to varying requirements, and a special feature is the firm's magnet cranes. Smith's works cover 15 acres, and another extension is now in progress.
Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co
It is fitting that Leeds, the birthplace of the locomotive, and identified with so many engineering achievements, should now be associated with the comparatively new industry of aircraft manufacture. The Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co, of Olympia Works, was founded in June 1914, by Robert Blackburn, who designed his first aeroplane in 1909 and flew it himself at Saltburn. From then till 1914 he designed and produced various machines, until in May of that year a first order was received from the War Office. On the strength of this order the Company was formed (a start being made with twenty men), and it has since had a successful career. The war gave a great fillip to the business. The Olympia Works were devoted to the production of seaplanes for the Admiralty. It became necessary to establish another factory at Brough for testing and for the building of very large craft. The "Kangaroo" and the "Cuckoo" types, products of Olympia, became famous during the War. In 1920 the "Swift" torpedo plane was put on the market. This, and a later type, the "Dart," attracted much attention, and numbers were built for Britain, Japan, U.S.A., Spain and other countries. The Blackburn Co. is capable of manufacturing any type of aircraft, from a light aeroplane with a 50-h.p. engine, to a flying-boat with three engines developing 2,000 h.p. and carrying a crew of twelve.
Henry Berry and Co
Henry Berry and Co, hydraulic engineers, commenced business in 1883. Two years later, owing to the development of the business, it was transferred to the present Croydon Works. Subsequently, in 1887, and again in 1896, further additions were made, and again in 1900, 1914, 1916 and 1919. The extraordinary success achieved by this firm can be gauged by these extensions. Berry and Co.'s chief products are hydraulic presses, hydraulic riveting machines, hydraulic pressure pumps and various types of hydraulic machine tools. The many patents and designs brought out by the firm have been the means of considerably extending the application of hydraulic machinery. When Japan commenced to build her navy, the firm supplied all the forging plant. It is supplying the exceedingly powerful riveting machines required for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. A recent new machine is a non-ferrous metal extruding press, which has been extensively adopted in this country and has found favour abroad. The Managing Director is Major W. Berry, a nephew of the founder.
George Mann and Co
In 1871, the late George Mann and the late C. Pollard took over a small workshop in Elland Road, Holbeck, and so founded the well-known firm of George Mann and Co, printing machinery makers. The names of those associated with the venture no longer figure in the management, but a son of George Mann holds a responsible post in Leeds engineering to-day, as Works Manager for Joshua Buckton and Co. Up to the start of this firm little improvement had been made in the lithographic machine since its invention. The first type of machine produced by the new firm was a great success, and there are still many of these early Leeds machines doing good work to-day in the British Isles and Colonies. The first rotary litho built by George Mann and Co. was known as a "Direct Rotary Machine," because the printing was done directly on the paper by bringing it into contact with the design on the plate. This was followed by the "Rotary Tin Plate Printing Machine," which gradually developed to the paper-printing machine as known to-day. Mann rotary off-set machines are now to be found in practically every civilised country in the world. The business passed through many vicissitudes in its early days, but with determination and grit it succeeded in overcoming all obstacles, until it attained the foremost place it now occupies in this branch of engineering. To the original Elland Road works have been added Larchfield Works, Hunslet, and both of these are kept fully employed.
Clayton, Son and Co
The firm of Clayton, Son and Co was founded in 1862 by the late Laurence Clayton. The business became a private limited company thirty years ago. From its inception the firm specialised in gasholder and tank work. The first gasholder made was for the Spilsby Gas Co. It had a capacity of 8,500 cu. ft. At present the firm has on hand an order from the Birmingham Corporation for two holders of a twin capacity of 12,000,000 cu. ft. The record of this firm is one of progressive expansion; it has made and erected gasholders and oil and water tanks all over the world. In 1906 additional works at Pepper Road were built for the production of welded and riveted water-pipes. This venture has been successful, and continues to keep the works busily employed. Tar de-hydration plants are also made by the firm. A son of the founder is Managing Director and another son is also on the Board.
Sources of Information