W. and T. Avery
From Graces Guide
of Soho Foundry, Birmingham. Telephone: Smethwick 1112. Telegraphic Address: "Avery, Birmingham". (1937)
Averys Ltd was the holding company for the 32 operating companies in the Avery Group. The Group's main activity was the design, manufacture, sale and servicing of a wide range of weighing machines, physical testing machines and fluid measuring equipment.
The company's history can be traced back to 1730, and the manufacture by hand of steelyards and beam scales in a small workshop in Birmingham.
In the early part of the nineteenth century the business passed to the Avery family. It was developed from a purely Midlands concern into a nationwide, and finally, under the family's successors, into a worldwide organisation.
1731 Original owner of the company was James Ford
1835 'Late T. Beach' (See advert)
1854 A new factory was built at the Atlas Works in West Bromwich, and from there the company expanded.
1874 Thomas Avery died
1876 Exhibitor at the Royal Agricultural Show at Birmingham of a large collection of weighing machines. 
1891 The firm of W. and T. Avery was incorporated as a private company. This was the predecessor of W. and T. Avery Ltd, the main operating company in Avery's weighing and testing machine division. The company was registered on 25 August, to acquire a business of weighing machine manufacturers. 
1894 It became a public company, the present company being registered on 10 December. June - Royal Agricultural Society's Show. Portable Cattle and farm Weighbridge. (of Digbeth, Birmingham).  The company remained a family business until it became public company.
1895 The Soho Foundry at Smethwick was purchased and rebuilt as the company's main factory. When legislation was introduced at the turn of the century requiring the stamping of all weighing machines used for trade Avery branches were set up in some 100 towns in the United Kingdom. This was the beginning of the sales and service organisation that expanded to cover not only every important town in the United Kingdom but was also established in many overseas countries.
1899 All descriptions of weighing appliances from the heaviest railway weighbridge to the lightest counter scale were represented at the stands of Messrs W. and T. Avery at the 1899 Royal Agricultural Show. The "Avery" automatic filling machine (Richardson's patent) was amongst the firm's exhibits.
1900 Illustrated article on a 110 ton weighbridge made for a large marine engineering company in the North of England and of a hot iron plate weighing machine for the Dowlais Ironworks.  July. The Paris Exhibition. Descriptions of their weighing equipment. 
From 1900 onwards Averys gradually established overseas companies.
1911 Smithfield Club Show. exhibited weighbridges, weighing machines, scales etc. 
1914 Manufacturers of weighing and testing machines. Specialities: weighbridges, testing machines, weighing apparatus of every description, as required in works, collieries, railways, shops and for other purposes. Employees 3,000. 
1917 Advert. No-Loose-Weight Wool Weigher. 
1918 Last of the family to be involved in the business died, the business then employing nearly three thousand staff.
1927 See Aberconway for information on the company and its history
1937 British Industries Fair Advert for Weighing, Counting and Testing Machines for all purposes; Petrol Meter Pumps; Scientific Seating; Shop-fittings; Architectural Wood and Metal Work; Dairy Machinery. Recorder Weighing Machines (heavy capacity). Large Automatic Grain Weigher. New Continuous Liquid Weigher. Many new features. All Machines available for demonstrations. (Engineering/Metals/Quarry, Roads and Mining/Transport Section - Stand Nos. D.613 and D.512) 
1937 Weighing, testing and counting machines. 
Although Averys' business was, for many years, based primarily on high quality mechanical engineering, it also adopted developments in other fields of technology where they could contribute to its activities. It was the first in the United Kingdom to produce electrically operated weighing recorders in the 1930s. After the Second World War it employed such technologies as optical projection, digital encoding and, from 1963, electronic weighing.
Averys owned companies in some European countries but these were unprofitable and were wound up before 1939, except for a manufacturing company in West Germany which was sold to a German manufacturer in 1968 because its business also proved unprofitable. In Averys' view it had never achieved a large enough share of the German market for its own products. It was not reckoned worth preserving as a distributor of Averys' products from the United Kingdom.
1957 Private company.
1958 The holding company, Averys Ltd, was formed.
1958 Name changed.
1961 Manufacturers of weighing, counting, measuring and testing machines, also iron founders and engineers. 
1971 To provide for greater specialisation and management efficiency and co-ordination, a divisional structure was created in which the operating companies were grouped in three Divisions: Weighing and Testing, General Products, and International.
By the early 1970s, the company was established in electronic weighing equipment. It produced a microprocessor-based unit in 1973.
1978 Sales between Averys and GEC were small in relation to the turnovers of the 2 companies. Most of Averys' weighing and measuring machines were standard, but machines were also designed and constructed to customers' special needs and specifications.
Averys supplied machines to any user or systems supplier wishing to incorporate weighing and/or liquid dispensing equipment in industrial or retail systems. Averys supplied baggage weighers for London Heathrow Terminal 2, Edinburgh Airport and Glasgow.
Avery-Hardoll manufactured meter pumps, bulkmeters and couplings for petrol and fuelling equipment including aircraft refuelling.
Approximately 50,000 weighing machines were repaired for users each year. The company normally expects to answer a call on the day it is received and provides a Saturday emergency service for retailers, and special services to manufacturers having continuous processes. There are 250 sales and servicing branches for weighing and testing products, strategically located throughout the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic.
Averys operated manufacturing plants in Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa. Averys was closely concerned with Government departments for more than 50 years in connection with the policy and framing of weights and measures legislation.
1974 Developed automatic weighing machines to cope with high volumes of both free and non-free flowing products.
1978 The net assets of the Avery group amounted to £65-8 million for the year ended 31 December.
1979 Acquired by GEC.
The company soon after became GEC-Avery.
From the formation of the firm of W. and T. Avery there was a continual expansion by the acquisition of other companies to form the Group. Some of the principal acquisitions in the United Kingdom were:
- 1899 or 1913 Parnall and Sons Ltd
- 1920 Southall and Smith Ltd (50 per cent), balance acquired in 1928
- 1920 Samuel Denison and Son Ltd (name changed to Avery-Denison Ltd in 1970)
- 1925 Oertling Ltd
- 1931 Tan-Sad Chair Co (1931) Ltd
- 1932 Avery-Hardoll Ltd
- 1953 Pump Maintenance Ltd (50 per cent), balance acquired in 1976
- 1959 George Driver and Son Ltd, merged in 1966 with Southall and Smith Ltd to form Driver Southall Ltd
- 1968 Stanton Redcroft Ltd
- 1973 Telomex Ltd.
The number of employees in the Avery Group at September 1978 was as follows:
- United Kingdom 8,589
- Overseas 3,962
- Total 12,551
Sources of Information
- The Engineer of 21st July 1876 p58
- The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
- The Engineer of 29th June 1894 p562
- Peck's Trades Directory of Birmingham, 1896-97: Advertisers
- The Engineering Times 1899-1900 Jul-Jan
- The Engineer of 4th May 1900 p456
- The Engineer of 6th July 1900 p2
- The Engineer of 8th December 1911 p595
- The Times, Feb 04, 1914
- 1914 Whitakers Red Book
- 1917 Worrall's Yorkshire Textile Directory Advert p196
- The Times, Jan 13, 1925
- 1937 British Industries Fair Advert p599; and p330
- 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
- 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
- The Engineer 1974/06/13
-  Competition Commission
- Trademarked. A History of Well-Known Brands - from Aertex to Wright's Coal Tar by David Newton. Pub: Sutton Publishing 2008 ISBN 978-0-7509-4590-5