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Note: This is a sub-section of 1952 Institution of Mechanical Engineers
The company was founded in 1875 when the manufacture of rubber was carried out in an old mill in Limpley Stoke.
In 1890 the firm moved to Melksham and took the name of The Avon India Rubber Company, Ltd. The number of employees was twenty-four. Today, with 2,000 employees, the factory covers 15 acres; total floor space 450,000 sq. ft.
Production is divided into two distinct classes. One includes all types of tyres and tubes. The other, known as the general rubber goods section, covers most other items of rubber manufacture. The tyre section makes tyres and tubes for bicycles, motor-cycles, cars, trucks, omnibuses, tractors and agricultural implements. General rubber goods products, of more interest to the engineering industry, include buffers and springs, anti-vibration mountings, rubber-covered rollers for all types of machine, pneumatic clutches, radiator hose and a variety of parts for use in the automobile industry.
Uniformity of quality during processing and in the final product is ensured by a comprehensive system of quality control. Rubber and cotton, two of the most widely used raw materials, are liable to variation in quality which makes this control a vital necessity. All raw rubber, cotton and rayon fabrics and materials to be compounded with the rubber are sampled and checked in the control laboratory before being passed for production. After the rubber has been mixed with the necessary reinforcing and vulcanizing ingredients, it is again checked by the laboratory staff before passing to the next operation.
Systematic checks are made along the production line to ensure that all component parts required for manufacture are up to specification for dimensions, weight, etc. In addition to the normal final inspection of all finished products, a percentage is subjected to a destruction test, the nature of which depends on the article.
Extensive laboratories are provided for chemical and physical testing of all rubber and textile goods, and there are special facilities for testing tyres. A fleet of motor-cycles, cars and trucks is continually wearing out tyres on the road, and in the test house are a number of rigs for testing tyres. One of these rigs has been specially designed by the company's own development engineers to study the power consumption of tyres and also those forces which arise between tyre and road when the tyre is steered. This machine is the only one of its kind in Europe.
The processing of rubber makes a heavy call on engineering services. Plant installed provides 60,000 lb. of steam per hour at 250 lb. per sq. in. for all vulcanizing processes; 260,000 gal. per hr. of cooling water, taken from the river Avon running alongside the factory, for cooling mixers and mills; 2,500 cu. ft. of air per minute at 200 lb. and 90 lb. per sq. in. for various curing applications and for automatic control of presses; and a hydraulic system giving pressures of 350 lb. and 2,000 lb. per sq. in.
Electricity is taken from the grid. Approximately 350,000 units per week are used, with a maximum demand of over 4,000 kVA. The total connected horse-power is 12,000.
In addition, to provide D.C. current for variable speed control on various types of machine, a 750-kW. 250-volt pass-out turbine is installed.
Brecknell, Munro and Rogers, Ltd., of Bristol, generally referred to as "B.M.R.", is an old-established engineering firm the products of which are used in nearly every country in the world.
Its history can be traced back to 1860, when it started as a small non-ferrous foundry. Since that date it has grown to a firm of precision engineers with a well-equipped works, employing approximately 1,000 persons and specializing in food packing machinery.
In addition, the company makes egg-grading machines, laundry-marking machines and printing-machines of the stop cylinder type. Another well-known machine manufactured is the ticket-issuing and change-giving machine, extensively used on London underground railway stations.
The main works are at Pennywell Road, Bristol, and there is also a small works at Swinford, near Bath, where the foundry is now situated.
Founded in 1910, the Bristol Aeroplane Company now comprises a parent company with aircraft, aero-engine and car divisions, the Bristol Aeroplane Company (Weston), Ltd., which produces permanent aluminium buildings, and subsidiary companies in Canada and Australia.
Aircraft Division. The aircraft division was started at Filton shortly after formation of the company, in a building which is still in use. The "Fighter" of the 1914-18 war, the "Bulldog" of the 1920's and the "Blenheim" and "Beaufighter" of the 1939-45 war are types of its production.
Aero-engine Division. The aero-engine division was formed in 1920. During the 1939-45 war well over 100,000 "Bristol" engines were built, 57,000 being of the "Hercules" sleeve-valve type, which with the "Centaurus" has since been intensively developed. A leading part has also been taken in development of gas turbines.
Car Division. The car division, formed in 1946, has produced the "Bristol" two-litre post-war car, largely based on aeronautical technique.
Since 1945 emphasis has been on civil aviation. The prototype of the "Britannia" 140,000 lb. turbo-jet airliner is due to fly in 1952; output of Type 170 "Freighter" and development of the "Brabazon" Mark I proceed. In addition, the company has led British development of the helicopter with the first twin engined 10-13 passenger machine, Type 173.
The Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company, Ltd., operates omnibuses in Bristol, Bath, Cheltenham, Weston-super-Mare, and Gloucester, designs and manufactures single and double deck passenger vehicles and heavy goods vehicles for the Road Passenger and Haulage Executives respectively, and also has a large central repair depot at Lawrence Hill, Bristol.
The Motor Constructional Works (M.C.W.) of the Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company, Ltd., was opened in 1912 to design and produce road passenger chassis, and later produced commercial and passenger vehicles of 2 and 4 tons capacity.
During the 1914-18 war the M.C.W. became a machine shop for the Bristol Aeroplane Company, employing about 2,000 workers.
After termination of that war, the manufacture of passenger chassis was resumed, and a small number of trolley 'buses was produced.
In 1935 the Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company, Ltd., was taken over by the Tilling organization, and in 1947 the Tilling Group was acquired by the British Transport Commission.
During the 1939-45 war M.C.W. produced parts for aircraft, components for propellers and engines, and major assemblies fox "Bristol" aircraft.
Acquisition of the company by the British Transport Commission and the Transport Act of 1947 precluded it from manufacturing for export and for operators outside the Group, and its production now includes the "K" type of double-deck chassis, the new underfloor-engined "single-decker", and the manufacture of the Bristol "6AVW" compression-ignition engine for fitment to many of the company's products. The "Lodekka" double-deck chassis also will be in production shortly, and production of a heavy-goods eight-wheel chassis for the Road Haulage Executive is commencing.
The present company was formed in 1846. It now operates with a capital investment of about £5 million and supplies 21 million gallons of water per day to a population of 470,000 within an area of 110 sq. miles. The company is engaged at the moment in considerable expansion, including a big new capital works programme.
Water is obtained from Blagdon reservoir, Cheddar reservoir, Chelvey deep wells, Chewton Mendip springs, and other minor sources. The present total reservoir storage of 4,000 million gallons will be increased to 8,600 million gallons when the Chew Stoke reservoir, now under construction, is completed. The Chew Valley Scheme will add a further 10.5 million gallons per day to the yield of the company's sources, and the Chew Stoke reservoir will supply Bath Corporation, South Gloucester, and North Somerset.
The Chew Valley Scheme, including the treatment and pumping works at Stowey which are required for regional supplies, is estimated to cost £1.5 million, and it is expected that the works will be in full operation by 1955 and in partial operation before that time.
Treatment applied to water at present being distributed comprises storage, slow sand filtration, micro-straining and chloramination. It is expected that softening will be applied to water dealt with at the Stowey works, reducing the hardness of the water - at present 220 parts per million - to 100 parts per million.
The Portishead "A" power station site has an area of 23 acres.
Construction work began in 1927, under the Bristol Corporation Electricity Department, and the first instalment of 40 megawatts was commissioned in 1929. The station was completed in 1949, under the British Electricity Authority, with an installed capacity of 248.15 megawatts.
Coal Handling Plant. Coal is normally shipped to Portishead dock in vessels of 350 to 750 tons capacity, and is unloaded by grabbing cranes to a system of belt and bucket conveyors. Provision for receipt of rail-borne coal is also provided.
The total storage capacity is approximately 110,000 tons, and the average coal consumption of the station during the winter months is 14,000 tons per week.
Ash Handling Plant. The ash, amounting to about 180,000 tons a year, is handled by a low-pressure water sluice system.
The ash from the pits is deposited after drainage in a dumping area, east of the Portishead dock.
Ash Disposal Ground. The ash is deposited to a depth of about 12 feet, and during the last two years several acres have been covered with two to three feet of soil, and subsequently sown with selected strains and species of grass, clover and other herbs to make good agricultural land.
Boiler Houses. There are four boiler houses, containing eighteen boilers with a total evaporative capacity of 2,780,000 lb. per hr.
All the boilers are fitted with travelling chain-grate stokers, and operate at a pressure of 325 lb. per sq. in. at a steam temperature of 830 deg. F., the newer boilers having controlled superheat.
Mechanical grit arresters are installed in each boiler to reduce grits in flue gases.
Turbine Room. Installed in the turbine room are two 20,000-kW. turbines running at 3,000 r.p.m. with two-stage feed-heating and 11,000-volt alternators stepping up with integral transformers to 33 kV.; two 50,000-kW. turbines running at 1,500 r.p.m. with four-stage feed-heating and 6,600-volt alternators stepping up with integral transformers to 33 kV., and two 50,000-kW. turbines, running at 1,500 r.p.m. with four-stage feed-heating and 33,000-volt alternators.
Owing to the high rise and fall of the tide - the maximum variation of which is 51.25 feet - and to ensure that the circulating water pumps were flooded at all states of the tide, it was necessary for these to be installed some 100 feet below the turbine platforms; and to take advantage of the siphonic head of the circulating water, the condensers are mounted some 50 feet below the turbines.
The designed vacuum to be given by the condensers is 29 inches of mercury at a circulating water inlet temperature of 55 deg. F.
Circulating Water System. Circulating water is drawn from and returned to the Severn estuary by means of four deep culverts, each 1,750 feet long and of 7 ft. 6 in. internal diameter, guarded at their mouths with coarse grilles to prevent the intrusion of waterlogged baulks, etc.
The circulating pumps are situated at the bottom of three pits about 100 feet deep and 40 feet in diameter constructed in the turbine room.
Fire Protection. Automatic and manual fire protection is provided.
British Messier Ltd
British Messier, Ltd. (an Associated Company of Rotol, Ltd.), is engaged in the design and development of aircraft undercarriages and hydraulic equipment, the production and manufacture of which are carried out by Rotol, Ltd.
The company operates in close association with the French Messier Company.
The works of British Messier, Ltd., which are situated opposite Rotol, Ltd., consist of a large design office and development shop, with many types of test rig and equipment for the development • of aeroplane landing gear and hydraulic systems of all types. The test equipment includes full-scale rigs representing the complete hydraulic system of several large aircraft, two large drop-test machines (one capable of drop-testing the undercarriage of an aircraft weighing 75 tons) and two inertia brake test machines (one with a total energy capacity of 20 million ft.-lb.).
The following is a summary of products of British Messier Ltd.: aircraft landing gear; hydraulic pumps and motors; jacks, valves and operating equipment; hydraulic servo mechanisms, and aeroplane disk brakes and wheels.
In 1842 Mr. John Robinson and Sir Thomas Robinson established a business in Gloucester under the style of Messrs. J. and T. Robinson, for the sale of feeding stuffs, guano and nitrate.
In about 1860 they started the manufacture of chemical manures in Bristol. A dissolution .of partnership took place in 1874, when Mr. John Robinson started business in Bristol under the name of John Robinson and Company. In 1877 he built a mill in Bristol capable of crushing 1,200 tons of oil seed per week. In 1904 another mill of the same capacity was built at Avonmouth Docks.
In 1916 the company joined The British Oil and Cake Mills, Ltd., which in 1925 amalgamated with Lever Brothers.
In 1925 a new mill for the manufacture of compound feeding stuffs was built at Avonmouth. Three years later the Bristol mill was closed and the whole of the company's manufactures were centralized at Avonmouth.
The present factory occupies a site of 13 acres and produces over 7,000 tons of various feeding stuffs a week.
Mechanical handling is extensively employed throughout the factory: there are 600 employees, and 638 motors aggregating 7,000 h.p., and the annual consumption of electricity is nearly 14 million units.
The oil-seed mill is equipped with high pressure expellers, having a throughput of 600 tons a week.
There are now two compound mills in the factory, one manufacturing cattle foods and the other the highly specialized foods used for feeding pigs and poultry. This mill incorporates many up-to-date features.
Swindon Works of British Railways (Western Region) forms one of the largest railway establishments in the world. The locomotive works employs about 6,000 men, and the carriage and wagon works about 4,500. It is also the headquarters of the mechanical and electrical engineers' department, the carriage and wagon engineers' department, the motive power and the stores departments for the Western Region.
The history of the works begins in 1840. All the original locomotives were purchased, but in 1846 Premier, the first goods engine, and Great Western, the first passenger engine, were completed at Swindon. In 1869 the original carriage repair shops were moved to Swindon from Paddington. The original works, covering 52.5 acres, has grown to cover 326 acres, of which 77.5 are roofed.
The locomotive works has capacity for new construction of between two and three engines per week and the repair of about 1,000 engines each year.
There are also shops for the repair of cranes and hydraulic machinery, and the construction of permanent way fittings, as well as a permanent-way chair foundry. There is a gas works, providing all the coal gas required for the locomotive and carriage and wagon works, also an oxygen plant from which oxygen is piped throughout both works.
The Swindon locomotive testing plant, built in 1903 and modernized in 1936, is used for complete boiler and cylinder efficiency tests of all types of 4-6-0 engine of the Western and other regions.
The carriage and wagon works is equipped to manufacture and repair all types of carriage and wagon. It includes a saw mill for converting logs and trees to planks, boards, etc. In the carriage body shop, a special layout was equipped in 1951 to deal with the all-steel first class coaches of the new standard design.
The capacity of the carriage works during a year is approximately 275 passenger vehicles built and 5,000 vehicles repaired. The capacity of the wagon works is equivalent to 5,000 of the open 13-ton-type new wagons per year, and the repair of 16,000 wagons.
The firm of T. H. and J. Daniels was started in 1840 by Thomas Daniels, grandfather of the present chairman of the company, Mr. J. Stuart Daniels, and consisted mainly of black smith and forge work, and, later, a treadle lathe or lathes were installed.
In the thirty years following 1860 a considerable amount of machinery was made for the flour mill and corn trade, machines for the manufacture of hair pins and water wheels and also two beam engines were produced. The present chairman came in to the business at the end of 1888, and his brother, Mr. F. L. Daniels a few years later, and from that time the business branched out into the manufacture of pressure and suction types of gas producer.
During the early part of the century the firm also made a large number of water turbines of both the impulse and reaction types for heads up to 1,750 feet. Also considerable quantities of tyre-testing machinery were made for the rubber industry, and other plant was made in connexion with the manufacture of motor tyres.
Hagan boiler-control gear and control panels for power stations; large quantities of Danarm chain saws, both petrol and electrically driven; the Sharples centrifugal separator; water treatment plant; and dust collectors for boiler plant in power stations, are all manufactured by the firm.
In addition, large development on plant for the plastics industry has taken place, and hydraulic presses are being made in various sizes from 25 to 500 tons per sq. in., and also considerable quantities of injection moulding machines.
The works have been extended considerably during and since the 1939-45 war, and contain the following departments: portable saw department, including a section making two-link and three-link cutting chains, a number of disabled people are working in this section, including blind operators; machining, assembly, and testing high-speed centrifuge machines for clarifying oil, including the bowl-making and balancing section, the bowls run up to test speeds of 22,000 r.p.m. and a laboratory machine up to 50,000-60,000 r.p.m.; capstan and turret lathe shop; view room and standards room, including the storage of shop gauges; machine shops and experimental department; works drawing and jig and tool storage; heavy machine shop grinding; hydraulic plastics moulding press assembly; assembly of Reed Prentice injection moulding machines, including testing; packing and despatch departments; combined aluminium and iron foundry, which is partly mechanized; assembly and test of Hagan boiler control apparatus, and the assembly of panels for controlling at power stations; plate shop and welding department, including the assembly of dust collectors and hoppers, and pressure vessels for water softening equipment.
The headquarters of Dowty Equipment, Ltd., at Arle Court, are situated in over 70 acres of parkland on the main Gloucester road, some 3 miles south-west of Cheltenham. A delightful mansion in warm Cotswold stone houses the directors' offices.
The factory buildings are sited to merge harmoniously into their natural surroundings, so that the ideal atmosphere of a country estate is maintained. Concealed on three sides by masses of old trees are drawing offices, assembly, machine, plating and polishing shops, testing rigs, inspection, maintenance, medical, canteen and recreation blocks. The factory, which has some 1,500 employees, is chiefly engaged on prototype and development projects on aircraft undercarriages, pumps and other components for hydraulic systems.
Here undercarriages for all types of aircraft are designed, developed and tested. They include those for the Bristol "Brabazon", and many of Britain's latest high-speed fighters.
Situated at Arle Court is the largest undercarriage drop test rig in the world, and three smaller ones are also in constant use in the undercarriage research department. It was on this equipment that the original tests on the "Comet" undercarriage were carried out on behalf of the de Havilland Aircraft Company.
The hydraulic test department is fully equipped to test all types of pump, valve and complete hydraulic system.
Other companies of the Dowty Group are Dowty Seals, Ltd., Dowty Auto Units, Ltd., Dowty Mining Equipment, Ltd., Dowty Fuel Systems, Ltd., The New Mendip Engineering Company, Ltd., Coventry Precision, Ltd., Dowty Equipment of Canada, Ltd., Dowty Corporation in the United States, and Dowty Equipment (Australia) Pty., Ltd.
The Dowty Seals factory is at Ashchurch, and produces synthetic rubber sealing media for all types of aircraft and industrial requirements.
Quite a different product is the Dowty hydraulic pit prop, which experts have acclaimed as one of the most outstanding advances in the history of mining engineering. Large-scale production is now proceeding at the Ashchurch factory.
Other fields have been embraced by Dowty enterprise: the development and production of fuel pumps and complete fuel systems for gas-turbines is now an established and rapidly expanding part of the Dowty organization.
The basis of the Dowty fuel system is a spill-type burner of novel design, which has proved to give the best combustion efficiency at all altitudes yet known. Because of this, the system is being incorporated in many of the latest gas-turbine engines.
Erinoid, Ltd., was founded in 1915 for the manufacture of artificial horn, a plastics material made from rennet casein. The factory, established in premises in the Stroud Valley and formerly used as a woollen mill, has remained there. The original product has become the most colourful plastic used in the button and ornamental trades and is known as "Erinoid." The company is the largest manufacturer of casein plastics in the world. It has, from the earliest days, directed attention to overseas markets and, for the past twenty years, has exported up to 60 per cent of its production of casein plastics.
In 1935 a department was set up to produce cellulose acetate plastics in the forms of moulding powders, rods, tubes and sheets - the last-named being used to a great extent for the production of "tortoiseshell" spectacle frames. Polyvinyl chloride plastic materials were added to the range during the 1939-45 war.
Polystyrene is the latest addition to the company's products, and a joint company with Petrochemicals, Ltd., manufactures polystyrene on the Partington Industrial Estate, near Manchester.
The colour laboratory plays a most important part in the production, and with the growth of the thermoplastics business during the past twelve years, a technical staff with laboratory and pilot plant facilities has grown up, and a modern laboratory block, with up-to-date equipment, has been built.
The Erinoid sports and social club ground adjoining the factory has a club-house where employees enjoy a variety of popular sports and pastimes. The management has always taken particular interest in the welfare of the employees and many workers have been with the company since its earliest days.
The company was founded in 1866 by Mr. Samuel Fielding and Mr. James Platt, both of Gloucester, as a general engineering business, with small workshops, named Atlas Works, in St. Luke's Street, Gloucester. In 1871 they became associated with Mr. Ralph Tweddell, the inventor of the Tweddell system, and, initially, portable riveters were built. These soon gained much success, and in a short time considerable quantities were in use. Fielding hydraulic riveters embodying the Tweddell system gained the highest awards at Philadelphia in 1876, Paris in 1878 and London in 1885.
The company's pioneering activities in hydraulic engineering were considerably extended, resulting in the design and manufacture of a number of types of press, pump and accumulator. In 1908 gas engines were added to the firm's products, and these were later developed into a range of oil engines, until 1939, when their manufacture was acquired by Petters, Ltd., these engines being known at present as the Petter-Fielding Diesel engines.
During the 1914-18 war, the company's activities were devoted almost entirely to government requirements for the manufacture of presses for a wide range of shells up to 16 inches, equipment for shipyards, and other essential purposes. Following the war, the range and size of the company's products were considerably expanded for equipping railway workshops, shipyards, etc., and include many types of press for the forging and manipulation of metal. Presses for plywood and concrete were also made in considerable quantities.
During the 1939-45 war, the company produced numerous hydraulic presses to the requirements of government departments for the manufacture of components for aircraft, munitions, etc., notably extrusion presses and other equipment for the production of light alloys. Important developments included high-speed variable delivery and other types of pump in a wide range of sizes and pressures, for the direct operation of hydraulic units. The gas-loaded types of accumulator were also produced in an improved form.
The original small workshops of the early days have now been extended to cover 3.5 acres, and employ approximately 650 work-people. The works are directly connected to the main railway system, and have been completely re-equipped with modern machine tools of types and capacities for the production of the highest quality of plant. The company was acquired by Heenan and Froude, Ltd., in 1939.
In its eighty-six year history, the company has achieved a world-wide reputation for the design and manufacture of hydraulic equipment of advanced design. In comparison with the range of equipment manufactured by the company in its early days, the present scope of its activities has been extended to cover the requirements of many different industrial applications. The policy of maintaining an active experimental department which concentrates not only on present-day problems but also on long-term development projects has resulted in a number of notable achievements, not only in regard to the hydraulic circuit requirements of the modern hydraulic press but also in the field of advanced design of press structures.
The company has built up an efficient service organization to provide after-sales service, and the Fielding apprenticeship scheme provides a steady flow of qualified young engineers for employment in practical or technical administrative capacities.
J. S. Fry and Sons, Ltd., founded in Bristol in 1728, is the oldest firm in the world manufacturing chocolate and cocoa.
In 1728 Churchman commenced manufacturing chocolate in Bristol; Joseph Fry, a local doctor, purchased the process and started manufacturing under his own name. As early as 1783 a steam engine was installed to drive the chocolate mill.
During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a group of twenty-four factories grew up in the heart of the business centre of the city. Immediately after the 1914-18 war, a new site was chosen at Keynsham, midway between Bristol and Bath, bordered on the south by the Great Western Railway, and enclosed on the remaining sides by the river Avon. Thus there are both rail and water facilities for transport.
The site purchased was 232 acres in extent. The first building was commenced in 1921 at Somerdale and the move was finally completed in 1933. Power was supplied by the Bristol Corporation. In 1949 Diesel engines were installed to take off part of the load during peak hours.
Steam required for process work and heating is produced by steam-raising units of 20,000 lb. per hr. evaporating capacity.
The main manufacturing blocks are four to six storeys high with a carrying capacity of 4 cwt. per sq. ft., and are 450 feet long and 75 feet wide.
The total number of persons employed by the firm in Britain is 3,301.
In addition to the activities at Somerdale, factories have been established in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Eire, South Africa and India.
Boxes and canisters used for packing the various lines are produced at the factory.
The firm has a buying organization for cocoa in the Gold Coast and Nigeria, where it purchases cocoa on behalf of the Marketing Board. In Britain and in Eire, in conjunction with Cadbury Brothers, it has several factories for the collection and processing of fresh full-cream milk for the manufacture of milk chocolate, the annual intake before the 1939-45 war being 27,000,000 gallons, all from farms in Gloucestershire, Staffordshire and Cheshire.
The factory built at Rathmore in County Kerry since 1945 is the chief source of supply of milk for the firm's milk products.
The company was formed in 1860 and was first known as The Gloucester Wagon Company, Ltd., with a capital of £100,000, occupying an area of 5 acres and employing a personnel of 120 for the purpose of building railway wagons.
In 1868 orders were received from Russia of sufficient magnitude to justify the use of assembly works at Riga for a number of years, which are now abandoned.
In 1876 the first major extension of the company's site was made, and, in 1888, the company was reconstructed with a share capital of £525,000.
During the Boer war and the 1914-18 war many army vehicles and much equipment were produced by the company.
Concurrently with development at Gloucester the company built up a wagon repairing business and, in 1918, this branch of the organization was amalgamated with other leading repairing concerns to form Wagon Repairs, Ltd.
During the 1939-45 war many items were made for military use, including Churchill tanks, shells, vital parts of the Mulberry harbour and special types of railway vehicle.
In 1950 the capital of the company was doubled, and this period saw also rapid development in the use of the "Gloster" patent cast-steel wagon bogie by British dominion, colonial and foreign railways.
The Gloucester Foundry, Ltd., one of the many subsidiary companies, is a fully mechanized foundry for the mass production of grey iron and malleable castings, many of which are used by the parent company.
Another subsidiary company, the Gloucester Wagon Hiring Company, Ltd., owned 10,000 coal wagons which it hired to collieries until the nationalization of railways took place.
There is a very happy association between the management and staff in work and sport, there being three generations of some families at work. An indentured apprenticeship scheme covers a five-year course.
The works cover 30 acres, and are situated on the Gloucester and Berkeley Ship Canal, thus having direct access to the sea.
In addition to the building of dining and sleeping saloons there is a pressed-steel section, extensive saw mills to convert logs to usable timber, and a wood-working mill. The erecting shops are approximately 900 feet in length.
In 1898 the Hoffmann Manufacturing Company, Ltd., was registered to acquire and develop the patents, relating to the manufacture of steel and other balls and ball bearings, held by the late E. G. Hoffmann, an American citizen. A works and office building having a frontage of 50 feet and a depth of 256 feet, was erected at Chelmsford on a site of 3.7 acres.
In 1901 the first bearing, "The Hoffmann Patent Ball Thrust Bearing," was marketed. This was followed by a complete range of bearings, single and double-thrust, and journal types.
In 1909 the Hoffmann roller journal bearing was introduced.
In 1910 the original building was carried back to nearly twice its depth, and the company quickly became the largest ball and roller bearing manufacturer in the British Empire.
In 1911 a complete machine design department and a fully equipped engineering machine shop were set up.
During the 1914-18 war the company played an important part in the national effort, and considerable expansion took place at Chelmsford.
In 1933 the smallest high-precision steel balls ever made (1/64 inch) were produced.
During the 1939-45 war the company's products again played an important part in the national war effort, production at Chelmsford was maintained despite enemy air attacks and a new factory was built at Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, known as Hoffmann Gloucester, Ltd.
In 1945 Hoffmann Tweedales, Ltd., at Stonehouse commenced manufacture of roller bearing inserts for the textile machinery manufacturers, and in 1949 the manufacture of roller bearing front top rollers of novel design was started.
Achievements of Hoffmann bearings include: In the first trans-Atlantic flight in 1919, Hoffmann bearings were used in the Rolls-Royce engines of the Vickers "Vimy" machine flown by Capt. J. Alcock, D.S.O., and Lt. Whitten Brown, R.A.F.
In the Schneider Trophy contest in 1931, Hoffmann's supplied the bearings for the Supermarine Rolls-Royce "S.6B" in which Flt.-Lt. Boothman won the trophy at a speed of 340.08 m.p.h. In the same year Mr. J. A. Mollison made a record flight from Australia to England in a Gipsy "Moth" the engine of which was equipped with Hoffmann bearings.
In the MacRobertson London-Melbourne air race in 1934, Hoffmann bearings were used in the de Havilland "Comet" in which Mr. C. W. A. Scott and Mr. Campbell Black obtained first place with a remarkable time of 2 days 23 hours.
In the land speed record in 1939 Hoffmann bearings were used throughout in the Railton car with which the late Mr. John Cobb established a new record speed of 368.85 m.p.h.
Hoffmann bearings were fitted to the main rotor shafts of the Rolls-Royce "Derwent" engines fitted to the Gloster "Meteor" aircraft in which Group Captain H. J. Wilson broke the world's speed record, attaining an average speed of 606 m.p.h. at Herne Bay on 7th November 1945.
For nearly half a century The Horstmann Gear Company, Ltd., Bath, has specialized in the manufacture of appliances for the automatic control of public lighting, by gas or electricity.
In addition the company is well known for the production of Horstmann gauges, which are guaranteed for accuracy, finish and hardness to National Physical Laboratory requirements.
The fine modern works are equipped with the latest machinery for accurate precision work, and some 500-600 persons are employed, many of whom have been in its employ since its early days.
During the 1939-45 war the company was engaged on important work for Admiralty, Air Ministry and other government contracts and many thousands of gauges were produced for the accurate gauging of parts.
At present every effort is being made to increase overseas trade and, since 1945, Horstmann goods have been exhibited at International Trade Fairs at Paris and Brussels, and will be exhibited at the Canadian International Trade Fair in Toronto in 1952. Agents have been established in the principal oversea countries and, in addition to the Continent, goods are being shipped to Australia, British East Africa, India, etc.
An experimental department at the main works is continuously working to produce new designs and to improve production methods.
The Hunt and Winterbotham group of companies claim that cloth was made at Cam mills in 1532. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, power weaving and mass production in the West Riding caused a slump in the West Country, and the Cam mills, then trading under the name of Hunt and Company, were taken over by Arthur Winterbotham, and in 1887 a private company was formed known as Hunt and Winterbotham. Arthur Winterbotham laid the foundation of the present Hunt and Winterbotham organization for direct contact with the user for the sale of their products.
Hunt and Winterbotham today are associated with two other mills in the West of England, Strachan and Company, Ltd., Stroud, and William Playne and Company, Ltd., near Nailsworth. They also have their own company in New York and in California, and have established shops on the largest liners.
The work-people are all genuine craftsmen, many of whom are descended from old Flemish stock, and each cloth is given individual care and attention.
Raw wool from the Dominions is put through the processes of scouring, carbonizing, wool dyeing, carding and spinning, weaving, piece dyeing, and finishing at one or other of the three mills associated with the company.
The House of Lister was founded by the late Sir Robert Ashton Lister, who, in 1867, in Dursley started to make agricultural machinery. Today, with Sir Robert's five grandsons as the board of directors, the firm has an issued capital of £2,900,000 and an export trade to all parts of the world.
Listers are principally concerned with the production of Diesel and petrol engines of various types and horse-powers; marine engines, both propulsion and auxiliary; electric generating plants; pumps; auto-trucks; cream separators and dairy ware; sheep shears and horse clippers and agricultural machinery.
While there are factories at Stamford, Swindon and Cinderford the main production centre remains at Dursley; where the works stretch for a distance of more than a mile, and some 3,500 persons are employed. A special feature of the plant is the fully mechanized foundry, which is one of the most up to date in Europe.
Since the end of the 1939-45 war, considerable reorganization has been carried out to equip the works to meet the demands of the export market. In recent years £750,000 has been spent on redesigning a large portion of the factory space and on installing new machines in preparation for the production of an entirely new series of Diesel engines, known as the "Freedom" range.
The "Freedom," which is now in production, is a utility engine of simple design giving the highest degree of reliability under the most varied conditions and temperatures.
In 1846 James Mardon joined a small firm of engravers which had been established in Bristol some twenty-three years earlier. His son, Heber Mardon, joined him shortly afterwards and under their leadership the business prospered. Lithographic and letterpress printing were added, and Heber Mardon also built up a strong connexion with W. D. and H. O. Wills, supplying some of their essential packing requirements for which he also installed carton-making machinery. As the firm expanded it moved to various factories, and was finally established at its present headquarters at Temple Gate.
In 1902, Mardons were invited to join the recently formed Imperial Tobacco Company as its supply branch, since when they have specialized in the production of cigarette and tobacco packing materials and of cigarette cards.
In 1922 a new factory was completed at St. Annes, designed for the mass production of cigarette cartons.
In 1940 nearly half a million square feet of the Temple Gate group of factories was destroyed by air raids, but essential supplies of packing materials were maintained, and important contracts for the War Office and Ordnance Survey were completed on time. Since 1945 an entirely modern Litho area, complete with air-conditioning plant and the most up-to-date printing equipment in Britain has been established on part of the devastated Temple Gate site.
In addition to cigarette and tobacco packing material, large quantities of packing and advertising material are being produced for other commodities, and books are also printed in single or multi-colours. Lack of space has been overcome by installing new fast-running machinery.
With 4,700 employees, 500 fewer than in 1939, overall production is now greater than before the war; and Mardons are once more the largest producers of cigarette cartons in the world.
The National Smelting Company, Ltd., was created as a private company early in 1918. It acquired the Swansea Vale works in South Wales, which had been built in 1876 and was the first smelter to be built in Britain primarily for the production of zinc metal. The National Smelting Company also acquired the acid plant and other works erected by the Government during the 1914-18 war on the Avonmouth site.
In 1929 the Imperial Smelting Corporation was formed, and took over ownership of the National Smelting Company's works at Avonmouth and Swansea. Later on the Imperial Smelting Corporation expanded its activities by taking over the following works:—
(3) 1934 - Newport Sulphuric Acid Works of the Basic Slag and Phosphate Companies.
(4) 1949 - Anglo Austral Mines, Ltd., Fluorspar mines in Durham.
(5) 1951 - Frickers Metal and Chemical Company, zinc oxides and zinc dust.
The principal raw material used for the production of zinc and sulphuric acid by the company is the zinc sulphide ore obtained from its associated mines at Broken Hill, Australia. At present about two-thirds of all zinc concentrates used by Imperial Smelting Corporation come from the Broken Hill mines.
The bonds of common interest between Imperial Smelting Corporation and the Australian mines owned by the Zinc Corporation were important factors in a series of amalgamations which were completed in 1949 by the formation of the Consolidated Zinc Corporation, Ltd.
At the Avonmouth works, zinc concentrates are received at the Avonmouth Docks in ship cargoes up to 8,000-ton lots. From ship to works the zinc concentrates are transported by means of an aerial ropeway at the rate of about 200 tons per hour. On arrival at the works the concentrates are discharged into (1) a covered concentrate store of 16,000 tons capacity, or (2) an open dump having a storage capacity of about 80,000 tons.
From the open dump concentrates are reclaimed by a drag line scraper into railway wagons which, in turn, discharge into the covered store by means of wagon tippler, elevators, and conveyors. The daily requirement of concentrates for the sintering plant are delivered to a conditioning plant by an overhead travelling grab crane, where all lumps are broken down before delivery to the proportioning bins attached to the sintering plant.
The sintering plant consists of three straight-line sintering machines and ancillary equipment. It is in this plant that the zinc concentrates are desulphurized and a hard porous material is produced for the zinc distillation process. At the Avonmouth works two types of zinc distillation furnace are in operation. The older type consists of a series of furnaces, each having 384 horizontal retorts operated on a 48-hour cycle. The modern section consists of sixteen vertical retorts operating on a continuous process. Both plants are provided with waste-heat recovery boilers, etc. Zinc produced by the vertical retort process can be refined by a refluxing process to produce zinc of 99.99 plus per cent purity which is then transported to the Bloxwich Works for the production of the company's zinc base alloy known as "Mazak".
In the desulphurization of zinc concentrates at the sintering plant sulphur dioxide gas is obtained, and is conveyed by means of lead mains to the six-unit acid plant, where sulphuric acid is produced. In addition to zinc and sulphuric acid, cadmium, anhydrous hydrofluoric acid, aluminium fluoride and metallic fluorides are also produced.
The Avonmouth works covers an area of about 100 acres and employs about 2,500 persons, including an engineering group of about 730 tradesmen and mates. It has its own engineering, carpenters, platers, plumbers, electricians and instrument repair shops.
The company provides canteen facilities for its staff and work-people and also a well-equipped bath and change house. A surgery with resident doctor and nurses, and part-time dental, ocular and chiropodical services are also provided.
The factory has a works council and foremen's council and comprehensive schemes for the training of commercial staff and chemists, superintendents, potential superintendents, foremen, etc. It also operates an introduction course for new employees. Apprentices have their own training course and machine shop operating under a full-time supervisor and, in addition, apprentices are allowed time off to attend technical classes.
The new research department building, recently completed, occupies a floor space of about 24,750 sq. ft.
The company's social and sports club at Druid Stoke, Bristol, occupies an area of about 8 acres and its activities include football, hockey, cricket, netball, tennis, bowls, skittles, table tennis, golf, swimming and a dramatic section.
Isaac Pitman, as a young man of twenty-three, in 1836 took up his first appointment as head master of one of the earliest schools for popular education, the British School, Wotton-under-Edge. Having had a good education he saw the tremendous blessing it could bring and cheerfully accepted a salary of £24 a year - if the school managers could succeed in raising it! Finding that nearly all his pupils' time was taken up in learning to read and write, Isaac conceived the idea of teaching them to read and write shorthand, invented his own system, and hoped and believed that man, equipped with this new tool, would be able to make tremendous strides in cultural progress.
The vision of the founder was extended by himself and his two sons, Alfred and Ernest. A publishing house was founded, a printing works set up in 1845, and colleges were established to spread the new knowledge.
In 1934 the original private company was made into a public company, but the urge to serve never flickered, the business continued to expand, and the distribution of books was added to its activities. "Books and magazines on all useful subjects" is the proud motto of the company, and the driving force is still that of the founder: to spread the light of education throughout the world and amongst all people. The company, organized and built up to put the best books into the hands of those who need them at the lowest possible cost, with its associates, now comprises production plants in London, Bath, Belfast and Toronto; publishing houses in London, New York, Toronto, Melbourne and Johannesburg; colleges in and around London and the North of England; distribution centres at Neasden and central London; and agents throughout the world.
Bristol is the only large port in the United Kingdom belonging to a municipality. The corporation of Bristol owns the entire dock system, consisting of the City, Avonmouth, and Portishead docks. It is also the conservator of the port and the local light house authority. The administration is vested in a committee of the Corporation acting under the title of the Port of Bristol Authority.
The approach to the port by way of the Bristol Channel is one of the safest and most easily navigated in the United Kingdom, being exceptionally free from fog.
The docks system comprises three widely-separated docks:-
(1) City Docks. The city docks, in the heart of the city, were formed early in the nineteenth century by the impounding of a length of about three miles of the tidal waters of the river Avon. The length of vessels using these docks is restricted to 330 feet, and, in consequence, the trade is principally with Continental and coastwise ports.
(2) Royal Edward and Avonmouth Docks. The Royal Edward and Avonmouth docks, at the mouth of the river Avon on the Gloucestershire side at its junction with the Severn estuary, comprise the modern ocean docks of the port and are capable of accommodating, with very few exceptions, the largest type of vessel.
(3)Portishead Dock. Portishead dock, situated on the Somerset side of the mouth of the river Avon, is a small dock where special facilities are provided for handling timber cargoes and coastwise coal, and developments are now taking place to enable bulk cargoes of phosphate rock to be handled.
The port handles all classes of general cargo, but the tonnages of grain and petroleum products predominate. In a typical year the number of vessels entering the port exceeds 10,000 and the total volume of goods imported and exported amounts to about 6,000,000 tons.
The Port of Bristol is probably, for its size, the most mechanized port in the United Kingdom.
The Authority owns well-equipped general engineering and maintenance workshops at Avonmouth and Bristol.
Pountney and Co Ltd
The firm of Pountney and Company, Ltd., and its predecessors have been manufacturing pottery for 300 years. Among fragments dug from the site of the first pottery at Brislington, one, now in the Bristol Museum, bears the date 1652.
John Decimus Pountney, the first proprietor of the present name, became Mayor of the City of Bristol in 1847. After his death, his widow carried on the business until the family of T. B. Johnston became interested. In 1882, when T. B. Johnston joined the firm, work was being carried on at the Temple Pottery works, then over 200 years old. After a successful amalgamation with the Victoria Pottery, the Temple Pottery was disposed of.
In 1905, with two new partners, he built at Fishponds, on the east side of the city, a single-floor straight-line factory, the first of its kind in the world. Copied by Americans and others, this layout was unsurpassed, until the old bottle shaped ovens gave way to the modern tunnel kiln. The management are now carrying out a complete change-over to the smokeless and more economical tunnel-kiln firing process.
During Mr. Johnston's lifetime the old hand-making methods were mechanized, and cylinder mills were introduced for grinding the hardest of raw materials to a greater degree of fineness. The multi-colour transfer method of decorating was perfected, and for some years these transfers were made at the Bristol Pottery and sold even in the United States.
Shortly before the 1914-18 war, the manufacture of sanitary ware and tiles was introduced, the latter being given up during the 1939-45 war.
The company has always been progressive, and was one of the first to institute a works committee, sports club, and canteen, all of which were started over thirty years ago.
E. S. and A. Robinson Ltd. was founded in 1844 by Elisha Smith Robinson in Baldwin Street, Bristol, and in 1846 moved to new premises in Redcliffe Street which are its headquarters today. This building was partially destroyed in the 1939-45 war during an air raid, together with two other factories in the Bristol area.
The printing factory at East Street, Bedminster, is one of thirteen factories in Bristol operated by the company; in addition there are subsidiary and associated companies throughout the British Isles, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
The East Street works specialize in colour printing on paper by letterpress, lithography, photogravure, and silk screen printing. Printing on board for carton making is carried out in the company's carton factory at Fishponds.
The works employ just under 700 men and women, most of whom are skilled in the special requirements of the printing trade. Much of the equipment is unique in Britain, more particularly in the process camera studio and the lithographic plate-making section, where the latest types of American machine are in use.
The factory produces all types of colour printing, from large posters measuring 20 feet x 10 feet to cigarette cards, pictorial calendars, labels, show cards, and general jobbing printing. The original sketches for these reproductions are generally produced in the company's own studio within the organization.
Although the equipment is modern the factory itself was built in 1880 and is the oldest in the Bristol group, with the exception of the head office. It is interesting that the main block of buildings was originally of three storeys, and at a later date the roof was raised on jacks and two more floors were added.
Rotol, Ltd., formed as a private company in 1937 by Rolls Royce, Ltd., and the Bristol Aeroplane Company, Ltd., to develop their individual researches on variable pitch propellers, occupies modern premises just outside the City of Gloucester.
The factory, designed in anticipation of rapid expansion, was by September 1939 already producing constant-speed propellers for the Royal Air Force. By 1943 so great an expansion had taken place that the company's products were being manufactured in thirty-two dispersal factories and by over 500 different subcontractors. The main factory, from the handful of employees who, in temporary premises, built the propellers for the record Ismailia—Darwin flight, had grown to employ 6,000 with a production rate approaching 500 propellers, new and repaired, per week.
Constant-speed propellers to equip the "Spitfires" and "Hurricanes" of Fighter Command and the "Halifaxes", "Lancasters", and "Wellingtons" of Bomber Command had become a top priority. The shortage of metal, already being felt, was to a large extent overcome by the use of laminated wood blades, designed and fitted at the instigation of Rotol engineers.
This expansion called for increased servicing and instructional facilities. Service engineers, trained at the works, were sent wherever their services were required, whilst a stream of men from the fighting Services flowed through the instruction school to learn the theory and practice of propeller maintenance.
This service was at a later stage extended by the addition of a fleet of mobile classrooms which visited the airfields themselves.
To provide skilled operatives for the factory an apprentice school was established, and this today supervises the training in machine shop, drawing office and in the Gloucester and Cheltenham Technical Training Colleges of some 150 apprentices.
Propeller development was not the only sphere of war-time activity: accessory drive equipment, a major contribution in the ceaseless struggle for speedy servicing, and the variable pitch marine propellers are two outstanding examples.
The elements of air and water have much in common, and by applying the principles employed in its aerial counterpart a unit was produced which provided ease of control in crowded waterways, optimum efficiency, economy of fuel and, at the same time, dispensed with the need for reversing gears.
The post-war years found the company prepared to meet the increased demands imposed by the advent of the turbine engines. New characteristics were called for, higher efficiency in flight coupled with the use of reverse thrust to permit landing in confined spaces, and, more particularly for civil airliners, synchronization for piston, jet and propeller-turbine engines. De-icing, required when flying at great heights, must not impair the aerodynamic efficiency of the propeller blade. As a solution Rotol has designed and tested a composite propeller blade having an element housed in a metal sheath to form the leading edge of the blade.
Expansion has gone ahead steadily, and future developments on most up-to-date lines are even now under consideration as Rotol enters the undercarriage market and sets about the task of equipping the modern Royal Air Force as it did, in its early days, the "Hurricanes" of the Battle of Britain.
The St. Anne's Board Mill Company, Ltd., a subsidiary of The Imperial Tobacco Company, was formed in 1913.
A site on the southern bank of the river Avon on the eastern side of Bristol was chosen. The first unit was put into operation in 1914, and a second in 1916, and these two machines met the parent company's demand for packaging materials during the 1914-18 war.
Four more units were installed in 1923, 1931, 1935 and 1938; and by 1939 the total output of the mill was approximately 65,000 tons per annum.
During the 1939-45 war supplies of imported wood pulp were severely restricted and had to be replaced by reprocessed waste paper, which necessitated extensive modifications to ancillary equipment.
Since 1945, modernization has increased the capacity of the plant to an output of paperboard of 90,000 tons per annum.
The steam and power requirements are generated in centrally situated power stations.
Process water at a rate of 500,000 gallons per hour is drawn from the river Avon and treated by sedimentation and filtration.
A proportion of the output of carton board is enamel coated. This process consists in spreading a mineral coating, suspended in a solution of casein, as a thin layer on the board surface which is then dried and calendered.
Buildings cover an area of 12 acres, and the total area, including storage sheds and outdoor raw materials storage sites, is 52 acres.
W. Sisson and Co Ltd
The works of W. Sisson and Company were taken over and a limited liability company was formed in 1904. The company has designed and manufactured a large variety of steam engines and related plant and also specializes in design and manufacture to customers' own requirements.
Among the articles designed and manufactured are all types of steam machinery; high and low-speed enclosed engines; marine screw engines, open or closed, of up to 1,000 i.h.p.; dredge bucket and pumping engines; side and stern wheel paddle engines; hoist, lift and winch engines—self-starting and self-operating; experimental engines and plant for technical colleges and universities; motor and belt-driven dry and wet vacuum pumps; food producing machinery, and steam driven Pumps.
In 1851 Samuel Smith opened a shop in Newington Causeway, London, where he made and sold clocks and watches. From this beginning Smith's business increased until it now provides work for approximately 14,000 people.
By the end of the nineteenth century, the business had expanded to premises in the Strand, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly, as well as a watch testing department at Kew Observatory.
With the invention of the "horseless carriage" came Smith's first speed indicator, from which has sprung the present vast range of instruments and products which have been connected with practically every outstanding achievement on land, at sea, and in the air.
In 1915 a new 5-acre factory was opened at Cricklewood, London, to supply the vast range of accessories and fuses required for the 1914-18 war. From 1918 the business expanded with the inclusion of K.L.G. and the British Jaeger Company in 1929.
In 1937, two years after the amalgamation with Henry Hughes and Son, Ltd., Smith and Sons, Ltd., was acknowledged as the leading aircraft instruments maker in the world.
In 1929 a factory was set up for the production of escapements for completely British-made motor clocks which was followed by domestic clocks and Smith's "Sectric" clock. In 1931, Smith's English Clock Company was formed to market these products.
At the outbreak of the 1939-45 war, new factories were built at Cheltenham and in Scotland for aircraft instruments and other products required for national defence. In 1944, Smiths decided to group its activities into four divisions under the control of the parent company:—
The motor accessory division, which equips 90 per cent of the British automobile industry.
The clock and watch division, which handles 70 per cent of the entire production of the British clock and watch-making industry and 75 per cent of the total exports of the industry.
The aircraft instrument division, which produces a wide range of flight and engine instruments for civil and military aircraft.
The industrial instruments division, formed to cater for the increasing demand for precision industrial instruments.
About the year 1835 Robert Pitt was taken into partnership by John Lumb Stothert at the present Newark works of Stothert and Pitt, Ltd. They were succeeded by their sons Sir Percy Stothert and Walter Pitt. The firm was converted into a limited liability company in 1883.
The original products of the firm were very varied: steam engines, cranes, bread-making and soda-water machinery and piston pumps. A beam engine made for the Paris Exhibition in 1867 is carefully preserved.
The company has considerably extended its shops since 1930.
In addition to the original Newark works there are the Victoria works. At the former are the offices and crane erecting shops, one machine shop and the tool room. At the Victoria works the structural shop, now in course of extension, when completed will have an area 420 feet by 200 feet. Here also are new machine shops consisting of one 50-foot bay, 336 feet long, one 40-foot, one 30-foot, and five 20-foot bays all 180 feet long. Adjoining is a pump assembly shop 140 feet by 80 feet, with test beds, and across the road three 50-foot bays, 300 feet long used for fitting and assembly of concrete mixers and road and contractors' plant. Here also is the iron and non-ferrous foundry.
The mechanical engineering business of Strachan and Henshaw, Ltd., employs about 750 people, and is divided into three parts. The head office at Whitehall is concerned with a large range of design and construction of machinery for paper converting and kindred trades. The steel hoist works at St. Philips is laid out for the design and complete manufacture of the heaviest types of mechanical handling plant, such as wagon tipplers for railways all over the world, wagon marshalling appliances, skip hoists, telphers and transporters.
At Lewin's Mead there is a small section for general engineering and repair work.
The firm has always carried on a large proportion of export work in both its main fields.
Stroud Piano Co Ltd
The Stroud Piano Company, Ltd., started manufacturing pianos in London in 1906, and moved to Woodchester in 1911.
The company is the only one in Britain making every wooden part of the piano, including the actions and keys.
Prior to the 1939-45 war the company had become one of the largest manufacturers of pianos in Britain, and the "Bentley" pianos were in all music shops. During the war, manufacture of pianos ceased and the company was engaged in machining laminated plastics for aircraft and other armament industries. Since 1945 the output of pianos has again been built up. The company has severely restricted output for the home market in favour of exports and has exported over two thousand pianos a year.
In 1938 a fire destroyed Woodchester mills, and manufacture is now carried out partly in Bentley works, which was purchased after the fire and is situated a few hundred yards away. The action manufacture and all machining operations are carried out at Bentley works while Woodchester mills are used for assembly, finishing and despatch.
Hubert H. P. Trist and Company, Ltd., pioneers in the manufacture of asbestos friction materials in Bristol, commenced business in 1917, and actual manufacture since 1922. In those days practically all friction material was required in roll form and the original factory was equipped with looms, impregnating plant, and finishing machinery. The manufacture of die-pressed linings and clutch disks soon followed, but the range of impregnants was limited and such qualities as were produced had to serve all functions. The first big changes in manufacturing method appeared with the advent of synthetic resins on a commercial scale in the late 1920's.
Increasing demands necessitated larger office and factory space, and in 1930 new premises at Brislington were opened. This increased space provided separate bays for weaving, finishing, maintenance, and die-making, with a segregated building for the impregnating department, owing to the attendant fire hazard.
Laboratory facilities were provided and a fully qualified technical staff were engaged, the first fruits of which were the formulation and manufacture of the company's own synthetic resin binders. The impregnation of asbestos millboard and its subsequent curing made possible the first asbestos non-woven brake linings and clutch disks. Thermosetting resins, which require curing under pressure, were introduced at the same time, thus opening up the important field of true moulded materials. In 1940 the associated company, The English Asbestos Company, Ltd., was formed to carry out carding and spinning for the production of asbestos yarns, enabling the whole process of brake and clutch linings, from raw materials to the finished product, to be carried out under one roof. Woven or moulded asbestos products can be supplied for special frictional problems, typical examples being self-lubricating bearings, friction drive rollers and friction clutch disks with teeth moulded as an integral part. The normal range of products includes brake linings for all forms of road transport; varied friction linings used on heavy excavators and other earth moving equipment; tractor and crane linings and a host of moulded and woven parts for all forms of machinery.
All materials are thoroughly tested in the development stage and their behaviour is studied under wide and varying conditions of operation.
The original works of the Westinghouse Brake and Signal Company were built in 1895 by Evans O'Donnell and Company for the manufacture of railway signal appliances. In 1903 this factory was acquired by Saxby Farmer, Ltd., which firm had started in Kilburn, London, in 1860. In 1920 that company was amalgamated, under the name of Westinghouse Brake and Saxby Signal Company, with the Westinghouse Brake Company, and McKenzie and Holland, who were established in Worcester in 1862. In 1932 the London works of the Westinghouse Brake Company, established at King's Cross in 1876, were also moved to Chippenham.
The works now occupies approximately 20 acres and has 3,200 employees.
There are manufactured air and vacuum brakes of every type for railway and road vehicles; mechanical, electrical, and electro pneumatic signalling; safe and rapid handling of colliery tubs; metal rectifiers for conversion of alternating current to direct current; and other electrical equipment. All electric trains are fitted with Westinghouse brakes, and Westinghouse brakes are used practically throughout the Continent, in Asia, India, China, New Zealand, and South America.
The chief departments comprise an office block; pattern shop and stores; foundry; stamp shop and smithy; machine shops; press section; sheet-metal department; shops for welding, electrodeposition, painting, plastic moulding, brake assembly, power signalling and electric assembly, metal rectifier production, steam-heating apparatus, mechanical signalling assembly, air compressor manufacture, and posts, brackets, gantries, etc., for railway signalling.
There are also a new laboratory block for control and study of the operations and materials used; fully equipped testing rooms; administrative departments for material and production control; stores; packing shed; and first-aid, welfare, library and canteen departments.
Henry Overton Wills, founder of W. D. and H. O. Wills, came to Bristol in 1786 to go into partnership with Watkins, a tobacco manufacturer in Castle Street. In the course of nearly two centuries the house of Wills has amalgamated with several other Bristol firms, including Wilson, Thomas and Lilly of Redcliff Street, and Ricketts, Leonard, Ricketts and Company of Mary-le-Port Street. During this period the trading name of the firm has been changed several times, the title of W. D. and H. O. Wills being finally assumed in 1876.
In 1886 the firm moved to a large new factory in East Street, Bristol, and in 1901 became a branch of the Imperial Tobacco Company on its formation. Today, whilst its main factory and offices are still situated at East Street, the firm also has large branch factories at Ashton Gate, Bristol, Swindon, Newcastle upon Tyne and Dublin; and distributing centres in London, Glasgow and Belfast.
Originally manufacturers of pipe tobaccos and snuff, the firm commenced making cigars about 1880. It was a pioneer in the cigarette trade and many of its most famous brands, including "Passing Cloud", "Three Castles", "Gold Flake" and "Wild Woodbine" first appeared on the market between 1874 and 1883.
The manufacture of tobacco in its various forms involves numerous and intricate processes. On arrival in Britain tobacco leaf is deposited in a bonded warehouse where, under the care of the Customs and Excise authorities, it is kept until required for use.
A modern cigarette-making machine is a wonderful example of human ingenuity. Having been fed with the cut tobacco, paper in rolls of approximately three miles in length, printing ink, paste and, if required, tipping material, such as cork tips, it turns out the finished cigarette with amazing speed. After being allowed to condition in a special room, the cigarettes are conveyed to machines which are capable of packing up to one million cigarettes daily, with elaborate devices to prevent the passing of short or faulty packings.
In the laboratory tests are taken at all stages of manufacture from the time the tobacco enters the factory until it leaves in the form of cigarettes or pipe tobaccos. Similarly, all materials used in the manufacture are tested regularly.
In addition to all such routine tests the research department is always working on ways of improving methods of manufacture and on new products.