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Note: This is a sub-section of 1953 Institution of Mechanical Engineers
This business was founded in the year 1868 by the late Mr. William Edgar Allen, and, while dealing for a number of years with a general merchant trade, it also concentrated on the manufacture of tool steel and files. Mr. Allen subsequently purchased the old-established works and business of Messrs. Hoole, Staniforth and Co., whose experience in the manufacture of similar products was extensive. In the year 1890, Mr. Allen was joined by Mr. Robert Woodward, and the late Mr. Alfred E. Wells, and in 1892 by Mr. F. A. Warlow, and the firm was converted into a limited liability company under the present title; in 1891 the business was transferred to the present situation at Tinsley. The works then rapidly expanded; a steel foundry was put into operation and one of its earliest results was the successful production of steel castings for dynamo magnets which, up to that time, had been made of wrought iron. The firm took over, in 1903, the business of Messrs. Askham Brothers and Wilson, Ltd., Yorkshire Steel and Engineering Works, Sheffield, well-known in connexion with tramway track-work generally, and with conveyors, ore crushers, disintegrators, air separators, etc.
In 1939 the business of the British Rema Manufacturing Co., Ltd., Halifax, was acquired and transferred to Sheffield. This subsidiary company manufactures kiln firing plant, disintegrators, food mixers, crushing and grinding machinery, etc.
The newer portion of the works comprises two large steel foundries. On another portion, the company's new small tools factory is being built.
The total area covered is about 43 acres, and between two and three thousand persons are employed. The products of the company include steel castings up to a finished weight of 15 tons, tool steels, stainless and heat-resisting steels, permanent magnet steels and finished magnets, railway and tramway special track-work in ordinary and Imperial manganese steel, cement-making plant, lime-making plant, crushing and grinding machinery, and a wide range of small tools for engineering use. The melting plants include high-frequency electric crucible furnaces, Heroult electric-arc furnaces, Tropenas converters and cupola furnaces.
Batchelors Peas Ltd
The Wadsley Bridge factory of Batchelors Peas, Ltd., is the largest and most modern pea cannery in Europe. Although it was opened only in 1937 the history of the firm goes back to its founding in 1895 by the father of the present Chairman Lt.-Col. M. W. Batchelor, J.P.
Mr. William Batchelor set up in business as a tea packer in a disused chapel in 1895, and a year or two later turned his attention to packing dried peas. Soon he concentrated entirely on canning peas but died when he was beginning to make progress in 1913. His young daughter who took over the business was joined by two brothers at the end of the 1914-18 war. In ten years Batchelors became the biggest firm in the business. In 1930 the firm opened one of the first canning plants, soaking the peas, canning, and cooking them to produce processed peas. By 1939 canning was the main part of the business although a substantial business was (and still is) done in packing dried peas.
Now part of the Unilever Group, Batchelors have two large canneries and two factories for the preparatory work on dried peas. Apart from peas, the company markets a wide range of canned soups, vegetables, and fruits. It has over 3,000 employees.
The Wadsley Bridge factory is laid out for "straight line" production. The raw materials and empty cans are delivered to one end and the finished product emerges at the other.
There is an elaborate system of "quality control", incorporating a fully equipped laboratory where small batches of produce can be canned before the main run. Examination and testing is carried out at all stages from raw produce to finished product, and nothing which fails to pass the rigid requirements laid down for texture, colour, taste, etc., is accepted.
The Brightside Foundry Co. was started at a small foundry in Brightside Lane, Sheffield, in 1864, to cater for the requirements of the steel works then growing up in Sheffield. In 1899 the company became a limited liability company and subsequently incorporated the firm of Walker Eaton and Co., which made steam engines and rolling mills, and J. C. and J. S. Ellis, which made cast-iron pipes, boilers, and radiators.
One of the four works in the "Brightside" Group, embracing also the engineering division design office and the head office of the company, is at Ecclesfield. The principal manufacture is rolling-mill plant for steel works and the non-ferrous industry. The site of 17 acres comprises engineering shops and foundries.
The engineering shop is fitted up with pneumatic power for air-operated chisels and other similar small-tool equipment.
The foundries comprise the heavy bay, making ingot moulds and engineering castings from 10 to 60 tons in weight, the "jobbing" castings shop, making castings up to 10 tons in weight, and the light-ingot-mould shop, making moulds up to 6 tons, with its own sand preparation and automatic conveying plant.
The melting equipment consists of four cupolas with capacities ranging from 5 to 14 tons per hr.
The company also has works in Sheffield, manufacturing large ingot moulds up to 150 tons in weight, and all types of chill, grain, and alloy roll for the ferrous and non-ferrous industries, and for machinery for the rubber, paper, linoleum, soap, plastics, confectionery, flour, and other engineering trades.
The Heating and Air Treatment Division has branches in the principal cities, each with a fully trained staff of engineers to deal with any problems of industrial heating and/or air treatment.
There are two subsidiary companies - Moorwoods of Sheffield — manufacturers of heavy-duty cooking apparatus with a mechanized foundry manufacturing small repetition castings up to 50 lb. in weight - and Buckley and Taylor, Ltd., Oldham, makers of heat exchanger and distillation equipment.
The Group has over 2,500 employees.
The development of electricity in Rotherham was undertaken by the Corporation in 1900. The site chosen for the power station was the land on Rawmarsh Road, adjacent to the canal, and the original buildings, opposite the present station, have been converted for canteen and welfare facilities. The original supply was formally inaugurated on 23rd May 1901, and the power-station installation consisted of two 26-kW. and two 90-kW. steam-engine generating sets, supplying direct current, using a three-wire system with 460 volts across the outers.
The original installation was designed for electric lighting and tramway supply purposes, and part of the steam for this plant was obtained from a refuse destructor. The Rotherham Tramways commenced operation in 1903, and has been progressively extended. In 1912, a three-phase A.C. system was commissioned which by 1916 had reached the capacity limit of 15,500 kW.
The present station, having a total installed capacity of 160,000 kW., is built on the site between Rawmarsh Road and the River Don; and the first machine was commissioned in 1920. The development of this station was first projected in 1916, to meet the power requirements of local munitions works. The plant comprised two 12,500-kW. and one 30,000-kW. machines. The latter was a single-cylinder set operating at 200 lb. per sq. in. steam pressure, the largest in Britain at that time.
The installation of the present turbo-generators operating at 600 lb. per sq. in. steam pressure and a temperature of 850 deg. F. was begun in 1938, and completed by 1950. The plant now comprises: two 25,000-kW. and two 30,000-kW. turbogenerators and one 50,000-kW. Parsons machine, with ten boilers each of 180,000 lb. per hr. maximum continuous rating. The most interesting feature in the station is two new boilers fitted with spreader stokers.
The circulating water is taken from the River Don, and is supplemented by the two cooling towers with a capacity of 1,875,000 gal. per hr. each, which are of Mouchel design. Generation is carried out at 11 kV. except on No. 1 machine which is 6.6 kV. Fuel consumption averages about 10,000 tons per week.
Built in 1853 for the former Great Northern Railway Co., the Doncaster Locomotive and Carriage Works have developed to cover 84 acres and employ 5,000 men.
The locomotive works are responsible for the maintenance of 1,250 locomotives allocated to districts principally in the Eastern and North Eastern Regions, some 700 classified repairs being undertaken annually as well as the construction of new locomotives for British Railways. The carriage works undertake approximately 2,500 classified repairs and the construction of about 150 coaching vehicles annually.
Doncaster locomotive works have been responsible for the construction of many locomotives of historical interest, such as Stirling's 8-foot "Single-Wheel" locomotive, the famous Ivatt "Atlantics" and more recently the Gresley, Thompson, and Peppercorn "Pacifies", most famous of which — the Gresley streamlined "Mallard" — achieved a world speed record for steam traction of 126 m.p.h.
There are shops for machining and fitting, smithy work and forging, stripping, erecting, painting, flanging, forging and stamping, a boiler and a wheel shop and an iron foundry and a brass foundry.
In the carriage works, the whole of the first-class sleeping cars operating on the old L.N.E.R. main line are maintained, together with the bulk of the kitchen, restaurant, and buffet cars; those vehicles are passed progressively through the lifting, repair, and paint shops when being completely overhauled.
New carriage construction activities are contained in the new building shop opened in 1949. Here are recently installed machinery, jigs, and fixtures for the construction of the B.R. standard all-steel carriage, and also a sawmill, containing modern machinery for the production of the various timber items required for both carriage building and maintenance. Two types of vehicle are under construction: B.R. standard open third class and non-vestibule composite, to Eastern Region design.
The chromium plating shop is the only plant of its type on the Eastern and North Eastern Regions.
The headquarters of the mechanical and electrical engineer's and carriage and wagon engineer's departments, which are responsible for the administration of all locomotive, carriage, and wagon works in the Eastern and North Eastern Regions, are located at Doncaster.
British Ropes Ltd
British Ropes, Ltd., was founded in 1924 to take over a number of old-established family companies, the history of some of them going back over 100 years. Today it is probably the largest integrated concern of its kind in the British Commonwealth and operates six factories for the manufacture of wire rope, four for fibre rope, seven for steel wire, one for nylon products, and another for floor matting. It produces more than 30 per cent of the steel wire rope and over 20 per cent of the hemp cordage made in Britain. The company has substantial oversea interests and helped to found the wire-rope industry in Australia, Canada, and South Africa.
At Doncaster, British Ropes operates a wire mill and two roperies for the manufacture of steel wire rope. In the wire mill, steel rod is drawn through a series of tungsten carbide dies in "plastic" flow process. Each die has a smaller hole than its predecessor, and in this way the wire is elongated by "flowing", the operation being performed cold. Another feature of the wire mill is one of the few electro-galvanizing plants in Great Britain' operated on the Tainton process which produces wire with a 99.99 per cent pure zinc protective coating.
Some of the world's largest wire ropes have been manufactured here — among them a flattened-strand rope 13.5 inches in circumference, 1,656 feet long, weighing 27 tons and having a breaking strain of 760 tons. Wire is received from the mill in coils, and is wound on to bobbins of size appropriate for loading on to the stranding machines, where a given number of wires, varying according to the rope construction, is spun into strands. Finally the strands are spun around a central core on the closing machines to form the finished rope.
The Doncaster wire mill and roperies of British Ropes, Ltd., are among the most modern in Britain and afford excellent examples of the latest technical advances and manufacturing processes. The company has developed an advisory and technical service department which has done much towards improvement in performance of ropes on actual installations.
Since the British Thomson-Houston Co., Ltd., was first formed in its present name over fifty-five years ago, its manufacturing resources have grown from one small workshop employing a few hundred people, to an organization, comprising fourteen works, situated in various parts of Britain, employing approximately 24,000 persons. The head office and main works are at Rugby.
The products include nearly every type of electrical plant and equipment, from some of the largest turbo-alternators ever made to the smallest fractional horse-power motors, and Mazda lamps, millions of which are made annually at Rugby and Leicester.
Chesterfield is concerned with the manufacture of glass for Mazda lamps, electronic valves, television tubes, X-ray tubes, mercury-arc rectifiers, etc.
The tubing for electric lamp and valve manufacture is made by means of large continuous melting furnaces employing the "Danner" tube drawing process; several millions of pounds of high-quality tubing are produced annually, ranging in diameter from 2 to 50 mm.
Large quantities of bulbs are produced to very close limits from bulb-blowing machines.
Alongside this mass-production plant, skilled craftsmen produce, by hand, tubing and bulbs of special glasses for X-ray tubes, mercury-arc rectifiers, etc., and large numbers of cathode-ray tubes for television manufacturers.
There is also a battery of machines blowing scores of millions of miniature bulbs from tubing, and the automatic "Pearling" plant, wherein millions of lamp bulbs are frosted annually.
Brown Bayley Steels, Ltd., occupies a site of some 35 acres in the east end of Sheffield.
The works were founded in 1870. The first Bessemer steel was made in 1872. At that time the products of the firm were Bessemer steel, converted bar and shear steel, and wrought iron. From the Bessemer steel were made railway tyres, springs, and rails.
Within a relatively short time, the manufacture of wrought iron having been discontinued, the production of open-hearth steels was begun and, in quick succession, three "Batho" type open-hearth furnaces were built on the site previously occupied by the puddling furnaces and forge.
In the early years of the twentieth century a 1,200-ton press was installed, and about 1905 a new open-hearth melting plant was built on land adjacent to the old site. In 1915 the making of stainless and alloy steels was commenced on a substantial scale.
In 1918 the manufacture of Bessemer steel was discontinued, and further electric-furnace melting capacity installed.
In 1928, on an 11-acre site near the main works, plant was installed for the production of stainless sheet and strip, with all the necessary ancillary equipment.
Most of the mills were converted to electric drives.
During the 1939-45 war the company played a large part in supplying alloy and special steels for the services.
Since 1945 a new forge has been built and equipped, substantial extension has been made to the heat-treatment department and to the open-hearth melting shops. A new 2-ton high-frequency melting unit has recently been started up.
There are four open-hearth furnaces, four electric furnaces, cogging mills, bar mills, a tyre mill, forging presses and hammers, hot and cold sheet mills, strip mills, heat-treatment plant, and machines for bright bar production.
The company, whilst still producing the traditional railway tyres, axles, and springs, now mainly manufactures stainless and heat-resisting steels, alloy steels, and tool steels.
The Chesterfield Tube Co., Ltd., manufacturers of seamless steel tubes and cylinders, a member of the Tube Investments, Ltd., Group, was formed in 1906, when land and plant covering some 13 acres were purchased from an older tube-manufacturing firm. At that time there were only 2 acres of buildings and the total number of employees did not exceed 180.
Boiler tubes and small-diameter tubing were the chief products then produced, but later, up-to-date hydraulic power presses for the manufacture of hot and cold drawn tubes up to 24 inches in diameter, and an improved plant for the supply of cylinders for compressed gases, were installed.
In 1938 the heavy tube department, with a layout of plant that is one of the most powerful of its kind in the world, was completed, and seamless steel tubular hollows up to 39 inches internal diameter for water and steam drums, air/hydraulic accumulator bottles, pressure vessels, etc., were produced.
Further extensions are in hand and the latest and most modern type of plant for the mass production of cylinders for compressed gases is in course of installation.
About 2,000 people are now employed at the company's works.
The present manufacturing range comprises hot-drawn, seamless, carbon, and alloy steel tubes from 6 to 39 inches internal diameter, cold-drawn, seamless, carbon, and alloy steel tubes from 6 to 24 inches internal diameter, seamless steel headers for boilers, seamless steel water and steam drums and pressure vessels up to 39 inches internal diameter, seamless stainless steel, drawn tubes from 6 to 30 inches internal diameter, extruded stainless steel tubes from 1.5 to 7.5 inches internal diameter, and seamless steel gas cylinders for permanent and liquefiable gases.
Over eight million cylinders have been manufactured at Chesterfield for home and oversea service.
The company is one of the oldest in the rolling stock trade in Britain, the business being founded in 1862 by Craven Brothers on the present site at Darnall.
In the early years, it was principally engaged in wagon building, but later its activities were extended to include railway carriages and all types of railway vehicles. The company also possesses an up-to-date steel forging plant.
The business was registered as a limited liability company in 1891, under the name of Cravens, Ltd., and changed its name to Cravens Railway Carriage and Wagon Company, Ltd., in 1919, at which time the capital was substantially increased and a controlling interest was acquired by the present parent company, John Brown and Company, Ltd.
During the 1939-45 war the company made a substantial war effort, particularly applied to aircraft work; including main wings, etc., for the "Horsa" glider.
In 1946 the works were completely modernized and extended, to meet the demand for up-to-date rolling stock of all-steel construction, including the latest types of air-conditioned carriages and the various types of power-driven railcars.
The works cover over 15 acres and orders are on hand for railway carriages and wagons for many parts of the world.
An important Engineering Division is in course of development, the activities of which will be co-ordinated with the other engineering interests in the group.
Davy and United Engineering Co., Ltd., is essentially a heavy engineering undertaking. Notable for its ability to handle single pieces of great weight, the company has concentrated its resources on the building of capital equipment for the steel and non-ferrous industries in the shape of rolling mills, forging presses and associated machinery for the deformation of metals.
In continuous activity since 1830, the company now operates two works in Sheffield in which over 2,000 persons are employed. In addition, it owns subsidiary companies in both Middlesbrough and Glasgow, where a further 1,000 persons are employed. The company maintains technical liaison on matters of design with leading American rolling mill manufacturers.
The company was one of the first to develop the high-speed forging press, ranging from the first steam-hydraulic press of a power of 4,000 tons built as early as 1887 up to the modern pump-driven presses of a capacity of 12,000-15,000 tons.
Of the company's two Sheffield works, Park Iron Works houses the administrative, engineering and design offices, a modern heavy-fabricating department with an annual capacity of some 4,500 tons of weldments weighing up to 50 tons each, a smith's shop, and experimental and development sections.
The main engineering resources of the company are at Darnall works. Originally established in 1921, they comprise an extensive pattern shop, a heavy iron foundry capable of producing castings of up to 70 tons each, five light, medium, and heavy machining bays, and light and heavy erecting shops. The heavy machining bays contain some of the largest machine tools at present working in Britain, single pieces weighing as much as 125 tons being handled. A £1,000,000 post-war development scheme included the addition of a new heavy erecting shop, with cranes capable of lifting 125 tons and more. This shop, with a floor area of some 36,000 square feet, is capable of accommodating the largest mill units and assemblies yet envisaged.
The company operates a comprehensive apprentice scheme, with a well-equipped training school also sited at Darnall.
The Derwent Valley Board was constituted in 1899, the constituent authorities being the corporations of Derby, Leicester, Nottingham, and Sheffield and the Derbyshire County Council.
Its works include the Howden, Derwent, and Ladybower reservoirs.
The estimated daily quantity of water available from the Board's works for supply in bulk to the constituent Authorities is 42,800,000 gallons.
The total length of the Board's aqueducts is 54 miles.
The Ladybower reservoir has a surface area of 504 acres and is the largest artificial reservoir, formed by an earthwork embankment across a valley, in the British Isles.
The Sheffield and Rotherham Division, one of the four divisions of the East Midlands Gas Board, supplies gas over an area extending approximately from Barnsley in the north to Staveley and Matlock in the south, and from Tideswell in the west to Worksop, Thorne, and Doncaster in the east.
The centre of activity of the Division and the control point are in Sheffield. More gas is purchased from pithead coking plants in this Division than in any other part of Britain.
The Board manufactures coal gas and carburetted water gas, which, with the coke-oven gas, are purified before distribution. During periods of heavy demand, about 100 million cu. ft. of gas are daily consumed in the Division. A large coal-gas plant is being erected in Rotherham and major reconstruction schemes are in hand in Sheffield.
Neepsend Works. Originally built in 1852, this works is in process of being modernized, and recent installations include: two carburetted water-gas plants, hydraulically operated, of capacity 9.5 million cu. ft. per day, complete with all ancillary plant; an economic boiler with an evaporative capacity of 6,000 lb. of steam per hr. with chain-grate stokers burning coke breeze under 4 inch in size; a river-water pumping station with primary pumps, rotary screen and secondary pumps; tower purifiers of daily capacity 24 million cu. ft., arranged in two sections of six towers each, 61 feet high and 22 feet in diameter, of welded construction; three electrically driven boosters have also recently been installed as the first stage in the construction of a new booster and compressor house, two being constant speed and one variable speed, each having a capacity of 0.5 million cu. ft. per hr. against a pressure of 6 lb. per sq. in. The total storage capacity is 15 million cu. ft. contained in five spiral-guided or column-guided holders. The erection of an additional 5-million cu. ft. spiral-guided holder will start later in 1953.
Meadow Hall Works. This works is of more recent construction and besides receiving coke-oven gas, there are two carburetted water-gas plants each with a capacity of 2.5 million cu. ft. per day, and a mechanical producer-gas plant. The 8-million cu. ft. spiral-guided gasholder is the largest of its type in the world. A second holder of similar capacity is under construction the tank of which is partially below ground level and is of reinforced concrete.
English Steel Corporation, Ltd., was formed in 1929 by the amalgamation of the steel interests of Vickers-Armstrongs, Ltd., and Cammell Laird and Co., Ltd., although the history of the firm goes back to the late eighteenth century. The E.S.C. group of companies now has six works in Sheffield, River Don being the headquarters, together with works at Openshaw, Manchester; Taylor Bros. and Co., Ltd., Trafford Park, Manchester, and The Darlington Forge, Ltd., at Darlington. The Corporation is the largest alloy and special steel producer in the British Commonwealth. In all, its works occupy some 340 acres and find employment for over 17,000 persons.
The products of the E.S.C. group of companies are extremely varied, covering forged and cast engineering components, drop forgings, springs and torsion bars, heavy plates and fabrications, ingots, blooms, billets and bars, railway wheels, tyres and axles, engineers' cutting tools, permanent magnets, files, rasps, and hacksaws.
The steel for these products comes from acid and basic openhearth Siemens furnaces of capacity up to 95 tons, electric-arc furnaces up to 30 tons, and high-frequency induction furnaces. Ingots up to a weight of 270 tons are cast, and from these the Corporation produces a wide variety of forgings - high-pressure one-piece boiler drums for power-station boilers, pressure-vessels for oil and chemical processes, rotors and disks for turbines, solid and built-up crankshafts, ships' propeller shafting and gear-wheel rims, pipe moulds, and many others. Drop forgings up to 1,300 lb. in weight are produced for the aircraft, motor, commercial motor, and general engineering industries.
Finishing and semi-finishing of forgings, drop forgings, and steel castings is carried out in extensive and well-equipped machine shops.
The steel foundry at Grimesthorpe is one of the largest and most modern in Great Britain, and produces a wide variety of castings from a few pounds to more than 150 tons in weight.
Coil and laminated springs for railway rolling stock and road vehicles are made in large quantities; the plant for producing railway laminated springs is the most modern and highly mechanized of its type in the world. Torsion bars are also made in a modern, single-purpose mass-production plant.
The history of Ferodo, Ltd., is certainly a case of great achievements from small beginnings. By the side of the bowling green at Ferodo, Ltd., stands a small garden shed in which over fifty years ago the founder of the company, Herbert Frood, carried out his original experiments, which were to result in the large factory now occupying some 13 acres.
The first products were brake blocks for horse-drawn vehicles, but it was not until the advent of the motor car that he invented the modern type of brake lining. In 1906 he registered the trade mark "Ferodo" which was an adaptation of his own name.
The increased demand for friction linings from 1902 onwards necessitated more space and, in 1907, the Herbert Frood Company was formed and took over the entire premises of the old Sovereign Mills at Chapel-en-le-Frith. In 1914, the needs of war transport severely taxed the production facilities available. In 1917 Ferodo brake and clutch linings were fitted to the tanks used at Cambrai and to all the British, French, and American armoured vehicles.
In 1920 Ferodo, Ltd., was formed as a public company and an entirely new factory was built on an adjacent site. Following the merger of leading companies in the Asbestos industry, Ferodo, Ltd., became a member of the Turner and Newall, Ltd., group, and in 1928 the factory area was again doubled.
Ferodo, Ltd., is now the largest single factory in the world devoted to the manufacture of brake linings. A research division employing such specialized techniques as X-ray diffraction, electron microscopy and radio-active tracers, carries out work ranging from fundamental studies of structure to technological improvements of friction materials; and a well-equipped test house and fleet of test vehicles ensure that all products are thoroughly tried before they are put into production.
Allied products which have been developed are stairtreads, fan belts, "Ferobestos" technical plastics and railway brake blocks.
The company's scientific and technical services are provided by The Brown-Firth Research Laboratories.
The works occupy a site of 80 acres, with over 2.5 million sq. ft. of buildings. The number of employees normally exceeds 6,000.
Manufacturing facilities include:—
Steel Melting. This includes large Siemens open-hearth acid furnaces and electric-arc and high-frequency furnaces; Siemens ingots of 200 tons in individual weight are being cast, and electric ingots up to approximately 75 tons each can be produced.
Forging. The heavy hydraulic forging units comprise presses ranging from 800 to 6,000 tons, with a large number of hammers from 5 cwt. up to 7 tons in capacity.
Heat Treatment. Furnaces fired by coal, gas, and electricity deal with shapes, weights, and sizes, ranging from a length of 100 feet to an area of 12 feet wide by 12 feet high.
Machining. The machine tools are very specialized and are housed under crane capacity up to 200-ton lifts.
Rolling. A 26-28 inch two-stand reversing billet mill rolls billets for many industries and for the company's own bar mills and drop stamp works. The bar mills include a variety of modern mills from 14 down to 8 inches. A plate mill can roll very large ingots and slabs, up to 75 tons in weight, to plates up to a thickness of 16 inches and a maximum width of 13 ft. 6 in.
Tyre Mill. This unit specializes in the production of locomotive carriage and wagon tyres, and of hollow rolled rings in carbon steel, alloy steel, and special steels for aircraft and general engineering.
Forged Steel Rolls. Fully-hard and semi-hard rolls from a few pounds to 50 tons in weight are made as one-piece forgings.
Heavy Engineering. This department has manufactured rolling mills of various types, forging and other hydraulic presses, ball mills, etc., and has machined and erected individual components up to 125 tons in weight.
In addition to the supply of finished plant, it is equipped for fabrications, welded from rolled-steel plate up to a weight of 70 tons, and has the necessary capacity for stress-relieving and shot-blasting such products.
The history of this company began over 100 years ago, upon the foundation of the reputation which Thomas Firth and Sons had already established for the quality of its steels. The production of tools began under the auspices of that firm with the building of a file factory in 1850-51, and by 1852 the file, saw, and edge-tool departments were steadily developing.
In 1931, the steel interests of John Brown and Co., Ltd., and of Thomas Firth and Sons, Ltd. — which included the very considerable engineers' tool department — were merged, and the present main shop was built in 1934. The reputation of the Firth Brown tool production and the steady growth of the tool departments led eventually to the formation of the present separate and self-contained company in 1946 under the title of Firth Brown Tools, Ltd.
The works in Sheffield employ nearly 2,000 persons and comprise the following principal units:—
Main Machine Shop. This shop houses plant for the production of drills, taps, reamers, chaser dies, milling cutters, hobs, etc.; steel warehouse; cutting-off section; butt-welding units; heat-treatment shops (with electric high frequency, gas, and salt-bath-treatment furnaces); central warehouse and dispatch department.
File Department. This department produces various types of file ranging from the chisel-cut type to the milled-tooth type.
Hard Metals Division. This division is concerned first with producing pure metallic powders by chemical means — some directly from ores. From the powders, hard alloys are prepared for tools and other products by the process of powder metallurgy. This includes mixing, ball milling, hydraulic and mechanical pressing, machining, furnace operations such as carburizing, sintering, etc.
There are also departments for woodsaws, guillotines, shear blades, and machine knives, carbide-tipped tools, and an instrument tool department, producing small cutting tools for the watch, clock, and instrument manufacturing industry.
The firm of William Gunstone and Sons, Ltd., was started just over ninety years ago by Mr. William Gunstone when he opened a small provision shop on Sheffield Moor. A few years later, wholesale premises were opened in Broad Street and Mr. William was joined by his brother. After their deaths the firm was carried on by Mr. William's sons, under whose guidance the business expanded rapidly. The wholesale pork manufacturing side was started and, owing to its rapid growth, had to be moved into a separate factory, where it has become one of the largest businesses of its kind in Yorkshire.
In 1920 the bakery side of the business was started at Duke Street, in premises adjoining the Broad Street warehouse. To accommodate this ever-increasing side of the business, a site of about 20 acres was acquired in 1946 at Dronfield on the southern outskirts of Sheffield. This new bakery, confined for the present to bread, is one of the finest of its type in Britain and turns out every day many thousands of loaves of varying types under ideal conditions.
The space made available at the Duke Street bakery by the transference to Dronfield of the bread making has been devoted to the production of cakes and pastries. During the 1920's biscuit production was started in Duke Street, and now many tons of high-class biscuits are manufactured. It is hoped that this side of the business, together with the confectionery department of the bakery and also the meat manufacturing factory, will also soon be transferred to the Dronfield site.
The firm remains essentially a family business and the Board of Directors now has the grandsons of the founder to carry forward the family tradition.
The firm employs 600 people and its products are distributed daily by a fleet of over 100 vehicles.
When the company was first founded it was located at the smaller of the two works, Hecla in Newhall Road, and its manufactures were confined to steel castings, of which Hadfields have been the leading pioneers.
A limited company was formed in 1888 under the name of Hadfields Steel Foundries, Ltd., the founder's son, Mr. Robert A. Hadfield (later Sir Robert Hadfield, Bart., F.R.S.), becoming chairman and managing director.
Much work had already been done to prove the effectiveness and the wide practical application of steel castings, whilst Mr. Hadfield had conducted extensive researches in the physical and mechanical properties of steel alloyed with various elements in addition to carbon. One result of his efforts in this direction was the remarkable discovery of Era manganese steel.
By the end of the last century Hecla works was too small to handle the expanded business, and the East Hecla works site was purchased. The whole area amounted to approximately 200 acres and is now fully occupied.
Since that time steady expansion has taken place, and in the 1914-18 war Hadfields became the largest manufacturers of projectiles in Great Britain, and extensions were put in hand to cover the manufacture of forgings and many heavy engineering products, whilst blooms, bars, and billets were rolled in their own mills. The company then took the title of Hadfields, Ltd.
The melting departments are designed for the production of alloy steels and special grades of carbon steel. A comprehensive range of furnaces includes Siemens open-hearth furnaces, electric arc furnaces, high-frequency induction furnaces, and a side-blown converter unit.
Upward of 600 tons of fluid steel per week is required in the foundry which is one of the largest of its type in Britain. In addition to the hand-moulding section, where moulds for castings up to 25 tons in finished weight are made from loose patterns, there is a mechanized department employing batteries of moulding machines.
The forge departments are of post-war design and construction and a range of hammers from 5 cwt. up to 4 tons in power, as well as a 2,700-ton and a 1,500-ton press, capable of dealing with ingots up to 45 tons in weight, are in full operation.
Extensive machine shops at both East Hecla and Hecla works are available to deal with the products from both the foundry and forge departments.
The rolling mill includes a 28-inch reversing cogging mill with blooming and finishing stands, capable of reducing ingots 15 inches square to billets 2 inches square in one heat. Bars and flats of smaller section are reduced in the 14-inch and 11-inch merchanting mills, which are equipped with ancillary gas-fired furnaces to deal with the annealing and heat treatment of the finished bars.
One of the latest developments is the establishment of a precision casting foundry.
Besides having general facilities for inspection and X-ray examination, the research department is fully furnished with equipment comprehensive in scope and modern in design, and a full range of laboratories covers developments of various new high-quality steels, quality control during production, and the study of new and improved methods of manufacture.
Hope and Anchor Breweries, Ltd., situated at Wadsley Bridge on the outskirts of Sheffield, is an amalgamation of two old-established Sheffield breweries — Carter, Milner and Bird, Ltd., of the Hope Brewery and Henry Tomlinson, Ltd., the Anchor Brewery. The new brewery completed in 1939 stands on 10 acres of land. It is one of only two breweries to be built in Britain during recent years and is therefore designed to give first-class facilities to all operations incidental to the brewing and bottling of beers and stout. To meet the increasing demands of production a further acreage adjoining was acquired and the brewery premises were extended.
The brewery is aptly constructed for brewing on the gravity principle, and the company has specialized in marketing their products in bottle, the main items being "Jubilee" stout and mead ale brewed with honey. In addition to home trade the products are exported.
Arrangements have recently been made to brew and market the products in Canada.
The plant and machinery are all of the latest design, and the bottling hall, capable of an output of 3,000 dozen bottles an hour, is one of the finest in Britain. The bottles are automatically washed, filled, crowned, pasteurized, and labelled, in one operation, on a conveyor principle.
A fine block of modern offices covers the front of the brewery.
In addition, the company owns makings near Gainsborough and at Penistone, which provide a good proportion of the malt used.
For over a century the International Harvester Co. has been the pace-maker of progress in mechanized agriculture. The factory at Doncaster, opened in 1946, stands on a site of 62 acres and provides employment for 1,600 persons.
The buildings cover a floor area of 410,000 sq. ft., the plant and equipment installed in them being of the most modern in Britain. The foundry is highly mechanized.
The product being manufactured at Doncaster is designed to meet the particular needs of the British farmer and also of the export market.
The company, as now constituted, was formed in 1907. Since that date it has been supplying a wide range of International and McCormick International tractors and machines to agriculture and industry in Great Britain, and has established an excellent dealer service.
The history of this business goes back to 1880 or thereabouts, when William Samuel Laycock was operating in small premises in the centre of Sheffield, manufacturing a variety of components for rail and sea transport. At the beginning of the century W. S. Laycock, Ltd. was supplying equipment to every railway company in the world, the main specialities being carriage blinds, buckeye automatic couplers, vestibule gangway connexions, and complete train sets of steam-heating equipment.
In 1902 the business was transferred to Millhouses, where a modern factory, including foundries, forge, machine shops, wood mill, upholstery, and sheet metal shops had been constructed on part of a 7-acre site. During the 1914-18 war munitions work was undertaken and, in 1917, the firm secured a contract to produce aircraft engines, which necessitated the building of an additional large machine shop, tool room, etc. In conjunction with the Charron Company of France, a car was produced, but owing to the slump conditions of the early 1920's, production was discontinued.
Later, the original lines were supplemented by the development and pioneering of garage equipment, and by the supply of gearboxes, front and rear axles, etc.
In 1934 an important step forward was taken by the manufacture, under licence from the American patentees, of the Layrub universal coupling originally for road vehicles, but since developed for a variety of applications to all types of transport.
During the 1939-45 war substantial additions to buildings and plant were made to deal with the machining and sub-assembly work for "Merlin", "Kestrel", and other aircraft engines.
Since the 1939-45 war the ranges of railway and garage equipment have been increased, and ventures made into new fields, such as industrial greasing equipment and motor transmission systems.
The works, equipped with the most modern plant and machinery, cover the whole of the 7-acre site. The pay-roll numbers 1,500. Since 1938 the company has been a member of the Birfield Group of Companies.
This business started as a small wire-drawing mill in the Porter Valley district of Sheffield, and three years later was transferred to the present site.
In 1874 the firm was registered as a limited liability company and the steel wire concern of James Fairbrother and Co., Ltd., was acquired.
Later, an area of some 30 acres was purchased at Meadow Hall, where the Trubrite steel works houses the main plant.
With the most modern wire-drawing cold strip mills, and hot strip mills to meet the requirements of the cold strip mills, the company has been in the forefront of producers of galvanized, coppered, mirror finish, alloy and spring steel strip, as well as mass-produced strip for a multitude of industries.
The company also produces a steel rope-wire of high tensile strength and ductility.
Markham and Co Ltd
The business was originally founded by a Mr. Oliver in 1860 on a small site in the centre of the town, and in 1870 he bought the land on which the present works are built. In October 1889, Mr. C. P. Markham purchased the business from Oliver and Co., and the works were increased in size, new buildings erected, and the number of workmen increased. Shortly before Mr. Markham's death in 1926, the Company was made over formally to the Staveley Coal and Iron Co., Ltd., which operated the business until 1937, when it was sold to the present owners, John Brown and Co., Ltd.
The workshops cover about 6 acres, and are well equipped with modern, heavy and medium size machine tools. A wide variety of work is undertaken in manufacturing some of the largest mechanical and fabricated constructional engineering products; colliery engineering is one of the specialized undertakings. During the last fifty years or so nearly 200 steam and electric winding engines have been made for the home and export markets. Winders are now being manufactured for the East Midlands, the West Midlands, and the North Eastern Divisions of the National Coal Board. Some of these will constitute some of the largest made, having drums 30 feet in diameter, and peak h.p. 7,000. A new skip plant installation has just been commissioned at Yorkshire Main Colliery converting that pit from cage to skip winding to increase the output. This plant will ultimately be capable of handling 25,000 tons of coal per week, using skips of capacity of 71 tons.
Pneumatic stowing machines are a recent development; they will stow material at the rate of 100 tons per hr., and can be used in seams of any workable thickness for either solid or strip packing.
All three types of water turbine are made — Pelton, Francis and Kaplan — in the largest sizes.
At the present time Pelton turbines for Australia, Francis turbines for New Zealand and Spain, and Kaplan turbines for Uganda are being manufactured. Two large Francis turbines are just now being commissioned in Spain, and each of them will develop 59,000 h.p. through a fabricated runner weighing 44 tons.
Some of Britain's principal research establishments engage Markhams to translate their requirements into engineering production designs, and subsequently to manufacture the plant, such as propeller research tunnels and wind tunnels.
Tunnelling shields of all sizes of the "Greathead" types, air locks and similar tunnelling contractors' plant are also made for the driving of tunnels for underground tube railways, main trunk road tunnels and sewers.
Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Co., Ltd., the main works of which are at Trafford Park, Manchester, has for fifty years played a major part in the development of railway electrification in Britain and overseas. The company's Attercliffe Common works, in Sheffield, is a branch factory specializing in the design and manufacture of electric traction equipment, comprising motors (including gearing), generators, and auxiliary machines for electric, Diesel-electric, and gas-turbine locomotives, multiple-unit trains, tramcars, trolleybuses, and other forms of rail and road traction. Other products are Metadyne generators and associated small machines for special applications.
The works occupies a site of 7 acres. The original buildings were erected by Vickers, Ltd., during the 1914-18 war, as an armament factory. In 1920 Metropolitan-Vickers (formerly the British Westinghouse Company) took over part of the factory and transferred thereto from Trafford Park the manufacture of traction motors.
Traction operating conditions require special features in the electrical equipment, and traction motors and generators often differ considerably in construction from their industrial counterparts. New designs are frequently produced because in many railway electrification schemes there is economic justification for equipment specially designed to suit particular conditions. The parts of each type of machine are made to fairly close limits so that they are easily interchangeable by the comparatively unskilled labour available in transport maintenance shops in many parts of the world.
Attercliffe Common works is equipped to carry out the complete manufacture of these products (apart from foundry and press shop work, which is done elsewhere). The manufacturing operations fall into the following groups: fabrication; light and heavy machining; commutator and core building; insulation preparation and mica-plate building; field and armature coil forming and insulating; armature winding; brush-gear manufacture; gear manufacture (cutting, heat treatment, and grinding); machine assembly; testing.
The company was formed in England in 1933 when William Hulse Millspaugh, a citizen of the United States whose investigations in the United States had already revolutionized paper making throughout the world, decided to make paper-making equipment and heavy centrifugal castings in both steel and bronze at Sheffield. Mr. Millspaugh leased buildings at Hadfields' East Hecla Works, where he equipped a machine and erecting shop for the manufacture of suction rolls and other paper-making machinery specialities. He also equipped a foundry on this site for the manufacture of heavy centrifugal castings, in both bronze and steel. Hadfields sold him the liquid steel as required; the non-ferrous metals, such as phosphor bronze, bronze, manganese bronze, gun metal, etc., were melted in his own furnaces. In 1946 Mr. Millspaugh sold the concern to Hadfields, Ltd.
When Hadfields was nationalized under the Iron and Steel Act 1949, in February 1951, arrangements were made for separation from Hadfields of Millspaugh, Ltd., together with its subsidiary iron foundry — Hargreaves and Jennings, Ltd., of Tottington, near Bury — and Millspaugh (France), a small selling company in France. At that time the assets of the Group, including Rayboulds, Ltd., acquired from Hadfields, were valued at less than £500,000. After separation the Group was considerably increased, and now consists of seven works and two selling companies. The book value of the assets is now over £3,000,000.
A Canadian company was acquired to give service to Millspaugh products sold in Canada, and to assist in the manufacture of paper-making machinery, but it also has a large foundry and engineering connexion of its own. C. A. Harndens specialize in slitting and winding machines for the paper, plastic, and textile trades, and Rayboulds, Ltd., manufacture forged steel balls. Westbury Engineering Co., Ltd., is closely connected with the paper-making machinery trade.
The separation from Hadfields has resulted in a rearrangement of the Sheffield works, and the extensions of the works at Alsing Road and Newhall Road are now nearing completion. The nonferrous centrifugal casting foundry when reconstructed will be one of the largest foundries of its kind in the world.
Moore and Wright Ltd
Moore and Wright (Sheffield), Ltd., was founded in 1908 by the late Frank Moore in Sheffield. This one-room factory thrived until it is today a large concern in the centre of Sheffield, with two extensions on the outskirts of the city, and nearly 1,000 employees.
Nearly thirty years ago the firm was asked by H.M. Government to design and manufacture a completely British micrometer, and some of this firm's first micrometers are still in daily use. The latest production methods and type of plant are employed, much of it developed by the company.
During the 1939-45 war production on all types of precision tool was increased by between 300 and 400 per cent; nearly 20,000 micrometers of all types were manufactured per month.
As part of the company's war-time dispersal policy, the offices and warehouses were moved to the outskirts of Sheffield, and two new precision tool factories were equipped and fully staffed in different parts of Britain under the aegis of the Directorate of Gauges and Measuring Instruments, Ministry of Supply.
Apart from these achievements the company, at the request of the Ministry of Supply, designed and manufactured precision instruments and engineers' hand tools, not previously manufactured in Britain, notably a vernier bevel protractor, screw pitch recognition gauges, and a set of inserted pin punches.
A full range of Braille reading micrometers, a Braille reading micrometer depth gauge, and a Braille reading bevel protractor, for assistance in the rehabilitation in industry of blinded technicians, have been designed and manufactured at the request of the National Institute for the Blind. The micrometers can, with a little tuition, be read by a blind person to within 0.0002 inch, and the bevel protractor to within 1/4 deg.
A feature of all the company's instruments is the mat chrome finish given to the graduations, which eliminates glare and ensures easy reading under all conditions.
Recently the firm has merged with the old-established concern of John Shaw and Sons (Wolverhampton), Ltd., which a short time ago celebrated its 150th anniversary.
Brookhouse Colliery. In 1942-43 this colliery was modernized, the whole of the then-existing steam plant was eliminated, and the colliery totally electrified, both surface and underground. The surface was largely rebuilt, including a modern coal-preparation plant. Underground, some of the faces are equipped with the Meco Moore cutter loader. The colliery has a capacity of 3,000 tons per day.
Maltby Colliery. This colliery is being reconstructed at a cost of about £3 million to give a capacity of 6,000 tons per day. It is to be totally electrified and has just put into commission a 600 tons per hr. coal-preparation plant for the output to be 100 per cent mechanically cleaned. A dirt disposal plant of a capacity of 200 tons per day is about to come into operation, and the construction of new pit bottoms designed to deal with coal in mine cars hauled by Diesel locomotives can be seen. The coal-handling plant at the pit bank in use is temporary.
Manvers Colliery. Reconstruction is in progress in a scheme costing about £5 million to enable the coal mined at three collieries to be centrally wound which, together with the output brought overland from a fourth colliery, will be prepared for the market in a cleaning plant which is 100 per cent mechanical and which deals with 1,200 tons per hr. The coking slacks from this plant will be transported by conveyor belt direct to a nearby coke-oven plant which is shortly to be doubled in size to an input of 3,000 tons per day. Underground can be seen the working of the Haigh Moor seam, the coal being transported by a 42-inch trunk belt-conveyor and loaded into 6-ton drop-bottom mine cars to be hauled by Diesel locomotive to the pit bottom from where it is wound to the surface in skips. At the nearby Barnborough colliery which forms part of the overall scheme, a 3,500 h.p. electric-clutch drum-winder can be seen winding coal alternately from two different horizons.
In 1889, the late James Neill decided to give up his career as an accountant and to turn to steel making. He rented humble premises in Bailey Lane in Sheffield and started to manufacture alloy steels by the crucible process. Thus was founded the business which is now James Neill and Co. (Sheffield), Ltd.
In 1904 the business was moved to new and larger premises in Napier Street. Today those premises form only a tiny part of the company's factory which covers 4.5 acres of ground and provides 7.25 acres of floor space.
The present works consist of a central block in which are the general administrative offices, a conference room, and a packaging and display room. To the left of the office section is the hacksaw-blade department which was commenced in 1911 and to which was added, later, the hack-saw-frame department. In the same wing is the general tool warehouse with its shipping, rail, road, and postal dispatch sections.
Soon after the start of the 1914-18 war, the company commenced the manufacture of permanent magnets at the request of the Ministry of Munitions, as supplies which had been previously of German origin were no longer available. Magnets of many different types and for an ever-widening number of uses, are now being made in the wing to the right of this central office block, which, apart from the machine shop and foundry, has a special heat-treatment section and a specially equipped magnet testing room.
The company also specializes in the application of permanent magnets to devices designed to accelerate production, such as the "Eclipse" permanent magnet chucks, magnetic floaters, magnetic holders, and magnetic bases for dial gauges.
In this central block is a physical research laboratory which keeps a constant check on production. There is also a testing bay for actual machine tests.
A wide range of hand and precision tools are manufactured in a further section of the main block.
In high-frequency furnaces are melted a range of high-grade tool steels, as well as magnets in Alni, Alnico, and Alcomax and other magnet steels.
In 1793, George Newton and Thomas Chambers, owners of a small foundry in Sheffield, explored the valley of Thorncliffe for a site for a furnace on which to base a new industry. They found minerals and obtained the right to work them. Development of the rich coal and ironstone measures brought prosperity to the district and in course of time new communities grew up around the industries built by Newton and Chambers and their descendants. Newton Chambers and Co., Ltd., is now a public company, but descendants of the founders are still associated with it.
Today, the company employs about 4,000 workers, mainly in ironfounding, engineering and chemicals manufacture.
Constructional Engineering. In its Heavy Constructional Division, the company is engaged in ironfounding and the design and manufacture of heavy plant for the coal, gas, iron and steel, chemical, oil refinery, and allied industries.
A modern development is the lining of metal vessels and components with a thermo-setting plastic material to protect them from corrosion.
Light Engineering. The Light Castings Department, oldest of the company's businesses, is organized mainly for the manufacture of home heating and cooking and also bulk cooking, appliances.
A large part of the light-castings foundry is mechanized, and includes plant for automatic sand handling.
Excavator Manufacture. The Excavator Factory, built just before the 1939-45 war to develop the manufacture of earthmoving machinery, was turned over to the building of Churchill tanks. Since the end of that war the factory has returned to the manufacture of excavators and cranes.
Chemicals Manufacture. The company began research into the distillation of coal in 1880, and by 1890 Izal germicide was produced in emulsified form, to be followed by other disinfectant products. The recently built Izal factory, to which the output of the chemical works is transferred for bottling and packing, is an outstanding example of modern industrial architecture.
Training and Welfare. The company were pioneers in the training of apprentices for the foundries and engineering shops and of girls for the offices, and a new works college was opened in April 1952.
Samuel Osborn and Co., Limited, was founded in 1852, and, from a small beginning, with thirty workpeople, and files as its only product, has grown into a company employing 2,800 staff and workpeople and with a wide range of manufactures.
The company has overseas houses in South Africa, Rhodesia, Canada, and India, agents in thirty-five other countries, and five works in Sheffield.
At the Wicker works, acquired in 1868, are the main melting shops, the methods used being electric-arc and high-frequency. There are also cogging and finishing hammers and rod-rolling mills. The chief product is high-speed steel, but there is also a large output of high-grade tool and special steels. In these works, after transfer from the Forest of Dean in 1871, the first self-hardening tool steel was produced. This was the forerunner of high-speed steels, the first of which was produced in 1900. The head offices are at the Clyde Steel Works in the Wicker.
At the Rutland Steel Foundry, purchased in 1886, the sole manufacture is steel castings (about 200 tons a week) for various industries. Portions of the foundry are mechanized. Castings weighing from a few pounds up to 8 tons are made in carbon and alloy steels, and a speciality is made of castings for the oil refining industry.
Mushet Tool Works (named after Robert Forester Mushet) was completed in 1943. It is devoted to the manufacture of engineers' small tools. Tools for experimental and special purposes are a feature and include the tube expander used in the oil refining industry.
At Brookhill Works, where the founder started in business in 1852, the manufactures are files and rasps.
Regent Works, acquired in 1915, is now used for the production of steel sheets, mostly of stainless and heat-resisting qualities. The plant includes hot and cold rolling mills, heat-treatment and pickling sections: plates for moulds for brick-making are also rolled and formed here.
The Park Gate Iron and Steel Works were founded in 1823 and, after passing through the hands of several owners, they were purchased in 1864 by The Park Gate Iron Co. The chief manufactures then were iron rails, plates, and bars.
In 1888 the steel works was erected and the name of the company was changed to The Park Gate Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. The manufacture of wrought iron products gradually declined, and ceased in 1908, but the steel manufacture steadily increased until the capacity of the plant is now about 325,000 tons of steel ingots per annum.
There are two blast furnaces, each producing about 1,700 tons of basic iron per week from ore obtained principally from the company's own quarries. The materials are mechanically handled and each furnace has automatically controlled charging equipment.
The bulk of the iron is used in the molten state, for conversion - together with scrap - into steel. Iron, surplus to immediate steelmaking requirements, is passed through a casting machine producing a sand-free pig iron.
The steelmaking plant consists of ten basic open-hearth furnaces ranging in capacity from 60 to 90 tons; each is fired by oil fuel.
The steel ingots, after reheating, are rolled in a cogging mill to produce blooms or billets in sizes ranging from 12 inches square to 3 inches square. There are four finishing mills, which produce bars and sections ranging in size from inch to 9 inches. An 11-inch continuous bar mill is being erected.
Another department fabricates rigid and telescopic steel arches and props and other equipment for roof supports in the coal mines.
Ancillary products include dry and coated slag for road making and basic slag for agricultural fertilizer.
There are 3,800 employees at the Park Gate works. Joint consultation between employees and management is a prominent feature. There are training schemes for junior operatives, and craft apprentices, also for clerical, production, and technical staffs.
Pearson and Co. (Chesterfield), Ltd., has been owned and personally directed by the Pearson family since 1810 and has operated continuously since that date at Whittington Moor. A pottery was in existence on the site prior to 1810.
The firm is now the largest stoneware manufacturer in Britain. A large portion of the coal and clay used on the works is still mined in the firm's own pits.
The first continuously-fired tunnel-kiln of the Dressler type was put down in 1911 and a second in 1914. The former was the second Dressler kiln in the world and the first to fire to a temperature of 1,250 deg. C.
The products of the firm include industrial containers, tower packing rings, domestic cooking ware and art ware; bricks, special blocks and shapes made of refractories; concrete slabs, fire backs, and wicker goods.
Craftsmanship of the old style still exists side by side with the latest ideas in production, and some of the products are still made by the thrower at the potter's wheel.
With the coalfields of the Midlands and Yorkshire all about them it was natural that well over half a century ago Plowright Brothers, Ltd., should devote themselves to the design and manufacture of colliery equipment. From the local contacts with which they began their field has widened, until Plowright coal-handling plants are to be found in practically every coalfield in the United Kingdom, and in many overseas.
The company has been a pioneer in many of the developments which have led to the modern methods of coal preparation, and its equipment incorporates innovations reflecting the considerable advance in engineering design which the new techniques of coal handling and cleaning demand. Plant is now produced to handle complete output from underground to railway.
In addition to new plants and reconstruction schemes on hand for the National Coal Board, the company has recently put into operation two coal handling and sorting plants for new mines in South Africa and is engaged on a large contract for a mine which will have the highest individual output in South Africa.
Much reorganization has recently taken place at the factory, and further developments are envisaged.
A tour of the various workshops gives little indication of the magnitude of the work carried out, as the ultimate product is only truly visible on the actual colliery sites. There the company's skilled staff of erectors assembles and erects diverse equipment such as mine-car-handling machinery underground, cage and skip winding equipment, headgears and the full range of coal-handling and coal-preparation plant on the surface.
In 1849 William Pryor bought "for ten pounds in good English money" the business of William White, mark maker, to whom his son Edward Pryor was then apprenticed.
The business flourished in a small way, the principal activity being the manufacture of hand-cut marking punches for the Sheffield cutlery trade. Ronald Pryor, the present managing director, joined the firm in 1919.
In the slump of the 1920's the company embarked on the manufacture of precision marking devices, then virtually unknown. New premises were purchased and an embryo machine shop was laid down.
The firm bought the first of a new German type of three-dimensional pantograph engraving machine for the production of small bakelite moulds to be brought to England and eventually evolved a technique for using this machine for producing marking dies of a quality and precision hitherto impossible. The company now owns thirty-one of these machines, sixteen of British make.
In 1936 the business was converted into a private limited company, the pay-roll then having increased to about fifty.
Arnold Throp (Member) joined the company as works manager in 1937 and was elevated to the board in 1943.
A new factory was built in 1939, since which date there have been continued additions, the most important being the complete removal of the machine and engraving shops, and their ancillary inspection departments, to a nearby cutlery factory which was bought and rebuilt in 1952.
There are now approximately 250 employees engaged almost exclusively on the design and manufacture of marking machines, marking fixtures, and high-grade engraved-steel marking dies. The company is also well known for its standard products such as interchangeable steel type, automatic numbering heads, etc., and for designing and supplying special marking equipment. It is well represented in most Dominion and foreign countries, and export forms a significant portion of its turnover.
Manufacture has been carried out on the site of the present four works for many generations: flour milling, the manufacture of cannon balls, Newcomen atmospheric engines, clay pipes and pottery, cast steel needles were all trades carried out at one time but now discontinued.
The present products are surgical dressings and absorbent paper and cardboard boxes. Apart from plasters, practically all the processes for manufacturing surgical dressings by machinery were invented and developed at these works from 1850 onwards. There are many specialized machines of light construction. The following processes can be seen: weaving, bleaching, carding of cotton, making-up production lines, paper making on single-cylinder machines, or alternatively, letterpress and lithographic printing, manufacture of cardboard boxes, artists' block making and camera department, paper coating and cutting and gluing machines.
There are seven subsidiary manufacturing companies in Britain and the Dominions, including one small engineering subsidiary in Nottingham for designing and making specialized machines, though most of the preparatory work for this is done in Chesterfield.
Milk coolers, filters, and butter churns are made by another subsidiary company. The number of persons employed is 3,500.
The water supply in the summer (1,000,000 gallons per day) comes largely from old pit workings; at the paper works power is supplied from a 1,250-kW. pass-out-turbine working in conjunction with the grid. The work-study department has produced important results.
The company was founded in 1869 as general engineers. The founder of the company designed one of the first file-cutting machines to be used in the trade. Around 1907, it turned to the manufacture of crankshafts for the motor trade.
In 1917 the stamping department was set down on the site on which the whole factory is now built. The plant employed ranges from 5,000 to 20,000-1b. drop hammers. Recently a group of three hammers has been installed with ancillary plant for high production work. The two main hammers in this group are of 16,000 and 12,000 lb. capacity, they are operated by compressed air. The heat treatment department is a separate building operating eighteen furnaces, half fired direct from town's gas.
The machining department, transferred to the present site between 1933 and 1936, is some 130 yards away from the stamp shop. One bay is devoted to the making of dies and tools for the stamping department. Multi-spindle drilling machines of the company's own design, as well as the latest American machines, which have a torque-control unit attached to them, drill all the oil-ways at the same time. Two of the various types of grinding machine have automatic self-sizing devices attached.
The final operations are done in another shop, where there is a balancing machine in which the crank is checked, material removed to correct the out of balance, and finally re-checked without the crank having to be taken out of the machine. In the same building is the nitriding surface-hardening plant.
In two separate buildings, one attached to the machine shop, are housed the high-frequency-induction hardening plants. The surface metal can be heated to hardening temperature, to a depth of around 1/8 inch, in 5-6 seconds.
The history of the Sheepbridge Works extends back for about ninety years, but the Sheepbridge Engineering, Ltd., Group is a creation of the last five years. Its activities cover production of components and machines for the motor, aircraft and general engineering industries.
At Sheepbridge Works the operating companies are Sheepbridge Equipment, Ltd., and Sheepbridge Stokes, Ltd., with the latter's subsidiary, British Van Der Horst, Ltd. The first, with a large mechanized iron foundry, produces castings up to 5 tons in weight in almost every variety of high-duty cast iron, including the new magnesium-treated spheroidal-graphite cast iron, and equipment for the mining industry including haulages, mine cars, pit tubs and pit-head gears, and also a complete range of quarry plant including gyratory crushers and ball-mills. Other products are tile and plastic presses and general-purpose machines for straightening, bending, welding and other operations.
Sheepbridge Stokes, Ltd., specializes in the centrifugal casting and machining of cylinder liners, of which it is the largest producer in the world. Particular conditions of service are met by particular types of iron and the alloy irons produced cover all types of heat, corrosion and wear-resisting compositions, including nitrogen-hardened cast iron.
Two machine shops are laid out to produce large quantities of cylinder liners by modern automatic equipment, and British Van Der Horst, Ltd., specializes in the chromium plating of cylinder liners.
The research and development department and administrative units of the Group are also at Chesterfield.
On the same site, the Sheepbridge Co., Ltd., operates the two largest blast furnaces in Britain, producing general foundry iron from phosphoric ores. There is also a complete plant for crushing, classifying and sintering iron ore, with ancillary equipment for cleaning blast-furnace gas. The pig iron is all machine cast. The Sheepbridge Company also operates a wrought-iron plant, forge, and rolling mill.
The company was formed in 1913 as the Sheffield Twist Drill Co., Ltd., and, in 1915, the title was changed to the present one. During the first six years the number of employees increased from 20 to 150, and the range of products consisted mainly of standard types of high-speed and carbon steel twist drills. By 1939 the number of employees had reached 700, and at the present time is well over 1,000.
The works are contained in two main multi-storeyed buildings which have been erected for the prime purpose of affording the most congenial surroundings in which to produce the products efficiently. All buildings are served with electric lifts and central heating, and are designed to give as much natural lighting as possible during daylight hours. The most modern means of artificial illumination are provided. The buildings are virtually indestructible by fire. The floor area exceeds 4 acres. The company is represented in practically every industrialized centre in Britain and abroad.
The Staveley Iron and Chemical Co. was formed in 1948. The Staveley Coal and Iron Co. was registered in 1863, its business being that of coal and iron masters.
There are records of an iron furnace and forge which were in existence on the site of the present works as far back as 1652. At the time, the ironstone was obtained locally and the smelting done by charcoal. The company has a furnace cost sheet, dated June 1702, for the manufacture of iron and also books of account in respect of ironworks on the present site as far back as 1690. From 1863 to 1907 the products at the Staveley works consisted mainly of pig iron and cast-iron pressure pipes. Since that time the manufacture of pressure pipes has undergone a complete change, pipes now being manufactured either vertically or by the centrifugal process. In the latter case two different plants are operating, one in which the pipes are centrifugally spun in a sand-lined mould and the other where the pipes are centrifugally spun in a water-cooled steel mould.
Special castings for use with the pressure pipes are manufactured in a modern foundry together with mechanical joints which can be used as an alternative to the older type of lead joint. In 1896 the Staveley Company's furnaces had reached a total of eight. Development in the science of making pig iron made it necessary a few years later to build modern furnaces and coke ovens, and a new works, named Devonshire works, came into operation in 1907.
From the coke-oven gases sulphate of ammonia, tar, and benzole were recovered; benzole is now refined into high-grade tar products. In 1912 a plant for distilling tar was erected, from which are now obtained naphtha, creosote oil, refined naphthalene, anthracene, tar acids, and pitch. In 1913 the manufacture of sulphuric acid was begun. The company now has two plants for making the ordinary grades of sulphuric acid and one for making oleum (fuming sulphuric acid). During the 1914-18 war, plant was erected for the manufacture of nitric acid, nitro benzole, and aniline oil. The company uses coke oven and blast furnace gases for power generation by both steam and gas engines.
In 1921 the electrolytic decomposition of salt was begun, the resultant products of this operation being liquid chlorine, caustic soda, bleaching powder, hydrochloric acid, sodium hypochlorite, and hydrogen gas. In 1937 another electrolytic plant was installed for the manufacture of sodium chlorate, of which none was being made in Britain. During the 1939-45 war steps were taken to manufacture potassium chlorate for use in the production of explosives and in the manufacture of matches.
(1) STEEL, PEECH AND TOZER AND UNITED STRIP AND BAR MILLS, ROTHERHAM
In 1871, Hampton and Radcliffe built and operated a steelworks at the Ickles but sold it the following year to the adjoining Phoenix Bessemer Steel Co., Ltd. Three years later these works, to which several additions had been made, were sold to Mr. Henry Steel and he founded the company of Steel, Tozer and Hampton, Ltd., in 1875. Mr. Hampton retired in 1883 and the name of the company was changed to Steel, Peech and Tozer. Steel, Peech and Tozer employ 7,200 people and are one of the principal constituent members of The United Steel Companies, Ltd., which was formed, shortly after the 1914-18 war, to create an undertaking which would be substantially self-supplying in raw materials, and which, by eliminating duplication of processes, would be more efficient.
The annual ingot production of Steel, Peech and Tozer is 800,000 tons of acid and basic open-hearth steels in carbon and alloy qualities. This represents about one-twentieth of the national output. The bulk of it is produced in the Templeborough melting shop, which is the largest cold metal shop in the world.
The works produce blooms, slabs, billets, bars, medium and heavy forgings, hot and cold rolled strip in addition to being one of the largest producers of railway tyres, wheels, axles, and springs in Great Britain.
The maintenance requirements of the works are served by a modern central maintenance workshop of four bays, each 600 feet by 60 feet. The shop is sub-divided into four main sections: (1) locomotive repair shop, blacksmiths' and chainsmiths' (2) boilersmiths' shop (3) machine shop (4) general fitting shop.
Attached to the central maintenance shop is an instrument maintenance workshop and an apprentices' training school where young apprentices are given both practical and technical education.
(2) RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT, SWINDEN LABORATORIES, ROTHERHAM
The Central Research Department at Stocksbridge, opened in 1934 by Lord Rutherford, was designed to carry out research by a trained staff of physicists, chemists, and metallurgists, into the various processes involved in the production of quality steel. The department was to serve all branches of the United Steel Companies, Ltd.
The original research team working under the directorship of Dr. Thomas Swinden rapidly established a reputation and, in 1944, the board of directors decided to expand the activities of the department. The first step in this expansion was the addition of a group of development engineers to specialize in iron and steelworks plant and also a minerals section to cover the raw materials used in iron and steelmaking.
It was this expansion in activities which necessitated the transfer from Stocksbridge to the new Swinden Laboratories.
Each of the company's branches has its own research department and staff of development engineers, responsible for the control and production of its own products but can call upon the Central Research and Development Department for cooperation at any time.
Among the major contributions of the department to the advancement of technology in the production of iron and steel may be cited the development of high-duty steels demanded by modern advancements in aircraft and power plant practice, the preparation and processing of low-grade indigenous iron ores and fundamental studies of fluid flow and combustion in furnaces.
Walker and Hall Ltd
The firm of Walker and Hall has been in existence for more than a century, the site of the original works being a small portion of the present site in Howard Street.
The founder of the firm was Mr. George Walker, a Sheffield man who was trained as a working cutler, and who with Dr. Wright, a surgeon of Attercliffe, worked out the process which has resulted in the present-day methods of electroplating.
Originally founded for the purpose of carrying on the business of electroplating in gold and silver for the trade, the firm soon started to manufacture gold and silver wares and cutlery, and has now for many years been in the forefront of the silversmiths and cutlery trade.
The "Flag-mark", first registered in 1861, is still in use for E.P.N.S. goods.
There is a first-class cabinet-maker's shop, in which all the cutlery cases, cabinets, and canteens are made, and a most efficient carpenter's department where structural alterations within the works are carried out, showcases made, etc. The engineer's shop is continually working on improvements for the machinery of the business, and making dies and tools for manufacturing purposes. A very considerable quantity of metal is manufactured by the firm, and there is a casting shop. The company manufactures its own plate-cleaning material, which is also on sale.
A specially selected art staff is employed for preparing models and designs of presentation plate and trophies.
In the year 1852, when the late Sir John Bingham joined the firm, less than 20 workpeople were employed. Immediately prior to the 1914-18 war, the number had increased to over 1,000.
During the 1914-18 and 1939-45 wars, large quantities of cutlery, spoons, and forks were made for the War Office and Admiralty, "jack knives" for the Navy and clasp knives for the Army as well as a constant supply of copper driving-bands for shells of all calibres.