Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,160 pages of information and 245,627 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Armstrong Whitworth

From Graces Guide
1898. Wire winding machine.
1899. Huge circular planing machine.
1899. Fire at Elswick, no. 6 shop.
1900. Armour Plate Trials.
1902. Plan of Works.
1902. Plan of Works (Key).
1906. Coal Transporter Cranes.
1906. Coal Transporter Cranes .
1906. Hydraulic Coal Transporter Cranes .


1906. Gear Hobbing Machine


1906. Rack Cutter


1906. Gear Cutter




150-ton Hydraulic Luffing Crane. 1907.
1909. Electric lifting bridge at Edinburgh.
February 1911.
January 1919.
February 1919
1919. Scotswood Locomotive Shop.
1919. Scotswood Locomotive Shop.
1921. Generating set. 3-hp. 900 rpm. 50 volts.
March 1922. Chain Track Tractor.
1929. New Boiler Shop at the Scotswood Works.
1929. New Boiler Shop at the Scotswood Works.
1929. Plan of the New Boiler Shop at the Scotswood Works.
1929. Riveting Locomotive Boiler Shells.
1929. 100 Ton Loading and Shipping Gantry at the Scotswood Works.
October 1931.
1933. Portable Compressor.
















Camwheat pie machine, one of the more portable products made by Armstrong, Whitworth and Co. On display at the Land of Lost Content (Museum)

Sir W. G. Armstrong, Whitworth and Co of Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne, and Openshaw, Manchester, was a major British manufacturing company of the early years of the 20th century. Armstrong, Whitworth engaged in the construction of armaments, ships, locomotives, automobiles, and aircraft.

See sub-sections:

1896 Armstrong, Whitworth was registered as a company on 31 January.

1897 The Armstrong Whitworth company, i.e. Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth and Co, was formed as a merger of the engineering firms of Armstrong, Mitchell and Co and Joseph Whitworth and Co.

1900 December. Andrew Noble became chairman on William Armstrong's death.

1902 The company expanded into the manufacture of cars and trucks, initially vehicles designed and developed by other companies.

Andrew Noble was dynastic in his approach to his succession, promoting two of his four sons as directors of the company.

1906 Began making their own design of car

1911 Photographs of their Elswick works in The Engineer, 1911.

1913 Created an "aerial department"

1914 Manufacturers of Aeroplanes, Airships, Waterplanes, Engines for Airships and Accessories, Guns, Mountings, Ammunition and all war materials, Forgings, Castings, Nickel, Chrome, Vanadium and Tungston Steel, Stampings etc., Hydraulic and Electric Cranes, Hoists, Swingbridges, Dock Gates, Sluices, Capstans, Warships, Submarine Boats, Passenger and Cargo Ships, Ice Breakers, Train Ferry Steamers, Oil-ships, Docks etc., Shell, Fuses, Primers and Explosives, A.W. Touring Cars etc., Cars de Luxe, Motor Vehicles for transport, Motor Tractors etc., Armour plates of all sizes, Steel Forgings for Propellor Shafting, Turbine Rotors, High Speed Steel, Drills of all descriptions, Lathes, Machine Tools. Employees 30,000.[1]

1915 Armstrong Whitworth made arrangements to make use of the facilities at the works of A. and J. Main and Co for constructional steelwork.[2]

1919 In order to reduce the dependence on armaments work post-war, in favour of engineering, the company formed a subsidiary Armstrong Whitworth Development Co[3].

1919 Acquired Siddeley-Deasy which became its Armstrong Siddeley Motors subsidiary.

1919 Armstrong Whitworth purchased a controlling interest in Crompton and Co in order to secure the supply of electric motors for its machine tools produced in Manchester; this was expected to provide the basis for development of large electrification schemes. Also purchased a controlling interest in A. and J. Main and Co of Glasgow, constuction engineers and formed Armstrongs and Main; the engine works were transferred from Elswick to Glasgow to enable the new company to offer the complete supply for construction projects, such as pumps and docks[4].

1920 The Aerial department became the Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft subsidiary.

1920 Armstrong Whitworth acquired a controlling interest in Pearson and Knowles Coal and Iron Co, including its subsidiary Partington Steel and Iron Co[5].

1920 Issued pamphlet promoting their capacity to produce forgings and castings.

1922 In July the Company had set up a separate subsidiary company called Newfoundland Power and Paper Utilities Corporation Ltd. to finance a scheme to build 400 tons/day newsprint mill in Newfoundland.

1923 The hydro-electric department was moved from 8, Great George-street, to 51, Victoria-street, where additional accommodation was taken adjacent to that occupied by the same firm's civil engineering department. [6]

1923 The board of Armstrong Whitworth appointed Lieut-Colonel C. F. Hitchins general manager of the Elswick Works, Newcastle-on-Tyne.[7]

1924 Hydro-electric scheme in the Humber River district of Newfoundland, 'where the continuous output of 100,000 brake horse-power will be utilised in paper mills of the Newfoundland Power and Paper Company, Limited, and for lighting and heating the new township of Corner Brook. The work is being carried out by Messrs. Sir W. G. Armstrong, Whitworth and Co., Limited, London, who are also manufacturing the turbines'. Generators and other electrical equipment by BTH[8]

Armstrong Whitworth and Co invested £5M in the Newfoundland Power and Paper Co's mill at Cornerbrook, NFLD, Canada, which went substantially over budget; the company covered the loss with an overdraft. The paper mill never produced anywhere near its maximum output and was eventually sold with a loss of £2.8M. This in turn limited the cash flow of the Company and the whole group collapsed.

1925 The company acquired from the receiver of the Boving Engineering Co the goodwill, plans, patterns etc. of the Boving pump.[9]

1926 Gordon H. Fraser died on 3rd February following an operation in London.

1926 Armstrong Whitworth and Co Ltd losses amounted to £625,767 for the first 11 months of 1926. Full details of the state of the company were presented to the general meeting[10].

1926 'Important additions to the board of directors have been appointed: Mr John Davenport Siddeley the managing director of Armstrong Siddeley Motors; Mr J. Hawson of Edinburgh, the late vice-president and director of the Algoma Steel Corporation; and Mr J. P. Davison the general sales manager of Armstrong Whitworth. At the same time certain changes in the management of the company have been made. Mr J. Frater Taylor has been appointed vice-chairman of the board and chairman of the executive committee; while Mr John Davenport Siddeley becomes the senior managing director and chairman of the committee of management, giving his special attention to the manufacturing side of the company's business. With the changes indicated, the board for the most part will now consist of active directors. The shipbuilding branch of the business is in future to be self-contained, for this purpose a management corporation has been formed, of which Sir Eustace Henry William Tennyson d'Eyncourt, late director of Naval Construction, is chairman, and Mr James Stewart the managing director.'[11]

In 1927, the defence and engineering businesses were merged with those of Vickers to create a subsidiary company known as Vickers-Armstrongs. Vickers would be the major partner in the new company with two thirds of the shares (worth £8.5M); Armstrong Whitworth received one third of the shares (worth £4.5M). The company sold the Development Co, including the aircraft and motors businesses, to J. D. Siddeley who renamed it Armstrong Siddeley Development Co. Armstrong Whitworth retained a substantial shareholding[12].

1927 Sir William Armstrong, Whitworth and Co retained its interests in Pearson and Knowles Coal and Iron Co and Partington Steel and Iron Co after the merger of other parts of the company with Vickers[13].

1927 See Aberconway for information on the company and its history.

1927 Also see Aberconway for information on the company and its history.

1929 Heavy losses, partly offset by substantial profit on sale of shares in Armstrong Siddeley Development Co; capital reduction[14]. Two private companies were formed: Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth and Company (Engineers) Ltd, and Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth and Company (Shipbuilders) Ltd; the former took over the general engineering businesses at Scotswood and Gateshead; the latter took over the the Devon, Walker and Tyne Iron shipyards. The holding company was renamed Armstrong Whitworth Securities Company Ltd[15].

1929 The company had a controlling interest in Craven Brothers of Manchester, whose business improved through the year[16]

1930 Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth and Co. (Ironfounders) Ltd. was incorporated as a private company.

1930 'The historical armament works of Armatrong-Whitworths at Openshaw, which now form part of the English Steel Corporation's property, are in process of being adapted to commercial products and a considerable number of men are already finding employment in the various departments. A few days ago I had an opportunity of visiting these works, and was agreeably surprised at the amount and variety of the work in hand. One of the most important orders was a 2300 horse-power electrically operated geared winding plant for a mine in Rhodesia, which was approaching completion. This, I was informed, is to be followed by two larger plants of 3500 horse-power. On the firm's books is also an order for a 25,000 horse-power water turbine for New Zealand - the fourth for the same owners. Another department of the works is fairly well employed on pumps, one of which is a 500 horse-power steam hydraulic set for a steel works. In this connection it may be mentioned that the English Steel Corporation owns the manufacturing rights for the Boving pump, and also makes the Gill pump. The small tools department, which was once a very important section of the Openshaw Works, has recently been reorganised and additions have been made to the plant to bring it up to date. Other orders which were to be seen in progress were large six-throw crank shafts for marine oil engines, swaging machinery, the heavier portions of glass-making machinery, and pressings for motor car brake drums.'[17]

1933 Constructors of all-steel aircraft. Head Office and Works: Whitley, near Coventry. Works: London Office: 10 Old Bond Street, London W.1.[18]

1933 Reserve Flying School, operated a school of flying for officers of the R.A.F. Reserve.[19]

1934 The activities of the Armstrong Whitworth group were General Engineers, Shipbuilders and Iron-founders, with particular interests in the development of transport by rail, sea and road. The parent or holding company was Armstrong Whitworth Securities Company Ltd. The principal operating companies were:

  • Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth and Co. (Engineers) Ltd.
  • Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth and Co. (Shipbuilders) Ltd.
  • Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth and Co. (Ironfounders) Ltd.

See Armstrong Whitworth: 1934 Review

1935 Vickers acquired the remainder of the share capital of Vickers-Armstrongs that it did not already own from Armstrong Whitworth Securities Company and other investment companies[20].

1937 Sir John Jarvis acquired the whole of the share capital of the Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth and Co. (Ironfounders) Ltd, and that of Jarrow Metal Industries, in order to relieve unemployment on Tyneside.

1937 Decision that the remaining business should concentrate on defence equipment (a decision which was agreed with Vickers-Armstrongs) and should get out of railway locomotive building [21].

1942 Armstrong-Saurer Road Vehicle Service was one of the few assets remaining in Armstrong Whitworth Securities Company Ltd before it could be wound up [22].

1943 Since the sale of the Scotswood plant in 1937, the board had been planning on an orderly wind-down of Armstrong Whitworth Securities Company Ltd; they had realised the holding in Partington Steel and Iron Co; the final assets to be sold were Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth and Co (Engineers) Ltd and the rights to the Kadenacy process, so the holding company was then liquidated [23].

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  2. The Engineer 1915/04/09, p 368.
  3. The Times, 26 April 1919
  4. The Times, 5 July 1919
  5. The Times, 28 January 1920
  6. The Engineer 1923/03/09
  7. The Engineer 1923/06/15
  8. Engineering 1924/07/18
  9. The Engineer 1925/01/30
  10. The Times, 9 June 1926
  11. The Engineer 1926/07/16
  12. The Times, 29 November 1927
  13. The Times, 29 November 1927
  14. The Times, 8 February 1929
  15. The Times, 10 July 1929
  16. The Times June 4, 1930
  17. [1] The Engineer, 7 Feb 1930, p.171
  18. 1933 Who's Who in British Aviation
  19. 1933 Who's Who in British Aviation
  20. The Times, Wednesday, Jul 17, 1935
  21. The Times, 31 July 1937
  22. The Times, 26 June 1942
  23. The Times, 17 September 1943
  • Traction Engine Album by Malcolm Ranieri. Pub 2005
  • [2] Wikipedia
  • British Shipbuilding Yards. 3 vols by Norman L. Middlemiss
  • Buses and Trolleybuses before 1919 by David Kaye. Published 1972
  • The Engineer of 9th February 1900. p163
  • The Engineer of 27th Feb 1920 p208
  • 1924 Naval Annual Advert page iv
  • The Engineer of 4th August 1911 p128 Supplement
  • The Engineer of 27th October 1911 p432
  • The Engineer of 10th November 1911 p498
  • Mechanical World Year Book 1919. Published by Emmott and Co of Manchester. Advert p3
  • AA. [3] Image courtesy of Aviation Ancestry