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 163,138 pages of information and 245,599 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.

Bradbury and Co

From Graces Guide
1903. Bradbury turret lathe.
March 1904.
August 1905.

of Rhodes-Bank and later of Wellington Works, Oldham, Manchester.

See also -

1852 What was later claimed to be the first company in Europe to manufacture sewing machines, especially those capable of a practical rate of stitching, was founded as jobbing engineers by George Francis Bradbury (1827-1884); T. Sugden is believed to have been his partner when establishing the firm; both had been trained as mechanics in previous employment. See Sugdens, Bradbury and Firth

1855 The partnership was dissolved; the book-keeper, George Ferriman, was responsible for meeting the debts[1]

1862 Dissolution of the Partnership between George Francis Bradbury and George Ferriman, carrying on business at Rhode's-Bank, in Oldham, in the county of Lancaster, as Machinists. All debts due to or owing by the said copartnership firm will be respectively received and paid by the said George Francis Bradbury, by whom the said business will in future be carried on.[2]

c.1864 Thomas Chadwick of Glodwick Road in Oldham became a partner

1867 Patent. 2609. And to George Francis Bradbury and Thomas Chadwick, of the firm of Bradbury and Co., Oldham, in the county of Lancaster; Sewing Machine Manufacturers, for the invention of "improvements in or applicable, to sewing machines."[3]

1868 They opened the Wellington Works in Wellington Street. In addition to 'Bradbury', sewing machines were later marketed under the 'Wellington' and 'Soeze' brand names.

1874 Bradbury and Co was established on 5 May, to acquire the business of sewing-machine makers of the firm of the same name, and the business has since been extended to cycle and tool manufacturing. [4] Bradbury's became a limited company.

By 1882 the firm was producing twelve different models of sewing machines at the rate of around five hundred per week. The company also built a range of specialised machine tools to manufacture components for their own products in batches of eight. Different departments handled moulding, dressing, enamelling and assembly of the machines, and the firm had a total workforce of around 480 at this time. Showrooms for their products were opened at 14, Newgate Street and 217, Commercial Road in London.

1885 Gold medal for invention of rotary shuttle sewing machine.

By 1887 the firm's annual output was between 26,000 and 30,000 units.

By 1890 around 600 factory staff were employed with a further 800 at 60 depots.

Bradbury & Co. made a number of other products throughout their life, including typewriters, capstan lathes and machine tools, and in 1897 a separate department was established in Longley Street, Oldham, for the production of bicycles. They also produced prams and children's toys.

By 1898 Bradburys had produced its first motorcycle and, although sewing machines continued to be the firm's main product, a vigorous and sustained effort was made to enter the automotive industry after 1900. As well as motorcycles, a prototype motor car was developed but for some reason it did not go into production.

1903 Bradbury were making large turret lathes.

1904-06. Produced tricars with various bodies

1905 Production of sewing machines was taken over by the Jones Sewing Machine Co, when the last machine under the Bradbury name was produced. The firm then concentrated on their motorcycles.

At the end of 1905, when the company employed around 1,500 workers, a range of motorcycles was available.

1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices of motorcycles see the 1917 Red Book

By 1914 Bradbury's was experienced in mass production techniques and was probably set to realise the fruits of previous years development of motorcycles and quite possibly cars as well.

WWI During the war Bradbury & Company Ltd. supplied motorcycles and bicycles to the British forces. They probably also supplied machine tools to munitions factories and in all likelihood produced munitions themselves.

After the war the company reintroduced its range of sewing machines and other products but by the end of 1923 they were experiencing financial problems.

1924 Bradbury ceased all production, at the lowest point of the post-war slump. In the sewing machine market they were in competition with the Jones Co of Audenshaw as well as the Scottish subsidiary of the American firm Singer.

1929 May. Bradbury & Co. Ltd. was officially dissolved

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. London Gazette 21 August 1855
  2. London gazette 21 October 1862
  3. The London Gazette Publication date:11 October 1867 Issue:23309 Page:5444
  4. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  • The British Motorcycle Directory - Over 1,100 Marques from 1888 - by Roy Bacon and Ken Hallworth. Pub: The Crowood Press 2004 ISBN 1 86126 674 X
  • [1] CyberMotorCycles web site
  • The Encyclopedia of the Motorcycle by Peter Henshaw. Published 2007. ISBN 978 1 8401 3967 9
  • [2] Bolton University Web Site
  • [3] Science Museum