Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 125,711 pages of information and 196,436 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Bradbury and Co

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1903. Bradbury turret lathe.
March 1904.
August 1905.

of Wellington Works, Oldham, Manchester.

General

1852 Bradbury & Company Ltd. of Oldham claimed to be the first company in Europe to manufacture sewing machines. Production began in 1852 at The Wellington Works and by 1887 the firm's annual output was between 26,000 and 30,000 units. They also produced machine tools, bicycles and motorcycles as well as prams and children's toys.

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. [1]

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

By 1898 Bradburys had produced it's 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.

In 1903 Bradbury were making large turret lathes.

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 were reducing their reliance on the sewing machine market through diversification and had achieved some success in the motor industry. The firm 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 it's range of sewing machines and other products but by the end of 1923 they experiencing financial problems and it is believed that all production ceased around this time.

1924 Bradbury ceased all production in 1924, 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

Motorcycles

See Bradbury and Co: Motorcycles

Sewing Machines

See Bradbury and Co: Sewing Machines

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 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