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 163,484 pages of information and 245,913 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.

Butterley Co

From Graces Guide
1874 Pumping engine at Clay Cross Colliery. 84" cylinder, wrought iron plate beam. Designed by William Howe
1884. Tannett, Walker and Co rolling mill engine for Butterley
1867 Structural ironwork at London St. Pancras Railway Station
London St Pancras Station
1867 rolled beam at London St Pancras Station
February 1901.
January 1902.
September 1936.
September 1947. Butterley Green Crop Loader.
May 1949.
July 1949.
December 1950.
March 1957.

The Butterley Company, coal owners and ironmasters, of Ripley, and of Butterley Iron Works, near Alfreton, Derbyshire. (1853); Civil Engineering Dept, Butterley Park, Nr. Ripley, Derbyshire. (1949).

1790 William Jessop, with the assistance of Benjamin Outram, began construction of the Cromford Canal to connect Pinxton and Cromford with the Erewash Canal. In the process of digging the Butterley Tunnel for the Cromford Canal, quantities of coal and iron were discovered. Fortuitously, Butterley Hall fell vacant and, in 1790, Outram, with the financial assistance of Francis Beresford, bought it and its estate.

1792 they were joined by Jessop, and John Wright, the grandson of Ichabod Wright, a wealthy Nottingham banker who was betrothed to Beresford's daughter and who owned the Butterley Park estate. Together they founded Benjamin Outram and Co.[1]

1793 the French Revolutionary Wars broke out

By 1796, the blast furnace was producing nearly a thousand tons of pig iron a year.

1805 Benjamin Outram died; one of Jessop's sons, also William, took over. The company finally paid a dividend, having paid off its debts.

1807 After the deaths of Beresford and Outram, the company was carried on by John Wright, Margaret Outram and William Jessop and was renamed Butterley Co.[2]

1808 William Brunton, who had worked with Boulton and Watt since 1796, became the engineer of the company. He erected fitting shops, and established the manufacture of engines.

Supplied iron work including rails and wheels for the building of the Caledonian Canal.[3]

1811 the company expanded with another works at Codnor Park, both works then having two blast furnaces. As a result output had risen to around 4,500 tons per year.

They also owned Hilt's Quarry at Crich which supplied limestone for the ironworks, with lime kilns at Bullbridge for supplying farmers and for the increasing amount of building work. The steep wagonway to the Cromford Canal at Bullbridge was called the Butterley Gang Road. In 1812, William Brunton, an engineer for the company, produced his remarkable Steam Horse locomotive.

1813 William Brunton patented a walking locomotive.

1814 the company produced the iron work for the Vauxhall Bridge over the River Thames.

1817 in the depression following the Napoleonic Wars, the works at Butterley was the scene of the Pentrich Revolution. Following this, however, the country entered a long period of prosperity, the Butterley Company with it.

1820s Joseph Glynn became engineer to the company.

1830 Butterley and Co was considered to be the largest coal owner and the second largest iron producer, in the East Midlands. By this time the company owned a considerable number of quarries for limestone and mines for coal and iron, and installed a third blast furnace at Codnor Park.

1830 Built a large steam pumping engine for the Hundred Foot Station, Little Downham, Cambridgeshire. Rated at 80 HP, the flywheel was 26 ft 3" diameter and weighed 30 tons. The 26 ft long beam weighed 15 tons. Cylinder 43.5" dia., stroke 8 ft. Scrapped in 1914 [4]. A contemporary (1830) account said that a 'Steam engine of 80 horses power, erected in Littleport and Downham District, was put in motion to the gratification of some hundreds who attended to witness this grand monument of art, upon which posterity will gaze and admire the memory of its projectors erected by the Butterley Company under the direction of a Joseph Glynn driving scoop wheel'[5]

1838 They produced two locomotives for the Midland Counties Railway.

In the early days of the steam ship they worked with Boulton and Watt to supply most of the naval contracts. They produced a vast array of goods, from rails for wagonways to heaters for tea urns. Thomas Telford's Caledonian Canal used lock gates and machinery with castings produced at Butterley, as well as two steam dredgers designed by Jessop. The company also produced steam locomotives, mostly for its own use, but it provided two for the Midland Counties Railway.

They produced all the necessary castings for the new railways and two complete lines, the Croydon, Merstham and Godstone Iron Railway and the Cromford and High Peak Railway. A winding engine for the latter still exists in working order at Middleton Top Engine House near Wirksworth.

1843 Joesph Glynn sent samples to the Society of Arts of titanium found in the hearth of a blast furnace at the Butterley works. The quantity found did probably not exceed 100lbs, after smelting about 130,000 tons of iron ore, coke and limestone.[6]

1851 Supplied a winding engine to Cinderhill Colliery.

1851 Award at the 1851 Great Exhibition. See details at 1851 Great Exhibition: Reports of the Juries: Class V.

c.1853 John G. N. Alleyne was manager and engineer

1862 Beam engine for Lake Street Pumping Station, Oxford Waterworks. [7]

By 1863 the company was rolling the largest masses of iron of any ironworks in the country. Among its most famous buildings are the Barlow Train Shed at St Pancras station in London. There was also an extensive brickworks not only for the railways, but for thousands of factories and domestic dwellings.

1870 'English Enterprise in Holland.— The lowest tender for a great iron bridge about to be constructed over the old Meuse, near Dordrecht, for the Dutch State Railways, was delivered by the Butterley Iron Company, who offer to execute the work for £46,036.'[8]

By 1874 its workers were starting to fight for better conditions. It sacked eleven miners "without a charge" on May 5 1874.

During 1874, in response to an Admiralty questionnaire, they reported they had installed a Siemens Gas Furnace to make steel to replace the wrought iron used in boilers.

1884 Starting of new 28" plate mill at Codnor Park. 'The large engines and the hydraulic engines and accumulator are from the works of Messrs. Tannett, Walker and Co., of Leeds, and the gas producers are constructed by the Butterley Company, from the designs of Mr. Bernard Dawson, C.E. The mill itself has been made at the company’s works, and it may be mentioned that the casting of the bed plates, nearly 50 tons each, and the housings, weighing 16 tons each, was a work of no small difficulty, the successful accomplishment of which reflects great credit upon all concerned in it. For shearing the plates rolled by the new mill a pair of shears has been obtained from Messrs. J. Buckton and Co., of Leeds, having cutting blades 10ft. 6in, long, and provided with an admirable arrangement for throwing the moving blade to and out of gear without stopping the engine by which it driven. These shears are capable of cutting steel plates an inch and a half thick. Amongst the other appliances of these extensive works may mentioned seven steam hammers of from two and a half to twelve tons, and the welding machinery, by which the “knees” are inserted to deck beams and the largest girders, are construced with a longitudinal weld along or near to their neutral axis. Noticeable also are the “cutting down” shears, by Messrs. De Bergue and Co., and the merchant mill saws, which are driven by steam turbines, and were manufactured by the company. Mention must also be made of a fine testing machine by Messrs. Buckton and Co., with an ingenious machine for preparing specimens for testing, also from the same firm. ....'[9]

1888 Took limited liability with capital of £600,000. [10] This scheme would allow the shares to be distributed amongst the proprietors; there was no intention to offer shares to the public[11]

1893 Fabricated the San Miguel de Piura Bridge (Peru).

1907 From 1860 to 1907 they produced 27 locomotives originally for their own use.

1908 Private company.

1913 Sank a new pit at Kirkby Colliery, South Yorks[12]

1914 Company made public.

1914 Colliery proprietors, constructional and general engineers, iron manufacturers. Specialities: heavy and light castings and pipes, colliery plant including winding engines, pumping, haulage and screening machinery, bridges, roofs and constructional work of all kinds, coal. [13]

1927 Despite the depressed state of trade generally, the company had paid a bonus to shareholders. A new colliery was sunk at Ollerton[14]

1934 Butterley Company owned 10 collieries, Butterley Ironworks at Butterley, and Codnor Park ironworks in Derbyshire, and 3 brickworks, and the Butterley Housing Co which owned 1036 houses[15]

1936 'The Butterley Company had purchased recently patent rights for a new process of iron paving, and had taken over works near to London.'[16]. See advert for 'Tri-Pedal' cast iron floor tiles. Customers included the Silverdale Co-operative Society's new bakery, where over 8,500 were laid.[17]. By 1939 the London foundry had been closed and production transferred to the Butterley works. [18]. These were still being produced in 1962 [19]

WWII Involved in a variety of war work including making gun carriages and tank parts, keels for frigates, panels for Bailey Bridges, incinerators for use in the Far East and pontoons for the Mulberry Harbour[20]

1947 The collieries were nationalised. The company acquired an interest in Kelvin Construction Co[21]. Acquired Hughes and Lancaster, Apex Sand and Gravel, Blaby Brick and Tile Co, and A. H. Couser, a small civil engineering contractor; acquired from Bradley and Craven the manufacturing rights to their whole range of sheet metal machinery[22]

1948 Started developing a farming business[23]

1951 New buildings were constructed; an agreement had been reached with Air Products of the USA to licence oxygen making technology. A new brickwork kiln was commissioned at Blaby; extra farm land was acquired in East Notts to maintain the herd of pedigree cows. Negotiations were still going on about the compensation for the nationalised coal mines[24]

1952 The company bought back the pillars of coal under the Butterley and Codnor Park ironworks to protect them against disturbance (much to the chagrin of the chairman as these pillars had been given zero value on nationalisation)[25]

1953 The Oxygen Division was being promoted by the chairman of the company

1954 Acquired T. Darnell and Sons[26]. Armstrong Siddeley Development Co acquired Kelvin Construction Co of Glasgow from Butterley[27]

1954 Order from Stewarts and Lloyds for a large tonnage oxygen plant for the Corby steel works; the plant would be built using Air Products of the USA technology for which Butterley held the licence[28].

1954 The compensation for the coal mines was partly distributed to shareholders and the rest invested in developing the heavy engineering, civil engineering and general contracting, brick making and farming businesses[29]

At its peak in the 1950s the company employed around 10,000 people.

1957 The Butterley Company had a wide range of engineering activities - oxygenators, cranes, power presses, unit bridges, rail wagons and containers, industrial paving, mine cars, mining machinery, sewage ejectors, pumps and air compressors, wool washing machinery, bricks, building aggregate[30]

1957 The company was concentrating on 3 main areas of activity[31]:

  • Engineering
  • Industrial Gases, jointly with Air Products Inc
  • Brick works and building supplies

Problems in the civil engineering department, which had developed housing for sale, were being resolved. Subsidiary Butterley and Blaby Brick Co had invested in plant to make Aglite at Salterwood and pre-stressed concrete beams at Mugginton; T. Darnell and Hughes and Lancaster had invested in new machine tools. A new brick factory was operating at Kirton.

1957 The Oxygen Division of the company had acquired sole rights in Britain and the Commonwealth to an on-site oxygen making technology, particularly for steel making. The company also made railway bridges, constructional steelwork, iron paving, wrought iron bars, overhead cranes, railway wagons and mine cars, meehanite castings, mining and sheet metal machinery, sewage ejectors and pumps, wool washing machinery, lightweight aggregate, high quality bricks[32]

1959 Considerable losses on 2 contracts for oxygen plants because of unexpected work needed[33] which contributed in a major way to the overall losses of the company; an associated company had assumed the known losses. New brickworks at Kirton[34]

1960 Air Products (Great Britain) Ltd had several orders for large oxygen plant[35]

1961 Sold its interests in Air Products (Great Britain) Ltd to the parent Air Products of the USA[36]

1961 Iron masters and ironfounders, constructional engineers of steelwork and manufacturers of wagons, mine cars and agricultural machinery. [37]

1965 The Codnor Park works closed.

1967 Subsidiaries were Butterley Brick and Butterley Engineering[38]

1968 Wiles Group bought the brick-making and engineering business, Butterley of Derby[39]. Robert Wilberforce, chairman, and Norman Wright, a director who was member of the family that originally founded the company in 1790, retired[40]

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [2] Wikipedia
  • A Short History of Naval and Marine Engineering by E. C. Smith. Published 1937
  • The Steam Engine in Industry by George Watkins in two volumes. Moorland Publishing. 1978/9. ISBN 0-903485-65-6
  • Biography of James Edward Hanson, ODNB [3]
  1. Biography of Benjamin Outram, ODNB
  2. London Gazette 14 March 1807
  3. The Caledonian Canal by A. D. Cameron. ISBN 978 1 84158 403 4
  4. Fenland Pumping Engines by K. S. G. Hinde, Landmark Publishing Co., 2006 ISBN 1 84306 188 0
  5. Cambridge Chronicle and Journal - Friday 16th April 1830
  6. [1] Transactions of the Society, Instituted at London, for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, communication from Joseph Glynn, 2 March 1842
  7. Plate 127, 'Stationary Steam Engines of Great Britain, Volume 6: The South Midlands', by George Watkins, Landmark Publishing Ltd
  8. Manchester Evening News - Thursday 24 March 1870
  9. Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal - Friday 23 May 1884
  10. The Engineer 1888/04/20 p331
  11. The Times, Apr 14, 1888
  12. The Times, Jan 10, 1913
  13. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  14. The Times, Jun 30, 1927
  15. The Times, Nov 8, 1934
  16. Derby Daily Telegraph - Monday 24 August 1936
  17. Staffordshire Sentinel - Thursday 18 May 1939
  18. Derby Daily Telegraph - Friday 30 June 1939
  19. Birmingham Daily Post, 8 May 1962 - advert stating that they had laid Tri-pedal tiles for the new Walsall Bakery of William Price and Sons
  20. The Times, Jul 10, 1945
  21. The Times, Jun 02, 1955
  22. The Times, Jul 19, 1948
  23. The Times, Jul 02, 1949
  24. The Times, Jul 09, 1951
  25. The Times, Jul 01, 1952
  26. The Times, Jun 02, 1955
  27. The Times, Sep 13, 1954
  28. The Times, Dec 21, 1954
  29. The Times, Jul 01, 1954
  30. The Times, Mar 13, 1957
  31. The Times, Jul 08, 1957
  32. The Times, Oct 15, 1957
  33. The Times, Mar 24, 1959
  34. The Times, Jun 09, 1959
  35. The Times Jun 08, 1960
  36. The Times, May 26, 1961
  37. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  38. The Times, Aug 29, 1967
  39. The Times, Dec 04, 1968
  40. The Times, Dec 17, 1968