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.

English Electric Co

From Graces Guide
Turbine-generator nameplate, Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry
English Electric turbine-generator unit, ex-Back o' th' Bank Power Station, at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry. NO LONGER ACCESSIBLE
1921. Electrical Machinery.
1926. List of offices.
Rotary Converter. Exhibit at the National Slate Museum.
Rotary Converter. (Detail). Exhibit at the National Slate Museum.
1922. Condenser.
1922. Condensers.
1923. Willans-Fullagar Engine Type 4-Q. 600bhp at 200rpm.
1923. Engine Type 4-Q. 600bhp at 200rpm (detail).
1926. Steam Turbines.
1926. Motors.
1926. Locomotives.
1926. Water Turbines.
1926. Fullagar Oil Engines.
1927. Electrical Works at the Consett Iron Co.
1929. 132 kV transformer with on-load tap changing gear.
1931. 1500 H.P. Fullagar Engine and Generators.
1931. Electricity Developments at Tunbridge Wells.
1931. Electric Locomotive and Train for the South Indian Railway.
1933. Oil - Electric Rail Coach.
1933. Induction Regulators.
1933.Double Deck Trolley Bus AEC and E. E. C.
1934. Tram Blackpool 249. Exhibit at Crich Tramway Museum.
1937. Fractional H.P. Motors.
1937. Impulse Reaction Turbine.
1937. Reactors.
February 1937. Fractional H.P. motors.
September 1937.


1942. 30,000 kVA, 132/33 kV Transformer.
November 1943.
May 1944.
1945. Mine locomotive.


August 1946.
April 1947.
December 1948.
1947. Nelson Research Laboratories, Stafford.
February 1948.
April 1948.
June 1948.
August 1948.
October 1949.
May 1950. Industrial Motor works, Bradford.
1950. Automatic Computing Engine (ACE).
December 1950. Electric plate warmer.
December 1950.
April 1951.
Admiralty "Deltic" Engine 1952.
February 1952.
April 1952.
June 1952.
August 1952.
July 1953.
Sept 1953.


February 1954.
July 1954.
October 1954.
December 1954.
1955. Deltic Locomotive built at the Dick, Kerr and Co works then owned by EE. Exhibit at the Shildon Locomotion Museum.
1955. Penstaocks at Loch Sloy Power Station.
February 1956.
March 1957.
February 1959.
1964. Rugby Works.
1964. Vertical shaft pumps.
November 1968.
Thunderbird Mk1 Surface to Air Missile (SAM). Exhibit at the National Museum of Flight.
P.25 Lightning F.2A. Exhibit at the National Museum of Flight.
Insulation Tester. Exhibit at the Bakelite Museum.
English Electric - AEI Machines. Perigrip Brake.
English Electric - AEI Machines. Perigrip Brake. (Detail).
1965. Industrial applications and Automation Group.

of Queen's House, Kingsway, London, WC2 - Registered Office. Works at Stafford; also at Bradford, Preston and Rugby. Telephone: Stafford 700. Telegraphic Address: "Enelectico, Stafford". (1937)

of Marconi House, Strand, London. (1958).


English Electric was a 20th-century British industrial manufacturer, initially of electric motors, and expanding to include railway locomotives and aviation, before becoming part of The General Electric Company GEC.

1918 The English Electric Co was formed as a public company, chaired by Sir Charles Ellis, who was also chairman of John Brown and Co[1]. The company acquired: Coventry Ordnance Works and Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Co of Bradford.[2]

1919 Acquired Dick, Kerr and Co of Preston, which owned: United Electric Car Co and Willans and Robinson,[3] which provided the nucleus for the steam turbine department at Rugby.

Acquired the Stafford works of Siemens Brothers Dynamo Works Ltd together with the engineering and sales organisations associated with that company.

Arranged the amalgamation of the contracts department of Dick, Kerr and Co with that of J. G. White and Co in the form of the Consolidated Construction Co, which eliminated one of the main competitors in the field[4]

1920 10,000 employees [5].

1920 Working arrangement with Siemens Brothers and Co to reduce sales costs.

1921 Walter Rutherford resigned from the board and management of the company and P. J. Pybus, joint managing director, has been appointed managing director.[6]

1921 Formalised the sales arrangement with Siemens Brothers and Co in the form of a joint venture English Electric and Siemens Supplies Ltd which had taken over the sales activities of the company and some of those activities of Siemens[7].

1924 Siemens Brothers and Co was a substantial shareholder in English Electric Co, as a consequence of the purchase of the dynamo works at Stafford[8].

1925 Had worldwide experience with the Fullagar diesel engine which the company had developed for land use and was proving to be a very reliable means of driving electricity generators[9]

1925 After holding the position of Works manager of the English Electric Company at Stafford for the past two years, Mr. A. H. Sturdee is leaving to join the engineering firm of Ruston and Hornsby, Limited, as chief works manager of that company's five works at Lincoln. He is to be succeeded at Stafford by Lieutenant-Colonel C. Hardie, D.S.O., of London.[10]

1926 Some of the constituent companies, Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Co and Dick, Kerr and Co, had built flying boats during WWI. The aircraft department closed after the last English Electric Kingston flying boat was built.

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

1927 One of the UK's major electrical-machinery and plant manufacturers, others beings GEC, BTH, Metropolitan-Vickers, and C. A. Parsons and Co [11].

Late 1920s EE was in a parlous financial state. A complex financial reorganisation, apparently backed by American Westinghouse interests, was needed to save it.

1930 The manufacture of electrical equipment was moved to Bradford. Tramcar, bus body, and rolling stock production stayed at Preston.

1930 The man most associated with EE, George Nelson, became managing director.

1930s EE supplied equipment for the electrification of the Southern Railway system, which gave it a strong position in the traction market.

1932-40 Built bus bodies and previously tramcar bodies.

THE progress made by the English Electric Co. Ltd. in the development of the Fullagar engine was well illustrated to about fifty representatives of the technical Press on Friday, when, by invitation of the directors, they visited Willans Works and inspected what is claimed to be the largest industrial oil engine ever built in this country.
It is a Fullagar engine of the opposed piston two-stroke type, and is fitted with solid injection equipment. Its capacity is 3,500 b.h.p. at 214 r.p.m., it has a cylinder bore of 19 inches and a combined stroke of 44 inches, and it drives an A.C. generator of 2,300 volts with a capacity of 2,600 k.v.a. Some idea of the immensity of the unit may be gauged from the fact that, including the electric generator, it measures 46 ft. 3 ins. by 15 ft. 6 ins., is 23 ft. 6 ins. high, and weighs 195 tons.
The engine, which has given work to a very considerable number of men in Rugby during the past five or six months, has been built for the Bermuda Electric Light, Power and Traction Co. Ltd., and has eight cylinders. In 1930 an identical type of engine of 2,500 b.h.p., having six cylinders, was despatched to Bermuda, where it has been in regular commission since 1931. The present engine, therefore, represents a repeat order and, when installed, will bring the aggregate horse power in the Bermuda Power Station up to 10,000, all units being English Electric Fullagars. Following an official trial of a week’s non stop full load run, the new engine has to be dismantled for shipment, which is expected to be put in hand about the middle of December, and re-erected on arrival at Bermuda.
One of the advantages claimed for the Fullagar unit, named after the inventor, a Cambridge man, is that in addition to being economical in operation it is economical in floor space for a given output. The English Electric Co. have supplied many Fullagar engines to the British Admiralty over an extended period, and, besides the 3,500 b.h.p. unit, visitors saw in course of manufacture two 1,475 b.h.p. engines and alternators for the Surat Electricity Co., one 980 b.h.p. unit for the Sudan Light and Power Co., one 980 b.h.p. unit for the Gold Coast Railways, and others. .....
Mr. W. P. Johnson, representing ‘‘Engineering,” expressing thanks to the English Electric Co. for their hospitality, said the Fullagar engine was of exceptional interest. It was completely British development, and it showed how prejudice could be overcome. When, some six years ago, he came to those Works and saw the largest Fullagar engine the Company had then built, of 2,500 h.p., they had manufactured 36 Fullagar engines. That seemed pretty good, but he understood that since that date the number had been practically doubled. That was good evidence that the engine was a thoroughly sound one, but even better evidence was that the engine they had seen that day was for the same Company as the 2,500 h.p. engine he saw six years ago. It was the best certificate of reliability any firm could have. He congratulated the English Electric Co. on the amount of work they had got in, particularly it was evident that the great majority of that work was not due to the re-armament programme, but represented genuine progress on the part of the firm.' [12]

1937 British Industries Fair Advert for domestic electrical goods; fuse gear and fuse fittings. Electric Cookers, fires, Water Heaters, Washing Machines, Iron, F.H.P. Motors. High Rupturing Capacity Industrial Fuse Gear. Distribution Boards, Fuse Switchgear, Overhead Busbar System. sub-station Fuse Gear. Rural Distribution Fuse Fittings. Cartridge Fuses. (Electricity: Industrial and Domestic Section - Stand No. Cb.609) [13]

1939 Acquired Samlesbury Aerodrome in Lancashire and starts construction of the Handley Page Hampden and Handley Page Halifax.

1942 The company took over Napier and Son, an aero-engine company, and this helped establish the company's aircraft division. Company factories were converted to build the Handley Page Halifax heavy bomber.

1944 Producing 180 bhp engines for rail cars at the old Willans Works at Rugby.

1945 and after: EE invested heavily in aircraft design. W. E. W. Petter, the chief designer at Westland moved to English Electric to set up the new aircraft division, leading to major successes in the 1950s with the English Electric Lightning interceptor aircraft and the Canberra tactical bomber, which was still flying in 2005 in reconnaissance and other roles with many air forces, including the Royal Air Force.

1946 English Electric Co acquired the holding of Cable and Wireless in Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co[14]. This reflected an intention to diversify the business from heavy electrical engineering to (what was seen as) the new field of electronics. As well as the whole of the share capital in Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co, this also gave EE 42% of Marconi International Marine Co and the entirety of Marconi Instruments Ltd[15]. Established English Electric Valve Co to hold the ex-Marconi valve business.

1946 F. H. Keast, one of the 16 members of Frank Whittle's team, and 3 "office colleagues" joined the gas turbine division of the company at Rugby to continue work on jet engines[16]

1947 Opening of new research laboratories in Blackheath Lane, Stafford

1949 The National Physical Laboratory chose the company as their industrial partner in computer development, following its Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) project; industry was seen to be needed to improve reliability and performance of the machine. The new computer was called the Digital Electronic Universal Computing Engine (DEUCE) [17].

1949 The Navigational Projects Division set up at Luton.

1950 The group consisted of:[18]

1952 The Nelson Industrial Estate at Kidsgrove, Staffordshire was begun with construction of a building for electrical engineering on West Avenue which was the "main works" of English Electric

1953 Manufacturer of TV sets [19]

1955 the first Kidsgrove version of the DEUCE computer was released.

1955 EE took over the Vulcan Foundry and Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns, both with substantial railway engineering pedigrees. EE also continued to make steam turbines.

1955 Four industrial groups formed to exploit the information being made available by UKAEA on design of nuclear power "furnaces" - Industrial Atomic Energy Group involving AEI and John Thompson with electrical generating expertise from Metropolitan-Vickers and BTH; English Electric Co and Babcock and Wilcox; C. A. Parsons and Co and Head, Wrightson and Co; GEC and Simon-CarvesLtd[20].

1958 EE's aviation business was set up separately, as English Electric Aviation Ltd.

1958 Establishment of a joint company with Automatic Telephone and Electric Co and Ericsson Telephones to develop and manufacture transistors in greater quantities[21] called Associated Transistors[22].

1959 Built 3 gas turbines (5,500kW each) to drive pumps at an Iraqi refiners[23]

1960 EE tried to take over one of the other major British electrical companies, GEC.

1960 Built their own analogue computer for nuclear reactor design studies. This was an enormous 1,500 amplifier (i.e. 1500 valve) machine, housed on 2 floors of a purpose-built building, which was named “Saturn”. The engineer responsible was Harold Darker.[24]

1960 Rights issue, to fund developments in electric power, EE's share in the purchase of Hunting Aircraft and establishment of Associated Transistors[25]; English Electric Valve Co's interests in transistors had been merged into that company also.

Early 1960s Under government pressure EE rationalised its aircraft division, which later became part of the new British Aircraft Corporation (BAC), English Electric having a 40% stake in BAC.

1961 Group with 22 subsidiaries. Employed 84,200 persons in the group [26]

1961 English Electric Co acquired W. H. Dorman and Co[27].

1961 Formation of new JV company Napier Aero Engines Ltd to make certain engines

1962 Formation of new management company English Electric Domestic Appliances to handle all of the domestic appliance activities[28]

1962 New wholly-owned subsidiary formed: English Electric Traction to bring all railway related activities under one management. These included The Vulcan Foundry, Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns and W. G. Bagnall[29].

1962 The Luton factory was closed; computer production was relocated to Stevenage, later to become part of ICL.

1962 Order received for four 56MW gas turbines generators from CEGB; the gas generators were based on the Rolls Royce Avon. Numerous EE industrial gas turbines were in use throughout the world.[30]

1963 New wholly-owned subsidiary formed: English Electric Diesel Engines to bring under central control all of its interests in diesel engines, including those in W. G. Bagnall and the Deltic division of D. Napier and Son [31].

1963 English Electric's guided weapons division was taken over by BAC.

1963 LEO Computers was merged into a joint venture with English Electric which was named the English Electric LEO Co.

1963 The welding division was put into a joint venture company: English Electric-Arc Welding Co

1963 Acquired the turbo-charger business of Hawker Siddeley Brush Turbines which was absorbed into Napier Turbochargers.

1964 English Electric LEO Co became a wholly owned subsidiary of the English Electric Co. English Electric's Marconi computer operations were merged with it, forming English Electric Leo Marconi.

1965 The company received the largest order ever for gas-turbine alternator plant; ordered by the CEGB for installation at Cottam, Didcot and Rugeley B power stations to provide auxiliary power and peak-lopping capabilities; the plant would be assembled at Whetstone[32]

1966 Acquired Ruston and Hornsby and Davey, Paxman and Co to become part of English Electric Diesel Engines Ltd

1966/7 Acquired J. G. Statter and Co, a small company involved in transformers and switchgear[33].

1967 English Electric acquired the switchgear interests of the Delta Metal Co[34]

1967 English Electric took over transformer and switchgear company Combined Electrical Manufacturers Ltd, at the same time as AEI was also acquiring a company involved in transformers[35].

1967 Supplied the turbine generators for Retford power station.

1967 in the first deal arranged by the Industrial Reorganization Corporation, English Electric took over Elliott Automation to form the leading European group in computing and process control.

1967-1968 Failed bid for English Electric by Plessey Co.

1968 Details of their Mechanical Engineering Laboratory at Whetstone. [36]

1968 Announce agreement to develop hydraulic turbo-machinery. [37]

1968 English Electric Leo Marconi was merged with International Computers and Tabulators (ICT) and others to form International Computers Limited (ICL).

1968 English Electric Diesel Engines Ltd was renamed English Electric Diesels Ltd, which included Davey, Paxman and Co, Dorman (Stafford), Napier, Kelvin (Glasgow), and English Electric.

1968 GEC took over English Electric Co [38].

1968 One of the 2 new companies formed to design and build nuclear power stations was named Balfour English Electric Nuclear[39]

1969 Balfour English Electric Nuclear was renamed British Nuclear Design and Construction.


See English Electric Co: Aviation
See English Electric Aircraft Equipment
See English Electric Aviation


See English Electric LEO Co
See English Electric-Leo-Marconi Computers
See English Electric Co: KDF9 Computer
See English Electric Co: Navigational Projects Division

Domestic Appliances

See English Electric Co: Domestic Appliances

Electricity Generation and Transmission

See English Electric Co: Electricity Generation and Transmission


See English Electric Co: Railways


See English Electric Co: Television

Water Turbines

See English Electric Co: Water Turbines

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 1 October 1919
  2. The Times, 1 January 1919
  3. The Times, 16 July 1919
  4. The Times, Apr 29, 1920
  5. The Times, 29 April 1920
  6. The Engineer 1921/03/18
  7. The Times, 28 April 1921
  8. The Times, 30 May 1924
  9. The Times, May 14, 1925
  10. The Engineer 1925/01/16
  11. A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 7: The City of Birmingham (1964)
  12. Rugby Advertiser - Tuesday 10 November 1936
  13. 1937 British Industries Fair Advert p572; and p360
  14. The Times, 26 April 1946
  15. The Times, 20 July 1946
  16. The Times Apr. 23, 1946
  17. The Staffordshire University Computing Futures Museum [1]
  18. Advertisement
  19. Choosing your Television Set. Published by Freelance in 1953.
  20. The Times, 17 March 1955
  21. The Times, 6 May 1958
  22. The Times, 24 December 1960
  23. The Times Sept. 9, 1959
  24. Correspondence from MGB 2016/05/12
  25. The Times, 24 December 1960
  26. 1961 Guide to Key British Enterprises
  27. The Times, 30 May 1961
  28. The Times Apr. 10, 1962
  29. The Times, 5 May 1962
  30. The Times Nov. 6, 1962
  31. The Times, 6 May 1963
  32. The Times Mar. 3, 1965
  33. The Times, 13 May 1967
  34. The Times , Oct 14, 1967
  35. The Times, 13 May 1967
  36. The Engineer of 5th January 1968 p19
  37. The Engineer of 9th February 1968 p240
  38. The Engineer of 5th July 1968 p10
  39. The Times, 5 February 1969