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 163,139 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.

Firth Cleveland

From Graces Guide
October 1956. "Wandess" Firth Cleveland (Machine Tools) Ltd.
1960. Firth Cleveland Steel Strip.

Industrial holding company, of Cleveland Row, St James, London.


1947 British Lead Mills acquired Firth Co, wire makers

1950 On 1 November British Lead Mills changed its name to Firth Cleveland. A new company British Lead Mills was formed on the same date to carry on the business of the old one.[1]. Included in the new group was Firth Co.

1952 Simmonds Aerocessories, a private company, purchased 90% of the ordinary shares in Firth Cleveland; name changed to Firland Metals[2].

1953 Formed as a private company which owned Simmonds Aerocessories, Firth Co of Warrington, British Lead Mills and Stenor; converted into a public company.[3].

1954 Public offer of shares - an industrial holding company, with interests in metals and engineering but having the intention to broaden its scope.[4]. Owned, amongst others, Firth Cleveland (Machine Tools) Ltd of Wolverhampton, successor to a company formed in 1939.

1955 Acquired Charles Cooper (Tipton).[5].

1955 Acquired Richard Hill and Co as result of its denationalization. Also owned Keeton, Sons and Co, R. E. Roberts and Son, Landmaster of Hucknall, Notts, and retailers Max Stone and Wolfe and Hollander.[6].

1956 Acquired Civic Radio Services.[7]

1957 Firth Cleveland Instruments Ltd formed as a wholly owned subsidiary of Simmonds Aerocessories to represent the growing range of instruments in the group.

1958 The Steel Strip Company (Charles Tipton) was renamed Firth Cleveland Steel Strip, the company expanded to become the UK's leading producer of hardened and tempered steel strip.[8].

1958 Firth Cleveland Instruments was expanding in electronics for fluid flow measurement; licensed Gilbarco deep tank electric contents gauge from Gilbert and Barker Manufacturing Co, of Springfield USA, a subsidiary of Standard Oil Company[9]

1959 Acquired Escott Brothers.[10]

1959 Industrial holding company with 27% of investments in engineering, 12% in electronics and instruments, 27% in steel, 5% in lead and 29% in retail. 25% of the ordinary shares offered to the public[11]. Also owned Firth Cleveland Pumps Ltd. Acquired Sheffield Wire Rope Co.[12]

1959 Subsidiaries included:

1960 Acquired the Broadmead Group (retail chain) and 53% of Solartron Electronic Group. Acquired J. J. Habershon and Sons from the denationalisation of the Iron and Steel Corporation of Great Britain[13]; Firth Cleveland Steel Strip was a customer of Habershon for its high carbon strip[14]..

1960 Licensees of Surform tools from Firth, Brown Tools Ltd. Steel companies J. J. Habershon and Sons, Tenuous Steel Co, and Firth Cleveland Steel Strip collected under new company Firth Cleveland Steel.

Firth Cleveland Tools Ltd of Stornoway House, St. James, London, SW1.

1961 Parent of 20 subsidiaries. Employs 10,000 persons.

1961 Firth Cleveland failed in its attempt to purchase the remaining shares in Solartron Electronic Group. Then sold its shareholding to Schlumberger Inc of USA. In view of poor profits, decided to exit instrumentation and sold Firth Cleveland Instruments to Elliott Automation but the business would continue from the same site under the name Elliott (Treforest).

1962 Purchased Tyne Wire Rope Co and the world patent rights to the Laird Tangential Fan and to a metal extrusion process.[15].

1967 Firth Cleveland had at least 40 subsidiaries in 5 divisions.[16].

1972 GKN acquired Firth Cleveland for its complementary interests in hot and cold rolled strip, sintered products, reinforcements, wire fasteners and garage equipment; GKN had not decided what to do with the retail side of the business[17]

1975 GKN started to dispose of Firth Cleveland's Civic Stores[18]

1985 F. H. Tomkins purchased 6 companies from GKN including Firth Cleveland Engineering but Firth Cleveland Steel Strip and Firth Cleveland Steels in the USA were not included in the deal[19].

1986 Glynwed acquired Firth Cleveland Steel Strip and Firth Cleveland Steels in the USA[20]

Firth Cleveland (Machine Tools) Ltd

of Wolverhampton

1939 Firth Cleveland (Machine Tools) Ltd was successor to a company formed in 1939.

1955 Two separate branches of the business: - one served garages with Wandess servicing equipment; the other supplied intricate tools and equipment to the aircraft industry. As well as supplying equipment that Stenor sold, it also served as the research and development facility for special purpose machine tools for the rest of the group[21].

Firth Cleveland Steel Strip

See Firth Cleveland Steel Strip.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Friday, 16 March 1951
  2. The Times, 19 January 1952
  3. The Times, 5 August 1953
  4. The Times, 8 February 1954
  5. The Times, 13 June 1955
  6. The Times 8 August 1955
  7. The Times, July 17, 1956
  8. The Times, 16 July 1958
  9. The Times, Jul 16, 1958
  10. The Times, March 16, 1959
  11. The Times 28 June 1960
  12. The Times, April 16, 1959
  13. The Times 28 June 1960
  14. The Times, 26 May 1960
  15. The Times, 19 July 1962
  16. The Times, 24 October 1967
  17. The Times, Jun 21, 1972
  18. The Times, Feb 05, 1975
  19. The Times, 14 August 1985
  20. The Times, August 05, 1986
  21. The Times, 8 August 1955