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.

John Hetherington and Sons

From Graces Guide
1887. Carding engine.
1888. Hetherington radial arm drill, with Greenwood and Batley lathe in background, formerly on display at Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre, Devon.
Former Hetherington machine tool works, Pollard Street (photographed 2008)
Former Hetherington textile machinery works in Pollard Street
Former Hetherington textile machinery works in Pollard Street
Carding machine at Quarry Bank Mill
August 1899.


1903. Frame slotting machine.
1904. Duplex Milling Machine.
1904. High-speed headstock.
1904. Headstock.
1904. Loose headstock and bed.
1905. Two spindle drill.
1905. Special boring machine.
1905. Multiple drilling and tapping machine.


1906. 8 Foot Gear Cutter
1914 pit lathe. 98 inch centre height, 16 ft dia faceplate, 30 ft diameter swing in pit.
1914. Pit lathe.
1924. John Hetherington Nasmith Comber.
December 1929.
1930. Large boring and turning mill.

of the Vulcan, Hope, and Ancoats Works, Pollard Street, Manchester.

John Hetherington and Sons were makers of machine tools and textile machines.

1836 Company established by John Hetherington

1844 Dissolution of the Partnerships between William Fairbairn and John Hetherington as Machine Makers, at Manchester, as John Hetherington and Company, and that as Engineers and Millwright's, at Manchester, as William Fairbairn[1]

1847 Back gear turning lathe (Mr Heatherington of Manchester). [2]

1851 Company employing 200 men [3]

1854 John Muir Hetherington becomes a partner in the company

c1855 Thomas Ridley Hetherington became a partner

1861 Company employing 490 men, 250 boys and 46 girls [4]

1862 London Exhibition, featured machinery for cleaning cotton and preparing, combing, and spinning including carding engines, drawing frame, slubbing frame, roving frame, and self-acting mule; also machine tools including self-acting slide and screw-cutting lathe, drilling and boring machines[5].

1871 Company employing 900 hands [6]

1880 Messrs. Hetherington and Sons' Vulcan Works was producing cotton machinery. A branch of these works making tools had so grown in importance that it was put into a separate concern at a converted cotton spinning and weaving mill in Pollard-street, the street in which the original works were situated - this was called the Ancoats Works and was carried on by a branch of the firm under the style of Hetherington and Co.[7]

1887 A speciality of the firm is overhead travelling cranes.

1888 The 'Draper-Hetherington' Automatic Sprinkler (by Hetherington and Co of Manchester). [8]

1888 Double Planing machine for Pembroke Dockyard (by Hetherington and Co of Manchester). [9]

1888 Double Cold Saw (by Hetherington and Co of Manchester). [10]

1890 Incorporated as a limited company.

1894 The company was registered on 29 November, to acquire the business of textile machinists and engineers of a private company of the same name. [11]. The prospectus includes the following information:-

Directors. John M. Hetherington, Esq., Chairman. John M'Queen, Esq., Vice-chairman. Clement V. Haworth, Esq., Manchester. Amos Mellodew, Esq., Oldham. .....The vendor company recently acquired the plant and business of the old and well-known firm of Curtis, Sons, and Co. whose speciality, in addition to cotton machinery, was the manufacture of spinning and other machinery for the woollen trade, and this is included in the present purchase.

The works and premises comprise (1) the Vulcan Works in Pollard-street, Ancoats; (2) The Ancoats Works on the opposite side of the same street, and used for the purposes of the tool making and general engineering department; (3) The Hope Mills, adjoining the Ancoats Works ; and (4) The Phoenix Works taken upon lease at the time of purchasing the plant and business of the late firm of Curtis, Sons, and Co.

Part of the Vulcan Works stands upon area of 8,268 square yards land or thereabouts, .... The rest of the Vulcan Works stands upon an area of 14,369½ square yards of land or thereabouts, which is freehold, .... The Ancoats Works, together with the Hope Mills, occupy an area of 6,304 square yards of land or thereabouts, which is freehold, .... The areas above-mentioned include portions the adjoining streets. The Phoenix Works are occupied upon lease which is about expire, but respect of which an offer of renewal has been received. The several works are centrally situated within the manufacturing district of the city. The extensive plant comprises engines, boilers, gearing, lathes, drilling, planing, shaping, and other special machines, tools, and appliances necessary to the best and most economical performance of the work undertaken the company, including automatic milling machines specially designed for manufacturing the detailed parts of the machines. The works and plant have been kept to the highest degree of efficiency. The whole the above-mentioned property, together with the loose tools, patterns, &c., have been valued by Messrs. Wheatlev Kirk, Price, and Goulty, at the sum of £211,221 9s. 3d,.....'[12]

1900 The US magazine 'Machinery' described a machining operation carried out on a large rolling mill housing at the works of the Philadelphia Roll and Machine Co 'on an old Hetherington & Co's 60" x 60" x 22' planer'.[13]

1901 'Probably the largest horizontal turning and boring machine which has ever been built has just been completed for a firm of Wolverhampton electrical engineers. The makers are Messrs. John Hetherington and Sons Limited, of Manchester, at whose invitation people interested in the engineering trade have inspected the machine during the past week. The machine, which embraces all the latest improvements will take articles up to 32 feet diameter, and admit six feet under the tool holders. Messrs. Hetherington say there is an idea that the machine tool makers in this country are allowing themselves to be outstripped by their American and German competitors. They are not aware, however, of any machine of this type and size having been built either in Germany or America.'[14]

1904 Description and illustration of special duplex machine for planing rails crossings to a point[15] and a large vertical planing machine[16]

1905 Special lathe described in the American Machinist [17]. It could turn flywheels, pulleys, cylinder covers, etc., up to 12 ft diameter, and incorporated a 30" stroke shaping and slotting head.

1908 Gear-cutting machines featured in 'Machinery' [18]

1911 Railway wheel lathe, Boring and turning mills and Screw driven planing machines.

1914 Textile machinists and engineers' heavy machine tool makers. Employees 4,200. [19]

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

1929 OLD ESTABLISHED MACHINE TOOL BUSINESS CHANGES HANDS. Messrs. John Hetherington and Sons, Limited have purchased the goodwill, including drawings and patterns so far as relates to machine tools, excepting Vertical and Duplex Key seating Machines of the well-known Machine Tool manufacturing firm, Messrs. Smith and Coventry Limited, which was originally established in Ordsall Lane, Salford in about 1859 and has been carried on lately at Timperley. Messrs. Hetherington intend to run the Smith and Coventry business in conjunction with their existing machine tool manufacture at their Works in Pollard Street, Manchester. Under normal conditions Messrs. Smith and Coventry employed about 300 hands at their works in Salford and as Messrs. Hetheringtons have recently enlarged and modernized their own machine tool works they have every facility and accommodation for dealing with the increased business which will follow as result of their recent acquisition. They are prepared to supply any spare parts - to duplicate in their entirety machines purchased in the past from Messrs. Smith and Coventry [20]

1931 John Hetherington and Sons, Howard and Bullough, Platt Brothers, Brooks and Doxey, Asa Lees and Co, Dobson and Barlow, Joseph Hibbert sold their textile machinery making assets to Textile Machinery Makers (TMM) in return for shares. Tweedales and Smalley were initially not partners of the TMM scheme but they joined later.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Machine Tools by James Weir French in 2 vols. Published 1911 by Gresham
  1. London Gazette 31 Dec 1844
  2. Engineer and Machinist's Assistant 1847. plate XLI (descriptions on p24)
  3. 1851 Census
  4. 1861 Census
  5. Catalogue 1862 London Exhibition: Catalogue: Class 7.: John Hetherington and Sons
  6. 1871 Census
  7. The Engineer 1887/12/30
  8. The Engineer of 2nd March 1888 p205
  9. The Engineer 1888/04/13 p297
  10. The Engineer 1888/04/20 p315
  11. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  12. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 1 December 1894
  13. [1] August 1901, p.397
  14. Manchester Courier - Monday 24 June 1901
  15. [2] Machinery, Dec 1904, p.216
  16. Machinery, June 1904, p.529
  17. [3] American Machinist, 16 Feb 1905
  18. [4] Machinery, Feb 1908, pp.357 & 359
  19. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  20. Nottingham Evening Post - Thursday 2nd May 1929