Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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National Arms and Ammunition Co

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of Birmingham, works at Holdford Mills, Macdonald St, Sherlock St, Belmont Row, Montgomery St, percussion and ammunition makers, gun makers (1875)[1].

c.1871 The Westley-Richards Arms and Ammunition Co acquired rights to the Martini-Henry rifle as selected by the British government, the patents for the Henry barrel and the Jones cartridge.

1872 Company formed to establish factories on a "complete and extensive scale" for manufacture of rifles, arms and ammunition[2]. The company would take over the works of the Westley-Richards Arms and Ammunition Co; the directors included 3 with addresses given as Westley-Richards Arms and Ammunition Co; the managing director was late superintendent of HM Small Arms Factory at Enfield; the resident engineer was also from Enfield[3].

1872 Set up the Small Arms Works in Montgomery Street, Sparkbrook[4].

1873 The company had property at Holdford (Ammunition), Sparkbrook (Small Arms), Cartridge Works at Belmont Row, and Peel Works in Macdonald Street for general works. Detailed description of Holdford Works[5], Belmont Row[6] and the new small arms factory just erected at Sparkbrook[7].

1874 Public offer of debenture bonds secured on property at Holford, Sparkbrook, Cartridge Works at Belmont Row (formerly Messrs Ludlow's works), and the interests of the company in the Peel Works, Birmingham, and the company's interest in the Martini-Peabody, Westley-Richards and Jones patents[8].

1875 AGM told that the company had successfully defended its patents and would receive royalties from other companies who had been making the Martini-Henry Rifle[9] but the judgement was overturned the following year; finally settled in National's favour by the House of Lords.

1876 Dispute with the Gold and Co (Birmingham) settled by arbitration in favour of National[10].

1876 Holdbrook works damaged by fire

1877 The Royal Small Arms Repairing Factory was in Bagot Street, Birmingham[11].

1878 Business at both the arms and the ammunition works was below capacity; much of the stock at Sparkbrook had been unfinished Mauser rifles which had now been completed. The Holdbrook works had been repaired after the fire; the Belmont row premises had been sold[12].

1882 Advertising the 'National' tricycle

1882 The company could not continue because of the scale of its debts; decision was made to wind up but also to sell the business to the Government[13].

By 1884 the assets had been disposed of; the bicycle and tricycle business had been sold to a company in Coventry; the ammunition business had been sold to Westley Richards and Co as they were the principal customers for that business; the fog signal business was sold to Mr F. Ludlow; discussions had been held with the British and other governments about the Sparkbrook and Holdford factories[14] but the government declined. It was even suggested that the Sparkbrook factory should be acquired as a replacement for the Royal Small Arms Factory (sic) in Bagot Street[15].

1885 Talks were well advanced for the government to purchase the Sparkbrook factory which would add much needed repairing capability to that of the Small Arms Repairing Factory in Bagot Street (otherwise known as "The Tower")[16].

1886 The Sparkbrook factory was finally sold to the government[17] in order to secure the production of small arms, becoming the Royal Small Arms Factory (Birmingham). Over the next 2 years about £40000 was invested in re-equipping the factory[18].

1888 The Holdford Mill was sold by the liquidators to the Gatling Gun Co[19].


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. White and Co.'s Commercial & Trades Directory of Birmingham, Vol. II, 1875
  2. The Pall Mall Gazette, 1 February 1872
  3. Birmingham Daily Post 6 February 1872
  4. RSAF/BAS Sparkbrook [1]
  5. Birmingham Daily Post 26 November 1873
  6. Birmingham Daily Post 28 November 1873
  7. Birmingham Daily Post 29 November 1873
  8. Birmingham Daily Post, 3 January 1874
  9. Birmingham Daily Post 10 March 1875
  10. Birmingham Daily Post 9 August 1876
  11. The London Gazette, 27 March 1877
  12. Birmingham Daily Post (Birmingham, England), Monday, February 25, 1878
  13. Birmingham Daily Post 18 December 1882
  14. Birmingham Daily Post 16 January 1884
  15. Birmingham Daily Post 31 January 1885
  16. Birmingham Daily Post 1 April 1885
  17. Birmingham Daily Post 8 April 1886
  18. Birmingham Daily Post, 5 May 1888
  19. Birmingham Daily Post 14 December 1888