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British Industrial History

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Royal Small Arms Factory (Birmingham)

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Royal Small Arms Factory at Sparkbrook, Birmingham

c.1885 On liquidation of the Small-arms and Ammunition Co Ltd, the government purchased the factory in order to secure the production of small arms. Over the next 2 years about £40000 was invested in re-equipping the factory[1]. Presumably this was added to the Royal Small Arms Repairing Factory in Bagot Street (otherwise known as "The Tower") as there was great need for extra repairing capability[2].

1887 Report by Lord Morley's committee into the Manufacturing Departments of the Army, which consisted of 4 establishments: Woolwich, Waltham Abbey, Enfield and Birmingham; the committee made a number of recommendations for reorganisation, having taken account of modern industrial practices[3].

1888 About 100 men were employed on new work and 600-700 on repairs. Removal of plant to Enfield caused concern that the Sparkbrook factory was to be moved to Enfield[4].

1889 William Anderson was appointed Director General of Ordnance Factories, responsible for the ordnance factories, laboratory, carriage department and gun factory at Woolwich Arsenal, the small-arms factories at Enfield and Birmingham, and the gunpowder factory at Waltham Abbey.

1893 The government-owned gun factories in Birmingham were at Sparkbrook and Small Heath; debate in Parliament focussed on the question of Enfield versus Sparkbrook[5].

Late 1890s The Lanchester Engine Co purchased part of the site, the Armoury Mills, for car manufacture.

1900 Birmingham Small Arms Co and the Royal Small Arms Factory (Enfield) shared the large orders for the Lee-Enfield Rifle; the Royal Small Arms Factory (Birmingham) would probably be called on to help although it had principally be involved in repair work in the past few years[6].

1905 The War Office decided to give up the manufacture of rifles at the Royal Small-arms Factory at Sparkbrook and concentrate manufacturing of rifles at Enfield, as had been the War Office's wish for a long time; Sparkbrook would become a repair shop[7]

1906 Birmingham Small Arms Co took over the Royal Small Arms Factory at Sparkbrook[8].

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Birmingham Daily Post, 5 May 1888
  2. Birmingham Daily Post 1 April 1885
  3. The Times, Saturday, Jul 30, 1887
  4. Birmingham Daily Post, 5 May 1888
  5. Birmingham Daily Post 13 March 1893
  6. Leicester Chronicle 10 February 1900
  7. The Engineer 1905/02/24
  8. The Times, 28 January 1919