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 163,134 pages of information and 245,598 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.

Siebe, Gorman and Co

From Graces Guide
Exhibit at the Chatham Dockyard.
1819. 'Open' helmet.
January 1888.


June 1898.
1899. The Buchanan-Gordon design.
December 1929.
April 1947.
November 1947.


January 1952.
1954. Diving Apparatus.
February 1957.
February 1959. Air-Fed Paint Sprayer's Mask.
Photographed in Punta Arenas, Chile.
Photographed in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Siebe, Gorman and Co, Submarine and General Engineers, of 187 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1. (1937)

of 5 Denmark St, London.

of Neptune Works, Davis Road, Chessington, Surrey; and Red Lion Court, Holborn, London.

of Tolworth (1952).

1819 Augustus Siebe founded Siebe and Co. The company advertised itself as 'Submarine Engineers'.

1837 Augustus Siebe developed the "closed-type" diving suit.

1851 Various inventions exhibited at the Great Exhibition including rotary water pump, water valve, air pump for diving, and dial weighing machine[1] [2].

c.1859 Gorman started working with ice-making machines[3]

c.1862 Siebe Brothers licensed James Harrison's ice-making machine and manufactured the machine for sale.

1862 Exhibited Paper-knotting machine[4]

1868 Siebe's second son, Henry Herepath Siebe, and his son-in-law William Augustus Gorman ran the business after Augustus's retirement.

1870 Gorman became a partner. The company was renamed as Siebe and Gorman [5]

1872 Augustus Siebe died.

1873 The Submarine Salvage Association was formed to acquire and work the patent rights of Siebe, Gorman and Christy in the invention for raising ships [6].

1878 Dissolution of the Partnership "which has for some time past been carried on by the undersigned, Henry Herepath Siebe and William Augustus Gorman, under the firm of Siebe and Gorman," at Mason street, Lambeth, in the trade or business of Submarine and General Engineers. All debts received by William Augustus Gorman, who will continue to carry on the said business on his own separate account, under the same style or firm.[7].

c.1880 Henry Albert Fleuss in conjunction with the company produced the first practicable self-contained oxygen breathing apparatus[8].

1883 By this time Siebe and Gorman was providing refrigeration machinery - International Fisheries Exhibition[9].

1889 Dissolution of the Partnership between William Augustus Gorman and John Cruddas, carrying on business as Submarine and General Engineers, at 187, Westminster Bridge-road, under the style or firm of Siebe, Gorman, and Co.; all debts received and paid by William Augustus Gorman, by whom the said business will in future be carried[10]

1894 Exhibited diving apparatus at the Antwerp Exhibition. [11]

1904 After Gorman's death, the Vickers family reformed the company as a limited company Siebe, Gorman and Co.

Around this time, Robert Davis formed the research and experimental department, which solved many of the problems of breathing underwater, in poisonous atmospheres and at high altitude. Davis developed what became the standard diving dress and helmet used by the Royal Navy[12].

1906 Davis perfected an oxygen breathing apparatus for mining rescue

1914 Submarine engineers and manufacturers of diving apparatus and all other submarine appliances. Specialities: diving apparatus, diving bells, submarine electric lamps, submarine telephones, submarine appliances of all descriptions, smoke helmets, rescue appliances for mines etc. Employees 200. [13]

WWI Diving and breathing apparatus and aircraft oxygen equipment

1915 April: In response to the first gas attack on allied troops, Davis devised an emergency respirator, and persuaded friends, relations, and locals to manufacture it in great quantities, which were sent to France within 48 hours[14]

1920 Private company.

1920 Camera for use in flooded mines. (Siebe, Gorman and Co) [15]

Development of the Davis submarine escape apparatus and of the Davis submersible decompression chamber used in deep sea diving.

1932 R. H. Davis governing director of Siebe, Gorman and Co.

1937 Engineers. [16]

1937 British Industries Fair Advert for: Diving Apparatus; Submarine Appliances; Oxygen Breathing Apparatus; Smoke Helmets; Resuscitating Apparatus; Gas Masks and all other Protective Devices including Dust Respirators, Sand Blast Helmets, Metal Spray Helmets, Protective Clothing, and Safety appliances of all descriptions. (Engineering/Metals/Quarry, Roads and Mining/Transport Section - Stand Nos. D.839 and D.738) [17]

1939 See Aircraft Industry Suppliers

WWII Diving and breathing apparatus and aircraft oxygen equipment

1942 Admiralty Experimental Diving Unit established at the company's premises

Postwar: introduced the "Iron Lung" and worked with Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co on underwater television

1952 Company made public; 500 employees.

1960 Advert for safety equipment for mines. (Siebe, Gorman) [18]

1960's Siebe started making scuba gear aimed at the public market (sometimes using the trade names Essgee and Essjee), although they had made it earlier for work divers and the Navy. They also continued to make diving bell equipment and pressure chambers.

1961 Submarine engineers, industrial safety engineers, manufacturers of diving and breathing apparatus and personal industrial protective equipment. Engaged in development and production of under water television equipment in association with Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co. Ltd. 500 employees. [19]

1961 Siebe Gorman took over Heinke.

1970 Entered the fire protection area of business acquiring John Morris and Sons and Merryweather and Sons[20]

1971 Siebe Gorman and Co Ltd was renamed Siebe Gorman Holdings Ltd

1972 Acquired James North and Sons.

1975 Siebe Gorman moved to Cwmbran in Wales, and concentrated on fire-fighter's breathing equipment.

1982 Re-registered as a plc

1984 Siebe Gorman Holdings plc was renamed Siebe plc; Siebe Gorman and Co Ltd continued as a subsidiary in the Safety and Life Support division.

1985 Siebe acquired Compair.

1987 Siebe acquired Barber-Colman Co. (industrial automation, commercial controls, etc.)

1990 Siebe acquired the Foxboro Co (industrial automation).

1994 Siebe acquired Triconex.

1996 Acquired Unitech[21]

1997 Siebe acquired APV plc (vessel manufacturer: plant not marine).

1997 Siebe acquired Satchwell Controls Co from GEC[22]

1998 As a result of the acquisition of Unitech, Siebe owned 50.6 percent of Nemic-Lambda, maker of power supplies[23]

1998 Siebe acquired Eurotherm, Wonderware, and SimSci. (SimSci made industrial controls)

1998 Siebe Gorman was sold as part of the North Safety Products to Norcross Safety Products of the USA[24]. At the end of 1998, the plant at Cwmbran was closed and production of breathing apparatus was transferred to Dukinfield in Manchester. Although oxygen rebreather manufacturing capability still existed at the relocation, no manufacture or overhaul was carried out at the new site.

1999 Siebe acquired Esscor.

1999 At the end of the year, Norcross sold what had been Siebe Gorman as a going concern to an Iranian entrepreneur Parvis Moradifor. The company was re-named Air Master Technology Limited from the name of the famous Siebe Gorman breathing apparatus.

1999 BTR Industries and Siebe merged, first as BTR Siebe and then as Invensys.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1851 Great Exhibition: Official Catalogue: Class V.: Augustus Siebe
  2. 1851 Great Exhibition: Official Catalogue: Class VII.: Augustus Siebe
  3. The Engineer 1881/02/04
  4. 1862 London Exhibition: Catalogue: Class 7.: Augustus Siebe
  5. Dressing for Altitude: U.S. Aviation Pressure Suits, Wiley Post to Space Shuttle By Dennis R. Jenkins
  6. Daily News, 31 July 1873
  7. London Gazette, 13 Sept 1878
  8. The Times, 24 November 1952
  9. The Standard, 3 September 1883
  10. London Gazette 2 July 1889
  11. The Engineer of 25th May 1894 p431
  12. The Times, 24 November 1952
  13. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  14. Biography of Sir Robert Davis, ODNB
  15. The Engineer of 25th June 1920 p658
  16. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  17. 1937 British Industries Fair Advert p655; and p412
  18. Mining Year Book 1960. Published by Walter E. Skinner. Advert p631
  19. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  20. The Times, July 20, 1972
  21. The Times, Apr. 4, 1996
  22. The Times, January 03, 1997
  23. The Times May 28, 1998
  24. The Times Sept. 3, 1998