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British Industrial History

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Taylor and Challen

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Remains of one of the first two coining presses installed in the Royal Mint in Sydney, 1854, on display in the old Mint building
Pair of 1854 Joseph Taylor beam engines at the Royal Mint in Sydney. Photo displayed in the Mint building
1856. Built by Joseph Taylor.
1870 Multiple drilling machine for gun barrels
1870.30 Ton Crane at H.M's Gun Wharf, Chatham.
June 1872.
June 1872.
1875.
1877. Nail forging machine.
1880.
1881. Machine for Making Prismatic Gunpowder.
January 1888.
June 1888.
1889.
1891
1891
1891
1891
1894.
May 1896.
August 1899.
1900.
February 1901.
1902.
January 1902.
September 1902.
April 1903.
1904. Large die press.
1907.
1907.
February 1911. Presses.
1913.
1914. Sheet metal working machinery.
Nov 1919.
Dec 1921.
Dec 1921.
May 1929.
1929.
1937.
1938.
1938.
1945
1955.
1958.
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1958.

Taylor and Challen of Derwent Foundry, Birmingham

of 187 St. Stephens House, Westminster, London, SW1 (1937).

also of Constitution Hill, Birmingham. Telephone: Central 5672/4. Telegraphic Address: "Derwent, Birmingham" (1937).

Business founded by Joseph Taylor, later Taylor and Co, and then Taylor and Challen.

1839 Partnership dissolved between Alexander Dean and Joseph Taylor, engineers, Birmingham. Trade to be carried on by Taylor[1]

1856 Beam engine built by Taylor's for the Charlotte Street saw mills. [2]

1858 Advertised as Joseph Taylor, Engineer & Machinist, Broad Street Iron Foundry, opposite King Edward's Place, Birmingham. Manufacturer of steam engines, coining machinery, saw and rolling mills, pumps and machinery of various kinds[3]

1861 Workshop built.

1873 Taylor's son, Mr. Joseph S. Taylor, and Mr. S. W. Challen, who had served an apprenticeship to him, joined him in partnership

1875 Taylor senior retired

1875 Advertised as Taylor & Co, Derwent Foundry, Constitution Hill, Birmingham, engineers and makers of stationary steam engines, nut forging machines and other special machinery, shafting, pullies and carriages.[4]

Sometime between 1875 and 1880 the firm became Taylor and Challen

1889 the business was reformed into a private company; Joseph Taylor senior was appointed chairman.

1894 Catalogue of Shafting, Shaft-fittings, Pulleys etc. [5]

1900 Screw Press and Guillotine Shearing Machines. Article and illustrations in The Engineer. [6]

1908 Gunpowder machinery catalogue - scanned pages available online[7]

1912 Exhibitor at the Non-Ferrous Metals Exhibition at the Royal Agricultural Halls[8].

1920 Advert. Maker of presses for sheet metal etc.

1925 Patent - Improvements relating to hand guards for presses and like machines. [9]

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

1937 Power press manufacturers. [10]

1937 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Crank Screw Presses for Hot Brass Stamping. Roll Feed Press for quick production from strip steel. Automatic Notching Press, for armature discs. [11]

1961 Mechanical engineers manufacturing power presses, minting and cartridge machinery. 470 employees. [12]

1964 Taylor and Challen Ltd became a shareholder and member of Associated British Machine Tool Makers Ltd.[13]

1965 Wickman acquired the company but there was not enough new work to keep the factory fully employed[14]

1968 Details of their new open-fronted presses rated at 40 - 100 tons. (Of Constitution Hill, Birmingham). [15]

1974 Mr. J. E. Pearson was appointed associate sales director and Mr. R. E. Baugh was appointed associate engineering director.[16]

1976 In view of the declining demand, products had already been focussed on hot brass forging presses and coining presses. Production was then concentrated at the nearby premises of Wickman Scrivener[17]




  • Products included metal-spinning lathes - illustrations of these, together with photographs of the factory buildings, 'then and now', are available online[18]


Machinery for Producing Gun Barrels

1863 The Practical Mechanic's Journal described and illustrated an example of gun barrel rolling machinery made by the firm for Colt's Small Arms Co. of Hartford, USA. The article noted that a set had also been made for the Government Small Arms Manufactory in Enfield. In 1862 he sent 11 sets to Harper's Ferry and Springfield, to replace earlier machinery which the Confederate forces had taken from Harper's Ferry to Richmond.[19] [20]

More information on the gun barrel rolling machinery is available in 'From Under Iron Eyelids' by Thomas K. Tate[21]

1870 Multiple drilling machine for gun barrels described in 'Engineering'. See illustration. Six steel bars 2¼" diameter, 8" or 9" long, were drilled at a time, ready for rolling to form gun barrels[22]



Minting Machinery

The firm produced a range of machinery, including presses and steam engines for a number of mints, including the Royal Mint in Sydney in 1854 (see illustrations), and the Melbourne Royal Mint in 1868[23]

They also equipped the mint in Bangkok in 1858, and sent out a new press in 1865[24]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] London Gazette p.1614
  2. Article and photograph in The Engineer 1920/06/04 p571
  3. [2] Revolutionary Players website - advert from 'The New Illustrated Directory Entitled Men and Things of Modern England', 1858
  4. Birmingham Daily Post, 7 June 1875
  5. The Engineer 1894/09/14 p238
  6. The Engineer 1900/08/10 p142
  7. [3] Black Powder website - Taylor & Challen 1908 catalogue extracts
  8. The Times, 19 June 1912
  9. [4] Wikipatents
  10. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  11. 1937 British Industries Fair p422
  12. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  13. The Engineer 1964/10/02
  14. The Times, Jul 26, 1966
  15. The Engineer 1968/02/09 p269
  16. The Engineer 1974/05/02
  17. The Times Jul 09, 1976
  18. [5] lathes.co.uk website - Taylor & Challen pages
  19. [6] The Practical Mechanic's Journal, 1 October 1863, p.177 'Machinery for Rolling Gun Barrels'
  20. [7] Plate 304
  21. [8] 'From Under Iron Eyelids: The Biography of James Henry Burton, Armorer to Three Nations' by Thomas K. Tate, Author House, 2006
  22. [9] Multiple drilling machine for gun barrels
  23. Birmingham Daily Gazette - Thursday 23 July 1868
  24. Birmingham Daily Gazette - Monday 26 June 1865
  • Birmingham’s Industrial Heritage by Ray Shill. Published by Sutton Publishing 2002. ISBN 0-7509-2593-0