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British Industrial History

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Thomas W. Ward

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1932. Ketton Cement.
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1938. Clock by Gent and Co. Exhibit at Kelham Island Museum.
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February 1959. Sidings at Colvilles.
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Railway crane. Exhibit at Beamish Museum.
Exhibit at Beamish Museum.

of Albion Works, Sheffield; London Office: Brettenham House, Lancaster Place, Strand, W.C.2.

1877 Thomas William Ward commenced the business as a coal, coke and iron merchant [1]

c.1878 Ward was working in 2 rooms; he supplied fuel to iron works in Sheffield[2]

Within a few years he had become an important factor in the iron steel and allied industries. As the business progressed he added the sale of machinery to his activities, extending the area of his operations and eventually dealing in obsolete works and battleships.

1894 Thomas W. Ward Ltd of Sheffield opened its ship dismantling department in 1894, with yards in Barrow, Preston and later in Morecambe

1904 The company was registered on 19 May, to acquire the businesses of coal, coke, iron, steel, machinery, metal merchants and engineers carried on under the style of Messrs. Thomas W. Ward and the Silent Machine and Engineering Co. [3]

1913 Served as President for the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Master Cutler.

1914 Gave evidence before the Railway Commission.

1917 Advert. Steam and gas engines, dynamos and motors and machine tools. [4]

1919 Advert. Steam and gas engines, dynamos and motors and machine tools. [5]

1924 Advert as buyers of obsolete war and merchant vessels. New and second-hand. [6]

1924 "When during the Great War, British troops began to march on Palestine from Egypt, one of the great problems to be faced was that of water supply. The difficulty was surmounted by by pumping water from the Nile for nearly 200 miles across the desert - one of the greatest engineering feats of the war. The pipe line ran from El Kantara on the Suez Canal and followed one of the oldest caravan routes in the world, namely, that by which through untold ages those proceeding from Palestine to Egypt or vice versa have travelled. The pipes were well preserved in the dry sand, and some 130 miles or so of tubes, weighing about 7000 tons, are being taken up and Stacked at Kantara ready for sale and shipment. The pipes which were lap welded, screwed and socketed , vary in size. They are being offered for sale by Thomas W. Ward of Sheffield" The Engineer 1924/04/11.

1924 The old-established works of the Bolton Iron and Steel Co, Limited, which in 1903 was taken over by Henry Bessemer and Co Limited, is to be closed down. The Bessemer Company announces its intention of concentrating its business at its Sheffield works, and the reason assigned for shutting down the Bolton plant is the increased competition and the high cost of production. By arrangement with Messrs. Bessemer, the Bolton works have been acquired by Thos. W. Ward, Limited, of Sheffield, but it does not seem likely that the plant will be run again. In all probability the Siemens furnaces and the forge equipment, together with the machine shops, will be dismantled and sold. It is regrettable that the town of Bolton will lose the employment which was provided by this old-established industrial undertaking. The site of the works is, however, a central one, and it possesses considerable value, which should give it an important place in the future development of the town. [7]

1925 Purchased the Marconi wireless station at Clifden in Ireland, to dismantle.[8]

1925 Purchased the Mars Ironworks of George Adams and Sons for the purpose of dismantling.[9]

1926 Purchased the mining plant belonging to the Westminster Colliery Co at Moss and Gwersyllt pits, Wrexham. Thomas W. Ward also purchased the chemical plant of Victors.[10]

1926 February 3rd, founder Thomas W. Ward died at his home in Sheffield.

1927 Purchased Swingler and Co of Derby.[11]

1927 Purchased as an going concern the Meadow Hall Ironworks, Sheffield of J. Crowley and Co Ltd.[12]

1934 Increase in capital of the public company; since the previous increase, the company had acquired:[13]

1935 Purchased the assets of Marshall, Sons and Co [14]

1936 Marshall, Sons and Co (Successors) Ltd was formed as a private company to acquire from Thomas W. Ward Ltd the property undertaking and assets of the engineering business of Marshall, Sons and Co Ltd est 1848[15]

c.1936 Acquired Widnes Foundry and Engineering Co

1937 Major business in scrap steel, machine tools, foundry supplies, constructional steel, construction of railtrack, roadstone quarries and 2 cement companies, as well as owning the land previously occupied by Palmer's yard at Jarrow. Owned Low Moor Best Yorkshire Iron Ltd; the majority of Midland Iron Co; new plant was being installed at Widnes and further opportunities there were being investigated[16]

1939 Purchased Triumph Motor Co [17]

1942 Ashley Skelton Ward is Chairman and MD. [18]

1950 Once again had produced a record quantity of scrap iron. Were laying a road from Jedda to Medina. Acquired John Williams (Wishaw) Ltd and Shap Granite Ltd. Nationalization of Wolverhampton Steel and Iron Company (1946) Ltd and Birchley Rolling Mills[19]

1954 Phillip Trehearne Ward aged 35 died, a director and son of Ashley S. Ward. [20]

1954 Acquired Wolverhampton Steel and Iron Company (1946) Ltd from the Holding and Realization Agency[21].

1963 The Ward Group consisted of 35 companies[22]. As well as the parent company these included:

1963 Sold Wolverhampton and Birchley Rolling Mills to Stewarts and Lloyds despite it being the most successful of the subsidiaries[23]

1964 About 40 percent of Ward Group profits came from its metals activities (scrap, steel processing, non-ferrous metals, etc); 31 percent from cement and allied interests; cranes, machine tools, steel construction provided about 21 percent; the other 8 percent came from miscellaneous activities[24]

1965 Acquired John Fraser and Son Ltd of Millwall, boiler makers

1966 The main company acquired the land and machinery of Fairfield Rowan Ltd of Govan, for dismantling; main business was supplying the iron and steel industry, and the rail industry; other divisions were concerned with machinery, factory planning, industrial plant, structural steel, foundry supplies and wagons. Subsidiary companies included[25]:

1979 The Sprotborough foundry closed[26]

1986 Shares quoted on the Stock Exchange

1989 Expansion was largely based on building components[27]

1992 After continued losses, an administration order was granted to the parent company; most of the subsidiaries would continue trading normally[28]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1926/02/12
  2. The Times, Mar 12, 1963
  3. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  4. Mechanical World Year Book 1917. Published by Emmott and Co of Manchester. Advert p145
  5. Mechanical World Year Book 1919. Published by Emmott and Co of Manchester. Advert p191
  6. 1924 Naval Annual Advert page xxii
  7. The Engineer 1924/08/08
  8. The Engineer 1925/06/19
  9. The Engineer 1925/07/17
  10. The Engineer 1926/03/19
  11. The Engineer 1927/05/06
  12. The Engineer 1927/05/13
  13. The Times Nov 19, 1934
  14. The Times, Monday, Oct 28, 1935
  15. The Times (London, England), Thursday, Mar 27, 1947
  16. The Times, Oct 01, 1937
  17. Daily Telegraph, Sept 4, 1939
  18. The Times, Thursday, Feb 05, 1942
  19. The Times, Oct 28, 1950
  20. The Times, Friday, Apr 30, 1954
  21. The Times, 27 November 1954
  22. The Times, Mar 12, 1963
  23. The Times, Dec 02, 1963
  24. The Times, Nov 06, 1964
  25. The Times, Nov 26, 1966
  26. Competition Commission report on William Cook, 1990
  27. The Times, October 04, 1989
  28. The Times, May 08, 1992