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 163,152 pages of information and 245,599 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.


From Graces Guide
1928. Hydraulic coal hoist.
1928. Four cylinder oil engine for HMS Medway.
1931. Carden- Loyd tractor truck and trailer.
1931. Quadruple screw turbo liner 'Monarch of Bermuda'.
1933.Vickers-Carden-Loyd Tractor Truck and Trailer for long loads.
1947. Bottling machinery.
August 1951. Vickers Viscount.
1952. The "Viscount"
1955. "City of Durban"
Sept 1956.
January 1957.
February 1957.
February 1957.
April 1957.
May 1957.
November 1958.
1960. "Viscount"
1960. "Swift"
1960. "Valiant"
July 1960. Construction of the SS Oriana.

Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd. of Vickers House, Westminster, London; of Elswick Works, Newcastle-on-Tyne.

Vickers-Armstrongs was a British engineering conglomerate formed from the engineering and armaments interest of Vickers and Armstrong Whitworth.


1927 The company was formed by the merger of many of the assets of Vickers and Armstrong Whitworth; it was a public company with Vickers the major partner in the new company with two thirds of the shares; Armstrong Whitworth would receive one third of the shares.

The two companies had developed along similar lines, expanded into various military sectors and produced a whole suite of military products. Vickers' assets which would be sold to the new company included those at Sheffield, Barrow, Eskmeals, Erith, Dartford, Swanley and Eynsford. Armstrong's contribution was to be the assets at Elswick, Openshaw and the Naval and Walker shipyards [1]. Some subsidiaries would be retained by the parent companies and operated independently.

1928 Merger of companies in the steel industry announced, involving parts of Vickers, Vickers-Armstrongs and Cammell, Laird and Co to form the English Steel Corporation [2].

1935 Vickers acquired the remainder of the share capital that it did not already own from Armstrong Whitworth Securities Company and other investment companies[3]. Company made private.

1937 Aircraft constructors. [4]

1939 Vickers (Aviation) Ltd was incorporated[5]

WWII By the end of 1944 the company had built the King George V battleship and several aircraft carriers at Barrow and Walker. The company also supplied all of the primary armament and much of the fire control gear for all of the battleships and cruisers supplied to the Royal Navy throughout the war. Barrow was the largest maker of submarines supplemented by work done at Walker. The company also manufactured much anti-aircraft equipment. Many land and tracked vehicles were made by the company and the company's designs were also made by outside organisations. On the aviation side, the company developed the Wellington bomber, later used as a transport with the larger variant the Warwick. The Spitfire justly became famous and was produced in many variants. Also some novel, secret weapons developed under the direction of Mr Barnes Wallis. Also many other munitions[6].

1945 During the year the company made the transition from wartime work to peacetime[7]:

  • Shipbuilding and Marine activities: Barrow and Walker-on-Tyne re-equipped for passenger and cargo ships and took a number of orders.
  • Engineering products: Barrow had made a variety of equipment including soap-making machinery, condensers and other; at Elswick and Scotswood the brass departments were being re-equipped; office furniture and steel equipment were made at Dartford; watch making was to begin the North East in conjunction with Smiths and Ingersoll.
  • Aviation: the South Marston airfield would be acquired and use as the base for Supermarine activities.
  • Weybridge: the production which had been dispersed from Weybridge had been brought back; the land was to be acquired but the airfield would not be used as such. The civilian Viking had been developed and would go into production for BEA and for the RAF.
  • Shadow factories: aircraft production at 3 of the 4 shadow factories had been ended; Chester and Blackpool were being turned over to production of pre-fabricated houses; Castle Bromwich has being handed back to the government.
  • Research: facilities had been established at Elswick and Barrow, and a separate aeronautical research department had been established.

1946 Acquired the Brooklands track where many factories had been built during WWII[8]

1946 Acquired Keenok Co[9]

1954 Private company.

1961 Parent of group of four subsidiaries engaged as aircraft manufacturers, engineers and ship builders. 34,022 group employees.

1961 Ordnance and engineering specialists and armament manufacturers. 19,300 employees. [10]


1911 Vickers formed its Aviation Department.

SEE Vickers Aircraft for a list of Aircraft built.

1927 The Vickers aircraft building activity was retained by Vickers when the other armaments activities were merged into Vickers-Armstrongs.

1927 The aircraft interests of Armstrong Whitworth were not acquired in the merger of Vickers and Armstrongs, and later passed to the Hawker Aircraft group.[11]

1928 The Aviation Department of Vickers became Vickers (Aviation) Ltd and soon after acquired Supermarine Aviation Works, which became the Supermarine Aviation Works (Vickers) Ltd and was responsible for producing the revolutionary Spitfire fighter.[12]

1939 Vickers' aircraft construction activities were transferred to Vickers-Armstrongs at government request[13]. All Vickers-Armstrongs aviation interests were reorganised to become Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd, although Supermarine continued to design, build and trade under its own name.

1939 Vickers (Aviation) Ltd was incorporated[14]

1939 See Aircraft Industry Suppliers

1957 The Viscount was in use with 14 airlines; BEA signed a contract for 20 Vanguards, a larger aircraft; the Valiant was the only 4-jet bomber in service with the RAF; deliveries of the Supermarine Swift continued to the RAF and the Scimitar would be made for the Royal Navy[15]

1960 The aircraft interests were merged with those of Bristol, the English Electric Co and Hunting to form the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC). This was owned by Vickers, the English Electric Co and Bristol (holding 40%, 40% and 20% respectively). BAC in turn owned 70% of Hunting.

1963 The Supermarine operation was closed.

1965 The Vickers brand name for aircraft was dropped by BAC.

1966 Vickers (Aviation) Ltd was renamed British Hovercraft Corporation Ltd[16]

1977 Under the terms of the 1977 Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act, BAC was nationalised to become part of British Aerospace (BAe) (later BAE Systems).

1999 The Vickers brand ceased to be used for aircraft engines when Rolls-Royce renamed its acquisitions Vintners plc.


Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd were shipbuilders from 1928-1968.

See Vickers-Armstrongs: Shipbuilding.

Steel Making

1928 Merger of companies in the steel industry announced, involving parts of Vickers, Vickers-Armstrongs and Cammell, Laird and Co[17]. This would involve all of the steel interests of the 3 contributing groups, except for interests in guns, ammunition and tanks. A new company would be created to take over these interests: the English Steel Corporation Ltd. The constituent parts from Vickers-Armstrongs were:

  • River Don works, Sheffield
  • Attercliffe works, Sheffield
  • Holme Lane works, Sheffield
  • Openshaw works, Manchester
  • Drop forging plant at Elswick




1947 Acquired G. J. Worssam and Son, maker of bottling equipment, which would complement the Robert Boby business in serving the brewing, distilling and bottling industries[18]

1947 Acquired the manufacturing and selling rights in the UK and other countries of the high speed rotary newspaper printing machinery and other presses developed by Walter Scott and Inc., of USA; the presses will be made in Newcastle, and known as Scott-Vickers presses[19]

1947 Acquired George Mann and Co, lithographic printing machinery makers[20]

1957 Vickers-Armstrongs (Engineers) Ltd was fully occupied including at Barrow Works where work on fitting out ships as well as machinery for various external customers concerned with cement, pumps, soap, ink; the Elswick and Scotswood works were fully employed; the Wakefield works had increased orders and the Southern Works at Crayford maintained output; the Dartford works increased output of office equipment by 13 percent[21]

1977 After nationalisation of Vickers' aircraft interests, the profit potential of the remainder of the business was seen to be substantially reduced[22]. The remainder of the business consisted of: heavy engineering (at Scotswood); printing machinery; bearings; bottling machinery; shipbuilding, Roneo Vickers office equipment.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 19 November 1927
  2. The Times, 18 December 1928
  3. The Times, Wednesday, Jul 17, 1935
  4. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  5. Companies house filing
  6. The Times, Apr 05, 1945
  7. The Times, May 16, 1946
  8. The Times, Jan 08, 1946
  9. The Times, Nov 01, 1946
  10. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  11. Wikipedia
  12. Wikipedia
  13. The Times, 4 April 1939
  14. Companies house filing
  15. The Times, May 13, 1957
  16. Companies house filing
  17. The Times, 18 December 1928
  18. The Times, Feb 22, 1947
  19. The Times, Aug 14, 1947
  20. The Times, May 24, 1948
  21. The Times, May 13, 1957
  22. The Times, 29 April 1977
  • [1] Wikipedia
  • British Shipbuilding Yards. 3 vols by Norman L. Middlemiss