Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 125,184 pages of information and 195,063 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


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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]

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. [5]


Vickers formed their Aviation Department in 1911. The aircraft interests of Armstrong Whitworth were not acquired in the merger and later passed to the Hawker Aircraft group.[6]

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

1928 In 1928 the Aviation Department 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.[7]

1939 Vickers' aircraft construction activities were transferred to Vickers-Armstrongs at government request[8]. 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.

SEE Vickers Aircraft for a list of Aircraft built.

1939 See Aircraft Industry Suppliers

Spitfire Mk9 (Exhibit at Birmingham Thinktank museum). One of 11,000 built by Vickers-Armstrongs in Castle Bromwich.

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[9]

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.

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[10]. 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



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[11]

1977 After nationalisation of Vickers' aircraft interests, the profit potential of the remainder of the business was seen to be substantially reduced[12]. 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. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  6. Wikipedia
  7. Wikipedia
  8. The Times, 4 April 1939
  9. The Times, May 13, 1957
  10. The Times, 18 December 1928
  11. The Times, May 13, 1957
  12. The Times, 29 April 1977
  • [1] Wikipedia
  • British Shipbuilding Yards. 3 vols by Norman L. Middlemiss