Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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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.

David Brown and Sons

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Advertising sign.
1905. Park gear cutting works. Tool room and cutter grinding department.
1905. Park gear cutting works. Worm reduction and gear cutting department.
1905. Spur gear cutting department.
1905. Bevel wheel planing department.
1905. Spiral gear and rack cutting department.
1905. Light turning department.
1905. Raw hide pinion turning department.
1905. Heavy turning department.
September 1908.
1909. Worm gear drive at a water works.
December 1910.
February 1911. Gears.
January 1912.
October 1912. Worm gear.
November 1912. Worm gear.
November 1912. Worm gear.
January 1920.
January 1920.
January 1920.
January 1920.
November 1926.
May 1930.
August 1933.
1935. Park Works.
1935. Park Works.
Dec 1939.
c1940s. Factory ID Card.
c1940s. Factory ID Card detail.
November 1943.
August 1945.
October 1945.
April 1947.
January 1948.
April 1948.
1948. Park Works.
1948. Penistone.
February 1952.
June 1953.
October 1953.
September 1954.
1957. Winder Drives.
March 1957. Roloid gear pumps.
1959. Super-Hurricane silage and green feeding machine.
Oct 1960.
Oct 1962.
Exhibit at Internal Fire Museum of Power. (Detail).

David Brown and Sons of Swan Lane, Lockwood, Huddersfield, an engineering company, principally engaged in the manufacture of gears and gearboxes. Maker of Valveless car, tractors and, later, sports cars.


1860 Company founded by David Brown as a pattern-making concern specializing in gearwheel patterns for cast gears.

1868 Advert. 'WANTED, an APPRENTICE to the PATTERN MAKING Business: one that has been in the wood trade preferred. Apply to David Brown, pattern maker. Chapel-hill.'[1]

By 1873 David Brown had focused on gear systems with machine-cut teeth, of which the firm was one of the pioneers

1880 Trading from Chapel Hill, Huddersfield. (See advert)

1881 Employing 3 Men and 4 Boys.[2]

1882 Advert. 'Wanted, a sharp active LAD. - Apply to David Brown, Pattern maker, Chapel Hill.'[3]

1885 Court case where he is sued by Henry Leach for non-payment of some wood objected to. Agreement reached.[4]

1897 Trading as David Brown, General Pattern Works, Huddersfield.[5]

1898 Trading as David Brown and Sons, General Pattern Works, Huddersfield.[6]

1898 David Brown began to manufacture machine cut gears

1899 David Brown and Sons, pattern makers, East-parade, Huddersfield, were summoned for failing to securely fence a circular saw.[7]

By 1901 David Brown had retired and died this year; his 3 sons Ernest, Frank and Percy succeeded him; they began to produce self-contained worm gear units complete with bearings and shafts

1902 a 12-acre site was acquired at Lockwood for a new factory, Park Works.

1905 Detailed and illustrated description of their works at Huddersfield in The Engineer

1908 Took over production of the Valveless car.

1911 Maker of machine tools like bevel-gear generators. [8]

1912 David Brown and Sons (Huddersfield) was incorporated as a public company to acquire a private company of similar name. F. E. Brown was Chairman.[9]

1913 April. Advert for Worm Gear.

1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices of cars see the 1917 Red Book. Produced the Valveless, the Dodson and the Dodson Valveless cars.

1917 Advert for Double Helical Gears and Carburiser. (David Brown and Sons of Park Works, Lockwood, Huddersfield).[10]

1919 Advert for Double Helical Gears and Carburiser. (David Brown and Sons of Park Works, Lockwood, Huddersfield).[11]

1920 September. Exhibited at the Machine Tool and Engineering Exhibition at Olympia with a worm miller, worm grinder and a worm wheel generator. (David Brown and Sons).[12]

David Brown and Sons acquired Keighley Gear Co, devoted to small- and medium-sized gears and gear units.

1927 See Aberconway for information on the company and its history

1930 Description of the Huddersfield works [13][14]

1931 Percy Brown, the Chairman dies and David Brown became managing director, following the death of his uncle.

1931 Acquired P. R. Jackson and Company, Ltd., of Salford, where the manufacture of steel castings and heavy gearing is undertaken,

1933 Introduced the Radicon worm gear - the name Radicon refers to the dissipation of heat by Radiation, Conduction and Convection.

1934 Links established with Richardson Gears (Pty) Ltd of Footscray, Victoria, Australia.

1934 Bought site at Penistone for a new foundry - David Brown Foundries began making high grade steel, and steel castings, the following year.

1935 Patented the Merritt-Brown controlled differential steering on tank transmissions.

1935/6 David Brown joined with Harry Ferguson to produce the Ferguson-Brown Tractor. The tractor was built at Park Gear Works, Huddersfield initially and later at the Meltham Mills factory - see David Brown: Tractors.

1937 Gear manufacturers, steel, iron and bronze founders. "Roloid" Pumps. "Taurus" Bronze Castings.[15]

1939 First tractor launched at the Royal Agricultural Show; production began at a new factory in a disused mill at Meltham.

1939 See Aircraft Industry Suppliers

WWII Park works made gears for all types of machines and vehicles, including for the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. The aero-gear division moved to Meltham in 1940, supplying gears for the Hercules engines of the Bristol Aeroplane Company, and for Spitfires. Browns established a tank gearbox division at Meltham and at Penistone produced armour plating for Churchill and Cromwell tanks, and steel casing for blockbuster bombs. An aircraft foundry was built at Penistone to make castings for aero-engines, and made cables for the oil pipeline system for the Normandy landings. In all the aero division produced over 500,000 gears and the gearbox division over 10,000 tank transmissions.

1944 Acquired Muir Machine Tool Co of Manchester and moved the machine tool division there.

1947 The company acquired Aston Martin for £20,000

1948 The company acquired Lagonda

1948 Founded subsidiary companies: David Brown Estates Ltd, David Brown Tractors Ltd, David Brown Tractors (Scotland) Ltd and David Brown Tractors (Eire) Ltd[16]

1951 The David Brown Corporation was formed as parent for all the companies.

Early 1950s, formed David Brown Construction Equipment

1955 The company acquired Tickford, builders of car bodies, and moved the car companies to their site.

1958 Concentrated on a single range of high-performance sports cars, the Aston Martin DB series; production of Lagondas ceased.

1959 The Aston Martin team, led by Stirling Moss, won at Le Mans.

1960 Ownership of the gear, foundry, and tool divisions was transferred to a new company, David Brown and Sons (Huddersfield) Ltd.

1960 Withdrew from sports car racing and grand prix racing, to concentrate on production cars for sale.

1961 Listed as David Brown Industries with 7,000 employees. Works at Huddersfield, London, Coventry, Manchester and Salford. Engineers and metal founders, manufacturers and dealers in gears, agricultural machines and implements, tractors and motor cars.[17]

1964 David Brown acquired controlling interest in Vosper from Minerals Separation[18].

1968 Largest gear hobbing machine made by David Brown Gear Industries.

Early 1970s the David Brown Corporation was in financial difficulties.

1971 David Brown was removed from executive control of the company

1972 Sold David Brown Tractors to Tenneco Inc[19]

1972 Both car companies were sold to Company Developments

1978 After Vosper Thornycroft was nationalized, Sir David Brown resigned from the chairmanship.

1990 The family disposed of its stake to the management

1993 Flotation of the David Brown Group as a public company.

1993 David Brown Group purchased Hamworthy Hydraulics and Hamworthy Transmissions from Hamworthy Engineering Co; the production facility of the Transmissions part of the business was moved to the main David Brown facility in Huddersfield.

1995 Hamworthy Hydraulics was renamed David Brown Hydraulics

1996 Purchased IFP, a manufacturer of valves and pumps, of Chicago, USA (the IFP pumps were originally manufactured by Hydreco and licensed to Hamworthy).

1998 David Brown was acquired by Textron Inc. in October.

2008 Clyde Blowers acquired Textron Fluid and Power Inc, including David Brown Hydraulics

The company, trading as David Brown Gear Systems Ltd, headquartered in Huddersfield, is now a leading supplier of heavy transmission systems for industrial, defence and marine applications.

2016 Merged with Santasalo to become David Brown Santasalo. Currently owned by Clyde Blowers Capital. See David Brown Santasalo website.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Huddersfield Chronicle - Saturday 22 February 1868
  2. 1881 Census
  3. Huddersfield Chronicle - Saturday 02 September 1882
  4. Huddersfield Chronicle - Friday 17 April 1885
  5. Yorkshire Evening Post - Saturday 27 March 1897
  6. Yorkshire Evening Post - Wednesday 13 April 1898
  7. Huddersfield Chronicle - Thursday 10 August 1899
  8. * Machine Tools by James Weir French in 2 vols. Published 1911 by Gresham
  9. [1] The London Gazette Publication date:8 March 1912 Issue:28588Page:1765
  10. * Mechanical World Year Book 1917. Published by Emmott and Co of Manchester. Advert p230-1
  11. * Mechanical World Year Book 1919. Published by Emmott and Co of Manchester. Advert p262-3
  12. * The Engineer 1920/09/03 p233
  13. Engineering 1930/05/02
  14. Engineering 1930/05/30
  15. * 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  16. The Times Mar 12, 1951
  17. 1961 Guide to Key British Enterprises: Motor, Motor-Cycle and Commercial Vehicle Manufacturers
  18. The Times, 22 May 1964
  19. The Times, 18 April 1973
  • Wikipedia
  • The Autocar of 5th April 1913 p
  • Mechanical World Year Book 1945. Published by Emmott and Co of Manchester. Advert p18
  • The Engineer of 5th January 1968 p10
  • The Engineer of 26th April 1968 p650
  • Biography of Sir David Brown [2]
  • David Brown Hydraulics [3]