Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Thomas Perry and Son

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1858 Beam engine remains from Botany Pumping Station, Sydney, on display at the Powerhouse Museum
1858 Beam engine remains
January 1888.

Thomas Perry and Son Ltd., Highfield Works, Bilston, Staffordshire

1806 The firm was founded as iron founders by Thomas Perry[1].

1818 A trade directory listed Thomas Perry as an iron merchant trading in the Highfields district of Bilston.

1848 Produced bridge castings for the Great Western Railway.

By 1850 a trade directory showed the company as iron founders and manufacturers of wrought iron bedsteads, fencing, hurdles, railing, gates, palisades and other wrought iron and cast iron work.

At some point they started specialising in the heavier end of the iron trade; early products were armour plate, for warships and gun batteries. This later evolved into manufacture of safes (with locks imported from others).

Makers of rolling mills, rolls, gears, steam engines for rolling mills, pumping and blowing, shearing machines.

1858 Supplied three beam pumping engines to Botany Pumping Station, Sydney. Although since scrapped, one of the engine's cylinders and admission valves have been preserved and are on display at the Powerhouse Museum. The arrangement and valve operating mechanism appears to be very similar to that used by William Fairbairn and Sons

1876 Double punching and straightening machines installed at Landore Siemens Steel Co [2]

1893 Advertisement in The Engineer referred to "rolling mill machinery for all kinds of metals" , to "chilled and grain rolls" and to "shearing machines for plates, blooms, etc". Also refers to "steam blowing and pumping engines" and to "machine made wheels" - how much of this sort of work they actually produced is not known[3].

1900 the company was listed as Thomas Perry and Son Ltd., indicating that it had been incorporated late in the 19th century.

1912 Vertical single-cylinder steam-driven blowing engine at the Netherton Ironworks of M. and W. Grazebrook[4].

1925 The company concentrated on making mill rolls - this may be when the safe making activities were sold to a firm in West Bromwich[5].

1926 a new foundry was built and equipped with the most up-to-date facilities for roll making. A well equipped metallurgical laboratory ensured a high standard of metal quality.

1929 modern production roll lathes and grinders were introduced in the machine shop.

WWII: as well as meeting the needs of the steel mills, the company produced special high hardness rolls to replace expensive forged steel rolls (previously obtained from abroad for the rolling of aluminium, copper and brass sheets and plates.

1942 British Rollmakers Corporation established to merge 3 rollmaking companies: R. B. Tennent Limited of Coatbridge; C. Akrill and Co Limited of West Bromwich; and Thomas Perry and Son Limited of Bilston[6].

An excellent online account of the company and its products is available [7] is to the first of several pages about Thomas Perry and Son Ltd on the Wolverhampton History and Heritage Website. These pages include old photographs of rolling mill and other equipment.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1]Wolverhampton History & Heritage website - Thomas Perry
  2. The Engineer of 7th July 1876 p10, p13 & p25
  3. [2]Wolverhampton History & Heritage website - Thomas Perry
  4. Plate 157, 'Stationary Steam Engines of Great Britain, Volume 6: The South Midlands', by George Watkins, Landmark Publishing Ltd
  5. [3]Wolverhampton History & Heritage website - Thomas Perry
  6. Competition Commission report: [[4]]
  7. [5]Wolverhampton History & Heritage website - Thomas Perry