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British Industrial History

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Abdela, Mitchell and Co

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Isaac J. Abdela and Mitchell of Queensferry, of Brimscombe, Stroud, and of George Street, Manchester, were makers of steam engines and boilers for marine use and builders of boats, mainly for river use.

1900 Isaac J. Abdela took over the boatyard and engineering business of Edwin Clark and Co, in which he had held an interest for 18 months.

1901 The company of Isaac J Abdela and Co was registered; they were manufacturers of slippers, glass-cutters and engineers of 45 Caernarvon Street Manchester. The firm also engaged in the business of Shippers and Agents from 55 George Street.

Shortly after Clark's boatyard was acquired, Isaac J Abdela and Co. effected a merger with Mitchell and Company, grey cloth merchants of 311 Moss Lane Manchester, forming Isaac J Abdela & Mitchell Ltd. Isaac J Abdela was Chairman; other directors were Demosthenes Tchaoussoglou (from Mitchell & Co.) and John W Earle (formerly Edwin Clark & Co. Ltd.) Managing Director.

1902 'INTERESTING SOCIETY ENGAGMENT.— A marriage has been arranged between Mr. Isaac J. Abdela. A.I.N.A., Chairman of the Directors of Isaac Abdela and Mitchell, Limited, engineers and shippers. of Manchester and Brimscombe, Glos., and Birdie Moss, who belongs to a family well-known in London society. Miss Moss came to Brimscombe on Tuesday last, and launched at the Canal Ironworks, Brimscombe, one of Abdela, Mitchell and Co's patent self-righting unsinkable surf boats. Prior to the boat being sent into the water, Miss Moss broke a bottle of champagne over her bows, and named her " Birdie." Mr. Abdela. the patentee, was also present, and complimentary references were made. The " Birdie" leaves to-morrow for the South Coast of Africa.'[1]

1903 The company was commissioned to build a steamer and 4 prefabricated steel punts for an expedition to the Blue Nile. The firm built on its expertise in steam launches in kit form for export.

Similar orders followed, including one for 17 boats for use on the Amazon.

1906 Built the San Juan and Hildago.

1908/9 the company acquired the Dee Shipbuilding Yard at Queensferry, Flint. This yard could launch larger vessels - in 1909 two tugs for the port of Marseilles were launched. Not long after, Abdelas issued a catalogue extolling the virtues of a French outboard motor called 'Motogodille‘.

c.1912 Staff included John W. Earle (Works Manager), M. Knight (Chief Draughtsman), Harry Taylor (Chief Clark), Ossie Merchant, F. W. Baker, Ralph Ponting, Ernie Crook, Hubert Bloodworth (whose father owned the foundry at Brimscombe South Mill).[2]

By 1912 the Directors were: Isaac J Abdela and Joseph Jacob Abdela, with no evidence of a continued interest by the former Mitchell & Co directors.

1912 Some sources say that the yard built the African Queen (also known as Steam Launch Livingstone)

1914 Listed at Brimscombe as "Abdela, Isaac J. and Mitchell Limited, steam launch builder." [3]

WWI Brimscombe produced many lighters and also four wooden Admiralty steam harbour launches and a tug. The Deeside yard undertook considerable naval work.

After the war, the Queensferry yard built tugs, trawlers and coasters along with tank barges for Shell Mex and BP. The yard closed due to the Depression in the early 1930s.

1923 Engine made for Neyland vehicle and passenger ferry, Pembroke

1925 The company of Isaac J Abdela and Mitchell Ltd was voluntarily wound up[4]

1926 A reconstruction of the company was attempted under Isaac Abdela with Walter Smith also a director.

1929 The company of Isaac J Abdela and Mitchell (1925) Ltd was voluntarily wound up[5]

1929 Walter Smith set up Abdela-Mitchell (W. Smith) Ltd which later became part of Air Plants Ltd

1931 The Queensferry yard closed

1934 The Brimscombe yard closed when the canal shut although design work and some fabrication continued.

The site of the Canal Ironworks is now home to Hercules Propellers.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Stroud News and Gloucestershire Advertiser - Friday 14 February 1902
  2. 'Stroudwater and Tahmes & Severn Canals - A Second Selection' by Edwin Cuss and Stanley Gardiner, Alan Sutton Publishing, 1993: c.1912 group photograph, p.48
  3. 1914 Kelly's Directory of Gloucestershire
  4. The London Gazette 17 February 1925
  5. The London Gazette 15 February 1929
  • Stationary Steam Engines of Great Britain by George Watkins. Vol 10
  • L. A. Ritchie, The Shipbuilding Industry: A Guide to Historical Records (1992)
  • British Shipbuilding Yards. 3 vols by Norman L. Middlemiss
  • Stroudwater and Thames and Severn Canals from Old Photographs II: Volume 2, by Edwin Cuss
  • Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal for 1988 pages 3-20