Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 132,748 pages of information and 210,006 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
Craven Brothers (Manchester) of Salford, Collyhurst, Vauxhall Works, Reddish, Stockport, and Denton.
Craven Brothers specialised in outsize and individually built machine tools, such as a 42-foot (13-metre) Craven Vertical Boring and Turning Mill, weighing about 600 tonnes.
The company built up a huge export trade, with agents in India, Finland, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Argentina and Brazil and expanded so rapidly that it had to move several times.
Established in 1853.
Craven Brothers of Manchester were makers of machine tools and cranes (factory cranes and railway breakdown cranes).
In 1839 the family moved to Manchester, and Thomas began to work for Sharp, Roberts and Co.
Later he set up his own company selling and servicing machine tools.
William Craven worked for John George Bodmer, in Cambridge Street Mills, off Oxford Road, Manchester. Bodmer was an inventor, who had more than 150 patents in his name.
1852 William moved with his brother to William Fairbairn and Sons.
John Craven, an accountant, started off in business with his father. He joined Craven Brothers a year after the company was founded.
1853 Craven Brothers was formed at Dawson Croft Mill, Salford. Initially the brothers made machine tools for locomotive manufacturers, but they later branched out into many other types of machine tools, particularly for armament manufacturers. They range in size from hand-operated devices to objects that weigh hundreds of tons.
1854 'Two well-lighted ROOMS TO BE LET, with Power, on ground floor, suitable for a machinist, a short distance from the Exchange.- Apply at CRAVEN BROTHERS, engineers and tool makers, Collyhurst Road, Manchester.'
1860 Death of Benjamin Gee, 30, planing machine operator, at Craven's Vauxhall Ironworks. He died after an iron casting fell on him, due the failure of a sling.
In 1863 they moved to Osborne Street in north Manchester.
1866 Patent. '2735. To Greenwood Craven, William Craven, and John Craven, of the Vauxhall Iron Works, in the city of Manchester, Engineers and Tool Makers, for the invention of "improvements in machinery for cutting and planing iron and other metals, particularly applicable to machinery for cutting and planing armour plates."'
1875 Began building powered travelling cranes. They provided many overhead travelling cranes driven by high speed cotton ropes. Examples are preserved at Newcastle in Australia and at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry. It is understood that the latter is no longer accessible to the public.
1884 'Large Gun-boring Machines.— Two of the largest boring machines that have ever been made for ordnance purposes have just been completed for the English Government by Messrs. Craven Brothers, of Manchester, and the machines, although they have not yet been set to work, have now been put down at the Woolwich Arsenal. Each of these machines weighs 165 tons, and they are capable of boring 30 inches diameter to a depth of 50 feet. They are similar in construction to smaller machines of the same type previously made by Messrs. Craven for the Government, the special feature being the extra length of bore required for the new guns that are now being built.'
1885 Public company.
1900 Further growth prompted the construction of the Vauxhall Works at Reddish, near Stockport. The company kept the works at Osborne Street, Rochdale Road, with about 500 employees, open until 1920. The 1915 O.S. map shows 'Vauxhall Engineering Works' with its south-east corner on Osborne Street, Collyhurst, and bounded on the north by streets of terraced houses and to the south by the L&YR Manchester-Normanton line.
1900 'The Developement of Reddish. — Quite a number of Manchester firms are prospecting the neighbourhood of Reddish, writes a correspondent, while Messrs. Heywood are about to erect electrical engineering works in Sandfold-lane, and Messrs. Rowley and Co. [Rowland?], boiler-makers, are fitting works in the neighbourhood. Messrs. Craven Brothers, engineers, of Salford, have purchased 14-acres of land near the Reddish Station, on the estate of Mr. H. P. Greg, on which they intend to erect large engineering works. The first sod was cut on Thursday afternoon by Mr. William Craven, in the presence of his brother directors.'
1901 Supplied eight 50-ton overhead electric cranes having a span of 90 ft, for the new works of British Westinghouse at Trafford Park.
1901 'FATALITY AT SALFORD ENGINEERING WORKS. A married man named John Tomlinson, 25 years of age, of 30, Morton-street, Harpurhey, died at Salford Royal Hospital last night from injuries received on the 27th inst. whilst engaged following his usual occupation at Craven Brothers' engineering establishment, Adelphi-street, Salford. He was working near a crane when it smashed and piece about 13cwt fell upon him. His left side was cut open and his thigh shattered.'
1901 'CORRESPONDENCE. THE ACCIDENT AT CRAVEN BROS., LIMITED.
To the Editor of the Manchester Evening News.
Sir,— I observe that in the report which has appeared in the various Manchester papers of the unfortunate accident which occurred on the 27th inst. at the Salford branch works of my company (Craven Brothers, Limited), the cause is stated be the breakage of a crane near to which the deceased was working. This is very misleading, and it is calculated to injure the high reputation that my company enjoy as crane makers, I shall feel obliged if you will kindly give prominence in your next issue to the following explanation. An overhead travelling crane was being taken down in order to remove it to our works extension at Reddish; part of the crane was already down, and the portion being handled at the time of the accident was one of the end carriages. This was being lowered when the block rope broke and precipitated the piece to the floor. Deceased, who was assisting with the work, in getting clear of the falling piece stumbled, and very unfortunately the end carriage, after striking the floor, fell over to his leg. It is unnecessary to add that my directors very deeply regret the sad occurrence, which is the first fatality that has occured in their during the history of the concern.— Yours, &c, Geo. Johnson, Secretary, Vauxhall Iron Works, Osborne-street, Manchester, August 30th, 1901.'
1902 Moved from Manchester to Vauxhall Works, Reddish.
1904 Plate from a 10-ton crane. Exhibit at Anson Engine Museum
1911 Grindley Automatic Turret Lathe. 
1914 Manufacturers of high class modern machine tools, electric, steam, and hydraulic cranes etc. Employees 1,500. 
The need for greater facilities led to the establishment of works at Stockport which were gradually repeatedly enlarged until the entire business was transferred there in 1920.
1928 the machine tool businesses of Sir W. G. Armstrong, Whitworth and Company, Joshua Buckton and Co and Thomas Shanks and Co were acquired and the staffs transferred to Reddish where the products of each of the four firms were manufactured.
1931 Transferred the Cranes Division to Herbert Morris, Empress Works, Loughborough.
1935 See Craven Brothers:1935 Review
1937 Machine tool manufacturers. 
1939 Craven Brothers bought the Victoria Works at Saxon Street, Denton, from Knight and Hale.
1956 during one of the company’s best periods, 250 people worked at Denton.
1961 Manufacturers of all types of heaviest class machine tools and smaller machine tools. 1,500 employees. 
1965 Acquired by Staveley Coal and Iron Co but was losing money
1968 Announce new plano-milling machine. 
1970 Faced with continued losses in machine tools, Staveley's Craven-Swift Division was closed
Descriptions and illustrations of many Craven Bros railway breakdown cranes may be found in the book 'Railway Breakdown Cranes' by Peter Tatlow (2012)