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 163,469 pages of information and 245,911 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.

Fox, Henderson and Co

From Graces Guide
Wood-filled railway carriage wheels made to Beattie's patent by Fox, Henderson in 1856. On display at Vienna Technical Museum
JD 2017 Vienna Tech Mus01.jpg

Fox Henderson and Co of New Street, Spring Gardens, London, and London Works, Smethwick, Birmingham, and Renfrew.

Westbourne Terrace and 3 Trafalgar Square (1844).

Specialised in railway equipment, including wheels, bridges, roofs, cranes, tanks and permanent way materials.

By 1841, John Henderson had joined Bramah and Fox

1842 Dissolution of the Partnership between John Joseph Bramah, Charles Fox and John Henderson, under the firm of Bramah, Fox, and Co. at the London Works, Harborne, near Birmingham, Engineers and Machinists, when John Joseph Bramah retired; Charles Fox and John Henderson carried on the business as Fox, Henderson, and Co.[1]

1843 Birkenhead Commissioners approved plans for a market at Birkenhead prepared by Fox, Henderson and Co[2].

1844 Fox, Henderson and Co were responsible for construction of Birkenhead Market but it was late and over-budget[3]. A wall blew down during construction[4].

1844 Charles Fox, on behalf of Fox, Henderson and Co, testified at an inquest arising from an accident when a glazed roof, under construction at Bricklayer's Arms Station, failed; Fox, Henderson and Co were sub-contractors to Grissel and Peto and had installed a considerable amount of similar roofs in recent months but would change how this type of roof was installed in future[5].

1848 Partnership change. '...the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us, as Engineers and Machinists, at the London Works, Birmingham, and in New-street, Spring-gardens, London, under the firm of Fox, Henderson, and Co., was this day dissolved, by mutual consent, so far as relates to the undersigned Ambrose Moore and James Ward Hoby.— Dated this 30th day of June 1848. Charles Fox. John Henderson. A. Moore. James Ward Hoby.'[6]

1849 Directory: Listed as Engineers. Address London Works, Smethwick and 8 New Street, Spring Gardens, London[7]

1849 Directory: Listed as Ironfounders. [8]

William Siemens had developed ideas about ways of improving steam engines, which he patented. The new design of engine was constructed at Fox, Henderson and Co's factory at Smethwick, where Siemens was subsequently employed, receiving not only his interest in the patents but also a fixed salary of £400 per annum. His brother Frederick joined him later as an assistant at the same firm. The engine was ingenious but not commercial. In 1850, the Society of Arts awarded Siemens a gold medal for his regenerative condenser.

Fox, Henderson and Co was responsible for many important station roofs including Liverpool Tithebarn Street, (1849–50), Bradford Exchange (1850), Paddington and Birmingham New Street. Fox led the design side whilst Henderson handled the manufacturing.

1849-50 Contractor for the ironwork of Athlone Railway Bridge.

1850 Contractor for Rochester Bridge; some divergence of views in retrospect as to the importance of a patented method of sinking cylinders for foundations and adaptations by the company[9].

1850 Fox and Henderson's expertise with structural ironwork led Joseph Paxton to invite them to build his iron and glass scheme for The Crystal Palace for The 1851 Great Exhibition. They built all the ironwork for the building, starting work before the formal contract had been agreed. Due to its innovative modular design and construction techniques, it was ready in nine months[10]. Some of the work was carried out at the Renfrew works[11].

1851 Award at the 1851 Great Exhibition. See details at 1851 Great Exhibition: Reports of the Juries: Class V.

1851 For their work on the Crystal Palace, Fox, Cubitt and Paxton were knighted on 22 October.

1852 After the exhibition, the structure was due to be demolished but Fox, Henderson and Co stimulated a campaign to preserve it[12]. They were employed by the Crystal Palace Company to move the structure to Sydenham, re-erecting and enlarging it on Sydenham Hill, thereafter known as Crystal Palace.

At the close of 1852 William Siemens's links with Fox, Henderson and Co were terminated, the losses and difficulties sustained by the firm having led to friction with the inventor.

1853 Movable derrick crane[13] [14].

1855 Fox, Henderson and Co acted as intermediaries between the British Government and an American arms maker to supply weapons; by 1857 only part of the order had been delivered and some of the advance would have to be recovered by a charge on the estate of Fox, Henderson and Co[15].

1856 Fox, Henderson and Co were placed in administration having debts greater than assets due to problems with contracts with Danish Railways, Berlin and France[16] but in view of the amount of orders it was hoped to keep the works operating[17].

1857 Fox, Henderson and Co lost a lawsuit in the French Tribunal of Commerce concerning shares in the Company of the Docks Napoleon, and work done on the docks in 1854[18].

1857 Charles Fox left the company to practice as a civil and consulting engineer with two of his sons, Charles and Francis, and in 1860 formed a partnership with his two sons, the firm being known as Sir Charles Fox and Sons.

1857 Closure of London Works, which had once employed 2000[19]. The bankruptcy of Fox, Henderson and Co[20] had caused loss of employment in the area of the Works and displacement of people away from that part of Smethwick[21]. Sale by auction of the contractors tools, stocks of chains and stores on the site of London Works[22].

1858 Declaration of first dividend (apparently the outcome of the bankruptcy process) by Sir Charles Fox and John Henderson, Smethwick Staffordshire, New Street Westminster, and Fore Street Limehouse, engineers[23] "on the separate estate of Sir Charles Fox"[24].

By 1864 Watkins and Keen occupied London Works.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. London Gazette 15 July 1842
  2. Liverpool Mercury 8 September 1843
  3. Liverpool Mercury, 6 September 1844
  4. The Examiner 9 November 1844
  5. Morning Post 13 April 1844
  6. The London Gazette Publication date:21 July 1848 Issue:20879 Page:2734
  7. History and Directory of Birmingham, 1849: Engineers
  8. History and Directory of Birmingham, 1849: Ironfounders
  9. The Times, 27 January 1865
  10. Derby Mercury, 25 June 1851
  11. Glasgow Herald 12 August 1850
  12. The Times, 22 March 1852
  13. The Imperial Journal 1853 Volume III. p80
  14. 1851 Great Exhibition: Official Catalogue: Class V.: Fox, Henderson and Co
  15. The Times, 30 May 1857
  16. Belfast News-Letter 1 November 1856
  17. The Times, 30 October 1856
  18. The Times, 29 January 1857
  19. The Times, 17 February 1857
  20. The Times, 28 April 1857
  21. Birmingham Daily Post 3 October 1881
  22. Glasgow Herald 9 September 1857
  23. Birmingham Daily Post 6 December 1858
  24. The Morning Chronicle 22 January 1859
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816