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British Industrial History

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J. Brockhouse and Co

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of Victoria Works, West Bromwich and Australia House, Strand, London, WC2. Telephone: West Bromwich 0431; London Temple Bar 4803/4. Telegraphic Address: "Brockhouse, West Bromwich"; "Brockhouse, Estrand, London"

Maker of vehicle axles and springs. Main works and head office in West Bromwich, a branch in Wolverhampton and a branch in Wednesfield, with 26 companies in the group around the world.

1886 Company founded by John Brockhouse

1888 Brockhouse was able to build his own premises, next to J. and J. Siddons, in Howard Street, West Bromwich.

1893 John Thomas Brockhouse entered the business

1896 The firm was turned into a limited company but it continued to be run by John Brockhouse and his Sons.

1897 Brockhouse added axles to his repertoire and built new premises known as the Victoria Works.

1898 Public company. The company was registered on 28 February, to acquire a business of coach spring manufacturers. [1]

The company's first acquisition was Lones, Vernon and Holden, which concentrated on railway work[2]. During the first half of the twentieth century the company expanded rapidly by taking over numerous other firms, including R. Disturnal and Co.

1911 Of John's sons, Henry Brockhouse, was company secretary; another son, Frederick Brockhouse, was works manager; Arthur was a coach spring fitter and Frank was a foreman in the works[3]

1914 Manufacturers of Axles and Ironwork including Motor, Carriage and Van Springs. Employees 700. [4]

WWI. They seem to have been helped by having "a good war".

1918 Frederick Brockhouse died[5]

1921 Henry Brockhouse died[6]

1922 The company was particularly successful with John Brockhouse continuing as Managing Director almost until his death, aged 79; one of his surviving sons, John Thomas Brockhouse, took over.

1927 Brockhouse offered a spring repair service by R. Berry and Son, James Leach (of Leeds) and Taylor's Spring Co of Wednesbury; also windscreen repair and replacement by Joseph Gibson and Co (see advert)

By 1930 principal subsidiaries were:

1932 Bell's Heat Appliances transferred manufacturing of AGA Cookers to J. Brockhouse and Co of Smethwick[7]. A subsidiary, B. H. A. Production was established to manufacture the cookers.

1933 Aga Heat Ltd was incorporated to acquire the 2 companies concerned with the manufacture and sale of Aga appliances - Bell's Heat Appliances and B. H. A. Production

1936 Acquired District Iron and Steel Co of Smethwick whose premises were next door to Brockhouse's laminated springs and railway equipment business unit[8] and Dawkins Enamels and Foundry Co of Wednesfield, which became Brockhouse Castings Ltd[9]

1937 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Drop forgings for Railway Work, Tramway, and Shipbuilding and General engineering requirements. Speciality: Stanchions. (Stand Nos. D.518, Ca.909 and Ca.808). [10]

1937 Acquired Vulcan Motor and Engineering Co of Southport which would be used for general engineering [11] but sold the rights to the motor vehicle side of the business. Profits doubled that year. Acquisitions included the Lewin Road Sweeper, Piercy and Co of Birmingham, R. J. Hunt and Son, ironfounders of Kings Norton, and the Vitreous Enamelling Co; taken an interest in the Fluvario Self priming pump for cars; sold Albion Drop Forgings Co; introduced employee profit sharing scheme[12]

1938 The company had taken on more armaments work. Vulcan Works was renamed Brockhouse Engineering (Southport)[13].

WWII Delivered a variety of products to the war effort. The company continued with increasing success but with a weather eye on the need for returning to civilian work when peace came. Dividends were maintained and a rights issue made in 1940 (one of the few).

1941 Took controlling interest in Orme, Evans and Co[14]

1942 Acquired Frank Morris (Printers)[15]

1943 Acquired Ernest Lake Ltd of Bishop's Stortford, owners of Harvey Frost Ltd, makers of garage equipment, jacks and vulcanizing equipment, which would complement existing parts of the group. Acquired Meldrums Ltd of Timperley, makers of stokers, etc; and John Brooks (Lye) Ltd, maker of anvils and vices. As part of plans for post-war business, the company had developed a new range of municipal vehicles under the Lewin brand, and a hydraulic transmission system for use in all types of self-propelled vehicles. Had built 2 prototype prefabricated buildings[16]

1944 Formed a subsidiary to handle the business in prefabricated buildings, which became Brockhouse Steel Structures

1944 Mr J. T. Brockhouse died

1944 The Brockhouse Group consisted of 24 engineering companies and works[17]. The firms they took over included those making springs and axles but also many others so that, by the second half of the twentieth century, they were a conglomerate.

1944 Acquired Warwick Rim and Sectioning Co Ltd. Was involved in 2 schemes to build steel pre-fabricated buildings, one with Sankeys[18]

After WWII J. Brockhouse and Co acquired the Sunbeam and Karrier trolley bus business from Rootes

At Wolverhampton the company occupied the Elms works on Penn Road, which had originally been built for Sunbeam. When they moved there is not known, nor whether they took over Elm Works directly from Sunbeam.

At Elm Works the company mainly made machine tools. In successive editions of the Wolverhampton Official Handbook they listed the products of this works as: high grade machine tools, automatic injection moulding machines, die casting machines, gear cutting machines, lathes, slideway grinding unit heads, keyseating, milling and broaching machines. At this works they also did complete overhauls of all classes of machine tools; and their drawing office also carried out design work for other companies.

1947 Completed purchase of British Motor Boat Manufacturing Co[19]

1947 Commenced bus-body building

1948 Park Royal Vehicles had arranged to supply technical information to the company who had built a factory in Glasgow to manufacture bodywork to Park Royal's designs[20]

1948 Guy Motors acquired Sunbeam Trolley Bus Co from J. Brockhouse and Co except for the tools section which Brockhouse retained[21]

1952 The US subsidiary, the Indian motorcycle company, again incurred a loss which could only be offset against tax on future profits in USA. Acquired W. E. Cramp and Sons of Tipton, makers of ball bearings[22]

1953 Acquired District Iron and Steel Co from the Holding and Realization Agency[23].

1955 The Southport factory had not been profitable since WWII and was closed; a new machine shop was established at West Bromwich to manufacture hydraulic transmissions. An arrangement had been made with Enfield Cycle Co to manufacture the Indian motorcycle at a new factory at Boston in the UK for export to USA[24]

1959 Sold the Indian Company to Associated Motor Cycles; the name of the US Indian company was changed to Brockhouse Corporation[25]

1960 Acquired Albion Drop Forgings Co and merged into the Brockhouse Group[26]

1960 Significant rise in profits due to general engineering trade despite drop in demand for automotive components[27]

1961 Trailer manufacturers; drop forgers; ironfounders; springs and tool makers. Makers of Sweepmaster, Mechanical Orderly, Universal, Tractor Drawn road sweeper collectors; axles; Brockhouse Bulldog range of grates; U bolts and spring brackets; coupling equipment; machined components; fully automatic pressure jet oil burners for light and heavy oils; welded plate fabrications; general assembly work; spray painting and stove enamelling; degreasing and bonderising. 4,300 employees. [28]

1961 Acquired a factory with equipment at Denton, Lancs from Craven Brothers, machine tool makers, of Manchester[29]

1962 Moving to more complicated engineering products which offered higher rewards although cost more and took longer than the company's conventional products to develop[30]

1963 The Brockhouse Group offered products to several sectors[31]:

  • General Engineering
  • Engineering - Machine Tools
  • Transport
  • Building
  • Heating

The head office was at West Bromwich.

1963 Acquired the remaining 50 percent of Uniton Ltd, makers of wood-wool slabs, substantial customers of Warwick Rim and Sectioning Co[32]

1964 The aluminium foundry, Kaye Alloy Castings Ltd, was moved to a new factory at West Bromwich. Other factories extended included the one at Glasgow making prefabricated buildings[33]

1967 Acquired Redler Industries, H. J. H. King and Co and 51 percent of Duodec Development and Construction Co from Cozens and Sutcliffe (Holdings)[34]

1967 Ended drop forging at Albion Drop Forgings Co; the work was moved to West Bromwich[35]

1969 Rising inflation made it difficult to keep prices ahead of costs so profits fell[36]

1970 Rebound in profits[37]

1976 Name changed to Brockhouse[38]

1984 the group, which was making a loss, was acquired by Evered Holdings[39]

1987 Brockhouse Castings of Wolverhampton was sold to Saxonforge; the main company was renamed Brooks Castings[40]

2008 The company is still on the same 5.5 acre site in Howard Street, West Bromwich, to which it moved in 1888. (03/08)

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  2. The Times, Dec 15, 1938
  3. 1911 census
  4. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  5. BMD
  6. National Probate Calendar
  7. The Times, Feb 01, 1934
  8. The Times, Jul 10, 1936
  9. The Times, Nov 28, 1936
  10. 1937 British Industries Fair Page 341
  11. The Times, Oct 06, 1937
  12. The Times, Dec 09, 1937
  13. The Times, Dec 15, 1938
  14. The Times, Jun 13, 1941
  15. The Times, Dec 18, 1942
  16. The Times, Dec 24, 1943
  17. The Times, Nov 16, 1944
  18. The Times, Dec 23, 1944
  19. The Times, Jan 01, 1948
  20. The Times, Feb 25, 1948
  21. The Times, Oct 01, 1948
  22. The Times, Dec 31, 1952
  23. The Times, 23 February 1954
  24. The Times, Dec 22, 1955
  25. The Times, Dec 18, 1959
  26. The Times, Feb 03, 1960
  27. The Times, Dec 22, 1960
  28. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  29. The Times, Jan 12, 1961
  30. The Times, Dec 21, 1962
  31. The Times, Jan 30, 1963
  32. The Times, Dec 20, 1963
  33. The Times, Nov 27, 1964
  34. The Times, Apr 22, 1967
  35. The Times, Nov 24, 1967
  36. The Times, Dec 12, 1969
  37. The Times, Dec 16, 1970
  38. The Times Mar 03, 1976
  39. The Times, May 01, 1984
  40. The Times, February 25, 1987
  • [1] Local History
  • [2] Brockhouse Group Website