Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 150,335 pages of information and 235,380 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.

Joseph Rhodes and Sons

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June 1880.
May 1896.
February 1901.
January 1902.


Tilting power press. Exhibit at the Museum of Power.
February 1959.

of Grove Iron Works, Wakefield, Yorkshire. Telephone: 2756. Telegraphic Address: "Rhodes, Wakefield"

1824 Joseph Rhodes, aged 20, built his first machine in a small workshop in Wakefield.

1862 Joseph Rhodes of Wakefield exhibited Steam hammer, punching and shearing machine.

Presumably at some later time Joseph brought his sons into partnership.

1875 Dissolution of the Partnership which has for some time past been carried on by Joseph Rhodes, George Rhodes, and William Rhodes, under the style of Joseph Rhodes and Sons, at Wakefield, in the county of York, as Machine Makers and Engineers; and that the business will henceforth be carried on by the said George Rhodes and William Rhodes, under the said style of Joseph Rhodes and Sons.[1]

1899 Joseph Rhodes and Sons became a limited Company and registered the Colossus of Rhodes as its trade mark.

1899 The company was registered on 12 August, to take over the business of manufacturers of presses, dies and machinery for working tins and other sheet metals, of a private company of the same name. [2]

1910 Joseph Rhodes entered the export market early in its history, and opened an office in Paris.

1919 Power presses, guillotine shears and sheet metal working machinery. [3]

1921 The Company expanded into its present 8-acre site at Belle Vue, Wakefield. The new factory provided an ideal platform for the Company’s continued growth.

1922 Directors: Charles Joseph Rhodes and I. M. Rhodes. Products: Power presses, guillotine shears, and every description of sheet-metal working machinery. Supplied complete plants for manufacturing tin boxes and canisters, oil and paint drums, petrol and kerosene cans, seamless hollow-ware, etc.

1937 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. General Sheet Metal Working Machinery. Super Inclinable Presses. Double Sided Presses. Automatic Presses. Super Shears, etc., etc. (Stand Nos. D.407 and D.308) [4]

1938 Joseph Rhodes and Sons of Grove Iron Works, Wakefield; also London office: Norfolk House, Laurence Pountney Hill, E.C.4.; also Birmingham office: Chamber of Commerce Buildings, 95, New Street, Birmingham (see advert).

1938 Patent "Simplex" drawing device.

Post-WWII. Exports increased sharply after the Second World War, particularly to Europe and the USA.

1950s The export drive was further assisted by Rhodes invention of the world’s first hydraulic shear and press brake, which received patent protection in 1943. A series of innovative products rapidly followed the introduction of the hydraulic shear, amongst which the stagger feed press, for the production of such tin plate as canister lids and shoe polish tins, and the impact extrusion press used in the forming of battery casings and toothpaste tubes, proved particularly successful.

By the mid 1950s, the Company had a product range of 1000 types of machines for the sheet metal working industry. The British Machine Tool Engineering Magazine for March 1954 claiming such a range to be “the largest variety made by any firm in the world”.

1961 Joseph Rhodes was acquired by Lindustries

1979 Lindustries were themselves the subject of a successful take-over bid by Hanson Trust.

1984 The Hanson Board agreed to a Management Buy-Out.

Since 1985, the new management team have successfully completed a number of acquisitions of synergistic manufacturing companies. Renowned throughout world, the subsidiaries include the international names of:

2001 The company was re-launched as Group Rhodes after merging with Craven Fawcett, to encompass the much wider offering to market. The four main divisions within the group cover specialities in metal-forming, material handing, technical fabrications, clay working machinery and special purpose machinery.

Acquired Beauford Engineers which was relaunched in 2005

2003 Group Rhodes purchased a division of engineering companies from Motherwell Bridge Plc, which it renamed Rhodes Interform Ltd which designs and manufactures special purpose-built presses and machinery. Subsidiary companies included Fielding and Platt, Henry Berry, John Shaw and Sons, Chester Hydraulics and Berry Refractories.

2009 Launched Rhodes Environmental

2009 Acquired Hallamshire Environmental Services

2012 Acquired Slater and Crabtree

2014 Acquired Akin Automation

Joseph Rhodes was way ahead of his time and, from making machines to turn out such items as cutlery and oil cans for households in the West Yorkshire town, the Company has progressed to designing high tech computer controlled machine tools for worldwide distribution.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] Group Rhodes Website
  1. London gazette 19 Nov 1875
  2. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  3. Mechanical World Year Book 1919. Published by Emmott and Co of Manchester. Advert p119
  4. 1937 British Industries Fair p406