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Nicholls, Williams and Co of Bedford Iron Foundry, Tavistock
1844 Business founded by Thomas Nicholls and John Williams. Later joined by Joseph Mathews
1845 'A daughter of Mr. Nicholls, of the Bedford Foundry, Tavistock, aged rather more than eight years, on Thursday we man who was striking; and, while he was swinging the sledge, he struck her on the head. She lingered until Sunday morning, when she expired.'
1848 ‘… Tavistock’s second iron foundry. It was founded by a partnership of three men, Thomas Nicholls, John Williams, and Joseph Mathews. In 1848 they obtained a lease from the Duke [of Bedford] and launched their enterprise. The Bedford Iron Works, as it was called, was quickly into its stride. In 1852 it was described as “upon a scale of considerable magnitude, employing a great number of hands in manufacturing and exporting machinery for mining purposes to America and the colonies”. The fillip provided by the Crimean War contributed to the expansion of the enterprise, and in 1857 ninety men were being employed. ..’
1849 Two large waterwheels erected at Devon Great Consols Mine. One powered by the Great Leat from the Tamar was 40ft by 12ft. The second was of a similar size.
1850 ‘Ironfounders, Engineers and Tool and Implement Manufacturers. Nicholls, Williams & Co, Bedford Foundry, Tavistock.’
1851 Models of the two water-wheels at the Great Devon Consols Mines have been forwarded for exhibition at the Crystal Palace. The wheels, which are of polished mahogany and brass work, reflect great credit to Mr. N. Smith, the engineer of the mines, under whose superintendence they have been perfected. The original wheels were erected by Nicholls, Williams, & Co, the Bedford Foundry, Tavistock. [see also William Mathews, at foot].
1851 Joseph Mathews living at Bannawell Street, Tavistock, H M, 30, iron founder and engineers, b Camborne, Cornwall. His widowed father, William, engineer, 52, and his elder brother William, 32, engineer, both living in his household. All born Camborne, although Joseph’s wife was born in Leeds.
1852 The South Australian Copper Mining Co have now completed all their arrangements relative to the large and powerful engines for their mines at Strathalbyn under the direction of their engineer Mr F W Basset. The engine, a 60-inch cyclinder .. of 10ft stroke .. is now in the course of construction at the well-known Perran Engine Works, near Truro in whose foundry the two cheeks of the great beam (32 feet long, and weighing eight tons each), and other main parts of the engine, were most successfully cast on June 28. The 18 in. pumps, with four extra lifts, of 15-in. and 12in. diam. respectively, are, together with the other pitwork, also in progress in the shops of the same firm...bobwork, mining tools, materials, and other works for the dressing-floors, &c., are being made by the firm of Messrs. Nicholls, Williams, and Co., of the Bedford Foundry, Tavistock, and the Roseland Vale Iron Works, Liskeard. The whole will be ready for shipment early in September. Mr. Basset has, we are informed, been for some time occupied in Cornwall arid Devon, in selecting a competent staff of agents, smiths, engineers, miners, and every other force necessary for the development of these valuable mines to the greatest possible advantage. The rich and abundant discoveries of ore which the previous owners of this mine could not extract to any advantage, owing to the imperfect methods employed, is now likely to be brought to grass by the powerful machinery about to be applied.
1852 ‘.. In 1852 Nicholls, Williams built a 50-inch engine for Hennock Mine, near Bovey Tracey, which was transported by the Tavistock Canal to Morwellham then shipped to Newton Abbot .. an engine for a mine at St Cleer, Caradon, went by boat from Morwellham to St Germans Quay .. Nicholls Williams built at least one locomotive for the railway at Devon Great Consols ..’ 
1853 Ashburton .. The large boiler, from the Foundry of Messrs Nicholls, Williams, and Co., Tavistock, for the engine at the Wheal Arundel Mines, arrived here on Tuesday evening last. It weighed about eleven tons, and it took nineteen horses to convey it to the mine from Ashburton. It is 30 feet in length.
1853 William Thorne, railway contractor, bankrupt in total owing £107,273. Nicholls Williams owed £97.
1853 'The large boiler, from the Foundry of Nicholls, Williams, and Co., Tavistock, for the engine at the Wheal Arundel Mines, arrived here on Tuesday last. It weighed about eleven tons, and it took nineteen horses to convey it to the mine from Ashburton. It is 30 feet in length.'
1854 Nicholls Williams and Co. ENGINEERS AND IRON FOUNDERS, BEDFORD FOUNDRY, TAVISTOCK, and ROSELAND VALE FOUNDRY and HAMMER MILLS, LISKEARD. Beg to announce to the Gold Mining Companies, that they are Manufacturing Horizontal and Portable Steam Engines of all sires, fit for pumping, crushing, and other purposes ; there are several advantages over the perpendicular rotary Engine—first, the Bob is dispensed with and Heavy Sweep Rod; secondly, the cost of erection Is much less both in Engine and Buildings; Sheds put up with wood may be applied instead of stone walls, especially in foreign climes where wood Is plenty, and can be removed at much less cost. Also Manufacturers of Chilian Crushing Mills (on the newest principle), and Cornish Crushers, similar to those used the Mines of Devon and Cornwall; Dressing and Mining Tools of every description, kept on sale. Companies supplied with Working Engineers and Mechanics for erecting Machinery In any part of the World.
1857 Court case concerning Warleggan Mine – probably better known as Trevedoe Mine, Warleggan – Nicholls Williams supplied machinery for the mine worth £135 14s 10d.
1859 ‘.. But a wheel in Barmouth was not much use for a shaft to be drained in Buckfastleigh and, after further attempts at shipment, ‘a new wheel was ordered from Messrs Nicholls Williams & Co, of Tavistock, 50ft diameter, 5ft breast, wrought iron with boilerplate axle’. In November 1859 this new wheel was in process of erection on the mine [Wheal Emma], built and working within eight weeks of the order to the foundry, and this at a cost of £500 ..’
1859 'Annual Festival. —The men of the Bedford Iron Works, Messrs. Nicholls, Williams and Mathews, in this town, met on Friday the 24th inst., to enjoy their annual dinner at the works. Between 70 and 80 partook of the substantial Christmas fare.'
1860 ‘…That Bedford Foundry were not solely engaged in local work is evidenced by the supply of various new engines to west Cornwall mines, including a 22-in whim to Tywarnhaile Mines, February 1860, a 45-in for Great North Tolgus in 1860 ..’
1860 WANTED, immediately, a good PATTERNMAKER. Apply to Nicholls, Williams, and Co., Bedford Foundry, Tavistock.
1861 Fowey and Par United Mine. Double-acting 36-in steam engine to power 24 heads of stamps ordered from Nicholls Williams and Co, Tavistock, to prove the lodes below the adit.
1861 PRELIMINARY NOTICE. To be Sold by Auction, BALLYVIRGIN MINE, IN THE MONTH OP AUGUST, A FIRST-RATE 20-inch CYLINDER, HORIZONTAL CONDENSING STEAM-ENGINE, with a Seven Ton Boiler, and outfit complete; a Crusher having 24-inch diameter, Rolls and connections for same; a Hauling Machine and connections, and Pumping connections, by the eminent Engineers, Messrs. Nicholls, Williams & Co., Bedford Foundry, Tavistock. The above Engine is in perfect order, and has not been much more than two years in use. There will be also Sold the whole of the Mining Apparatus, consisting of several Pumps, and general Mining machinery, particulars of which will be duly published prior to Sale. … E Pycroft Esq, 3 Penners Court, Broadstreet, London EC ..Ballyvirgin Mine is midway between Ennis and Tulla, in the County Clare.
1862 WANTED, a good HAMMERMAN, accustomed to a steam hammer, for forging general work also a FIREMAN, used to an air furnace, for heating piles and faggots; also, a good practical WORKING FOREMAN of FITTERS The best testimonials will be required, and none need apply who are not experienced and steady.—Apply to Nicholls, Williams and Co., Engineers, Tavistock.
1862 BEDFORD IRON WORKS, Tavistock, Devon. Messrs. Nicholls, Williams & Co. BEG to announce to their Customers and the Public, that having erected a POWERFUL STEAM HAMMER, they are now in a position to Manufacture HEAVY SHAFTS, and HAMMERED IRON generally, from selected Scrap. All Orders will have their best attention.
1863 TO MINE AGENTS.—FOR .SALE, a large quantity of various size PITWORK, commencing in size from 7-in to 17 -in. Pumps, with bottoms complete. Also, several Steam Engines, Cornish Crushers, Water Wheels, and other Materials too numerous to mention. Can be seen at Messrs NICHOLLS, WILLIAMS, and Co’S WORKS, Tavistock.
1863 WANTED, a VESSEL with long hatchway, to take about 110 tons of Machinery from Plymouth to Hamburg.— Apply to Nicholls, Williams, and Co., Engineers, Tavistock.
1864 WANTED, some good ENGINE FITTERS—AppIy personally to Nicholls, Williams, and Co., Engineers, Tavistock.
1864 Machinery for Prince Arthur Consols, Mary Tavy, formerly Wheal Betsy (SX 509813), by Nicholls Williams & Co of Bedford Iron Works. Included a 50ft by 5ft 6in waterwheel, generating a calculated 50hp, with 190 fathoms of flat rods. Other waterwheels (new?) for pumping, crushing and drawing.
1866 DISSOLUTION OF PARTNERSHIP. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that the PARTNERSHIP hitherto subsisting between the undersigned, THOMAS NICHOLLS, JOHN WILLIAMS, and JOSEPH MATHEWS, carrying on business as Ironfounders, at Tavistock, in the County of Devon, under the firm of NICHOLLS, WILLIAMS, and COMPANY, has been DISSOLVED by mutual consent, so far as regards the said JOHN WILLIAMS, and all Debts due to and from the said Co-Partnership will be received and paid by THOMAS NICHOLLS and JOSEPH MATHEWS, by whom the said Business will be carried on, under the style or firm of NICHOLLS, MATHEWS, and COMPANY. As witness our hands this Twenty-first day of June, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Sixty-six. THOS. NICHOLLS. JOHN WILLIAMS. JOSEPH MATHEWS. BEDFORD FOUNDRY, HAMMER MILLS, AND ENGINE WORKS, TAVISTOCK, June 22nd, 1866.
1867 The Mount Foundry, Parkwood Road, Tavistock, sold out to Nicholls Mathews
1867 The New Cornish Lead and Copper Mining Co Ltd. Seventh General Meeting held at Birmingham. Company being wound up and mines, machinery etc sold to Nicholls Mathews for £450 cash.
1868 After taking over the old Tavistock Ironworks in 1868, Nicholls Williams transferred the works to the latter premises and continued thereafter as a new partnership, Messrs Nicholls Mathews & Co.
1868 Tavistock Iron Works, Tavistock, September, 1868. HAVING purchased these well-known and extensive Premises, we take this opportunity of thanking our numerous friends and customers for the very liberal support with which we have been favoured during the past quarter of a century, at the Bedford Iron Works. We now beg to inform you that our Hammer and Plating Mills are in full operation, and that we are in a position to execute any orders for Steel and Iron Shovels of every description, Wagon and Cart Axles, Shear Moulds, &c., at a very short notice ; these articles are being manufactured by the same workmen employed by the late firm of Messrs. Gill & Co., whose high reputation for the quality of their Shovels in particular, secured them a world-wide notoriety. We purpose giving especial attention to this branch of the business, and by selecting Iron from the best Scrap, superior Steel, as well as Workmanship, shall endeavour to maintain that fame for the durability and superiority of these Shovels already so well-known. We would also direct your notice to the list of our Steel Mining Tools, which are becoming generally used, and are giving great satisfaction. We also beg to announce to Gold Mining Companies, that we have given great attention to this branch of Machinery, and are prepared to supply estimates for the same on application, and Engineers can be sent for erecting, if required. Your kind favours will at all times receive our best attention, and with our increased facilities, we are now in a position to execute all orders entrusted to our care, with promptitude and dispatch. We are, Yours obediently, NICHOLLS, MATHEWS, & CO.
1868 At East Gunnislake and South Bedford Consols Mines special meeting, on Tuesday, an estimated account of payments and receipts before the meeting, to be held in February, 1869, showed an estimated debit balance of £465 10s. 1d. A call of 2s. 6d. per share was paid. Capt. James Bray says — " We have purchased of Messrs. Nicholls, Mathews, and Co. a good second-hand wheel, 40ft. in diameter, 4ft. in breast, with connections, bobs, &c, complete, for the sum of £75."
1868 Bought the remainder of the lease of the Tavistock Iron Works
1868 Advertisement: 'TAVISTOCK IRON WORKS. HAVING purchased these well-known and extensive Premises, we take this opportunity of thanking our numerous friends and customers for the very liberal support with which we have been favoured during the past quarter of a century, at the Bedford Iron Works.
We now beg to inform you that our Hammer and Plating Mills are in full operation, and that we are in position to execute any orders for Steel and Iron Shovels of every description, Waggon and Cart Axles, Shear Moulds, and Heavy Shafts of all kinds, &c, at a short notice; these articles are being manufactured by the same workmen employed by the late firm of Messrs. Gill and Co. .whose high reputation for the quality of their shovels in particular, secured them a-world-wide notoriety. We purpose giving especial attention to this branch of the business, and by selecting Iron from best Scrap and superior Steel, as well as workmanship, shall endeavour to maintain that fame for the durability and superiority of these Shovels already so well known. Fire Shovels for Gas Works and Engine Stokers, &c.
We would also direct your notice to the list of our Cast Steel Mining Tools, which are coming into general use, and are giving great satisfaction both at home and abroad. We also beg to announce to Gold Mining Companies, that we have given great attention to this branch of Machinery, supplied Foreign Mines largely, and are prepared to supply estimates for the same application, and Engineers can be sent for erecting, if required, to all parts of tbe world.
Your kind favours will at all times receive our best attention ; and, with our increased facilities, we are now in a position to execute all orders entrusted to our care, with promptness and dispatch.
We are, yours obediently, NICHOLLS, MATHEWS, & Co. Tavistock, September, 1868.'
1869 NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Office at the Bedford Iron Works is CLOSED, and all Business transacted at the Tavistock Iron Works. NICHOLLS, MATHEWS, & CO. Tavistock Iron Works, March 24th, 1869.
1870 TAVISTOCK IRON WORKS.—We learn that Messrs. Nicholls, Mathews. & Co., of the Tavistock Iron Works, have just obtained an order for several thousand pounds worth of mining machinery for the Brazils. This is one sign of improvement in trade.
1870 GOLD MINING IN South America.—Messrs Nicholls, Mathews & Co. are about to sent out an agent and a staff of miners to South America to work at a gold mine, the necessary machinery having preceded them.
1870 QUEEN MINE.— A 30-inch cylinder engine, of double acting power, was started at this mine, on Tuesday last, the christening ceremony being performed by Mrs. Barnard. The shareholders afterwards dined together at the Bedford Hotel. At the meeting held previously a dividend of 1s. per share was declared. The engine was constructed by Messrs. Nicholls, Mathews, and Co., of the Tavistock Iron Works. [Mine close to Tavistock, it seems].
1871 LEAD MINES. WANTED to PURCHASE or take on LEASE at moderate dues or rent, LEAD SLIMES and other waste accumulated principally on worked-out Mines, containing an average of not less than about one per cent for Lead. Persons, though not actually proprietors of such properties, might to advantage interest themselves and forward particulars to—Mr. Charles F. Collom, Inventor and Patentee of Collom’s Patent Ore Dresser, Bedford Foundry, Tavistock, Devon.
1871 The Nine Hours’ System.— We understand that Messrs. Nicholls, Mathews, and Co., of Tavistock, have conceded the nine hours system to their workmen, commence on January 1st, 1872.
1871 MINING. MESSRS. NICHOLLS, MATHEWS, & CO. are shipping off a quantity of stamping machinery for the Portuguese tin mines, and artizans for erecting the same.
1875 FRIDAY, APRIL 30, 1875. An inundation of a portion of the Tavistock Iron Works belonging to Messrs. Nicholls, Mathew's & Co., happened on Wednesday evening, by the breaking away of the leat, which had been partially undermined.
1876 Two good pattern makers wanted. Apply Nicholls Mathews and Co, Tavistock.
1878 Calstock Fire-Brick and Fire-Clay Works .. extending over 23 acres, Calstock. Auction .. Machinery, made especially for these works, and put in place partly by the well-known firm of Nicholls and Mathews, Tavistock, is in capital working order, and capable of producing about 20,000 bricks per day .. [boiler by Nicholls Mathews]
1878 ‘Nichols, Mathews & Co, engineers, iron and brass founders, manufacturers of steam engines, boilers, miners’ steel and iron tools &c, Tavistock Foundry and Hammer Mills.’
1879 THE TAVISTOCK IRON WORKS. We very much regret to state that this old established concern has been compelled to suspend during the present week. On Tuesday morning the following circular was sent to the creditors. " Tavistock, 6th January, 1879.—Sir,— We regret to inform you that owing to heavy losses and the general depression of trade, we are unable to meet our liabilities, and have placed our books in the hands of Mr. J. E. E. Dawe, Accountant, of Plymouth, who will prepare a statement of Accounts, to be laid before the first meeting of our creditors, which will be summoned under the petition for liquidation, filed to-day, in the County Court at East Stonehouse, under which Mr. Dawe has been appointed receiver and manager.---We are, sir your obedient servants, Nicholls, Mathews, and Co.". The foundry has had a very extensive business in mining machinery both for home and foreign trade, but the unprecedented depression in mining for the last few years has led to heavy bad debts, and lately to an almost entire cessation of work. The loss by payment of calls in unproductive mines in which the firm held shares, has also been considerable. The total amount of liabilities is stated to be about £12,000. The meeting of Creditors will be held in about a fortnight, most probably at the Bedford Hotel. The sympathy for Mr. Mathews in his trouble is universal, and strong hopes are expressed that the Foundry may be continued, both for his sake and for that of his employees, as well as for the welfare of the town. At present it is conducted under the direction of Mr. Dawe, the trustee and manager.
1879 TAVISTOCK IRON WORKS. A meeting of the creditors of Joseph Mathews, of the Tavistock Iron Foundry, trading as Nicholls, Mathews, and Co., was held at the Bedford Hotel, on Thursday (yesterday) morning, for the purpose of confirming the resolutions passed at the first meeting of creditors. Although the actual attendance was not large, the greater number of the creditors were represented .. Mr William Mathews the largest creditor, prepared to act alone ..
1879 Auction .. Lot 1. All those extensive Premises and Messuages, now and for many years past known as the Bedford Iron Foundry,' comprising Foundry, Smithery, Pattern Shops, Offices and Outbuildings thereto belonging, now in the occupation of Meagre. Nicholls, Mathews, and Co. [Bannawell Street site]
1879 .. by the end of the decade the depression had deepened, and in 1879 the company had to suspend operations for a time. It managed to stagger on until 1891, when the works finally closed and the plant and machinery was sold by auction. Six years later the premises were leased to the Hayle-based firm of Hosken, Trevithick, Polkinhorne and Company, and became a woollen mill ...’
To 1880s Semi bound drawings of 3 beam engines of 24 inch (rotative), 40 inch + 60 inch (pumping), paper watermarked 1852 and stamped Tavistock Iron Works; loose drawings mostly marked 'Nicholls and Matthews', dating from 1841-1880s.
Circa 1879-1891 Waterwheel cast by ‘Joseph Mathews and Co, Tavistock Iron Works. Tavistock, Devon’. 16ft by 3ft overshot with 48 buckets, survived in part at the ruined Pencare or Pencavo Mills, Landrake with St Erney, Cornwall, in 1997. [at SX 3542 6012].
1897 THE NEW INDUSTRY. The arrangements have, we believe, been so far advanced that we are now in a position to announce that Messrs. Hoskin, Trevithick, Polkinhorne and Co., Limited, will work the old foundry as a woollen manufactory, and the town mill as a grist or flour mill. This has been the "talk of the town" for at least twelve months past, and it now has, or soon will, become a reality. The news will be all the more welcome because the hope has been so long deferred, while anything to revive the flagging energies of the town must be acceptable to those who have waited patiently for the turn of the tide. The restart of the foundry indicates more than appears on the surface. Not only does it mean the laying down of new machinery, which will include all the up-to-date improvements, but it means the employment of a large number of hands, the maintenance of their families, the distribution of large sums in the shape of weekly wages, and the providing of artisans' dwellings, to say nothing of residences for the principals and heads of departments, who also must be clothed and fed..... The "old foundry," as it is still called, has a history. It was established more than century ago, we believe, by Mr. John Gill, grandfather of Mr Reginald Gill, who died only on Wednesday. Wheal Friendship Mine was then at its zenith, being worked by the Taylor family, who, with the Gills, were foremost in every thing affecting the interests of the town. The foundry was started, the canal was cut, the wharf was opened and business was brisk, especially after Devon Great Consols developed into a rich mine; so much so that one foundry was not sufficient to supply all the mines machinery, and the Bed ford Foundry was started by Messrs. Nicholls and Williams, and continued by Messrs Nicholls, Mathews, and Company. Then came a lull, and the old foundry changed hands ; the Blakenay Ordnance Company tried their hand at making steel guns, after Capt. Blakenay's pattern, and failed, and ultimately Messrs. J. Mathews and Company migrated to the old foundry and kept it going, until a few years ago, when mining became quiet, and in fact almost ceased to exist. The Tavy Iron Works, formerly Messrs. Pearce's foundry, are now the only iron works in the town.
1897 Lease. Duke of Bedford to Hosken, Trevithick, Polkinghorne and Co Ltd. Premises on Parkwood Road, formerly used as a foundry and its water supply and leats.
1908 Death of Major Joseph Mathews, 88, long associated with Tavistock for 50 years and was a member of the firm Nicholls Mathews. [Joseph Mathews was born in Camborne, Cornwall, in 1821 – Ancestry.com].
1909 DEATH OF MR W. MATHEWS. A NATIVE OF CAMBORNE. At Tavistock on Tuesday, the funeral took place the late Mr. William Mathews, consulting engineer, who died at Rock View, Tavistock, Saturday, aged 91 years. Born at Camborne, the eldest son of an engineer, he spent a good part of his childhood at the St. John del Rey Mines, in the highlands of Brazil, where his father was Engineer. He was educated at the old Grammar School, Saltash then the principal boys' school in Cornwall. He became a pupil at Harvey's Foundry and Engineering Works at Hayle. One the earliest engineering works with which he was connected was the erection of large pumping engines of the Cornish type at the North-East London Waterworks. He superintended the erection of machinery in many places abroad, in Germany, in South America and at Linares and Rio Tinto in Spain. About 1845 he settled at Tavistock at the time when the Devon Great Consols and other mines were beginning flourish. He became engineer at Devon Great Consols, where he superintended the erection of most of the engines and machinery afterwards placed there, including the construction of the railway between those mines and Morwellham. He continued to reside in Tavistock until his death, practising as engineer and having under his charge the engines and machinery of most the mines the neighbourhood, including Devon Great Consols, Gawton, Clitters, Holmbush, Kit Hill, Kingston, Drake-walls, Wheal Betsy, Devon Friendship, and Okel Tor....