Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,386 pages of information and 233,857 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Steel Group

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of Sunderland, mechanical handling, agricultural and general engineers and merchants.

1879 Business established by Lancelot Steel.

1923 Private company registered: Steel and Co Ltd - heating and air conditioning engineers, manufacturer of castings for shipbuilding and other industries, builders and plumbers merchants.

1930s Expanded into industrial catering equipment. Run by John Eric Steel and his brother James Steel grandsons of the founder.

1937 Steel and Co incorporated as a public company [1] to acquire the undertakings of 3 companies - Steel and Co (Holdings) Ltd, engineers, ironfounders, metal workers and builders merchants of Sunderland; Gunton Sons and Dyball, builders and plumbers merchants of Norwich (established 1879); and Norman Turner Engineering Co Ltd, engineers and air conditioning specialists of London (founded 1934)[2]. The management saw these as closely associated in their activities.

1939 Steel and Co Ltd acquired Henry J. Coles makers of cranes. The Egis shipyard at Pallion was purchased and renamed 'Crown Works'

Producing cranes, electric vehicles, fireplaces, pulley blocks, snow ploughs, and anchors

1943 Coles became a subsidiary of Steels Engineering Products Ltd.

During the Second World War production soared and Crown Works re-equipped.

1945 Steel and Gunton Ltd claimed to be Britain#s largest builders merchant.

1949 By arrangement with Harry Ferguson Ltd, manufactured a range of tools using the Ferguson System[3].

1959 Acquisition of R. H. Neal and Co and F. Taylor and Sons.

1962 Steels Engineering Products Ltd placed order with AEI for control equipment and motors for Coles Cranes[4].

1963 Sold the 2 builders merchant companies. The 3 UK factories had been amalgamated into British Crane and Excavator Corporation; Process Plant Ltd was almost breaking-even in 1964[5].

1964 Company name changed to British Crane and Excavator Corporation

1967 Steel Group operating well below capacity. Domestic operations included British Crane and Excavator Corporation, Steels Process Plant Ltd (which would be closed), Archibald Low and Sons Ltd, Alston Foundry Company Ltd, Steels Engineerings Installations, as well as overseas businesses including Coles Cranes companies in Germany, Australia, India, South Africa[6].

1969 Promotion of the name Coles Cranes in the U.K. as part of British Crane and Excavator Corporation[7]

1969 Take-over of Priestman Brothers with the backing of the Industrial Reorganization Corporation[8].

1970 Name changed to Coles Cranes.

1971 Sold Alston Foundry to the Weir Group[9].

1972 Acquired by Acrow[10].

1984 Acquired by American owned Grove.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 24 March 1937
  2. The Times, 23 March 1937
  3. The Times, 26 September 1949
  4. The Times, 6 April 1962
  5. The Times, Wednesday, Feb 03, 1965
  6. The Times, 15 September 1967
  7. The Times, 10 February 1969
  8. The Times, 9 September 1969
  9. The Times, 5 May 1971
  10. Times, 5 April 1972