Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Vavasseur and Co

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of London Ordnance Works, Bear Lane, Southwark, London.

By 1860 Josiah Vavasseur and Company were engineers of 8 Sumner Street, Southwark, next to Henry Vavasseur and Company, galvanized iron and zinc works.

1860 Took over a small iron works at 28 Gravel Lane, Southwark (previously used by the hydraulic engineering firm of Easton and Amos to make and test the paying-out gear for the Atlantic telegraph cable).

1862 Manufactured small cannon for Captain Blakely

1863 Made spherical steel shot. The Southwark works were acquired and extended by Captain Blakely and his partner, John Dent; Vavasseur became manager and engineer to the Blakely Ordnance Co.

1867 on the winding up of the Blakely Ordnance Co, Mr. Josiah Vavasseur acquired their Southwark premises and business and carried it on under the title of J. Vavasseur and Co. He abandoned Blakely's works in East Greenwich to that company's creditors. He created the London Ordnance Works in Bear Lane, Southwark Street, and was open for business by November 27, 1867. Vavasseur continued the manufacture of cannon, assembling, rifling and finishing steel components roughly prepared by Firth's. He also developed carriages to manage larger cannon, in which he became something of a specialist.

From 1870 the small works at Bear Lane also manufactured Harvey's torpedo for several countries.

Vavasseur produced several varieties of torpedoes or submarine mines in collaboration with, amongst others, Captain Charles Ambrose McEvoy, formerly of the Confederate States Navy.

By 1883, the business of Vavasseur and other suppliers with the British Government had reached such proportions that it was impossible for them to carry on separately. The firm was merged with W. G. Armstrong and Co. All manufacturing was transferred to the Elswick works of Elswick Ordnance Co.

The Bear Lane factory continued to be used by others for the manufacture of guns and carriages until May 28 1904, when the lease was surrendered.

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