Bespoke Engineering

The firm had the capability of producing high quality grey iron castings up to two tons in weight. They attempted to take-up as much spare capacity as their own work would allow. Unfortunately, there are relatively few detailed records pertaining to this element of their business, apart from work undertaken between the two World Wars for Thomas Barker & Sons and William Cotton Ltd., both based in Loughborough and for F. J. Edwards Ltd., of London, during the 1950s.

In an article in The Leicester Graphic in October 1959, mention is made of work undertaken for Rolls-Royce plc, in manufacturing machine parts for experimental and prototype jet engines; steam dryers for British Railways, and for liners. The article also explains that the firm were sub-contractors to other engineering firms, although no details are mentioned. By 1959, the engineering side of the business accounted for about fifty percent of the firm’s turnover.

During 1923[1] several Loughborough-based companies, even those with their own furnace and engineering facilities, purchased bespoke parts from the firm, including:

  • Messrs. Francis Read & Son, builders, No. 137 Leopold Street – manhole covers and frames including twelve with their name cast on them; grate stops; many bespoke parts for trucks, including wheels, axles, rods, nuts and bolts.
  • Walter W. Coltman & Co Ltd., boiler manufacturers, Central Boiler Works – repeated orders for H.P. firebars; iron doors and frames with or without vents and baffle plates; iron packing blocks;
  • H. Coltman & Sons, Midland Iron Works, Meadow Lane (part of Herbert Morris Ltd.) – soot door; bespoke smoke bends and doors; smoke pipes; bespoke pattern making, castings and machined parts.
  • Herbert Morris Ltd., crane manufacturers, Empress Works – purpose cast and machined parts for “C” type crane, including axles for steering wheels, large machined gear wheel, pinions and pivots; sets of buffers; numerous other unidentified castings and machined parts;
  • Z. Onions & Sons, Derby Road, engineers, agricultural implement makers, traction engine proprietors, machinists and motor engineers – bespoke castings to Onions own pattern which they provided, including pulleys, wheels and brackets.
  • Messrs. Moore, Herbert & Moore, ironmongers of The Rushes – bespoke iron-gate posts complete with curved stays; standard hinges (from catalogue); smoke pipes; various bespoke metal plates.
  • The Loughborough Echo Press Ltd. – castings to the newspapers’ own pattern.


  1. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/32.