Vickers Limited


Vickers Limited

:"Please refer to the overview article Vickers for other companies known by this nameInfobox Defunct Company
company_name = Vickers Limited
company_
fate = Merged with Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Company
successor = Vickers-Armstrongs
foundation = 1828
defunct = 1927
location = Vickers House, Westminster, London
subsid = Metropolitan-Vickers
Wolseley Motor Company
Whitehead & Company
John Brown & Company

Vickers, Limited was a famous British engineering conglomerate that merged into Vickers-Armstrongs in 1927.

History

Early History

Vickers was formed in Sheffield as a steel foundry by the miller Edward Vickers and his father-in-law George Naylor in 1828. Naylor was a partner in the foundry Naylor & Sanderson and Vickers' brother William owned a steel rolling operation. Edward's investments in the railway industry allowed him to gain control of the company, based at Millsands and known as Naylor Vickers and Company. It began life making steel castings and quickly became famous for casting church bells. In 1854 Vickers' sons Thomas and Albert joined the business. In 1863 the company moved to a new site in Sheffield on the River Don in Brightside. The company went public in 1867 as Vickers, Sons & Company and gradually acquired more businesses, branching out into various sectors. In 1868 Vickers began to manufacture marine shafts, in 1872 they began casting marine propellers and in 1882 they set up a forging press. Vickers produced their first armour plate in 1888 and their first artillery piece in 1890. It bought out the Barrow in Furness shipbuilder The Barrow Shipbuilding Company in 1897, acquiring its subsidiary the Maxim Nordenfelt Guns And Ammunitions Company [http://www.submarineheritage.com/history.html] at the same time, to become Vickers, Sons & Maxim. The yard at Barrow became the "Naval Construction Yard". With these acquisitions, Vickers could now produce a complete selection of products, from ships and marine fittings to armour plate and a whole suite of ordnance.

In 1901 the Royal Navy's first submarine, "Holland 1", was launched at the Naval Construction Yard. In 1902 Vickers took a half share in the famous Clyde shipyard John Brown and Company. Further diversification occurred with the purchase of the car building activities of the Wolseley Sheep-Shearing Machine Company in 1905, which was set up as the Wolseley Tool and Motor Car Company. In 1911 a controlling interest was acquired in Whitehead and Company, the torpedo manufacturers. In 1911, the company name was changed to Vickers Limited and expanded its operations into aircraft manufacture by the formation of Vickers Ltd (Aviation Department). In 1919, the British Westinghouse electrical company was taken over as the Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Company; Metrovick. At the same time they came into Metropolitan's railway interests. Wolseley was sold to the Nuffield Organisation in 1926.

Merger with Armstrong Whitworth

In 1927, Vickers merged with the Tyneside based engineering company Armstrong Whitworth, founded by W. G. Armstrong, to become Vickers-Armstrong, Ltd.

Businesses

Armaments

Vickers manufactured and sold the Maxim machine gun forming a partnership with its inventor. They later took over the company and improved the design as the Vickers machine gun, which was the last major design Hiram Maxim himself worked on. It became the standard machine gun of the British Empire and Commonwealth, serving for some 50 years in the British Army. It also re-worked in literally dozens of different cartridge sizes and sold all over the world, and was scaled up to larger calibres, particularly for the Royal Navy as a 0.5 inch model).

Vickers was involved in the production of numerous firearms. John Pedersen's design for a semi-automatic rifle was trialled by the British in the inter-war period (between WW1 and 2). The British version of the rifle was made by Vickers, and this version of the Pedersen rifle is usually called the "Vickers Pedersen Rifle".

In the interwar period Vickers worked on several tanks designs. Medium Mark I and Mark II were adopted by the British Army. The Vickers 6-Ton tank was the most successful; being exported or built by other nations under licence. The Vickers A1E1 Independent tank design was never put into production but credited with influencing other nations. During the Second World War Vickers built large guns and tanks; the Valentine tank was a design that they had developed privately that was taken up

Airships

Vickers began work on a rigid airship for the British Admiralty in mid-1909 in Cavendish Dock, Cumbria, sadly it disintegrated upon its second trip out of a floating hangar on the evening of 23 September, 1911. Further designs and difficulties followed although non-rigid machines including "Sea Scouts" (popularly called blimps) proved generally less troublesome than the larger rigid examples. Some models featured floating cars slung beneath them. Much experience in mooring techniques and swivelling motors was gathered despite the pressures of wartime. The last airship built at the Walney Island hangar was a small non-rigid reconnaissance machine for the Japanese government that first flew on 27 April, 1921. A subsidiary called the Airship Guarantee Company Limited was formed under Sir Dennis Burney from 29 November 1923 (lasting until 30 November 1935) specifically to participate in the building of a massive six-engined commercial airship, the R100 in competition with the ill-fated R101. Their buildings were at Howden in Yorkshire. The R100 flew initially on 16 December, 1929 and achieved some trans-Atlantic flights before scrapping in November 1931 by Elton, Levy and Company.

* No. 1 Rigid Naval Airship (Mayfly)
* No. 9r
* 23 class airship
** No. 23r
** R26
* R80
* R100

Aircraft

Vickers formed formed Vickers Ltd (Aviation Department) 1911 and produced one of the first aircraft designed to carry a machine gun, the FB5 (fighting biplane) Gun Bus. During World War I it produced the Valentia and Viking flying boats and the Vimy heavy bomber. An example of the latter became the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic Ocean non-stop, a converted Royal Air Force bomber (See 1919 in aviation.) The Vimy was later developed into the Virginia, a mainstay in the RAF during the interwar years. Vickers was a pioneer in producing airliners, early examples being converted from Vimy bombers.

Like many other British manufacturers, an enterprise in Canada was set up; Canadian Vickers Limited.

hipbuilding

Vickers entered naval shipbuilding with the purchase of Barrow Shipbuilding Company in 1897, forming the Naval Construction Yard at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria. This yard later passed into the hands of the nationalised British Shipbuilders in 1977, was privatised as Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd in 1986 and remains in operation to this day as BAE Systems Submarines.

ee also

*Basil Zaharoff, former director and chairman
*Vickerstown, a planned estate built for workers of the Barrow shipyard

References

* Anon (1898), "Vickers, Sons and Maxim Limited: Their Works and Manufactures", Reprinted from "Engineering", London
* Scott, J.D. (1962), "Vickers: A History", Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London.

External links

* [http://www.tilthammer.com/bio/vick.html Biography of Thomas and Albert Vickers]


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