B. Hick and Sons
|Predecessor||B. Hick and Son|
|Successor||Hick, Hargreaves & Co. Ltd.|
|Founded||10 April 1833|
|Headquarters||Soho Iron Works,
Crook Street, Bolton, United Kingdom
Number of locations
|John Hargreaves Jr.
George Henry Corliss
John Henry Hargreaves
Number of employees
B. Hick and Sons, later known as Hick, Hargreaves & Co, was a British engineering company, based at the Soho Ironworks in Bolton, England. Benjamin Hick had originally been a partner in Rothwell, Hick and Rothwell, later Rothwell, Hick & Co. and set up his company in partnership with two of his sons, John (1815–1894) and Benjamin (1818–1845) in 1833.
Benjamin Jr left B. Hick and Sons after a year for partnership of a firm in Liverpool believed to be George Forrester & Co, however in April 1841 he filed a patent governor for B. Hick and Son featured on the front page of Mechanics' Magazine using his father's Egyptian winged motif.
The first B. Hick and Sons steam locomotive Soho was built in 1833 for carrier John Hargreaves, together with an unconventional, gear driven four wheeled rail carriage for Bolton solicitor and banker Thomas Lever Rushton (1810–1883). The engine was the first 3-cylinder locomotive and the design incorporated turned iron wheel rims with plate discs as an alternative to conventional spokes.
Several more locomotives followed over the remainder of the decade, a number were built for export to the United States including a 2-2-0 Fulton for the Pontchartrain Railroad in 1834, and New Orleans and Carrollton for the Saint Charles Avenue Line, New Orleans in 1835; a second New Orleans for the same line in 1837.
Between 1837 and 1840 the company became a subcontractor for Edward Bury and Company, supplying engines to the Midland Counties Railway, the London and Birmingham Railway, the North Union Railway, the Manchester and Leeds Railway and indirectly the Grand Crimean Central Railway via the London and North Western Railway about 1855. Engines were also built for the Cheshire, Lancashire and Birkenhead Railway, Chester and Birkenhead railway, Eastern Counties Railway, Liverpool and Manchester Railway, North Midland Railway and the Paris and Versailles Railway.
In 1841 the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway found some American Norris 4-2-0 locomotives very successful, especially on the notorious Lickey Incline, and Hick built three similar ones for the line. Between 1844 and 1846 the firm built a number of "long boiler" locomotives with haystack fireboxes, plus four 2-4-0s in 1848 for the North Staffordshire Railway.
Hick, Hargreaves & Co
After the death of Benjamin the elder in 1842, the firm continued as Benjamin Hick & Son (also known as B. Hick & Son) under the management of Benjamin's eldest son, John Hick (1815–1894). In 1845 John took into partnership his brother-in-law John Hargreaves Jr (1800–1874) followed by his younger brother William Hargreaves (1821–1889) in 1847. John Hargreaves Jr JP left the firm in 1851. The same year the firm exhibited engineering models and machinery at The Great Exhibition in Class VI. Manufacturing Machines and Tools, including a 6 horse power engine and mill-gear driving Hibbert, Platt and Sons' cotton machinery. The firm received a Council Medal award for their Mill gearing, radial drill mandrils and portable forges. At the time the Benjamin Hick & Son London office was situated at 1 New Broad Street in the City of London.
One example of the Great Exhibition engineering models, a 1:10 scale 1840 double beam engine built in the Egyptian style by Benjamin Hick for John Marshall's Temple Works, Leeds is on display at the Science Museum, it is considered the ultimate development of a Watt engine.
Locomotive building continued until 1855, and in all some ninety to a hundred locomotives were produced; but they were a sideline for the company, which concentrated on marine and stationary engines, of which they made a large number including those for the paddle frigates Afonso and Amazonas built by Thomas Wilson, Birkenhead, builders of the Royal William; screw propelled Mediterranean steamers, Nile and Orontes and the SS Don Manuel built by Alexander Denny and Brothers of Dumbarton. The Brazilian Navy's Afonso is notable for its role in the rescue of passengers from the Ocean Monarch in 1848 and the Battle of The Tonelero Pass in 1851; the Amazonas for its participation in the Battle of Riachuelo in 1865.
The firm also made blowing engines for furnaces and smelters, boilers, weighing machines and mill machinery. B. Hick & Son supplied the principle machinery on a new and perfectly unique concept together with iron pillars, roofing and fittings for the paper and pulp steam mill at Woolwich Arsenal for in 1856, the manufacture of cartridge bags of which it could produce about 20,000 per hour, sufficient for the supply of the entire British army and navy. The intention was also to provide the manufacture of paper for the various departments of Her Majesty's service.
B. Hick and Son were responsible for introducing highly efficient Corliss valve gear into the United Kingdom from the United States about 1864 and closely identified with it thereafter. About 1881 Hick, Hargreaves received orders for two Corliss engines of 3000 hp, the largest cotton mill engines in the world. Mill gearing was a speciality including large flywheels for rope driving; turbines and hydraulic machinery were also manufactured. The works featured an 80ton hydraulic riveting machine.
John Hick JP retired from the business in 1868 when he became a member of parliament (MP), the firm was renamed Hick, Hargreaves and Company about this time. On the death of John Hick's nephew Benjamin Hick in 1882, a much respected member of the firm, active involvement of the Hick family ceased until 1893 when Benjamin Hick's great grandson, also Benjamin Hick started an apprenticeship, followed by his younger brother Geoffrey about 1900.
William Hargreaves JP died in 1889 and, under the directorship of his three sons, John Henry, Frances and Percy the firm, known as Hick, Hargreaves and Company, acquired limited liability the same year.
About 1885 Hick Hargreaves & Co became associated with Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti during the reconstruction of the Grosvenor Gallery and began to manufacture steam engines for power generation including those of Ferranti's Deptford Power Station, largest power station in the world at the time.
In 1908 the firm were licensed to build uniflow engines, from 1911 they began the manufacture of large diesel engines, however these did not prove very successful, boiler production finished in 1912. During World War I the firm did much war work, producing mines, 6 and 9.2 inch shells as well as oil engines for submarines.
The firm's recoil gear for the Vickers 18 pounder quick firing gun was so successful that by war's end a significant part of the factory was devoted to its production. Civil manufacture was not suspended entirely and in 1916 the firm began making high vacuum condensing plant used in power generation. This was greatly expanded in later years as centralised power generation was adopted in Great Britain.
As the steam turbine replaced reciprocating steam engines Hick Hargreaves' development continued, by 1927 their engine work was principally steam turbines for electricity generating stations.
During the 1930s they acquired the records, drawings and patterns of four well known, but defunct steam engine manufacturers: J & E Wood, John Musgrave & Sons Limited, Galloways Limited and Scott & Hodgson Limited. As a consequence the firm made a lucrative business out of repairs and supplying spare parts during the Great Slump; large stationary steam engines were still used by many textile manufacturers in the Bolton area until the collapse of the industry after World War II.
Marine engines were built during the 1940s, post War the firm expanded its work in electricity generation, and branched out into food processing, oil refining, petrochemicals and offshore oil equipment production, supplying vacuum equipment. By 2000 their products included compressors, industrial blowers, refrigeration equipment and liquid ring motors.
Soho Iron Works
Between the 1840s and 1870s, the firm had its own Brass Band, "John Hick's Esq, Band", known as the Soho Iron Works Band with a uniform of "... rich full braided coat, black trousers, with two-inch gold lace down the sides and blue cap with gold band," who would play airs through the streets of Bolton.
Lancashire boiler 1900, painted with a protective coating, the mountings such as safety valves, stop valve, feed check valves and water level gauges, have been removed.
Cross compound mill engine 1900, shop assembled to ensure that the parts fit together and make any preliminary adjustments, the low pressure cylinder is on the left, high pressure cylinder on the right.
Flywheel for a large rolling mill engine 1900; top right the trunk guide and bedplate of the engine under manufacture, beyond the bedplate is the flywheel and connecting rod of a small horizontal steam engine.
Small steam hammer 1900, with line shafting and belt drives to the rear.
Superheater of a Lancashire boiler 1900, for the extraction of heat from waste gasses, and transfer of heat to saturated steam passing from the boiler to the steam range or engine. This raised the overall thermal efficiency of the plant, and would also prevent damage from slugs of condensate by ensuring the saturated steam was dry and not wet.
In 1968 the Hargreaves family sold the company to Electrical & Industrial Securities Ltd. In 2001 the firm was bought by The BOC Group from Smiths Industries, lower costs in Eastern Europe proved attractive so production at the Soho Foundry was wound down and machinery transferred to Czechoslovakia; the historic records, including drawings and photographs were deposited with Bolton library. Hick, Hargreaves was the most enduring engineering company in Bolton and Britain, surviving 170 years from the outset.
Smiths had already sold the site to J Sainsbury plc and, despite being marked by a blue plaque, Soho Iron Works were closed 23 August 2002 and demolished entirely later that year in favour of a car park, petrol station and Sainsbury's supermarket, opening 27 March 2003. Two switchgear panels, the works clock and symbolic cast iron gateposts with Hick's caduceus logo were saved by the Northern Mill Engine Society.
Later The BOC Group plc was taken over by Linde A.G. of Germany who intended to return the combined group to a 'pure gas' business and so sold off the BOC Edwards engineering division into which Hick Hargreaves of Bolton had been placed where it had been combined with the Edwards High Vacuum business of BOC Edwards based at Crawley, West Sussex. The business of the vacuum company was sold to private shareholders CCMP Capital and on 1 June 2007 was re-established as an independent UK private limited company "Edwards Limited".
The Bolton site of Edwards Limited is now a design shop with outsourced UK and foreign manufacture and has moved to new office premises in Lostock, where it continues to sell some steam ejector, feed heater and de-aeration technology of the old Hick Hargreaves business as a Process Vacuum part of Edwards Limited.
Mills driven by Hick, Hargreaves engines
- Textile Mill, Chadderton
- Cavendish Mill, Ashton-under-Lyne
- Century Mill, Farnworth
- Eagley Mills, Bolton
- James Cudworth
- House-built engine
- Bradford Colliery
- Thomas Pitfield
- Maison Bréguet
- Dick, Kerr & Co.
- Fred Dibnah
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- P. W. Pilling, Hick Hargreaves and Co., The History of an Engineering Firm c. 1833 – 1939, a Study with Special Reference to Technological Change and Markets (Unpublished Doctoral Thesis, University of Liverpool, 1985), p. 20
- Short Histories of Famous Firms, Messrs. Hick, Hargreaves and Co., Reprint from The Engineer, 25 June – 30 July 1920
- "MacGregor, Horsfall, Hick". Liverpool & South West Lancs Genealogy. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
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|url=value (help). Oxford University. pp. 568–569. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
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- Science Museum caption. Energy Hall: Science Museum.
Model represents the ultimate development of Boulton & Watt's steam engine. By the time the engine was displayed at the 1851 Great Exhibition, Britain used half as much steam power again as the whole of western Europe.
- "BURNING OF THE OCEAN MONARCH." (19952). The Times. 26 August 1848. p. 5.
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and they have an order for a pair of horizontal compound Corliss engines intended to indicate 3,000 horse-power. These engines will be the largest cotton mill engines in the world.
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- "New store opens in a flash". The Bolton News. 26 March 2003. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
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- Linde sells BOC Edwards
- "Where We Operate". Edwards Vacuum. Edwards Limited. 2014. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to B. Hick and Sons.|
- Bolton Museum: Benjamin Hick and Son model A 2-2-2 three-cylinder experimental locomotive 1840, probably shown at the 1851 Great Exhibition
- Armley Mills Museum: Benjamin Hick and Son beam engine in the Egyptian style c.1845, used for hoisting machinery at the London Road warehouse of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway
- The Clyde Built Ships: Nile 1850 (British and Irish Steam Packet Company)
- The Clyde Built Ships: Orontes 1851
- Hemingway Kits: Benjamin Hick and Son, 2 hp Oscillating Engine as shown at the 1851 Great Exhibition where it powered a Ryder forging machine
- Hemingway Kits: Benjamin Hick and Son, 10 hp Crank Overhead Engine as shown at the 1851 Great Exhibition
- The Clyde Built Ships SS Don Manuel 1852
- Golburn Historic Waterworks Museum: B. Hick and Son horizontal Corliss engine built for Bell's Creek gold mine, Araluan, New South Wales 1866
- Forncett Industrial Steam Museum: Hick, Hargreaves and Co. 50 hp Corliss girder bed engine 1873 (No.303), used to power Gamble's lace factory, Nottingham
- Chauntry Mills, Haverhill: Hick, Hargreaves and Co. 120 hp non-condensing Corliss engine Caroline 1879, installed at Gurteen's textile manufactorary
- Bolton Town Centre: Hick, Hargreaves and Co. Corliss engine 1886 preserved at Bolton, used to run Ford Ayrton and Co.'s spinning mill at Bentham until 1966
- Bolton Steam Museum: Hick, Hargreaves and Co. Ltd. Lancashire boiler front-plate 1906, previously installed at Halliwell Mills, Bolton
- The Clyde Built Ships: HMS Latimer 1941 (Petroleum Warfare Department)
- Tyne built ships: Empire Grey 1944 (Ministry of War Transport)
- Tyne built ships: Landing Ship, Tank (LST) 3001 1945
- Tyne built ships LST (3): Frederick Glover 1946 (Atlantic Steam Navigation Company)
- Tyne built ships: Zarian 1947 (United Africa Company)
- Edwards Limited
- "HICK, B., & SON". Great Exhibition 1851. Official, Descriptive and Illustrated catalogue Part II. Classes V. to X. 1851. p. 293. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
- Townend, Peter (March 2016). "The first three cylinder locomotive.". Railway Archive. Lightmoor Press. Steamindex Volume 5 (50): 53–58. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
- "RYDER, W.,". Great Exhibition 1851. Official, Descriptive and Illustrated catalogue Part II. Classes V. to X. 1851. p. 294. Retrieved 21 November 2015.