english electric

The foundation of the company began with the Armistice of 11 November 1918, an agreement that ended the fighting between allied forces and Germany in WW1. 

The owners of various businesses decided to merge together, forming the English Electric Company Limited in December 1918 (Just over 99 years ago). 

These component companies were as follows: 

  • Coventry Ordnance Works 
  • Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Company – “Phoenix Bradford concentrating on medium and small electrical machines.” 
  • Dick, Kerr & Co. 
  • United Electric Car Company 
  • Willans & Robinson 

Who were the component companies?

Coventry Ordnance Works 

Coventry Ordnance Works Limited was formed in July 1905 by a consortium of British shipbuilding firms “John Brown” (50%), “Cammell Laird” (25%) and “Fairfield” (25%) with the encouragement of the British government. Its core operations were from a 60-acre site in Stoney Stanton Road in Coventry, Warwickshire. The company was a British manufacturer of heavy guns, particularly naval artillery. 

Coventry Ordnance Works designed and built: 

  • The highly successful QF 4.5 inch Howitzer which entered service in 1910 
  • Coventry Ordnance Works Biplane a 1912 military aircraft 
  • The 5.5 inch Naval gun 1913 
  • The 15 inch siege howitzer completed 1914 for the British Army 
  • Their C.O.W. 37mm gun was the first modern autocannon developed in 1917 

At the end of 1918 it became a principal constituent of a brand new enterprise English Electric Company Limited. After World War II the works made electricity-generating machinery and heavy machine tools. 

Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Company

Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Company Limited of Hubert Street, Leeds Road, Bradford, were electrical engineers that manufactured small and large motors, alternators and generators at their Thornbury works. They briefly manufactured major aircraft components during the later stages of World War I. 

The business was operating from the Hubert Street Bradford address in late 1895 making arc lamps and electrical instruments. By 1900 Phoenix Dynamo were manufacturing small motors and dynamos for driving machinery and providing lighting specifically for the textile industry but they soon found wider markets and manufactured large motors, turbines, turbo-generators etc. and were also engaged on Admiralty and War Office assignments. 

The company itself was voluntarily wound up 11 June 1923 following the 1921 transfer of all its assets to post-1918 owner English Electric where its operations continued. 

Dick, Kerr & Co

Dick, Kerr and Company was a locomotive and tramcar manufacturer based in Kilmarnock, Scotland and Preston, England. 

In 1890 the business took limited company status, as railway and tramway appliance makers and as iron and steel founders and electricians. There was a public offer of shares to acquire the engineering and contracting company of the same name – reasons given were the advancing years of the senior partner and the need for investment to expand the works at Kilmarnock including a modern iron and steel foundry. Until the late 1890s the company had largely produced steam tram engines, but soon afterwards it became one of the largest manufacturers of electric tramway cars. 

In 1899 the English Electric Manufacturing Co was incorporated as a public company, for purpose of manufacturing, at its own new works at Preston, every variety of electrical machinery, particularly for use by railways and tramways. In 1900 it was an exhibitor at the First International Tramways and Light Railways Exhibition in London. 

In 1902 the bulk of the capital of the English Electric Manufacturing Co was acquired and the capital of that company largely increased, which gave Dick, Kerr and Co a factory at Preston. In the same year, the company was a major exhibitor at the Second International Tramways and Light Railways Exhibition in London. 

In 1919 the Kilmarnock works were sold to the Kilmarnock Engineering Company, and the company was taken over by English Electric. 

english electric