Joshua Bigwood & Son Limited

A Brief History

Joshua Bigwood & Son Ltd. were an engineering company based in Wednesfield Road, Wolverhampton. The company, which was founded in 1874 produced a wide range of machinery and heating equipment. It became a public company in 1937 and initially provided machinery for local industries.

One of the company's early products is this drain channel in Gordon Street, Wolverhampton.

The company expanded and formed The Bigwood Group, which consisted of five divisions:

The Metal Forming Division produced straightening machines for tube, bar and section. Oil, sheet and plate processing machines, roll forming machines, plate levellers, slitting lines, three or four roll bending machines, cut-to-length lines, press brakes, guillotines, shearing machines and stretch-levellers.

The Radiator Division manufactured a complete range of equipment for motor vehicle radiator production , which was exported to almost every country.

The Heating Division operated under the trade name, Unicalor and was Britain's leading manufacturer of automatic coal stokers. The company supplied stokers for the heating of public buildings, schools, hospitals and factories, both at home and abroad. Other equipment manufactured by this Division included coal elevators, ash crushers, ash extraction units, and burners for anthracite, turf and other fuels.

The Dust Control Division specialised in equipment for the control, collection and suppression of dust and treatment of trade effluent. In the 1960s it was known as 'The Traughber Filter Company Limited' and was later called 'Bigwood Dust Control Limited'. The company’s products included wet type dust collectors, grit arresters for installation in chimneys, pneumatic dust conveying equipment, fabric dust collectors and cyclone type dust collectors.

The Fabrication Division supplied fabrications to the parent company and to the trade in general. In the 1960s the division traded as 'The Butro Jig & Engineering Company Limited' and in the 1970s was called 'Bigwood Metal Fabrications Limited'. As well as metal fabrications the company produced jigs, assembly fixtures, press tools and carried out all kinds of precision engineering work.

A very solidly built Bigwood wood-turning lathe. Courtesy of Tim Roper.

The manufacturer's plate on the lathe above. Courtesy of Tim Roper.

The group had area offices in Manchester, London, Glasgow and Bristol. The group’s managing director was John Byam-Grounds who came to Wolverhampton after working for the Alvis Car Company in Coventry and B. & M. Massey of Manchester, who made drop hammers and presses. John was an active mountaineer and a member of the Alpine Club.

The museum’s engineering hall has several of the company’s products on display:

This is an extremely brief description of the company and one of its products. We will be delighted to hear from anyone who can add any further information about the company or details of any of its products. If you can help please contact the webmaster.

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