Gilbert Gilkes amp GordonLtd ABriefHistoryofaGoodCompany

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into the wall between the two parts of the building The main block of buildings remained. substantially unaltered until 1920 when a new foundry was built. Henry Williamson acquired the designs and know how for the manufacture and sale of. water turbines and pumps with assistance from Professor James Thomson of Queen s. College Belfast The collaboration between Williamson Brothers and Professor Thomson. was to prove the most significant and lasting influence on the early development of the. company Professor Thomson elder brother of Lord Kelvin was a well known hydraulic. The first water turbine made by the Williamson Brothers was sold to W E Maude of. Holmscales Farm Old Hutton and only half a mile from Halfpenny Mill where the. Williamsons started in business It was used for driving agricultural machinery for over a. hundred years when the company bought it back from the then owner It is now on loan to. the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry at Abbot Hall In the period 1856 to 1881 the. Williamsons made 440 Vortex turbines and an unknown number of Whirlpool pumps in. addition to their range of agricultural machinery, During the Williamson period the first country house to have a hydroelectric plant was. Cragside Rothbury Northumberland the house of Sir William Armstrong The plant. consisted of a Vortex Turbine driving a Crompton dynamo and was used to provide electric. light In subsequent years a considerable number of country houses and estates were. provided with hydroelectric plant from the company The most notable of these was a sale. to Balmoral in 1895 that provided electric light for Queen Victoria. Gilbert Gilkes born in Dublin in 1845 Why he came to Kendal is not immediately obvious. but he was educated at Stramongate School of which he was head boy He was apprenticed. to Gilkes Wilson and Co engineers of Middlesborough of which firm his uncle Edgar Gilkes. was a partner At the age of 21 he was engineer in charge of building the large iron bridge. over the River Dee at Kirkcudbright He worked as a railway engineer from 1865 to 1875 at. his Uncle s Company Hopkin, Gilkes bought Williamson Brothers and changed its name to Gilbert Gilkes Co on 31. December 1881, We do not know how much Gilkes paid for the business The Williamson Brothers valuation. of the plant and stock at 31 March 1881 was 5 265 but by Gilbert Gilkes Co s first stock. valuation of 30 September 1882 the figure was down to 2 816 When the new bridge was. required to cross the River Kent in Kendal for better access to the railway station at the. northern end of Kendal Gilbert Gilkes was commissioned to design the structure which was. named the Victoria Bridge There is little doubt that water turbines were regarded as the. only core business In the period from the Gilkes takeover to about 1922 during which. Gilbert Gilkes remained active in the business over 2 600 turbines were made. Some limited attempts were made to improve the designs and widen the range of turbines. but the basis of the business remained the Thomson Vortex turbines Seven Thomson Vortex. turbines were made in the year 1924 a strong survival In 1894 the first Pelton turbine was. made designed by Norman Wilson Pelton turbines were widely known having been. designed by a Mr Pelton in America In this design a jet of water impinges on buckets. attached to the periphery of a disc The design is particularly suitable for high falls of water. GILKES HISTORY WWW GILKES COM, In 1895 Gilkes bought sundry patterns and possibly the right to distribute Emerson turbines. from the USA from C L Hett of Brigg which according to Norman Wilson proved to be very. advantageous as he had different designs of turbines thus greatly increasing the range of. our turbine business Although these may now appear somewhat crude from a scientific. point of view they proved of great practical utility in the carrying on of the business. Some extensions to the factory were made a pattern loft in 1902 and a smithy in 1906 In. 1907 a new machine and assembly shop was built on Gilkes freehold land now known as. No 2 shop The land 3875 square yards on which this new shop was built had been bought. from the neighbouring J J and W Wilson Ltd of Castle Mills on 14 August 1900 for 353 1. 3s 8d A strip 20ft wide bordering this land on the south side which led from the canal to. Castle Mills was retained by the vendors to give them access to the canal Turnover in 1919. was 64 588, A significant development in the immediate post war years was Eric Crewdson s invention of.
the Turgo Impulse Turbine A patent for this design was applied for in May 1920 and ranted. in due course, The object of the design was to provide an impulse or free jet turbine which on any given. conditions would run at higher speed than a single jet Pelton and cost less than a twin jet. Pelton As a general rule a higher speed electrical generator costs less and is smaller than a. lower speed machine The Turgo machine had the advantage also over the Francis or. reaction Turbine that it did not rely on fine clearances and hence was less susceptible to. wear from dirty or sand laden water,Francis Turbine Designs. By the early 1920s the Thomson Vortex had become very long in the tooth The control. vanes required large forces to operate The turbine runner a complex fabricated affair was. expensive to manufacture and had narrow passages which were easily choked by solids in. the water The efficiency was relatively low Some other designs were made which went by. names such as Samson and Little Giant and Trent, New designs were bought from Inga Riva and Co in Milan with whom Eric Crewdson had. worked in 1912 Further new designs were developed in house After 1934 when a turbine. model testing facility was built on the site of the old foundry an extensive programme of. development testing was undertaken on Francis Pelton and Turgo turbines. Sell Priming Pumps, A very important new development of 1932 was the invention and patenting by Eric. Crewdson assisted by Ernest Jackson of a new type of water ring self priming pump. Some of the early testing work was done on a platform at the top of the works chimney. which was a ready means of testing on a high lift although somewhat precarious. The prototype GGG pump was tested at the top of the factory chimney and Eric Crewdson. was able to prove that a suction lift of just over 32 feet could be guaranteed The marketing. breakthrough for the GGG pump came when the Admiralty and Gardner Engines both. started to use the GGG pump Continuing development work on the pump s mechanical. design has been undertaken from that time until the present day but the basic pumping. principle of a water ring or side channel pump is used in Gilkes modern designs. Takeovers were hardly earth shattering events but they meant that by 1930 a number of. GILKES HISTORY WWW GILKES COM, small competitive companies had been bought up and if nothing else materialised an.
increased business in spare parts resulted The most important was undoubtedly the. purchase in January 1928 of the water power business of James Gordon and Co James. Gordon was paid 3 000 for goodwill and patterns and a commission on the increase in. Gilkes profits over the average of the three years before the deal James Gordon was not a. manufacturer but imported water turbines from a Swedish firm Fynshyttans AB They made. small and medium sized turbines, James Gordon s principal asset was a very good collection of overseas agents whom Gilkes. took on Probably the most valuable of these was Stewart and Lloyds of South Africa Ltd. from whom a significant volume of turbine and to a lesser extent pump business was. obtained for a number of years As a result Gilkes export sales became and remained a very. important part of the business, By the year end in 1945 the turnover had risen to 199 000. 1960 s The review of the foundry operation revealed that it was no longer economic to. maintain our casting capacity in house Our foundry produced only grey iron castings. admittedly of a specialised nature The larger turbines which we were starting to make. tended to be made from welded steel construction The castings which we now required. were in a wide variety of materials Castings were in bronze of several specifications carbon. steels stainless steels and aluminum alloys These could only be obtained from specialist. foundries We had succeeded in modernizing our own iron foundry and could produce high. quality iron castings to tight specifications but the scale on which it operated was. uneconomic Additionally the investigation into our stores painting and packing faci lities. showed that the space occupied by the foundry could be more profitably used for other. purposes So after slightly over a hundred years of operation the foundry was closed in. November 1960, In July 1969 the company was given the Queen s Award for Industry for its export. performance over the preceding three years The company s export performance was truly. impressive It exported over one third of its output directly to more than 83 countries In its. own field it had acquired a worldwide reputation and a profound knowledge of the dangers. the difficulties and the complexities of international trade Turbines had to be installed in. power stations sited in every sort of location and climate wherever natural conditions. provided a suitable supply of water They were to be found inside the Arctic Circle in Iceland. ten thousand feet up in the Andes in snow laden Canada and in the stinking heat of tropical. Guyana Our erectors had to contend with earthquakes in Turkey and Peru guerrilla activity. in the Philippines and full scale civil war in Nigeria. 1970 s As the hydro market continued to prosper so the Company invested significantly in. its design and production facilities We had already moved into the computer era and the. 1977 Honeywell machine was replaced with a more modern DPS4 unit Our designers. however did not want to be left behind relying on their slide rules so the decision was. made in May 1982 to buy a Hewlett Packard desktop HP9845 computer for the sum of. 13 000 By modern standards this was a feeble device but it enabled our designers to. perform marathon calculations far more easily, At the very end of the 80 s we were approached by Biwater with a view to Gilkes buying. their waterpower business Although nothing came of this approach it was perhaps a. preview of the transaction which took place almost 10 years later. GILKES HISTORY WWW GILKES COM, Turnover had risen during the late 80 s to around 6m 7m but profits were still hard to.
come by despite the apparent vigour of most of our markets A certain amount of belt. tightening was necessary and we decided to sell Aynam Lodge to the Company s pension. fund with Gilkes remaining as the tenant, This overture from Biwater was to lead to Gilkes making the largest acquisition in its history. and to only the second occasion when Gilkes had a manufacturing facility outside Kendal. The Wall win range of pumps had been absorbed into the Biwater Group some years before. but had a well established reputation with many water companies as the unchokeable. pump The wide application of the pumps in sewage transfer duties had led Biwater to. create a division based in Oldbury near Birmingham which would take on all aspects of. sewage pumping station construction and refurbishment The majority of the work was. done for Anglian Water, Biwater s hydropower business which was based on the Armfield range which Biwater had. acquired previously and had been a traditional competitor of Gilkes The Oldbury. manufacturing facility also made electrical switchgear and panels which could be used for. the sewage pumping stations and for hydro generators Thus there appeared to be a good. fit between Gilkes and these three parts of the Biwater operation On the 17th August. 1998 the deal was completed and Gilkes had moved back into the sewage business. The Oldbury site could not be used and so Gilkes sought a new site This new site was based. in the Midlands and was at Cornwallis Road West Bromwich and in the best Gilkes tradition. this site is also on the banks of a canal the main line of the Birmingham Canal Navigation. This business was subsequently sold in 2005, A new product had been developed in Kendal for fire fighting and clearance of flammable. noxious liquids after accidents a water driven pump turbo pump for short It appeared. likely that a good market existed for this product in the multitude of oil refineries. petrochemical plant and related industries in Texas We took an 80 interest in a small. American outfit called Acme Turbo Power Inc and arranged to share premises and change. the name to Gilkes Inc As often happens in life the original intention was wide of the mark. and Gilkes Inc became the spearhead for pump and turbine sales in the USA but sold hardly. any turbo pumps, All pumps tend to wear and replacement parts are needed at regular intervals Gilkes policy. has always been to design pumps and especially the marine pumps for the maximum life. possible before major repairs are needed After extended service at sea or in a giant earth. mover Gilkes pumps eventually need a complete overhaul. Caterpillar launched their CatReman programme in 2001 and the decision was made that all. Gilkes pumps would be returned to Gilkes Inc s workshop in Texas where the pumps would. GILKES HISTORY WWW GILKES COM In 1895Gilkes bought sundry patterns and possibly the rightto distribute Emerson turbines from the USA from CL Hett of Brigg which

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