Heenan & Froude was famous for building the 518ft high Blackpool Tower. It was once one of the largest employers of skilled workers in the area. The Company, who also had a factory in Manchester, opened its operation in Worcester in 1903, having moved from the Aston Iron Works in Birmingham to a part of the former Worcester Engine Works Co Ltd site at Shrub Hill. They obtained the premises from J.F. Pease & Co of Darlington, who had acquired them when they took over Dutton & Co Ltd. The works was built in 1865 for the Worcester Engine Works Co Ltd and had also been used by West Central Wagon Co Ltd.
William Froude was born in Devon in 1810. He was one of the great Victorian's and in 1877 he invented the hydraulic dynamometer that was later to become one of the world renowned products of Heenan & Froude. He died in May 1879.
This photograph was kindly supplied by Doreen Niblett. It depicts her great grandfather, Walter Bubb Floyd, standing on a railway wagon at the rear of the Heenan & Froude works in Worcester about 1910. Extensive research by the Worcester History Centre has confirmed that the large piece of machinery on the wagon is a Dynamometer. Kevin Lawrence of Froude Hofmann advises that the Dynamometer that Mr Floyd is standing alongside is a FA type - either an FA7 or FA8.
The building on the east side of Shrub Hill Road was at that time also occupied by Kays Universal Stores (Kay & Co Ltd from 1905) who rented offices and warehouses on the site from 1893 to 1908 and by Jones & Co (Worcester) Ltd who were watch manufacturers.
Heenan & Froude was a general purpose engineering company who made amongst other things exhaust and mine ventilating fans, colliery and mining plant, belts, conveyors, elevators, sawing machines, bench chains, water dynamo meters, spherical, horizontal and vertical engines, patent water boilers, bridge and roof iron work, and refuse destructors.
Ownership of Heenan & Froude passed to STD Motors Ltd (a motor car manufacturing company who made Sunbeam, Talbot and Darracq cars) in 1920. STD Motors Ltd went out of business in 1935 and Heenan and Froude Ltd was sold as a going concern.
Heenan & Froude used the sidings that had been laid in 1865 and that were connected the 'Vinegar Works' branch line. Shunting of rail traffic on the site was the responsibility of McKenzie & Holland which was connected via a tunnel under Shrub Hill Road. Mckenzie & Holland ceased in 1921 and its locomotive was sold to Heenan & Froude who took over the shunting of the railway traffic. A new locomotive was purchased in 1928. The location of the engine shed is not known.
Rail transport was replaced by road transport in 1958.
WISH 0-4-0ST Manning Wardle 1239 of 1893
(This veteran locomotive came from McKenzie & Holland about 1921 and was sold about 1928)
- 4wTG Sentinel 7634 of 1928 (from new to scrapped on site by Cox & Danks, 9/1959)
Considerable evidence of the internal railway was still extant when the MIAC visited the site on 24th December 2003. This is a section of track in the tunnel that runs underneath Shrub Hill Road (location 'N' on the map). This photograph was taken by Robert Pritchard on 1st February 2003.
This location 'L' on the map. The 'Vinegar Works' branch line and the Heenan's private siding passed through the gap to the right of the Worcester Tools & Fixings building. The 'Vinegar Works' branch passed to the right of the photographer whereas the Heenan siding stopped approximately where the photographer is standing before reversing direction to pass to the left in front of the Worcester Tools & Fixings building. Originally there was a siding into this building but no evidence remains on site. The grassed area on the left hand side of the photograph is the site of the Holy Trinity church that was built in 1865 and demolished in 1969.
Heenan & Froude Ltd became Redman Heenan Froude Ltd around 1970. Soon afterwards the company decided to cease its heavy engineering business and concentrate instead on property development and leasing. The name changed again to Redman Heenan International Ltd. In April 1986 they took over Clarke St Modwen Properties Ltd and the business became St Modwen Properties with Redman Heenan Properties Ltd as a subsidiary. The company continues to own the whole of the original Worcester Engine Works site.
The advert above (reproduced from the July 1980 edition of the 'City of Worcester' guide) records the diverse nature of Redman Heenan's business following the decision to split Heenan & Froude into its constituent parts under the overall control of Redman Heenan International Ltd. By 1982 Heenan Coolers Ltd had been sold and Precision Engineering (Worcester) Ltd added to the list of subsidiary companies. Gradually all of the engineering parts of the business were sold off. In 2011, Heenan Drives Ltd and Froude Engineering Ltd were parts of FKI plc operating out of the former Cadbury/ROF site at Blackpole. The cooling towers business was now owned by the SPX Corporation of the U.S.A. and operated from the former Barker's Brickworks site at Gregory's Bank under the name of Marley Davenport Ltd.
This short section of traffic was found at location 'K' on the map.
This curved section of track was at location 'E' on the sketch map. Tolladine Road is at a lower level behind the new metal fence.
This is location 'F' on the map looking west towards the main building. The siding carried on a little further beyond the photographer to a headshunt before reversing direction and descending behind the metal fence on the right hand side of this photograph to the tunnel under Shrub Hill Road and to the Tolladine Road sidings of the Worcester New Gas Light Co.
The Chairman of Heenan & Froude Ltd in the 1940s was Mr A.P. Good who created something of a railway engineering business empire by amalgamating significant parts of the UK's locomotive building industry. Good acquired the business of W.G.Bagnall Ltd (reference Civil & Baker, "Bagnalls of Stafford", Oakwood Press, 1973) on behalf of Heenan & Froude and he also controlled The Brush Electrical Engineering Co Ltd. Part of this empire included Associated Locomotive Equipment Ltd which operated from the Shrub Hill Works in Worcester. Associated Locomotive Equipment Ltd built poppet valve gears for steam locomotives including British-Caprotti and Lentz Rotary Cam and Oscillating Cam systems and cast iron and steel locomotive cylinders. Perhaps the most important locomotive so equipped was the now preserved BR Standard Class 4-6-0 locomotive No.71000 "Duke of Gloucester". Good died in 1953 after which the various businesses were sold off piecemeal.
Tony Thomas of Worcester, a former Heenan's employee, who worked at ALE in the 1950s advises that the Company had only a handful of employees who mostly worked on selling Britsh-Caprotti products and spares. Actual manufacture being sub-contracted to Heenan & Froude Ltd.
The following is a list of companies and business
that were controlled by Heenan & Froude during the era of Mr Good
and marketed as "Heenan & Froude Group Products:
Heenan & Froude Ltd, Worcester - Dynamometers, incinerators and sundry other items of heavy plant
Morton Machine Co Ltd, Wishaw, Lanarkshire - Bakery machines
Court Works Ltd, Madeley, Shropshire - Castings
New Destructor Ltd, Worcester - Incinerators and presses
Fielding & Platt Ltd, Gloucester - Hydraulic Engineering
Industrial Waste Eliminators Ltd, London - Abattoir machinery
W.G. Bagnall Ltd, Stafford - Railway Engineers & Locomotive Builders
Hyganic Developments Ltd, Worcester - Fertiliser industry
Associated Locomotive Equipment Ltd, Worcester - see above.
Tony Thomas advises that during the 1950s the product list included: water and electric dynamometers, variable speed couplings, aero engine test plants, rolling roads, oil test plants, tyre test plants, water coolers, refuse destructors, and wire & strip forming machines.