Clarke Chapman, A Brief History


The Company


The Company was set up in 1864 at South Shore, Gateshead by William Clarke, engineer (formerly with the Bedlington Iron Company and Armstrongs of Elswick) and Edward Benning. From 1870 their partners were Joseph Watson and Joseph Gurney. In 1874 they moved to the Victoria Works and Captain William Chapman joined them about that time, followed in 1884 by Charles Parsons, who remained with them until 1889. On 14 June 1893, the Company was incorporated as a limited company, becoming known as Clarke Chapman and Company Limited.


In 1968 it merged with International Combustion (Holdings) Limited, John Thompson Limited and Horseley Bridge Limited, thus acquiring a number of companies in associated engineering fields.


At the same time, Clarke Chapman (Power Plant) moved into the new Saltmeadows Road offices, expanding into the back section when they were added around 1970, forming the 'H Block' as it still stands today. 


In 1970 the name was changed to Clarke Chapman - John Thompson Limited. However, in 1974 after acquiring International Combustion (Holdings) Limited's interests in the UK (International Combustion Limited and International Combustion (Riley) Limited), the name was changed again, to Clarke Chapman Limited.


In 1977, Northern Engineering Industries (NEI) was formed from Clarke Chapman Limited, Reyrolle and Parsons. NEI completed the merger with International Combustion (Holdings) Limited, including International Combustion Africa Limited, International Combustion Australia Limited, Metropole Industries Limited, Bardic Engineering Limited, International Combustion India Limited and Cheadle Plant Hire Limited.


Finally, in 1989, NEI and Rolls Royce plc merged, with Clarke Chapman becoming a part of the Rolls Royce Industrial Power Group. Later, RRIPG sold off Clarke Chapman and moved themselves to the Newcastle offices of Charles Parsons.  Clarke Chapman remained at the Victoria Works (see photograph) until 1994, when they completed their relocation to the Saltmeadows Road site.  The Victoria Works site is now a housing estate.



The Products


When the Company commenced in 1864, they manufactured winches and by 1868 had produced the first steam cargo winch to be put on the market. Their first electric winch was produced in 1886 and electric windlass in 1902.


From 1875 they also became boiler makers, designing and manufacturing locomotive cross tube vertical and vertical return tube multi-tubular boilers. Towards the end of the 19th century they turned to water tube boilers, beginning in 1895 with an improved 'Petersen' type which was sectional with cast iron headers. However, they later developed and patented (in 1901) the vertical straight tube type, moving on with improved feed water treatment and increasing steam pressure to a bent tube type used widely for power stations.


The 1880s saw the Company expanding its activities with the forerunner of the carburettor, Parson's turbine experiments and collaboration with Swan to develop carbon filament electric bulbs. The first marine generating plant was supplied to the Admiralty in 1884; in 1886 searchlight projectors for use on board ship; and in 1887 portable generating plants and search lights for ships passing through the Suez Canal. This lighting/power work very quickly became a specialised branch of marine work and an Electrical Installation Department was formed to deal exclusively with it.


Later developments saw the Company moving into nuclear engineering and large cranes. The 1968 merger with International Combustion (Holdings) Limited, John Thompson Limited and Horseley Bridge Limited led to the creation of five divisions, three manufacturing and two service. The Marine Engineering Division produced marine deck auxiliaries (winches, windlasses, capstans, cranes etc); the Crane and Bridge Division produced bridges, overhead travelling cranes, dockside steelworks, shipyard cranes etc; the Power and Process Plant Division supplied steam generating equipment to various industries, to conventional power stations and to the nuclear industry; the Group Headquarters Division had an appraisal/planning function; and the Advanced Technology Division was responsible for research and development.


The Subsidiaries


The Clayton Equipment Company (1931-1975) was brought into the Clarke Chapman group in 1974 when the UK holdings of International Combustion (Holdings) Limited were acquired.


Clyde Crane and Booth Limited (formerly Clyde Crane and Engineering Company Limited) (1922-1969) Clyde Crane and Engineering Company Limited was early in its history owned by Clarke Chapman and Company Limited. However, in 1937 it was sold to form a new Company, Clyde Crane and Booth Limited. This Company acquired Cowans Sheldon and Company Limited in June 1961, but was again taken over by Clarke Chapman in August 1968, forming the nucleus of the new Crane and Bridge Division.


Coronet Limited (1934-1969) No further information available.


Donkin and Company Limited, St Andrew's Works, Walkergate, Newcastle upon Tyne (1879-1977) were a subsidiary of Clarke Chapman and Company Limited, manufacturing steering gear, deck machinery and associated products.


Emerson Walker Limited (formerly Emerson Walker and Thompson Brothers Limited), Engineers and Forge Masters, Dunston (1884-1964) had a long close association with Clarke Chapman and Company Limited, alternating between being a subsidiary company to Clarke Chapman, and simply working closely together.


International Combustion (Holdings) Limited (comprising International Combustion Limited, International Combustion Group Purchasing Limited and International Combustion Products Limited) (1934-1974) merged with Clarke Chapman and Company Limited, John Thompson Limited and Horseley Bridge Limited in 1968, the new company being known as Clarke Chapman and Company Limited. At this date, however the UK interests were not included in the merger. They were acquired by Clarke Chapman Limited in 1974 and finally, in 1977, NEI Clarke Chapman completed the merger.


E N Mackley and Company Limited, Hawks Road, Gateshead (c.1910-c.1977) was a wholly owned subsidiary of Clarke Chapman and Company Limited. In the early days they supplied main shaft pumps primarily to collieries in Northumberland and Durham. Originally these were of the reciprocating type, but were later superseded by the more economical centrifugal design. Later, the Company developed new ranges of pumps for water/sewage/drainage, power stations, sugar refineries, paper mills and the gas, petroleum and chemical industries, including non-standard designs for their customers. They also developed other products for the mining industry, including fluorescent light fittings and conveyor systems.  Site currently under development (2005) and due to become the new home of Gateshead Technical College.


The Nelson Engineering Company Limited (1920-1971) became a part at Clarke Chapman and Company Limited in 1968, when Clarke Chapman merged with John Thompson Limited, Horseley Bridge Limited and International Combustion (Holdings) Limited. They were also closely connected with William Roberts and Sons Limited.


Riley (I.C.) Products Limited (before 1955 Riley Stoker Company Limited) (1924-1974) This company was absorbed into Clarke Chapman and Company Limited when it acquired, in 1974, the UK interests of International Combustion (Holdings) Limited.


The Sunbeam Lamp Company Limited (1887-1913) was formed in 1887 to manufacture early electric bulbs, carbon filament electric lamps. The partners were William Clarke, A H Chapman and the Honourable C A Parsons, and it occupied Park House on the Clarke Chapman and Company Limited site. The Company went into liquidation in 1912 and Park House was closed down in 1926.