by S. A. Barnett

with Frank Sharman and Reg Aston

The Private Limited Companies:  1918 to 1939

After the war the company underwent a radical reorganisation and, rather belatedly compared with other companies of a similar size, became incorporated.  Four limited companies were set up in 1918:  John Thomson Wolverhampton Ltd;  John Thompson Dudley Ltd;  John Thompson Water Tube Boilers Ltd; John Thompson Motor Pressings Ltd.  This seems to be the start of the company’s practice of running different departments as different limited companies, all of them subsidiaries of the main company.

A Lancashire boiler being hauled out of the works at Millfields Road, at an unknown date.

In 1919 the company took over Taylor Windows of Shepherd Street, Wolverhampton and formed the Beacon Windows Company to carry on the business, building new works to do so.  This company was run as a separate company until it was amalgamated with Motor Pressings in December 1966 to form John Thompson Pressings Division. 

An early but undated photo showing the works at Ketchem's Corner with Millfields Road, Parkfield Road and with the railway goods yard. 

As the company continued to expand their range of products and services expanded too.  In the 1920 the Motor Pressings company alone was subdivided into:

Sheet Metal Department for Motor Car Work, chassis side members and cross members; wings, body panels, dash plates, petrol tanks, exhaust pipes, tool boxes, motor cycle mudguards, tread plates, aeroplane cowls and engine plates; and so on.

The General Sheet Metal Department, producing such things as pail and paint kegs and drums, storage bins, elevator buckets, ship’s ash buckets, dustbins, steel washers and “all kinds of odd iron plate work”.

Pressings Department, producing chassis frames, under carriage and bogie frames for railways, pressed steel sleepers, brake drums, hub caps, axle casings, pressed steel work for concrete construction and “steel blankings every size and shape”. 

Constructional Department producing ladders and galleries of all descriptions, water softening plant, water cooling tanks, oil tanks, riveted pipelines, exhaust pipes, hoppers, bunkers, steel chimneys, constructional steel work and general iron plate work. 

Repairs Department which “can repair or replace damaged frames of any design, British, colonial, continental or American”. 

A business postcard, postmarked 1939, says that "this Thompson boiler has worked for 30 years and is still working at 230 lbs daily pressure".  This means it was a product of 1919 or before.  It is shown being shipped by railway.  The railway line ran alongside John Thompson's works.

In 1936 John Thompson Engineering was registered as a public company with a share capital of £1 million and each of the Thompson group companies became subsidiaries of this new company


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