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T. M. Birkett, Billington & Newton Ltd - 1957

T. M. Birkett, Billington & Newton Ltd - 1957

Stoke-on-Trent handbook - 1957 page 128


"T. M. Birkett, Billington & Newton ltd., is one of the largest non-ferrous founding firms in the country. The Head Office is at Hanley, and Works, which include foundries and machine shops, are at both Hanley and Longport.

Castings are produced ranging in size from a few ounces to 10 tons in a variety of non-ferrous metals. These include phosphor bronze, gunmetal, aluminium bronze, manganese bronze and light alloys. Castings are also made in high duty iron.

Many unusual and exacting castings have been entrusted to the firm by the Admiralty and some of the best-known names in British Industry. Among the numerous interesting jobs was a turbine runner casting in aluminium bronze for a 3,600 h.p. Turgo Impulse wheel. The specification called for a tensile strength of 45 tons per sq. in. and a high resistance to erosion, corrosion and abrasion.

Recently two similar hollow castings were tested to destruction ; one casting was in gunmetal and the other in aluminium bronze. The gunmetal had a wall thickness of 0.25" and withstood pressure up to 4,480 Ibs. per sq. in. The other casting in aluminium bronze burst at a slightly higher pressure (4,816 Ibs. per sq. in.) but its wall thickness was only 0.10", which is an impressive demonstration of the weight/strength characteristic of this alloy.

T. M. Birkett, Billington & Newton Ltd. was one of the first foundries to cast in aluminium bronze, and to-day castings in this alloy are supplied to customers all over the world.

All castings are made under strict laboratory control and the foundries themselves use the most up-to-date equipment including indirect electric-arc furnaces, and many mechanical handling devices."

Stoke-on-Trent handbook - 1957

Aluminium Bronze as an alloy was discovered in the mid 1800’s and was first used for French Artillery in 1860, but the excessive production costs prevented its widespread usage.

In 1885, Cowles Bros. in America successfully produced aluminium bronze at a much lower cost and the Cowles Company went on to open a subsidiary in Stoke-on-Trent, England.

In 1892, also in Stoke-on-Trent, Charles Harold Meigh was born. Having served with the British Army during the First World War, he married a close friend of Pierre Durville’s daughter and joined Durville at his foundry in Mouy, France.

Pierre Durville had perfected a technique for producing sound, oxide free aluminium bronze billets for coinage manufacture. Paradoxically, the success of the alloy for coinage resulted in high stock levels, with consequent cash flow problems and the company went out of business.

In 1923 Charles Meigh left Durville to develop the ‘Meigh process’ at his own foundry in Rouen, France for the commercial production of high integrity Aluminium Bronze sand castings. Charles Meigh returned to England in 1937, where he set up ‘Meighs of Cheltenham’.

During the Second World War he designed and produced an aluminium bronze aerial torpedo fin that greatly improved the torpedo accuracy since it replaced a steel fabrication that distorted on impact. He was later awarded the MBE in recognition of his contribution to the war effort.

The ‘Meigh process’ was licensed to Birkett Billington & Newton, Stoke-on-Trent for the production of Aluminium bronze castings. Birkett Billington & Newton, following a merger with another Stoke-on-Trent foundry, Whyte & Collins, were acquired by the Brookside Metal Group who went on to acquire the assets of ‘Meighs of Cheltenham’ in 1991.

In 1992 the Cheltenham site was closed and ‘MEIGHS’ foundry transferred to Stoke-on-Trent from where it operates today. It has since undergone a demerger from Brookside Metal and is a privately owned Limited Company.