BURGON & BALL LTD., Sheffield makers of shears, hammers and tools

This record is held by Sheffield City Archives

Details of B & B
Reference: B & B
Title: BURGON & BALL LTD., Sheffield makers of shears, hammers and tools

Business records of the firm before it was a limited company


Company records


Property of the firm


Inventories and valuations




Records relating to Burgon and Wilkinson


Patents and trademarks


Overseas trade


Accounts of Australian trading


General trading records


Motor car and cycle sales


Work and workers


Welfare and social


Miscellaneous legal papers


Miscellaneous personal papers


Newspaper cuttings relating to the firm and its trade


Printed material (not Burgon & Ball)




Price lists and catalogues

Date: 1865-1942
Held by: Sheffield City Archives, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Burgon and Ball Ltd, Sheffield, makers of shears, hammers and tools

Physical description: 19 Series
Access conditions:


Immediate source of acquisition:

The records listed here were collected from the Malin Bridge (La Plata Works) of Messrs. Burgon & Ball Ltd. in December 1973

  • Metalworking
Administrative / biographical background:

Charles Burgon, a cutlery manufacturer, and James Ball, described as a scythe maker who had invented a process of making a sheep shearing machine, formed a partnership in 1866. They were then both at the Globe Works in Philadelphia Sheffield which was occupied at that time by a number of "little mesters", but in 1873 they bought a site at Malin Bridge, Sheffield and by 1877 they were established there in La Plata Works. In the 1870s they were pushing their product in America and Australia and in 1887 Frederic Burgon went to Australia to the Adelaide Fair. Later Harry Burgon made several journeys to South America and Australia. In 1882 the partnership was dissolved but Charles Burgon retained the business as Burgon and Ball, and bought out the rights to Ball's patent. In 1890 the firm was prosecuted by Ball Brothers, a firm founded by James Ball's two sons, for illegal use of a trade mark.


In 1894 Charles Burgon died and his death was followed by a dispute between his two sons, Harry and Fred. Frederic tried to carry on the business and in 1898 it became a limited company with financial backing from Daniel Doncaster & Co, Sheffield Harry went into partnership with William Wilkinson and Sons which then became Burgon and Wilkinson. William Wilkinson and Sons were certainly making sheep shears at the time of the Great Exhibition in 1851 and the firm claimed to have been founded in 1730. Burgon and Wilkinson went bankrupt in 1899. Burgon and Ball bought its assets from the liquidators, keeping the trade but selling off the Spring Works in Grimesthorpe, Sheffield.


In 1900 Frederic Burgon died, and Benjamin Hind then became managing director. He had been employed by the firm since before Charles Burgon's death, and had become a director when the limited company was formed.


The Australian business of the firm was particularly important, and in 1890 W. H. Eyres was appointed as its representative in Australia. In 1906 Burgon and Ball brought a successful case against him in Australia for defrauding the firm.


As well as sheep shearing machines (which they made), Burgon and Ball sold various other machines, particularly bicycles with rubber tyres from about 1894, both in England and Australia. Little has been found about the motor car agency but the firm was certainly selling cars in 1903-06 and in the early 1920s. Benjamin Hind was an enthusiastic motorist, said to have been the third person in Sheffield to become a car owner, and he probably developed this side of the business.


Since many of the records of the firm were destroyed in the fire of 1878, there is comparatively little material for the early years. A certain amount of information about sales and trading for this period can be found in the evidence gathered in 1878 to support an application for the prolongation of Ball's patent

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