This record is held by National Museums Liverpool: Maritime Archives and Library

Details of B/FP
Reference: B/FP

B/FP/1/1 - 18 Administration 1888 - 1965


B/FP/2/1 - 3 Legal 1778 - 1958


B/FP/3/1 - 8 Investment 1888 - 1960


B/FP/4/1 - 6 Finance 1905 - 1972


B/FP/5/1 - 3 Operational 1813 - 1962


B/FP/6/1 - 2 Sales and Service 1862 - 1959


B/FP/7/1 - 2 Staff 1940 - 1952


B/FP/8/1 - 4 Photographs 1823 - 1958


B/FP/9/1 - 3 Miscellaneous 1923 - 1967


B/FP/10/1 - 2 Photographs n.d.

Date: 1718 - 1986
Related material:

1. See DX 554 for copies of A. Chapman's membership of I.C.E.


2. See DX 646 for 5 colour prints of a Fawcett gun, made in 1876.

Held by: National Museums Liverpool: Maritime Archives and Library, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Fawcett, Preston Engineering Co Ltd

Physical description: 10 Series
Access conditions:

This collection is held at a reserve store and is available by advance appointment only.

Custodial history:

Acc. No.: MMM.1977.307


Includes items donated in 1995 & 1998

Administrative / biographical background:

The firm known in its heyday as Fawcett, Preston Engineering, was founded in 1758, by George Perry, as the Liverpool branch of the Coalbrookdale Foundry at Ironbridge. It became an independent Liverpool company and built up an international reputation, particularly for sugar machinery. Its marine engines too were, in the early days, world famous, and these included those of the first Mersey steam ferry, Etna in 1817 and the President, the largest ship in the world in 1840. It was also a noted supplier of guns. In 1935 it moved away from its site at 177 Lydia Ann Street, Liverpool, to Bromborough and in 1947 became part of the Metal Industries Group. The records reflect its range of products up to the end of the Bromborough factory. Its bi-centenary history "Fossets" (White, H., "Fossets", A record of two centuries of engineering, Bromborough, 1958) was written in 1958. Regrettably, some of the documents used could not be found when the archives were acquired, however, photographs of some have survived. Expamet International PLC acquired the firm in 1986.


Historical Summary


1718 George Perry born, Scotland.


1758 Perry sent to Liverpool by Coalbrookdale Iron Works Co. to found warehouse at 17 York Street, (later to become Phoenix Foundry).


1771 George Perry dies aged 52. Replaced by JoSepth Rathbone. Mortgaging Coalbrookdale shares causes economic decline in Phoenix Foundry.


1784 William Fawcett joins management aged 23.


1790 Fawcett persuades Darbys of Coalbrookdale to grant a lease on Phoenix Foundry for seven years.


1794 Feb. Phoenix Foundry sold to Fawcett for £2,300. Firm styled Fawcett and Co.


1797 Quakers disown Fawcett for making "Instruments of War".


1801 Fawcett buys freehold lease of land on which Phoenix Foundry stands for £683.


1808 Fawcett in financial difficulties. Mortgages Phoenix Factory.


1810 Fawcett made bankrupt, debts exceed £10,000.


1813 Phoenix Foundry sold to George and Henry Littledale for £18,000, Fawcett retained as Manager. Firm becomes Fawcett, Littledales.


1817 7 March. Fawcetts supply engines for first Mersey steam ferry Etna.


c.1820 The Littledales sell two thirds of their shares to Preston family; firm becomes Fawcett, Preston.


1828 Fawcetts engine P & O's first steamer, named William Fawcett.


1840 Fawcetts engine President, largest ship in the world. (Lost 1841).


1843 7 March. Phoenix Foundry partially destroyed by fire, but is rebuilt and expanded.


1844 Fawcett dies, "Warmly beloved by his friends".


1856 Alfred Chapman becomes apprenticed.


1870 Chapman sent to Egypt to erect two sugar factories, on his return is made partner.


1888 Chapman becomes Managing Director. Firm becomes limited liability company.


1889 Watson Cyclone Baling press produced.


1897 Fawcett Fowler steam car produced.


1914 Engines and weapons for war effort produced.


1917 Alfred Chapman dies.


1918-1920 Post war years, production increases including shipment of nine complete sugar factories to India.


1924 Contract for erection and partial equipping of sugar beet processing plant at Ipswich.


1935 Phoenix Foundry closes, firm moves to new premises at Bromborough.


1948 Metal Industries Group acquire the firm.


1950 Contract for re-equipping Tai Koo Sugar Refinery, Hong Kong, completed.


Becomes part of Thorn Group.


1958 Bi-centenary history Fossets written by Horace White.


Sugar machinery business sold. Becomes Fawcett Engineering Ltd. Engines books pass to Fletcher & Stewart of Derby.


1977-1982 Archives deposited with Merseyside County Archives (part of Merseyside County Museums). Engine books microfilmed and repaired. All drawings repaired.


1986 Expamet International PLC acquires the firm.

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