This record is held by Suffolk Archives - Ipswich

Details of HC438
Reference: HC438

Ledgers, petty cash books, salary books, etc., 1924-1959; press-cuttings, brochures and other printed material, c. 1950-1964; memorandum and Articles of Association (4 copies), nd

Date: 1924-1965
Held by: Suffolk Archives - Ipswich, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

ATCO Suffolk Works, Stowmarket

Physical description: 39 items, 3.5 lin. ft.
  • Tibbenham, Louis John
Administrative / biographical background:

The firm of Atco-Qualcast Ltd of Stowmarket, lawn mower manufacturers, was originally founded by Louis John Tibbenham (b. 1879) as Suffolk Iron Founders in 1913, when he took over the local firm of Woods and Co. which had gone into liquidation. Suffolk Iron Founders appears in turn to have gone into liquidation shortly after World War I and was re-established as a limited company in 1920 by the name of Suffolk Iron founders (1920) Ltd, making castings for various local businesses and subsequently cast-iron consumer goods such as mangles, mincers, sports equipment and simple lawn mowers. The firm also developed oxy-acetylene welding equipment and was well known for bronze welding from the 1920s, making 'Sifbronze' rods and fluxes. In 1933 a Mr Kaufmann acquired a share in the business and became responsible for marketing. During World War II the firm made bomb trolleys for the RAF. The first petrol motor powered mowers were produced in the 1950s, the 'Suffolk Punch' model being made from 1954. Tibbenham retired in 1955 and Kaufmann took over the business. In 1958 it joined the Derby based Qualcast group and this in turn merged with Birmetals (of Birmingham) to form the Birmid Qualcast Group in 1967. Motor mowers were by this time a major part of the business; all parts were made on the Stowmarket site including 100,000 engines each year, In 1988 Blue Circle Industries took over Birmid, the Derby site was closed and all mower manufacture moved to Stowmarket in 1991. Suffolk Iron Founders was now renamed Suffolk Lawn Mowers. The name Atco came from a company owned by Charles H. Pugh. The mower works were acquired in a management buyout in 1992; this in turn was sold to Robert Bosch in 1995. The company is still trading. The welding business was taken over in a separate management buyout (to become 'Sifbronze') in 1993. All the records on deposit date from before the merger with Birmetals in 1967, and some go back to the year after Tibbenham's acquisition of Woods and Co. in 1913. This note is taken from Christine Clarke and Roger Munting, 'Suffolk Enterprise, a Guide to the County's Companies and their Historical Records (UEA), p. 36.

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