I have decided to include this page as a tribute to Belliss & Morcom in Ladywood
I hope these pictures bring back many happy memories to people who worked there
If you have any photographs of Belliss and Morcom and would like to see them on this website
Contact Mac Joseph at firstname.lastname@example.org
These photographs are copyright and must not be used for any social media, commercial purposes or exhibitions without permission
16th January 2017
Memories of Bob Thomas
I was looking through the various postings on the B&M web site and noticed in John Stevens contribution 19 Oct 2012 my name amongst others was listed in the copy Apprentice Book. I don't recall seeing such a book when I was an apprentice.
As Steven Salt posted I remember seeing the Kalyan Turbines under construction in the Turbine Erection shop and also before despatch to India. Very splendid they looked.
With reference to Derek Webb's item. He and I were in the Turbine Drawing Office together for a period. We had some laughs I recall and I was glad for his company. He was a funny guy.
Steam Turbine Drawing Office
After completing my fitting apprenticeship in the works from 1950 to 55 I managed to transfer from EMD Erecting Shop to the Steam Turbine Drawing Office where I spent the next two and a half years. The office was situated above the Rotten Park Street works entrance with access via stairs up from an outbuilding on the right just as you entered through the double doors. It represented a quantum change for me with the luxury of office hours and clean clothes. As a junior draughtsman, the work also was a completely different experience.
The photograph attached was taken one lunch hour from the print room on a mezzanine floor at one end of the office. On the left was the Steam Turbine section and to the right the Condenser and ancillary plant. The windows looked out onto Rotten Park Street below. At the opposite end of the office was a sound proof door that opened to a machine shop and the works beyond.
Bill Elliss was the Chief Draughtsman in an office at the entrance to the D.O and Mr Grovesnor, the Turbine Designer, worked on the desks/boards at the end of the office. The office was a bit stuffy atmosphere and not very friendly compared to the shop floor but I gradually settled in. I remember one time Bill Elliss quietly reprimanding me for wearing a pink jumper in the office. "Not done you know."
I was put under the supervision of Mr Sabin the balding Victorian looking gentleman in the photo. He was a taciturn chap not given to smiling and he smoked fags incessantly. Or rather he had them smoldering in his lips with the ash gradually getting longer until it fell onto his drawing. He would brush it away with his hand and after a time his drawing instruments would rub the ash into the paper and make a complete mess. He had vast experience however and told me that in the past he had been involved in compiling and producing tabled data for the properties of steam. Apparently G.S Callender had beaten him to it and had published the "1939 Steam Tables" which became universally adopted.
Charlie Bennett (in the braces) on the other hand was the life and soul of the office. In WW2 I recall he was part of the British Expeditionary Force sent to fight Hitler's advance in France in 1939. It all ended in tears and while vast numbers of the British Army escaped at Dunkirk Charlie's outfit was captured in Calais holding a rear-guard action and he was a prisoner of war in a camp in Poland until 1944.The stories he told of his capture and subsequent incarceration were hilarious.
I left B&M in 1958 and was always grateful for the training and experience working there. It stood me in good stead in later life and to me B&M's employees and products remain a shining example of what was best in British engineering.
Memories of Bob Thomas
On looking through the many interesting memories on the site I see John Stevens in his 16th October 2010 item referred to the 1957 British Industries Fair at Castle Bromwich at which he attended to help erect the 22Std Oil Engine on the B&M Stand. My father Joe Thomas was also on the Stand and was responsible for erecting the engine so John would have undoubtedly assisted in this. The photograph herewith shows Dad in the white overalls on the Stand along with directors and senior managers from B&M. I also have an article from the Birmingham Mail dated 6 May 1957 which describes the plant on display along with a photo of my father actually working on the engine.
Note also the instructional steam turbine in the photo.
My father served in the Royal Navy from 1910 to 1919 and joined B&M in May 1919 as a slinger. He progressed over a couple of years to fitter and then became an Outworker which he continued to do for the next 42 years becoming the firms most senior outworker retiring in 1961 aged 70yrs. During this period, he kept a work diary which listed the engines he had worked on. Details include the engine number, engine type and the location of the job along with a list of " good digs" he had used. This information shows just how varied and well-travelled the job of outworking entailed and the work took him to all parts of the UK. At one time or another he installed all the firms range of products in venues ranging from collieries to tanneries, laundries to sugar beet factories, hotels to Military Establishments. I recall we did well for scarse food items he cadged from USA Camps during WW2. He had a fund of stories to tell.
However, none of this was very good for home life and we children found it difficult at times to accept a father that only showed up at weekends if that. It was a particularly difficult time for my mother during the war years when he was away and bombing was in progress. He did confess in later life that he had missed out on family.
He died in 1979 aged 88yrs and was always proud of his association with B&M.
Memories of Bob Thomas
I hope the following will be informative to B&M enthusiasts and ex-employees alike.
In my late father's (Joe Thomas) papers from his days as an Outworker for Belliss and Morcom I came across the attached photograph of a steam turbine driven axial compressor unit. The photo is in fact a postcard which was a popular advertising medium in the past for all sorts of things.
My father had written on the back that this turbine /compressor unit was in fact installed at Askern Colliery, Doncaster and was designed by Alexander, Archie Jude of Belliss and Morcom. I think the engine number was 1775AC.
I knew nothing of Mr Jude so did some digging on Google.
It would appear that A. Jude joined B&M in 1901 and was quite a genius and left his mark on steam turbine design and development work on axial compressors. Several patents are listed to his name in various fields and he was a great benefit to the fortunes and reputation of Belliss and Morcom.
From my father’s work note book it would appear that between 14 June 1927 and 17 Sept1931 dad visited Askern Colliery on six occasions to carry out erection work of B&M plant including 1775AC. The last visit in Sept 1931 states " Dismantled the unit (1775AC) for return to the works ". What the problem was I know not but his previous visit to work on this unit in May 1929 was to "dismantle 1775 AC for modifications to the diffusers".
I have no doubt my father would have met Jude but like Askern Colliery my Father no longer exists so whatever the problem was will remain a mystery.
I believe Belliss and Morcom supplied a number of these high performance axial flow air compressors of Jude’s design throughout the country.
It seems a pity that so few people know of A. Jude including those of us that worked at B&M and were involved in the business of steam and power.
Perhaps this information will spread the word a little. The following obituary taken from the internet shows what high regard the industry had for him.
An Obituary to A.A Jude 1947
"ALEXANDER' ARCHIE JUDE, Wh.Ex., was born at Norwich in 1875. He was educated at King Edward's School, Norwich, and from there went on as an apprentice to Earle's Shipbuilding Company. In 1893 he was awarded a Whitworth Exhibition.
Mr. A. E. Seaton, who was General Manager and a Director of Earle's at the time, formed a high opinion of the young man and recommended him to his old Naval College friend, Alfred Morcom. As a result, A. A. Jude moved to Birmingham in 1901 to take up a position on the staff of Messrs. Belliss and Morcom, where his genius would have the opportunity to develop. His first work there was to take charge of the design of large size triple-expansion engines, for which there was a big demand both at home and abroad. With characteristic thoroughness, he carried out research on strength of materials, metallurgy, vibration, and any other problems which would help his work to perfection.
At this time the competition of the steam turbine was becoming serious, so he turned his attention to this development. The barrage of patents was formidable. He studied with great care the work of his celebrated predecessors, Parsons, Rateau, Curtis, and de Laval, and ultimately found gaps in their coverage whereby he was able to design a novel and successful turbine. His first three efforts were purely experimental; then two were used in 1904 for generating power in Belliss and Morcom's power house. Finally, the results having been satisfactory, the first sale was made in 1905 of a 2,000 kW., 1,500 r.p.m. set to Aston Corporation. His thoroughness is illustrated by the fact that in 1906 he published a textbook on the steam turbine, which many engineers consider to be a classic summary.
In 1918 he studied the important problem of large high-speed turbines, and had the design of a 3,000 r.p.m., 10,000 kW. turbine completed in the following year. He also worked out a very original type of turbo-compressor, and at the time of his death was busy in that sphere of design.
His mind was never idle, and in his leisure, he was still a thorough-going research worker. For instance, he delighted to practice the science of tree pruning, and when cycling or motoring he preferred a freak machine with gadgets of his own invention. During the war, he worked out a device for the rapid location of bombs and incendiaries, and this was used 'with good effect in eight places in the Birmingham area. Like many mathematicians, he was a keen musician, and in this field his mechanical bent led him to invent improvements in church organ details.
Mr. A. A. Jude died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, on 8 March 1947.
Industry as a whole owes much to his clear scientific insight into the principles of high-speed mechanism." (Lt.-Colonel R. K. Morcom, C.B.E., M.I.Mech.E.)
21st December 2016
Memories of Bob Thomas
I discovered this site be accident and do hope it is still active. I was an apprentice there from 1950 to 1955 and then did two and half years in the Turbine DO.
I attach some photos that may be of interest and may promote other memories.
1st July 2016
Memories of Philip Dunham
I've just visited the tram museum at Crich in Derbyshire, and spotted a B & M generating set out in the yard there. Having looked at your site, it appears to me to be a 2 crank compound V type engine & dynamo. The bed is broken and it is out in the open air. The dynamo end is by Dick Kerr.
I mentioned to my guide, that I understand my Grandfather, Thomas (Benjamin?) Dunham, once worked for B & M, and was informed that B & M were once the biggest suppliers of power plants for the tram companies.
I have been told that Thomas first started work as an engine cleaner at Walsall (loco engines) and having spent some time assisting the fitters, he applied to B & M. He was taken on as an apprentice and I think he was excused the then customary "premium", which did not make him too popular with his other apprentices.
My father’s birth certificate from 1919, lists his father’s occupation as "Fittings joint maker".
I was told that Thomas became B & M field engineer covering the North of England, living at Leeds.
He later left because of all the time he had to spend away from home, and went to Frickley Colliery, engineering, before moving to Hatfield Colliery as Enginewright. Thomas passed away before I was born, and my father and his brothers have now gone too so it is too late to elicit any more information from them.
12th June 2016
Memories of Tim Corbin
Please find the attached photos of a Bellis & Morcom engine I own here in New Zealand. I know nothing of this engines history except it may have been used as a hospital backup generator although I cannot confirm this.
It would be fantastic if someone were able to provide some information on this engine including any dates of manufacture, technical or sales literature etc. It would be great to know what RPM, horsepower this engine may be, or anything I can use to better identify it.
I intend to mount this engine on a trailer so the engine can be displayed at various shows from time to time.
28th May 2016
Memories of Alan Douglas Shilson
I found this website whilst doing research into family history but have no photos of Bellis and Morcom.
My father Douglas Edgar Shilson was from the west country but did his mechanical engineering apprenticeship at B & M prior to 1934. He was billeted locally in Mary Street, Ladywood where he met my mother (nee Pascall) who lived in the same street. They eventually married in 1936.
After he finished his apprenticeship, he was commissioned to deliver and set up B & M power generating equipment to gold mines in inland Western Australia, leaving Southampton on 20th June, 1934 on the SS Jervis Bay. The gold mine was located at Beria, a few miles out from Laverton, WA and in more recent searches I have done, cannot even find Beria on any map. I am fortunate to have my father’s diary of this trip which describes the voyage and his activities in assembling the machinery at the Beria site.
My father returned to the UK, married my mother and then they both set out to WA where my father installed more B & M machinery at a different gold mine. When WW 2 broke out, they remained in Australia where they continued to live for the rest of their lives.
I would be pleased to hear of any material about B & M during the early 30’s and hope that you find the above information interesting.
4th December 2015
This is a plan of the Head Office and Works of Belliss & Morcom
Courtesy of Mike Bingham
22nd December 2014
Sorry to write this close to Christmas, but I have just this day found your website while trying to find some information on a B & M machine I am currently painting for the Plains Museum, Tinwald [suburb of Ashburton], New Zealand. I am told it was used to power a back-up generator [preserved in the Nelson area] at Tekau Knitwear Factory in Ashburton.
It does not appear to be complete, but I am hoping it will look a lot better when I have finished painting it!!
Does anyone know the age of No. 5800??
31st October 2014
My name is Carl Starr. I came across your intriguing web site when just doing a search on Belliss and Morcom. My late farther Lawrence Starr worked for Belliss as an engineer for most of his working life, he sadly passed away in 1962 when I was just 12 years old,.
I have very fond memories of visiting many different factories, mines and ships when I accompanied him in the school holidays. My grandfather also worked at Belliss in the 1920’s, I believe from my elder brother that he was the foundry manager at one point he was Frederick Starr.
I was wondering if any of you current contributors may have known either of them?
24th January 2014
Article from a Newspaper, March 1958
Knowing the answer immediately when asked “How many holes in a phone dial?” helped 21 year old Mr. Maurice Courbet to become the firm’s Apprentice of the Year, 1959.
Of about 150 apprentices at Belliss and Morcom Ltd., Mr. Courbet was one of seven placed on a short list for the honour.
He was finally chosen after all seven had been interviewed on general knowledge, company history, hobbies and other varied topics.
When he finishes his apprenticeship, Mr. Courbet, who is an old boy of Waverley Grammar School and lives at 52 Clarence Road, Sparkhill, will become a mechanical and production Engineer.
Today, Mr. Courbet, received the “Centenary Cup” and two replicas – one he will hold for a year and one he will always keep – from Mr. Stephen Burman, Pro-Chancellor of Birmingham University.
Mr. Burman was presenting awards at the firm’s apprentice prize giving.
Mr. Courbet is an assistant Scoutmaster with No. 279 (Birmingham) Troop at Hall Green.
When not studying or Scouting he finds time for dancing and is a silver medallist.
Mr. Burman was presented with a set of miniature callipers made by apprentices from titanium.
Many thanks to Anne Courbet for the information and photograph
APPRENTICES PRIZE DISTRIBUTION, 1959
The end of the Apprentice of the Year and the end of the Technical College Year means that the work involved in preparing the Prize Lists must commence. Foremen’s reports showing progress and conduct and examination results from Tech require to be transferred into marks, as do also attendances at work and school.
Prize Lists appear as near 1st January each year as is possible and a little later the date of the “Big Day” is made known. During the past few years, the Works have been open on this day, for parents to come and see where their sons work, as well as having the opportunity of talking to various officials of the Company.
This year, the date was 6th March, 1959 and we were delighted to see such a good muster of parents. After going into the Works, the parents and boys enjoyed a beautifully arranged buffet tea and then assembled for the Prize Distribution. The Managing Director, Mr. J. E. Belliss took the chair and addressed the assembly.
This appeared in The B&M News, Spring 1959
14th January 2014
I was very interested to find your memorabilia on the Internet. It is most interesting.
My late husband, Maurice Courbet, was Apprentice of the Year in 1958. I have a photograph of him balancing three cups and I also have a copy of The B&M News, Spring 1959, which contains an article covering his award, entitled "Apprentices Prize Distribution".
Maurice suffered a severe stroke in 1997, four years after his retirement from British Gas. He would have so loved to see your memorabilia. His training at B&M stood him in good stead all his life and all our friends were grateful for his engineering knowledge in many ways.
22nd March 2013
I've just recently discovered that my father (Dermuid O'Kelly) worked at the Ledsam Street Works from 1953 to 1954. He was living at 12 Beaufort Road at the time.
I'm sending you a Coronation picture of him and his workmates which, according to his diary, was taken on May 25th 1953.
He is second from the right in the third row from the front.
I will also send you a pic of a workshop which may have been in the same premises but I can't be certain.
All photographs courtesy of Phil O'Kelly
1st January 2013
All photographs courtesy of Mike Heeley
was really strange seeing some photos on your website.
My father was the Groundsman keeper for fifteen years in Quinton; I went to school at Four Lane Ends.
My dad's name was Leslie Cliffe. So many of the people mentioned were familiar to me I remember Joe Wilkinson he was the soccer coach.
Ann Cliffe Astley
19th October 2012
I was googling and came across your web page and felt that I should add some more for you.
was apprenticed from Sept 1948 to May 1954 and had a group of friends
with whom I used to have great times with.
have listed them below and wonder if any of them are still about and
Bill Gee 48/53
set me up for life and all through my career, it was the one factor that
got me where I am today. On completion of my apprenticeship I went into
the Merchant Navy and served until 1959. I then worked in East ,Central
and South Africa, on contracts as a Chief Engineer or General Manager. I
retired back to the UK in 1994.Where I have lived in the South West in
find attached photos of the coronation take for the design drawing
I am third from the right in the second row down.
a trip to the Festival of Britain in 1950, where I am circled.
have included my Membership card for the Apprentices Association for
1953/54 showing the page,
of my pals and I appear upon
11th September 2012
Early advert for Belliss & Morcom
Courtesy of Andy Selfe
4th September 2012
Broad St. and Ledsam St. being the first and second phases in the
development of the company, the third started in 1884, when Alfred
Morcom Chief Engineer at the Sheerness
R.N. Dockyard, joined George Edward Belliss. For the time being
the firm still traded as G.E. Belliss and Co.
of the first things that Alfred Morcom did on his arrival at Birmingham
was to engage Albert Charles Pain as Chief Draughtsman. Pain, who was
working at the Royal Naval Dockyard at Portsmouth, was well known by
of Albert Pain’s first jobs was to design the main and auxiliary
engines for the Gunboats ‘Swordfish’, ‘Spitfire’,
‘Sharpshooter’, ‘Spanker’, ‘Boomerang’ and ‘Karrakatta’.
The last named, for the Australian Marine, was reputed to be the fastest
vessel afloat at the time. The machinery for these ships was much larger
than the Company had built before, the two main engines totalling 3840
I.H.P. In addition, there were four Locomotive type Wet Bottom Boilers,
Circulating and Feed Pump engines, two Starting engines, four Main and
Auxiliary Boiler Feed and Bilge Pump engines, four Forced Draught Fans,
two Air Compressing engines with Air Reservoirs, all designed made and
fitted on board by Messrs. G.E.Belliss & Co.
it will be evident that the amount of machinery as well as the value was
increasing dramatically and by 1883 new wooden Torpedo Boats were being
made capable of launching the Whitehead torpedo, which was propelled by
a screw propeller driven by an air motor which consisted of two
oscillating cylinders having 1-1/8in and 2-1/2in bores and a 3-1/2in
stroke. Compressed air was supplied to the motors at a high pressure,
and the Firm developed the steam driven air compressor for charging
storage vessels at a pressure of 1700 pounds per square inch. These were
used on the larger warships and also on land bases.
order to lift these smaller vessels aboard the larger fighting ships,
powerful steam winches were made by G.E. Belliss and Co. These were
capable of lifting steel torpedo boats weighing nearly 12 tons. With
machinery of this kind, a boat was soon put into the water, and with its
boilers being filled with hot water from the ship’s boilers, the
smaller craft was soon under way.
piece of essential equipment made by the firm, was the steam steering
engine and gear. All this equipment, engines, boilers and ancillaries,
were also supplied to foreign navies as well as private yachts.
26th August 2012
Early work shops at Ledsam Street
17th August 2012
A brief history of Belliss and Morcom
George Edward Belliss born in Birmingham.
Richard and Francis Bach took lease of premises in Broad Street,
G.E.Belliss apprenticed to the Bach brothers for 4 years 7
End of apprenticeship. G.E.Belliss joined Richard Bach as a
G.E.Belliss formed a partnership with J.J.Seekings, known as
‘Belliss & Seekings’, the two Bach brothers having retired.
Associated with J. Samuel White of East Cowes, in the building
and equipping of steam essels for the British and Foreign Navies.
Seekings sold his share in the business, leaving Belliss to trade
on his own as ‘G.E.Belliss’.
Lease of land acquired in Ledsam Street Ladywood.
Lease of Broad Street terminated. Production commenced in Ledsam
of Steam Engines, Boilers, Compressors and Ancillary Machinery for the
Alfred Morcom left his position as Chief Engineer at HM Dockyard,
Sheerness, to join G.E.Belliss in the business.
Albert Charles Pain left RN Dockyard Portsmouth, to join the
company as Chief Draughtsman.
Production of Steam Driven Electric Lighting Sets commenced, at
first for the Admiralty, later for municipal and private undertakings.
A.C. Pain patented the first Forced Feed Self-lubricated
Lease of land in Icknield Square/ Rotton Park Street to build a
new factory designated ‘Electrical Machinery Department’ (EMD), the
Ledsam Street premises being retained.
Status of the company changed from G.E.Belliss & Co. Ltd., to
Belliss & Morcom Limited.
Commenced production of industrial Air and Gas Compressors.
Commenced production of Paraffin Engines.
First B&M Steam Turbine tested. Designed by Alexander Jude.
B&M Steam Omnibus in trials in London.
Production of Heavy Oil Engines of the diesel type.
1918 War work
including Submarine Engines and Ship Propelling Machinery for the
Admiralty, Steam Winches for Kite Balloons in addition to standard
Modern type Crude Oil Engines introduced.
War work including Submarine Engines, Corvette and Frigate
Additional premises acquired in Ledsam Street and Icknield
Ledsam Street Works closed. Production transferred to E.M.D.
Acquired Engineering firm Crossleys of Manchester.
Formed ‘Amalgamated Power Engineering’ with Allens of
Taken over by Northern Engineering of Newcastle.
Belliss and Morcom sold to Rolls Royce Group.
Belliss and Morcom sold to Hamworthy and production ceased in
Belliss and Morcom, a Gardner Denver Company, still
producing air compressors at Gloucester.
E.M.D. Works demolished.
locomotives are known to have been built at about this time and supplied
to Messrs Pike Bros. (Wareham) for use on the 2ft. 8in. gauge lines at
their clay mines near Furzebrook in the Isle of Purbeck. ‘Primus’,
an 0 4 2 tank engine, said to have been built by Belliss and Seekings
in1866, was converted to a winding engine in 1888, and was scrapped at
about the beginning the 20th. Century, but ‘Secundus’ survives and
worked until about 1950 after which it was transferred to the Museum of
Science and Industry in Birmingham. The engine had six coupled wheels,
outside cylinders enclosed in an outer casing and a cowcatcher.
now turned his attention to a new and important direction. In1864 he
became associated with John Samuel White, a boat builder of East Cowes,
Isle of Wight, in the building and equipping of steam launches. Belliss
had conceived the idea of increasing the power to weight ratio of the
steam engine with constructions of exceptional lightness and by
increasing the rate of revolution, hitherto being considered
impractical, was able to develop machinery half the weight of that
prevailing at that time. Thus began the building of steam launches of a
new and improved type. Mr. J. Samuel White carried out a number of
experiments at East Cowes with a view to applying steam power to
lifeboats then being built under his father’s patents. The excellent
performance of a steam cutter, built for the Marquis of Hastings,
attracted the attention of the Admiralty, and an order was given for the
construction of a 27 ft. life cutter for HMS. ‘Sylvia’ the machinery
being supplied by Mr. Belliss. This was the precursor of over 800 sets
of propelling machinery supplied by G.E.Belliss and Company for boats
built at Cowes for the British and foreign Navies and private yachts.
is copyright and must not be reproduced without permission
This item is copyright and must not be reproduced without permission
A history of Belliss and Morcom
were several properties in Ledsam St., which were not far from the
original works. The King Edward Grammar School owned all of them.
Richard Lovekin, a boat builder of 73 Ledsam St, leased one. This was a
plot of 2066 sq. yds. Adjoining a canal arm, with 66 years remaining, at
a rent of £51-13s. per annum. Another 898 sq. yds. with an un-expired
lease of 84 years was £35-10s-11d. per annum, together with one of 242
sq. yds. were leased by Roland Glegg Barnsley. There was another plot
fronting partly to Ledsam Street and partly to Great Tindal Street, next
to the Chatwin works, which was to be used for the foundry and pattern
shops.. This plot, which was acquired in 1875, comprised some 4192 sq.
There was a restriction imposed by the Grammar School on the
Lovekin lease to extend the canal arm, and the prohibition of a steam
engine on the site. These covenants were contested by Belliss and were
eventually rescinded. The foundry survived as the ‘Bus Shop’, and
then No. 3 Fitting Shop, and the Pattern Shop became No. 3 Top Shop. A
plot where the office block was later to be built was leased by The
Standard Bedstead Co., and was not acquired until later.
May 17th. 1872, the intention to purchase the lease from Richard Lovekin
for £1,200 was agreed and on Dec. 2nd 1872, the Charity Commissioners
agreed to the release of the rights to extend the canal arm and to
prohibit the erection of a steam engine on the site. Initially, the 2066
sq. yards of land were leased on 17th July 1872, followed by the 898 sq.
yards lease, purchased for £35 from R.G. Barnsley in 1875. The way was
now open for the erection of the engine and boiler works, and in 1873
John Barnsley and Sons carried out work consisting of alterations to the
existing two houses and buildings for a price of £190-11s-4d. Then in
1874, the same firm erected the new Engine and Boiler works for a price
erection of the works proceeded, but to the annoyance of Mr. Belliss,
John Barnsley’s work was behind schedule, and Belliss was forced to
extend his lease at Broad St. for three months. A rather irate letter
was sent to Barnsley to request the repayment of the money Belliss was
out of pocket. At last, the Lease at Broad Street was terminated on 23rd
June 1873, and production commenced at Ledsam Street.
29th July 2012
A history of Belliss and Morcom
had barely started the listing when in 1991 I retired, however the
Management asked me to enquire if the Birmingham Central Library was
interested in the collection. As a result Nicholas Kingsley, the City
Archivist, came to the works to view some specimens and agreed that
these were important records that should be preserved.
began to take batches home to read and catalogue before transferring
them to the library. This process took two years, and included the
identification of over 3000 original photographs.
became obvious that here was a collection that, despite all the losses,
would provide enough material to write a history. At that time this
would have been a pencil and paper job for me, without the possibility
of illustrations to supplement the text, so it was put on the back
burner until in 2002 I acquired a computer to support my photographic
interests. Thus occurred the opportunity to write this history. Visits
to the Birmingham Library have been arranged to view the manuscripts and
here the digital camera has been an invaluable tool in copying the
various documents for later study at home. Members of the Monday Club, a
monthly meeting of ex- employees, have provided memories of working
conditions over many years, going back to before the 1939 war, and even
material available relates mainly to the period up to about the 1960’s
after that there were many changes, both in management and also to the
company itself, and thus documentary evidence is scarce. The continuity
in management, which used to prevail, no longer exists thus historical
records are not kept. Henry Ford is stated to have said ‘history is
bunk’, but what we do today will be history tomorrow and is surely
the last twenty or so years, we have witnessed the decline, and often
the disappearance of much of British industry, Shipbuilding, Coalmining
and the like, having almost disappeared. The research and writing of
this History, has revealed the inspiration and confidence that the
creators of these Industries had when building them up. Like us, they
could not see into the future, but they had faith in it.
30th May 2012
late husband James Joyce (Pattern Shop) won this trophy for photography
1957,1959 1960, 1961, he was told to keep it
he was moving on from the company. I wonder if the trophy was
cast at B & M it is bronze on a wood base.
The other names on the trophy are 1939 C. Edwards, Drawing Office; 1940 J. H. Cooper, Drawing Office; 1941 J. H. Cooper, Drawing Office, 1955 B. W. Baker, Drawing Office; 1958 A. T. Rodaway, Drawing Office; .Jim later won Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society He was a member & past President of Handsworth & of Smethwick Camera Clubs.
also played cricket & table tennis there are photos in our family
album of table tennis being played during lunch time inside a pattern
shop I have no idea if it was at B & M.!!
17th May 2012
learned of you as I was searching to see if anyone was interested in
Belliss Morcom memorabilia, because I have one of my grandfather’s old
brochures which dates from, I would guess, the 1940s-1960s: perhaps
older, but I do not know and there are no dates in the book itself. I
will send you a few preliminary photos of the book. The pages I will
send you pictures of, are, in order: the cover, the first page, and the
last page. If you can be of any help in assisting me to date the piece I
would be very grateful.
2nd May 2012
am seeking technical information, please.
the B&M 1959 steam engine instruction book, the governor valve is
described and shown as having two marker points, S for Shut and R for
the governor Rest position (which is apparently for the valve being wide
open). R is below S, but on
the engines I have seen there is a third mark below R, marked F.
The book makes no reference to this, so I would like to know what
it is for, and how it is to be used.
order to do a full governor check, it is necessary for the springs to be
removed, so that the weights can be swung freely to the fully-out
position. To remove the
springs (presumably) entails taking the complete governor out of the
engine, but the book does not go into this.
I infer that if the end cover is removed, and forked lever 345 is
disengaged from sleeve 330, the whole governor just slides out of
engagement with a drive peg or key on the main shaft and then pulls
straight out of the engine. Is
trust that you or a colleague will be able to put me right on these
12th March 2012
was very pleased to discover this website and to read of the interesting
experiences of several ex-employees of this grand old company.
am 91 years of age now but I still have many pleasant memories of my
time working there.
left my school in Perry Barr in October 1934 and joined the company
working in the Material Office under the manager Percy Knight, and
subsequently moving up to the Order Office managed by a Mr. Ward. The
Company Secretary was H.T. Denton.
of my colleagues remembered were:-
Tommy McLoughlan, Harry Rea, Eric Russon, Ernie Barr, Max
Gittings, Gil Taylor, Cyril Scrivens, Frank Huskisson (Husky),
Jack Wood, Syd Darlington, Bert Steer, Dennis Short, Jimmy Ford,
George Deeley (Football secy) and Freddy Court.
left B & M early in 1941 to join the Royal Navy where I served until
the end of the War.
the office I played football in the Companys first XI in the Birmingham
& District Works Amateur League and also for the cricket team. The
original sports ground was situated in Smethwick and then about 1938
this was transferred to the new sports complex in Quinton. The annual
competition of 6 a-side football for the John Belliss cup was always
hotly contested between the various sections of the 2 factories (Ledsam
St and EMD) and the office section and was usually won by our strong
Staff team. Incidentally I still possess miniature silver John Belliss
cups as a member of the winning Staff team for the years 1939, 1940
recently trawled through the Ladywood area on Google Street view and was
pleased to see that there was now parkland facing the old factory and
office buildings in Ledsam Street in place of the dinghy terraced houses
and small shops of my time there.
was very sorry to hear of the demise of this great old company but the
memories of having worked there will always remain with me.
anyone out there still remembers me and would care to get in touch I
will be glad to respond.
17th February 2012
Could you or someone on your site identify this photo please, is it an engine driving a gen set, or is it electric motor driving a compressor, we are having a debate about it here in Wales - Tony.
My brother in law, JOHN DALL, was an apprentice at B&M - is it possible to ask if any information is available, he was apprentice of the year 1956/7/8.
His sister would be very pleased
24th January 2012
see attached a photograph of a single cylinder Belliss and Morcom engine
No: 10111 driving a DC generator in excellent condition as found
installed on board the ex HMS Bullfrog now laid up in Simonstown, South
Photograph below shows the vessel under tow on the Tyne
12th December 2011
been reading your very interesting collection of B&M engines. I also
remember a B&M compressor at Perkins Engines where worked.
have attached a few pictures of ours here in Peterborough.
can still remember the day my Father and I went there to sign those
papers and when we walked out, I felt as if I had been given the biggest
break of my young life.
be told, I probably had, the company provided me with a foundation that
has served me very well in life.
If the pictures are of interest for the website please feel free to use them, though I imagine that there are plenty of other similar documents around.
A picture of the turbine 1156 being boxed up. The machine was supplied to The National Gas Turbine Establishment at Pyestock. The people shown in the picture are George Price and Slim Clarke the picture was taken in October 1962. The second picture is of the Bahamas turbines.
Photographs courtesy of Francis Jarratt
the pictures, I have no recollection of why I acquired them.
were all taken in the Turbine Erection Shop in Icknield Square and I
would guess that they date from the mid 1950's.They were official
B&M pictures and were taken by a company called Associate Photo
Engravers Ltd of Tintern House in Church Street.
only person visible, in the last picture, is wearing a suit and looks
rather dark complexioned for the Birmingham of those days, so I would
assume that he is the customers representative or inspector.
they prove of interest to some other of us old timers.
Response from Francis Jarratt
More great pictures, just have to get in touch in respect to latest additions. First two pictures Nos. 3133 and 3136 are of one of the two turbo alternators made in the mid 1950's for the Indian Railways situated just outside of Bombay at a place called Kalyan. The turbines are LD10's, numbers 1036 and 1037, rated at 10 to 15 magawatts. Picture 3505 with the Indian gentleman standing at the side of turbine - this was a picture taken after turbine was installed at Kalyan. The engineer who installed these machines was Jack Aldridge who was later to become General Manager at B & M in the early 1970's. Unfortunately, Jack was killed in a plane crash while on company business in the Greece area. Jack was followed by Harry Hill as G.M.
The other photographs 3435, 3436, 3437, 3438 are of a 6 megawatt pass-out, condensing turbo alternator which was made for Russia and went to Leningrad (now renamed St Petersburg). When the set was made a team of engineers came from Russia plus their minders (the cold war). The Russians had all the specifications for this machine. I suppose they are now mass-produced in Russia.
you look at the photos supplied by Christine Price, the picture of the
6.1 megturbo alternator set is in fact not one of the machines supplied
to the Bahamas but is one of the two 12 megawatt machines supplied to
Kalyan, India, artistic licence.
you look at picture 3136, hidden behind the steel stanchion you will see
a man. This is not a ghost.
It is George Price.
The two machines that originally went to the Bahamas were each of 6.1 megawatts at 600 p.s.i.g. at 850 degrees F. One pass out condensing at 12 p.s.i.a. and one back pressure at 12 p.s.i.a. The pass out steam was originally to be used to operate a desalination plant supplied by J. A. Weirs of Scotland but this did not work so the surplus steam just went to waste until a third ultra-low turbine No. 1236 was supplied to use this steam. This turbine was supplied in the mid 1960's. I enclose photos of the two original Bahamas machines.
WEEK I WENT TO THE AUCTION HOUSE ON ICKNIELD SQUARE AND WAS UPSET TO SEE
THE OLD PLACE HAD BEEN WIPED OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH. I RECALLED THE
HAPPY FOUR YEARS FROM 1974 TO 78 I SPENT THERE WORKING IN THE CANTEEN.
THEY WERE THE BEST DAYS OFF MY WORKING LIFE. EVERYONE WAS SO FRIENDLY. I
KNEW EVERYONE FROM DIRECTORS TO THE FACTORY WORKERS. SOME OFF THE
NAMES IN THE ARTICLES BOUGHT BACK VERY FOND MEMORIES. ONE NAME I CANT
RECALL WAS THAT OF THE SHOP STEWARD FOR THE AUEW.
JOINED THE UNION NEVER THINKING I WOULD NEED THEIR HELP. UNTIL ONE DAY
MY AREA SUPERVISOR HAD A GO AT ME FOR SOMETHING. I SAID I WILL GET MY
UNION REP TO COME TO GIVE ME ADVICE. SHE SAID “YOU DONT THINK HES
GOING TO BOTHER WITH YOU, YOU DONT WORK IN THE FACTORY, YOU WORK IN THE
CAME OVER AND STOOD BY ME SAYING I WAS A FULLY PAID UP MEMBER OF THE
UNION AND THE WHOLE FACTORY WOULD BE BEHIND ME. SHE LEFT RATHER QUICKLY.
ALSO REMEMBER GOING TO WEMBLEY WITH THE TRAINING SCHOOL LADS IN 1977. I
ONLY GOT THE TICKET BECAUSE THERE WAS A SPARE ONE GOING. THE FACTORY
LADS DECIDED I SHOULD HAVE IT AS I HAD BEEN TO ALL THE GAMES BUT WAS
UNABLE TO GET A TICKET. I REMEMBER THE DAY I WAS DUE TO LEAVE AND HARRY
HILL CALLED ME INTO HIS OFFICE. HE OFFERED ME ANY JOB WITH THE COMPANY
IF I WOULD STAY. UNFORTUNATELY I SADLY DECLINED AS I LIVED QUITE A
REMEMBERED ARTHUR DOWNTON. A
TRUE GENTLEMAN, ALWAYS WOULD
TIP HIS TRILBY HAT TO YOU. THERE ARE SO MANY OTHERS THAT MADE COMING TO
WORK A PLEASURE. SADLY A FEW MAY NOT BE WITH US ANYMORE BUT THEY AND
THEIR MEMORIES WILL STAY WITH US ALL WHO REMEMBER BELLISS AND MORCOM.
HI ITS ME AGAIN. I COULD NOT SLEEP THE OTHER NIGHT AFTER CONTACTING YOU. MY MIND WAS FULL OF REMEMBERING FACES, NAMES AND THE FACTORY LAYOUT. HERE ARE A FEW OF THE PEOPLE I REMEMBER :- BERT LAVIS, JACK KIRBY, CHARLIE FITTER, DON VENN, KEN TAYLOR, DENNIS KNOTT, RAY JONES, JACK DAIS, RONNIE GEE, ARNOLD PATE, JACK? PRIEST, JACK RICHIE,GEORGE BOWEN, NED KELLY, PETE HEDGES, IVOR PRIEST, ALEC COURT, JOHN SMITH, STAN STANTON HARRY HILL, DENNIS BRETT, JIMMY KANE, ARTHUR DOWNTON. THERE ARE MANY FACES BUT SADLY NOT ANY NAMES. DOES ANYONE KNOW IF ANY OF THESE PEOPLE ARE IN TOUCH WITH EACH OTHER OR DO THEY STILL MEET UP? I REMEMBER A SCOTTISH MAN WHO USED TO DRIVE THE CRANE INSIDE THE FACTORY WORKSHOP. HE USED TO BRING DOWN THE HOOK BEHIND ME WHEN I WAS CLEANING THE VENDING MACHINE. I USED TO PUT A CUP OF HOT CHOCOLATE ON IT AND HE WOULD TAKE IT UP INTO THE CABIN HIGH UP IN THE CEILING. HEALTH AND SAFETY WOULD NOT ALLOW SUCH THINGS NOW. I ALSO REMEMBER THE RESCUE OF A PUPPY FROM THE CANAL. IT WAS CLINGING TO A ROOTED TREE ON THE CANTEEN SIDE IF THE CANAL, THERE WAS NOT A TOWPATH ON THAT SIDE, SO THE LADS FROM THE FACTORY GOT A LADDER AND PUT IT OVER THE SIDE. SOME BRAVE SOUL RISKED THEIR OWN SAFETY AND CAMBERED DOWN TO BRING IT TO SAFETY. THANKS FOR DOING THIS SITE IT HAS MADE ME RECALL HAPPIER TIMES.
EDKINS [ BUDDRIGE]
12th November 2011
was prompted to write following Eric Smiths submission.
served my apprenticeship at Icknield Square from 1966 to 1970, after
which Eric hired me to work as an estimator under Dick Plevey in the
1974 I was offered a a position in London to work with Tim Crocker and
after his retirement was made Regional Manager for Central London by
Stan Stanton then Sales Manager, primarily serving the oil companies and
contractors handling projects for onshore and offshore compressor
1984 I was offered a temporary position, 6 months, by then, General
Manager David Pangbourne to work in our offices outside Chicago, USA.
There I teamed up with Frank Shrewsbury and later with Tony Evans. This
temporary assignment lasted 22 years.
40 years and several mergers and acquisitions ( APE, NEI, Rolls Royce,
Powell Duffryn/Hamworthy and Gardner Denver) I retired in 2006.
reside in the Chicago area and visit the UK frequently.
are 2 photographs which may be of interest. In the football photo I am
seated front left. In the apprentice photo, same one submitted by Alan
Jones, I am seated in the white coat (inspection dept. at the time)
16th October 2011
The Belliss page on your website is fantastic.
I was really interested to see the photos supplied by Christine Price.
The last one of young fellow leaning on the turbine rotor is Bob Hughes.
Bob was a roadwalker representing the UK in the Mexico Olympics.
Many thanks to John Jarratt
2nd October 2011
Many thanks to Christine Price for the photographs and memorabilia
8th September 2011
was delighted to have site of the Belliss & Morcom website recently,
it gives the true and lasting image of a great engineering organisation
with evidence of the achievements in progressive design still in
existence in all the far reaches of the world.
joining W. H. Allen Sons
& Co Ltd., in 1960 I held the position of London and South of
England Manager for George Waller and Sons Ltd., who were based in
Stroud, Gloucestershire. In this role I was responsible for project
development with Roots type gas exhausters and blowers, vertical
reciprocating gas compressors. One of my projects was the installation
of three large vertical reciprocating gas compressors at the N.C.B.
Avenue Plant at Chesterfield.
Allen’s in 1960 I became involved in project development in power
generation schemes involving steam turbines, diesel and dual fuel
engines. In July of 1969 I was contacted by Mr Stanley Wood who had
taken over as General Manager of Bellis and Morcom. Would I consider
moving to Birmingham to take up the position of Sales Manager on the
retirement Mr. Campbell.
entered the gates of Belliss and Morcom on the 8th September 1969 to
meet my Sales Team, Dennis Brett, Larry Dobson, Tim Crocker, Jim Hoyle,
Len Warner and Harry Winter from Scotland. With years of
experience in project development, I was ready and willing to apply all
that experience to back up my sales team.
we had an enquiry with involved specification from B.P. in London which
was processed as usual by my tendering personnel. The quotation came on
to my desk on a Friday afternoon and I took it home with me to read over
the weekend. On the Sunday morning I took my wife with me to the office
in Icknield Square and she typed the much modified new tender. Then on
the Monday morning I put my wife on the train to London with the new
tender to hand it over to Tim Crocker for him to officially hand it over
to B.P. Result, a substantial order for Bellis and Morcom compressors.
was the enthusiasm and long term plans for the future. Unfortunately, Mr
Stanley Wood was replaced in 1972 and that proved to be the reason for
my return to Allen’s without any explanations. Back at Allen’s, I
accepted the offer of taking over as Regional Manager South East Asia
responsible for Project Development in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore,
Thailand, Philippines and Sri Lanka.
final appointment was Business Development Manager for W. H. Allen a
successful period involving a complete new standby power station for The
Bank of England, a major power generation plant also supplying building
air conditioning from waste heat recovery for National Westminster Bank
Cheque Processing Establishment, Standby diesel engine driven alternator
for the Lloyds then new office block.
is so distressing to think that the plants at Bedford and Icknield
Square are now completely replaced with new development
Eric E. Smith
19th August 2011
last weekend i came across a medal for the J
Belliss Trophy 1953-54, the runner up was a D.
D. White from the steel shop. I came across your fantastic site when
trying to research the company; I think it’s great that someone takes
the time and trouble to record this type of information.
have looked at the pics and cannot see anything referring to D. D.
White, can I ask if you or anyone know of him please.
6th August 2011
I am an ex Belliss apprentice, having found your web site I’m surprised to see my face on the apprentices photo, I am the tall one on the back row to the right of centre. It brings back so many memories.
I remember one day working on the rock crushers and we hung another apprentice by his overalls from the crane, and then went to lunch over the pub, when we got back Don Venn had us up the office and we got a right telling off. I can’t remember the bloke’s name he was with ginger hair.
I worked with him when I was on the Service Department in Cardiff.
Fond memories thank you.
10th May 2011
Photographs courtesy of Simon Wadhams
these photo’s may be of interest to you.
photos of the unit was refurbished about 4 years prior for a sawmill (in
a town called Tzaneen, South Africa), the sawmill was constructed we
believe in the 30’s, and has been part of the plant when the kilns
were installed, however was decommissioned about 30 years prior.
unit runs well, however, the steam system had been amended over the
years with the piping no longer complying to the original design and
layout, hence, the back pressure is to great, with this unit only now
being started occasionally just to ensure all is in working order and
exhausted to atmosphere.
place that has 2 units (in states of various disrepair) is at a tea
estate located in Zimbabwe, (when the units were supplied would have
been Southern Rhodesia) in the mountainous area on the border between
Mozambique and Zimbabwe at an Estate called Wamba in the Honde Valley
are at the present moment looking at options of the unit in Tzaneen, re
locating this to a small plant that is already geared up for a back
pressure power generation unit, would you happen to have any technical
details based on these units, (any technical details, foundation
information, output parameters for example)?
you and kind regards
Photographs courtesy of Philip Waldren
16th January 2011
name is John Newlands and I live in Ashburton, New Zealand.
am a member of the Canterbury Steam and Preservation Society.
we are building an extension on to our Museum that will be used as a
lounge and cafe etc.
that room will be a triple expansion Bellis & Morcom steam engine,
yet to be restored and driven by a reduction drive electric motor as a
feature display .
engine is numbered 2086.
far as we know this engine was at Toupo Totra Timber Co and on sold to a
town called Gladston on the West Coast of the South Island and again
used at a saw mill.
in Ashburton we have a Compound engine in rather a bad state but is
you know if there is any historic records that will tell us when they
were made , who they were sold to etc?
10th January 2011
I've found these photos showing my grandfather, Ernest Wall (1881-1963) of Harborne, at Belliss & Morcom.
In the first picture below he's standing in the middle row, fourth from the left. He is then identifiable in the other two.
think he was an engineer and in charge of the drawing office, but I may
well be mistaken. I ought to go through the company archive in the
Central Library but life is too short!
would think the date is the 1920s?
15th December 2010
The Erecting Shop, 1923
Icknield Square, 1923
28th November 2010
My name is Thomas Smith and I am 84 and I have lived in Canada since 1967.
I worked in the EMD upper machine shop from when I left the RAF in January 1948, until around 1955.
worked on the large Kendall & Gent milling machines at that end of
the machine shop overlooking the street that had Docker Paints in.
My foreman was Jack Parry. I also worked on the keyseating machine at the end overlooking the bottom machine shop. I also "kept my hand in" on the horizontal drilling machine, drilling the eccentric sheaves and straps, also the vertical profiling mill doing the ends of connecting rods.
I took over the milling from a man (Tom Tyler). I worked next to Bill Bagnall, who similarly worked a variety of machines, Kearns hor. borerers, and he also bored the oil holes through the oil-engine connecting rods.
Happy memories, I am interested in reading about anyone's memories of those years.
Best wishes from
16th October 2010
I was an apprentice at Belliss & Morcom Ltd from 1953 till 1959. I finished up in the Turbine Test house before going in the Royal Artillery, for my National. Service in January 1960, I rejoined the company in February 1962.
I then became an outwork engineer in the South of England. My nickname became Piggy No 2, Alan Wycherley was Piggy No 1, because we were 1st and 2nd in a Belching contest set up in the engine test house, Jack Price was the chief tester.
worked with Roger Neal in the fitters gallery, I wonder if he remembers
the rough times the senior apprentices gave us, trying to keep us back
after all others had gone home.
do remember the following, Frank Wilson, (Supt.) Arthur Downton and
Norman Weaver (his charge hand). I also met him later when we both
worked at the West Midlands Gas Board, George
Bradley, George Rudge (a short very strong man), Ken Taylor, Don Peplow
(one of the best fitters I ever worked with), Eric Wilcox, Wally
Richmond and Peter Parker (I worked with Wally and Peter years
later at General Foods Ltd. in Banbury).
spent some time working down south with Jack Souden.
anyone remember what happened to Alan Wycherleys museum of small steam
engines, including single cylinder Belliss, and Sissons, that
he set up in his garden at his home? This was superb, every one polished
and painted, together with the large shed they were in.
photo is of one of two B&M Steam Engines that I overhauled and
erected at the Chelmsford Timber Co., this company ran the boilers
on waste wood and chippings from the mill, the two engines then took it
in turn to supply the power to drive all the mill woodworking machines.
I now live in Hook Norton, Oxfordshire. I would love to hear from anyone
who remembers me or any other ex employee from Belliss's.
only Belliss engine now on show is in the Think Tank and and is the very
earliest one they had. The others are still in storage, I have
complained to Think Tank, as I worked hard getting one of the
engines up to museum standard when I was an apprentice.
any one remember the British Industries Fair at Castle Bromwich?
One of the Morcom family was the President of the Birmingham Chamber of
Commerce and in that year Belliss & Morcom decided to place an Eight
Cylinder 22std. Oil Engine right in the centre of the indoor exhibition,
that took some doing.
had the pleasure during my apprenticeship of helping to erect this at
the fair after polishing all the nuts and lacquering them. I then spent
two weeks on the stand with the sales staff, mostly spent sliding
down the handrails from the platform without touching the steps;
this was to amuse all the onlookers. I did take great joy telling the
public we started the engine by pulling the little lever on the
auxiliary oil pump. I lived then in Ward End, so I assume I got the job
because I lived the nearest to the site.
13th September 2010
just found this site, and have attached a photo from therein of the
engine type I am interested in. This is definitely the model of engine we
had - I remember those knobs on the longish screws that held the cylinder
head top and front covers (the biscuit tins) in place (and the hand
lubrication of the rocker gear underneath with a 50/50 mixture of oil and
kerosene, then having to wash the whole mess down every four hours.
1974 I joined the d.e.v. "John Wilson" in Wellington, NZ. The
ship was a self-discharging bulk cement carrier built by Henry Robbs of
Leith in 1959-60 for Wilson's Portland Cement Company of Auckland, New
Zealand (but may have been financed by Blue Circle Cement Industries of
London, as they owned Golden Bay Cement in NZ, of which Wilson's Cement
was a subsidiary).
old girl was propelled by three Bellis & Morcom 5 cylinder diesels,
each fitted with one Brown Boveri Corporation (BBC) turbocharger. The ship had
a diesel electric propulsion and cargo pumping system based on these
3 B&M gensets, and also had a Bellis & Morcom 3-cylinder, 80 kW
genset (top left in photo). I spent the next 5 years on this ship, then
went to one of our newest ships until June 1982 when I briefly returned to
"The John" as chief engineer. I can still recall that any one of
the three arrows on the end of the camshaft had to point at the arrow on
the entablature for the engine to be started (3 air start valves for 5
cylinders - whose idea was that???), and that the engine output was around
have on my deck two of the pistons from one of these engines (12"
bore x 15" stroke - would that be correct?), and they make very
comfortable seats, plus will definitely not blow off my deck in
a good storm. I also still have a couple of inlet valves (God knows I
spent many hours lapping in valves/seats on these engines), and
pulling/replacing valve cages. Our No.2 generator also had an annoying
habit of throwing the cod pieces out of the governor casing whenever a
governor spring broke! Also seem to recall the main journals were 7"
or 7.1/4" diameter - many is the main and big end white metal bearing
I have scraped in on these engines. All 3 of the "John's"
engines had bad cracks across the rear of the entablatures that would open
up and squirt oil at you when running on top notch, despite the heavy
strong backs that were fitted across the entablature tops and screwed down
into the bedplates at front and rear of the engines.
have attached a photo of "The John's" engine room that I took as
the vessel was being broken up in Auckland early in 1985 - the 3 cylinder
80 kW B&M can be seen on the left, with the 3 empty main
generator bedplates in the middle.
the wreckers had already stripped the cabins and disposed of any and all
papers/manuals/charts/info by the time I got down to the ship - I had been
hoping to grab the Bellis & Morcom engine manual as a momento, but was
I was wondering if you might be able to point me in the right direction to
where I may be able to obtain one of these roughly A5-sized manuals for
these rather unique machines, or even a couple of good photos of the
29th August 2010
was an apprentice at Belliss's from 1961 until 1966 and left the company six
months after completion to join the Merchant Navy where I worked my way up to
become Chief Engineer.
company had a big intake of apprentices the year I started and they started me
off for the first six months as a "Runner" in the heavy machine
shop. This was followed by a short period at the Training School under the
care of Walter Richmond in Ledsam Street, during which time Ledsam Street
Works was closed down and we were moved over to a gallery at the back end of
From there I was quickly transferred to the Erecting Shop and worked with various fitters, Harold Hammond is the only name I remember but one of your contributors, John Jarret whose name is familiar but cannot place, mention Jack Panting and 'Piggy' Wycherley who I worked with in the Test House.
Wilson retired as foreman during my time and Don Venn was promoted from
"the bench". I remember Ned Kelly and Sid Earnshaw who, if I
remember correctly, were on Sid's motorcycle when they were involved in a
completing my time I was moved to the "Jig and Tool" drawing office
and finished up in the "Sub-Contract" office.
my last two years the management started giving annual prizes and I was
awarded "Joint Runner Up to the Apprentice of the Year" 1964 &
1965. I still have the certificates, signed by Frank Whittall.
attached photograph has me, if anyone is interested, in the second row from
the back, just left of the middle, wearing a sports jacket, white shirt and
tie. Again if my memory serves me correctly, Alan Key is on my right and Rod'
Higgins is on the back row behind me.
can honestly say that the years spent as an apprentice were by far the
happiest years of my working career.
8th August 2010
A web site for old Ladywood, Fantastic, fame at last. Bought back floods of memories, the streets the schools the factories and pubs, however my memories are quite new compared with the age of some. Born 11/11/1951 family moved into Ladywood when I was aged four. Note the address on the letter from Belliss and Morcom, Flat 4, Block 49 Ladywood Road. The block is still standing although now modernised, this was my home for many years. Mom and Dad moved from here to Great Barr in 1976, the year my first daughter was born.
Photograph of apprentices for 1967, I am there. Although this is a poor copy, I do have the original print somewhere, if I find it I will send you a copy.
Hopefully many of the people in the photograph are still with us and may recognise themselves.
down Icknield Square towards the way bridge entrance. Look to the
left of the picture, that’s one of my motorcycles, quite poignant
really as I received a stripping down by management after being reported
by security for riding my motorcycle at excessive speed over the way
bridge, I thought it a bit harsh at the time as I had no brakes anyway.
For those of you interested in motorcycles the machine was a BSA.
C15.SS 250cc. Registration AOJ 698B.
11th June 2010
my name is Gareth, I worked for Belliss from 2000-2008.
only reason I left the company was to move to Australia to work.
had the best 8 working years of my life with Belliss & Morcom. I am
now 30, I was very lucky to have been trained by the likes of Stewart
Gough, Roger Copper, and Bob Beavis.
was also lucky enough to have been able to rebuild three M10 compressors
at the Hot Mill at Port Talbot Steel Works, I also looked after and
maintained 18 other compressors just on the steel work site alone
ranging from a VH21NL to a WH100L.
have really enjoyed reading and looking at the old photos.
unfortunately had to leave all my stuff from my time there in the UK
when I moved.
If anyone has any pictures or stories, or even if you know the great guys I worked with, I would love to hear off you.
name is Mike Heeley and I joined Belliss & Morcom in 1971, which is
a few years ago now!!
first bosses where Albert Palmer and Ivor Priest. What a lovely man
Albert was, strict, but kind. Ivor was like your elder brother again a
moved on and at the end of my apprenticeship I ended up in the
estimating office working with Frank Shrewsbury, David Lumby, and good
old Barry Moore.
1981 Stan Stanton the Sales Director then let me go out on the road, and
since then my job as involved selling.
left in 1988 to join Atlas Copco working there till 2000, when I left
there I joined BOGE Compressors. BOGE is a German compressor
manufacturer and in a way much like the old Belliss - family business -
100 years + old and make heavy-duty solid robust compressors. My
position at BOGE is Northern Area Sales Manager.
days where my Belliss days despite 3 nights a week college. I meet and
worked with a lot of good people and still relate Belliss stories to
few old names from the past Mike Hodson, Steve Fox, Robert Pearce, Andy
This photograph is of a Belliss and Morcom football team about 1960 to 1965.
Location - The Belliss Sports Club in Quinton (close to Four Dwellings High School)
only names that I can remember-
row from left (3rd Peter Green)
Front row from left (1st Archie Gordon) (3rd Myself: Tony Twamley)
This photograph turned up in an Industrial Railway Society members collection of works photos for Bedford Engineering Co., who were at Ampthill Road, Bedford, and made cranes, rail cranes and a few steam rail inspection vehicles.
The gantry crane was obviously of the Belliss & Morcom manufacture, I assume this is c. 1900.
The Horace E S Lorton & Allan C Baker Collection; Bedfordshire & Luton Archives
photo was taken in the canteen when Mr. Campbell was presented with his
gift, on leaving.
Some of the faces are: Dick Plevey, me, Violet Rose, Norman Carradine, Frank Shrewsbury, Melvyn Jones, Dave Hill, Mr. Baker, Mr. Brightwell. I have kept in touch with Violet for over 30 years.
When I first joined I worked for Mr. Brightwell and then went to the Estimating Department, Dick Plevey was my boss.
William Humphreys (known as Bill) lost his left arm just below the elbow
in 1945 due to a factory accident and, as a result, had to seek more
sedentary work thereafter.
was given an artificial left arm and hand and, luckily, he was still
able to write with his right hand. We believe he started working at
Belliss & Morcom in Ledsam Street around 1950, as a Watchman.
often, as children, would take his lunch sandwiches round to him and
recall his little office. When he left B&M he became a Car Park
Attendant at the Ice Rink on Summer Hill and, thereafter, worked as the
Ice Rink's Cloakroom Attendant.
wonder if anyone out there remembers him.
regret is that the advent of personal computers did not come into being
in our parents' time. We can only imagine how thrilled he would have
been to "see" someone he knew on the Belliss & Morcom site
& Rog Humphreys
have found a B&M reciprocating engine and 3 B&M steam turbines,
I am about to organise their removal and restoration to save them from
the scrap man.
Advert from 1955
Erecting Shop, Ledsam Street, 1924
Icknield Square Works, 1924
The Iron Foundry, Icknield Square Works, 1924
Top Machine Shop, Ledsam Street
Like so many readers found the website by just browsing, I did a six year apprenticeship, HND from 1979 to 1985 (a pup in comparison to some of the readers), originally started under Jeff Payne, who left half way through my term there, and my apprenticeship was extended.
Worked in the drawing office under Norman Carrodine and Burt Lavis, who used to flick cigarette ash all over the place I seem to remember, and finally ended up in the last 2 years with Alan Wycherley, that name pops up a lot, was assigned with Cliff Knight, who sadly died during my term there, went to Alan's house when he had a ‘steam’ day, you don’t appreciate those things so much then as I would now.
I found I had a great foundation for my career from Belliss and have had the opportunity to travel all over the world and had an absolute blast if I am honest.
The Monday club was set up by two gentlemen One was the personnel manager who had a replacement leg (can’t remember his name) and Charles Fitter, who I was good friends with, they started meeting in John Lewis in Birmingham after the redundancies and numbers grew and were asked eventually to find another venue! Never shopped at John Lewis since.
Well done with the web site
Well done with the web site
Rotating Equipment Engineer
Marius J Neethling
have taken these photos of a two cylinder compound engine in Knysna,
Southern Cape, South Africa where it is sadly in a poor condition and
part of some rather strange water feature but however quite complete. I
hope that you find them of interest. The engine number is No: 7009.
Many thanks for sending in these photographs
I found this old engine semi abandoned in Madrid Delicias Railway Station, just in case you are interested.
do not know who is it the proprietary, neither his intentions about it.
Probably owner is RENFE, which is the Spanish Railway Company.
Many thanks for sending in these photographs
Memories of Jim Tonge
was thrilled to find a group photo on the Bellis and Morcom page that
included my father, James Frederick Tonge.
am trying to find a date of birth for my grandfather, also Jim Tonge who
worked at the factory too.
sketchy details I’m afraid. Do you know if there are any employee
records stored and where they are?
shot in the dark I know.
Memories of Derek Webb
I also don't know what prompted me to Google the old firm today. I'm glad I did!
Does anyone remember Garth Cockwill or Chuck Fellows? I do remember Alan Wycherley and Frank Wilson, also Bill Pessol and Ernie Mason. My time was pretty contemporary with Alan Wolton, who's name I do remember.
Memories of John Jarratt
I am an ex Belliss man. I started my apprenticeship in August 1960
starting in the apprentice school under the direction of Walter Richmond
and Stan Freeman. From here I moved into the Arca shop, the
foreman being Tony Whitherstone. I was put with Eddy Webster, Sid
Colley (I was told both have passed on some years ago). From here I went
into the boiler yard. The superintendant was Arthur Downton. The
erectors were George Rudge, George Bradley, and Eric Wilcox. Ken
Taylor was in charge of the test house. Belliss and Morcom fell on hard
times and Ledsam Street works was moved to EMD. From here I worked
in most departments. The test houses under Jack Panting (chief test
engineer nicknamed Grandma by Alan Wycherley - he had a nick name for
everyone but every one had one for him - Piggy Wycherley). I
worked in the large Erecting Shop at that time. Frank Wilson was
superintendant. Erectors Jack Kirby (he later became works
superintendant), Frankey Boots, Don Peplow and Harold Hammond to name
but a few.
Then onto the turbine shop. This is where my education in engineering started. The man in charge of this department was George Price. We had Bill Pessol (Bill was one of the finest engineers I have ever known. This man’s knowledge knew no bounds). The erectors at this time Jimmy Wilmot, Richard (Slim) Clark and Ernie Mason. Fitters Jack Holden, (Jack built all the turbine rotors - I have never met a man equal to Jack in the use of a file - he was magic), Peter Davies who did all the blading work, Cyril Wood was one of the bench fitters. I worked in the turbine test house with Albert Moore until I completed my time in 1964. During my Apprenticeship I did out- working, the first being Pyestock with George Price, Ernie Mason and Slim Clarke. This was the famous 1156T which replaced a gas turbine at the National Gas Turbine Establishment, Pyestock. Upon completion of my time, I was put into turbine shop as fitter, then erector, also doing outside work until I left at the beginning of January, 1976 to go to the Middle East to work for an oil company.
If there are any Ex-Belliss apprentices out there, please get in touch. I am still in contact with Bob Stanford who lives in South Africa and Bill McCarthy who lives in the same village as myself in the Highlands of Scotland! Bill is also in touch with Sid Ernshaw. Other names I remember were Tony Barber, David (nosey) Parker, David Wood, Ned Kelly, Barry (Bosch) Cother, Sid Ernshaw, Don Venn (Work Superintendent) and Bert Chew.
Memories of Vic Holloway
I too was a fitting apprentice at B & M starting on the gallery in 1934. On completion of my indentures at the outbreak of war in 1940, I was sent outworking to the fighter station at Biggin Hill and subsequently for the next three years all sorts of jobs all over the U.K. including the far north and Hebrides.
I joined R.E.M.E. when it was formed in 1944, in time for the Normandy landing and subsequently through to Germany and the Middle East. I have a few photographs, notes and instruction books relating to B & M.
I found your information very interesting and came across it whilst trying to find (without success) whether the B.& M steam engines that used to be in the old Science museum were now in the "Think Tank". Do you happen to know?
too far away (Devon) and too old (90) to visit them anyway.
Memories of Alan Wolton
don't know what prompted me to Google B & M today, but having
arrived at your site I am delighted that I did.
I was an "Engineering" apprentice from 1949 to 1954, in the February of which I was promptly conscripted for National Service some days after my 21st birthday.
None of the 1953 photos that you have reproduced have the honour of showing my smiling and handsome features, which is probably just as well. Strangely my particular contemporaries as Engineering apprentices - John Sainsbury, Alan Parkinson and Peter Graham - have also escaped the photographer. We were not an unduly rebellious gang but we must have been up to something for all of us to have avoided washing our hands and faces. As an aside, I have often wondered whether it was pure coincidence, or the result of company policy, that all four of us - we started in the Fitters' Gallery EMD, on the same day - should have been the sons of widowed mothers.
I returned to the fold in 1956 after demob and spent a year in the Contract Department, mainly dealing with spare parts orders from overseas, the usual delivery times for major items rarely being less that 18 months (and we wonder why good old firms like Belliss faded away in the following years).
After that I spent about a year as an "Outworker" journeyman alongside some real old timer "Outside Engineers" and District Engineers doing overhauls, repairs and installations, in this country.
In 1957 I went to Iraq to install a 5 cylinder 22 Standard oil engine generator set and to overhaul two 18 standard and two 11 standard engines in an army garrison power station. These last having been put to work in 1939, run continuously turn and turn about, since then without having even had the valves reground. In the second Gulf war period this garrison - Al Musayib - was reported as a centre for missile manufacture; I wonder whether "my" gensets contributed?
By pure chance having completed the work, I came out the day before the rebellion in 1958 when the King, his uncle the Prince Regent and sundry courtiers were assassinated and the Europeans in particular those in or connected to government service had no fun at all.
Coincidentally, Reggie(?) Tongue - always pronounced "Tongoo" by the locals who did the 1939 installations had escaped in "his socks" at the outbreak of war, the Iraqis then being very pro-German.
After that I had a period back in the works as a refresher on steam turbines and then went to Nassau in the Bahamas (yes, the millionaires' playground) to install two 6MW generating sets, one a back pressure unit exhausting solely into a desalination plant by Weir of Glasgow and the other a pass-out/condensing set. The desalination unit was failure and was soon abandoned.
To the vast and everlasting amusement of friends and family my job-title in Nassau was "Erection Superintendent"!
Having said that it may be thought in poor taste but it has to be reported that I met and married my wife Margaret in Nassau, she being there as a Sister in the then Colonial Nursing Service. How the world has changed; under her contract the day she married she was immediately and automatically fired despite the UK government having gone to the expense of training her, transporting her to the hospital and the further expense of recruiting and installing a replacement.
When I got back to the works in 1960/1, I found sadly that things were not as they were, in particular the job that I had long been promised once the Nassau contract was finished was no longer on offer. So with mixed feelings I left following a bit of a shouting match.
The wheel did go round the circle, years later I started a specialist compressor rental company - "RENTAIR" and bought various Belliss machines, some of which played major parts in the construction, testing and commissioning of North Sea oil and gas pipelines.
I wonder whether you are aware of the "Monday Club", mainly dare I say, very old ex-employees amongst whom at 76, I am a kid, who meet on the first Monday of each month.
It is 18 months or so since I attended - Brum is a long way up and down the M5 from Taunton - when I visited the then partially demolished EMD works - what a shame, all that skill expertise and tradition gone for all time.
Memories of Roger Neal
was an a fitting apprentice at Belliss and Morcom from April 1953 to March
1959, when I was sent outworking to South Wales where my first
appointment was at Port Talbot gas plant installing a diesel driven gas
have the instruction book of the installation of the oil engine, which
was given to me prior to going to Port Talbot.
other item that I have is a coronation photograph taken at the Ledsam
street works, which is yet again different to the two that you are
displaying, this particular photograph is of the apprentice machine shop
under the foreman of Mr Richards.
now live in mid Wales, but it was good to be reminded of the Belliss
years, I have been following the events of the factory since its was
The Heavy Machine Shop, 1927
The Heavy Machine Shop, 1964
Aerial view of Belliss & Morcom in Ledsam Street
Courtesy of Michael Kirk
Song sheet from the 1929 Annual Dinner
Song sheet from the 1929 Annual Dinner
Song sheet from the 1929 Annual Dinner
Song sheet from the 1929 Annual Dinner
My granddad was John Franklin Raggett who lived in
He was an engineer.
I have enclosed a drawing and photo of the Explosion Chamber for Oil Motors, designed by him together with an amazing Menu
This includes the song sheet for the community singing to the Chairman etc. It's all very touching and I hope it could be made available to old members of staff
as it is a wonderful reminder of how things were!
John Raggett's son, Ralph Alexander Raggett also worked at B&M
Does anyone remember them?
The Testing Department
The Pattern Shop
The Machine Yard, 1923,
showing dressed castings ready for machining
The Erecting Shop, 1923, Boiler Yard
Belliss & Morcom, 1915
Iron Foundry, 1823
J. Pain, A. Lock, W. H. Beet, E. L. J. Hetherington, T. E. Bellwood, G. A. Peckover, W. Colley, T. E. T. Taylor, B. D. Hogan, A. H. Witherstone,
B. W. Deacon, G. Allis, D. J. Pressdee, R. B. Hubball, S. J. Salt, E. A Doe, B. V. Holberry, F. A. Marsh, D. Horton, E. G. Toogood, W. K. Bache,
T. Lawrence, D. D. Venn, G. Bowker
Photograph courtesy of Graham Taylor
Picture of his late brother Trevor Taylor
W. W. Stephenson, E. E. Williams, F. G. Wilson, V. Andrews, H. Hammond, K. Sanford, A. Noakes, H. Hadley, L. C. Truman, E. Frazer, W. J. Jenkins, J. Ruth, J. Cox, C. Pagett, J. Nevitt, J. Lakin, F. H. Barnes, A. R. Martin, J. Birch, N. H. Fitter, F. Crowley, H. E. Purnell, W. Thompson,
H. J. Williams, E. Gallagher, A. E. Stanton
Photograph courtesy of Bob Williams
Mr. E. Williams is Bob's grandfather
Do you know any of the people in this photograph?
It was taken Thursday, 28th April 1955. The trophy is the Silversmiths Cup (Works League), won Saturday, 23rd April v Birmingham Mint - 3 - 1
Back row:- J. Wilkinson (man), P. Green, B. Hewett, D. Stevens, J. Morrall, K. Taylor, D. Lamb, R. Gurley, M. Canning.
row:- M. Stirk, T. Jeavons, T. Amos (sec)
E. Hunt(cap) ??? S. Wilson B. Apperley.
Gurley and Mick Canning did not play in the final.
Many thanks to John Morrall for the information
The Apprentices of Belliss and Morcom
These photographs were taken on
19th May 2005
Copyright Mac Joseph
The inside of the Belliss and Morcom Factory, Ledsam Street, Ladywood. c.1920
Photograph courtesy of Birmingham Lives
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