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McGeoch’s Warwick Works

William McGeoch & Co acquired their Warwick Works in Birmingham in 1887 and almost immediately began manufacturing lighting fittings for the new Atlantic flyer – ‘SS City of Paris’ - being built on the Thomson yard (later to become John Brown’s) at Clydebank. In the years that followed, many improvements were made to the factory (which totalled 70,000 square feet) and with plant continually being modernised, Warwick Works quickly became completely self-contained and depending on outside suppliers only for raw materials. Right from the start, Warwick Works was devoted to the manufacture of electrical equipment and with the company making a special feature of ships fittings, a series of major contracts were secured with the admiralty and principal shipbuilding firms at home and abroad. The company’s early range included some curious designs of lampholders which were in common use before the Edison-Swann type of lampholder became the industry standard. It was the heaviest and most robust lampholder on the market. The brass tube used for the body was thicker and the binding rings more solid than any other make. The porcelain used for the insulated interior was the best available. However, important as they were in the functional sense, lampholders were not the main priority for the Admiralty and McGeoch cleverly adapted Warwick Works to manufacture a whole new range of watertight electrical equipment required for the safe wiring of ships and in particular for the connection of electricity supplies to and from the main switchboard. These included pendants, brackets, plugs & sockets, switches, control panels and many of the original patterns designed by the Admiralty. Some of these fittings also found use in railways, tramcars and motor buses as can be seen in the archive poster above (click for an enlarged version). McGeoch’s Warwick Works continued to be the company main manufacturing base until 1974 when operations were moved to new premises in Electric Avenue, well-located near the famous ‘spaghetti junction’ on the north west of Birmingham. Illustrated below are a series of photographs of McGeoch’s Warwick Works taken in the mid-fifties. They include views of the drawing office, pattern shop, foundry, plating shop, sheet metal fabrication shop, bakelite moulding shop, fitting & assembly shops and lines, electrical testing bay, packing department and even the work’s canteen.
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