united kingdom
factory was built for David Bridge and his five sons and
thus the company was also called ‘David Bridge and
Sons’. Back then a factory was built where machinery
used for rubber production was made. Even though
England still has a large number of traditional busi-
nesses established generations ago, it is nonetheless
extraordinary that the company has been able to hold
its own in the market over the years by specialising in
such a niche area. David Bridge Ltd. prospered and
employed many people from the surrounding area. In
the first decade of the last century the new factory in
Castleton already had a reputation which extended far
beyond the region: licence agreements with the Birming-
ham Iron Foundry in Connecticut, USA, which was later
acquired by Farrel, permitted the production and sale
of the legendary Banbury
mixer, initially throughout
the Commonwealth (1918) and later worldwide (1926).
The Banbury
mixer was one of the successful
products which began life in Rochdale before going on
to take the world by storm – and all of this happened
almost 100 years ago. The mixer was one of the most
important machines produced by Farrel at the time. It
was named after its inventor Fernley H. Banbury, a Brit-
ish engineer who had emigrated to the USA a few years
previously. He designed the mixer in 1916 while work-
ing for the Birmingham Iron Foundry in Connecticut. It
was initially tested by the tyre manufacturer Goodyear.
The Banbury
mixer marked an important turning
point in the success story of the company – from then
on, the rubber industry was barely able to get by without
this pioneering invention.
The company continued to grow; in 1939 David Bridge
Ltd. employed more than 1,000 people, who all worked
in the same factory. One of these employees, Bernard
Whitworth, who incidentally also helped to produce this
article, even had 18 family members working at the
company at times, and they were all taken on at the
same time. Bernard Whitworth’s links to his employer
go back a long way – in 1910 his grandfather was em-
ployed to fit out a factory used for producing cast parts.
After the Second World War, ‘Farrel Bridge’ continued
to grow in a way that also allowed it to include ma-
chines specially designed for processing plastics in its
product range – plastic had previously been processed
on the same machines originally used for producing
rubber. In 1966 the Farrel Corp. was acquired in the
USA by USM (United Shoe Manufacturers) and ulti-
mately merged with the American group of companies
Emhart ten years later.
The company mergers and acquisitions continued: in
1997 the Farrel Corp. bought Francis Shaw Rubber Ma-
chinery Ltd. in Manchester, mainly to acquire its Inter-
mix technology. Over the period of a year the em-
ployees of Francis Shaw were gradually relocated to
Rochdale and production of both firms was eventually
merged here. The American Farrel Corp. acquired Skin-
ner Engine and Gumix in 2002 and 2006. In 2008,
barely one year after the company had been taken over
by a private investor group, it was bought by Har-
burg-Freudenberger Maschinenbau GmbH and now
continues its business operations as part of the HF
Rochdale is just a few kilometres away from Manchester.
The author of this article is Trevor Cunningham. He works as a control
systems engineer in the automation department in Rochdale, UK.
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