Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 150,047 pages of information and 235,418 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

C. Allen and Son

From Graces Guide
Canal sluice gate at Firepool, Taunton

C. Allen and Son of Tone Bridge Foundry, Taunton, Somerset

1796 Business established[1] by Charles Allen, Senior.

1872 Took over the Tone Bridge Foundry. 'C. ALLEN AND SON, Engineers, Iron and Brass Founders, AND AGRICULTURAL MACHINISTS, TONE BRIDGE, TAUNTON, MANUFACTURERS of Improved Portable Vertical STEAM ENGINES, from 1 to 12-horsepower. Boilers supplied, fire boxes fitted, and every description of Agricultural machinery made or repaired without delay. Note Address — TONE BRIDGE FOUNDRY, TAUNTON.'[2]

1877 Advertising that they 'are now making a new series of horizontal and vertical steam-engines, with patent vertical boilers, portable or fixed as required, suitable for farmers, graziers, or any trade requiring steam power. From £30 upwards.[3]

1880 Advert: 'SIMPLE, DURABLE, CHEAP. TONE BRIDGE FOUNDRY, TAUNTON. Established 1796. C. ALLEN & SON, ENGINEERS, MILLWRIGHTS, IRON AND BRASS FOUNDERS, AND MANUFACTURERS OF EVERY DESCRIPTION OF BEAM, VERTICAL, HIGH OR LOW PRESSURE TRACTION OR PORTABLE STEAM-ENGINES. Mill Gearing, Pully Wheels, Shafting and Couplings, Plumer Blocks, Brasses, and Hangers, complete. IRON HURDLES and CONTINUOUS FENCING. PLOUGH CASTINGS of every description alwaysin Stock, or made to Order. C. A, and Son cast daily, all Orders are executed with promptness, and without delay.'[4]

1881 Employing 12 Men and 4 Boys.[5]

1888 Advert: 'C. Allen & Son, Engineers, Millwrights, Iron and Brass Founders, Steam Boiler makers, Tone Engineering Works, Taunton, manufacturers of every description of steam engines, high speed, coupled or compound. Boilers of any design, either of iron or steel. Iron, steel or copper fire-boxes, tubes, &c. Fly-wheels, pulleys, shafting, plumer-blocks, &c., and all kinds of millwrights’ work, moulded by patent machinery. Iron hurdles and continuous fencing. Special attention given to the repairs of traction and portable engines. Experienced men sent out to erect or repair all kinds of machinery.' [6]

1893 Advert: 'Tone Foundry and Engineering Works, Taunton. C. Allen & Son, engineers, millwrights, iron founders and steam boiler makers. Estimates for every description of machinery, mill work. &c., supplied on application. Castings made by patent machinery. Boring, turning, &c., for the trade. New and second-hand engines always in stock for sale or hire.'[7]

By the 1930s the company had become motor agents.

Arthur Allen, and a history of the business

We regret to record the sudden death of Mr. Arthur Clifford Allen, managing director of Messrs. C. Allen & Son, Ltd., automobile and general engineers, Tone Bridge, Taunton, which occurred at his home, "Lodes," Osborne-grove, Taunton, in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
He had been at his business usual on Tuesday, and after visiting the Twenty Club in the evening he had a game of cards at home with members of his family. He appeared to be in his normal health when went to bed, but his wife heard him making a strange noise in his sleep about 2 a.m., and he passed away almost immediately.
One of his last acts before leaving his office was to arrange for the flags to be flown over the premises when VE-day was proclaimed.
Mr. Allen, who was 69, had given over half-a-century's service to many social and other organisations in Taunton, his birthplace, and his assistance to the Motor Agents' Association was greatly valued. His genial personality and generous heart won him friends everywhere in business and other circles, and his familiar smile — and cigar — will be much missed.

He succeeded his father, the late Mr. William Allen, as managing director of Messrs. C. Allen & Son. Ltd., which has well-known branches in Bristol and Plymouth. In 1796 a general foundry and engineering business was started by Mr. Charles Allen, great-grandfather of Mr. Arthur Allen, and subsequent generations of the family have successfully developed it up to the present time.
In the early days the firm did a big iron-casting trade and made the old tramway standards and afterwards the electric light standards for Taunton. It also produced engine parts for the Great Western Railway Co. and iron gratings for gutters the town. The firm also turned out agricultural machinery many years ago and later became local pioneers in motor engineering. Towards the end of last century the directors formed a separate company, named the Chassis Construction Company, and began building motor-cars, the principal component — the engine — being imported from France.

'When Mr. Arthur Allen had as his co-managing director the late Councillor L. Checkley Barker they produced the A.B. oil engine, which found a ready market in the Colonies and in other parts of the world. The engine was desighed, cast, machined, and entirely made in Taunton, which was a very rare achievement.

Councillor Barker died in December, 1942, and his son. Major Ernest Robert Checkley Barker, R.E.M.E., who was also a member of the firm, was killed on active service on June 3rd, 1943. The company are proud of their record in the two wars. Between 1914-18 the firm were engaged in making munitions and shells and were also engineers to the food production authority in this area. They carried out extensive repairs to implements and sent out agricultural machines and tractors to work on farms, the labour including German prisoners of war.
Since 1939 the business has been actively engaged in repairing vehicles for the Royal Air Force and essential transport for civilian purposes. When the Taunton General Post office started its motor mail-van service to the Minehead district Messrs. Allen & Son had the contract for some years to provide the transport and driver.
Mr. Allen was a member of the London Council of the Motor Agents' Association, to which he was able to give much valuable advice, after a lifetime of experience, and he also took a prominent part in the local divisional meetings. It was natural that he should be greatly interested in the Taunton Motor Club of which he was president, and he was a generous donor of trophies and prizes for its reliability trials and other events in prewar days.

Mr. Allen was a popular and beloved Freemason.....

'The funeral service took place at St. James' Church yesterday (Friday) afternoon and the burial followed at St. Mary's Cemetery. An account will appear in our next issue.'

Surviving Products

Numerous examples of C. Allen sluice gate operating mechanisms are installed at Bridgwater Docks

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. West Somerset Free Press, 7 August 1880
  2. Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 19 June 1872
  3. Somerset County Gazette, 31 March 1877
  4. West Somerset Free Press, 7 August 1880
  5. 1881 Census
  6. Somerset County Gazette - Saturday 23 June 1888
  7. Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 13 September 1893