Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Coles Cranes

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Coles Cranes of Sunderland, manufacturers of cranes

1878 Henry James Coles set up business making cranes in a workshop in Sumner Street, Southwark, London[1].

1879 Acquired Appleby Brothers Sumner Street factory

1887 Products included gantry cranes and steam-powered slewing cranes of 2 to 10 tons lifting capacity.

1890 Range of rail-mounted steam cranes, some with Coles patent single chain grab.

1898 Expansion by moving to a site in Derby. New generation of rail cranes developed.

1907 Henry J. Coles Ltd was incorporated.

1922 Mobile crane launched, based on Tilling-Stevens petrol-electric solid-tyred chassis.

1926 The company was taken over by A. W. Farnsworth, William Searl and William Robinson.

1926 Sale of company to A. W. Farnsworth

1928 Introduction of diesel-engined railway crane.

1939 Company sold to Steel and Co Ltd; Henry J. Coles Cranes became a subsidiary of Steels Engineering Products Ltd, later called British Crane and Excavator Corporation.

WWII Supplied thousands of mobile cranes for the Services

1948 The manufacture of Coles cranes, electric hoists, and the "Electric Eel" industrial truck were transferred in stages to Steels' Crown Works, Sunderland.

1951 Henry J Coles Ltd was voluntarily liquidated

1970 British Crane and Excavator Corporation Ltd was renamed Coles Cranes.

1970 Coles Cranes was said to be the largest crane manufacturer in Europe[2]; placed order for axles with Kirkstall Forge Engineering.

1972 Acrow (Engineers) acquired Steel Group, including Coles Cranes[3].

1976 Research Centre opened.

1982 October. Closed the Glazebury factory near Manchester with the loss of 200 jobs. Cranes were still made at Grantham.[4]

1982 Grantham and Warrington works closed.

1984 Grove of Oxford bought the Coles Cranes operations from the receivers of Acrow (Engineers). Adopted name Grove Coles Ltd for combined unit.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • History of Coles Cranes [2]
  1. The history and development of Coles Cranes [1]
  2. The Times, 2 September 1970
  3. Times, 5 April 1972
  4. The Engineer 1982/10/07