Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Hardy Spicer and Co

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of Birch Road, Witton, Birmingham

of Erdington

1903 E. J. Hardy and Co was formed to import motor parts from France[1].

1912 Private company.

1914 Flexible rubber coupling developed and patented [2] that became widely used on British cars and trucks; private company E. J. Hardy and Co Ltd was formed to develop it. Licence to manufacture granted to US Thermoid Rubber Company. US contacts led to link with Spicer Manufacturing Corporation which acquired shareholding in Hardy, who were granted the British rights to Spicer mechanical universal joint [3].

1926 Name changed to Hardy, Spicer and Co[4].

1937 Manufacturers of propeller shafts and flexible discs."Bound Brook" Oil-less Bearings. "Compo" Oil-retaining Bearings. "Genuine Hardy" Flexible Couplings. "Hardy Spicer" Universal Joints.

1937 In move to broaden its markets outside the automotive one, purchased Phosphor Bronze Co Ltd[5].

1938 Invested in their own forging plant which was developed under separate subsidiary Forgings and Presswork (Birmingham) Ltd[6]. New company formed Birfield Industries for purpose of acquiring Hardy Spicer and Co and the undertaking and assets of Laycock Engineering Co [7].

c. 1939 Salisbury Transmission Co Ltd was formed as a subsidiary to make hypoid rear axles for motor cars but production was delayed by start of WWII; the Salisbury Axle was made by Spicer Corporation in USA which would be valuable experience when production started which was expected after WWII[8].

1942 Bound Brook Bearings formed as a private company subsidiary of Hardy Spicer and Co[9].

1945 Advert. needle bearings. propeller shafts. (Hardy Spicer and Co a Birfield Company)

1947 Advert. A Birfield company.

1952 Name changed.

1961 Manufacturers of cardan shafts, universal joints and constant velocity joints for motor and agricultural trades. 2,500 employees.

1963 Motor Show exhibitor. Universal joints and flexible couplings

1967 GKN acquired Birfield Industries including its subsidiary Hardy Spicer and Co of Birmingham, which became GKN Birfield Transmissions, part of GKN Transmissions[10]. Hardy Spicer made constant-velocity joints which, historically, had few applications, even following the improved design proposed by Alfred H. Rzeppa in 1936. In 1959, Alec Issigonis had developed the revolutionary Mini motor car which relied on such joints for its novel front wheel drive technology. The massive expansion in the exploitation of front wheel drive in the 1970s and 1980s led to the acquisition of other similar businesses, such as Vandervell Products, leading to a 43% share of the world market by 2002.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 24 January 1945
  2. The Times, 11 July 1950
  3. The Times, 24 January 1945
  4. The Times, 24 January 1945
  5. The Times, 24 January 1945
  6. The Times, 24 January 1945
  7. The Times, 23 December 1938
  8. The Times, 24 January 1945
  9. The Times, 24 January 1945
  10. The Times, 26 January 1968
  • Birmingham’s Industrial Heritage by Ray Shill. Published by Sutton Publishing 2002. ISBN 0-7509-2593-0
  • Mechanical World Year Book 1945. Published by Emmott and Co of Manchester. Advert p143