Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,383 pages of information and 233,518 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Reading Ironworks Co

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1869. Horse Rake.
1869. Stationary engine.
April 1870.
1870. Ten-Horse Fixed Engine.1870 Royal Agricultural Show (Oxford)
1870. Four-Horse Combined Engine and Boiler.1870 Royal Agricultural Show (Oxford)
1872. Portable Engine at The 1872 Royal Agricultural Show.
1880. The Reading engine.
1882. Brick machine.
1882. Pocock's railway milk drum washer.
1882. Compound condensing engine.
1887. William's steam stamp ore crusher and amalgamator.
Cast Iron Horse Mill part.
Cast Iron Horse Mill part.

Reading Ironworks Co of Reading.

1818 Thomas Perry and Joseph Perry established Katesgrove iron foundry in Reading.

1820 Thomas went bankrupt, leaving Joseph on his own until 1825, when he took George Barrett as his partner (Perry and Barrett). This new firm began to manufacture ploughs to meet a growing demand from the farmers of Berkshire for better, more scientifically designed ploughs.

c.1830 Joseph Perry died; Barrett brought in his nephew, George Allam Barrett and William Exall as partners - Barrett, Exall and Co

1841 The Reading firm won its first award from the Royal Agricultural Society of England for one of its ploughs.

1842 Charles Andrewes was brought into the partnership and the firm became Barrett, Exall and Andrewes.

c.1840 the firm began to make threshing machines and winnowing machines. The first time one was exhibited at the Royal Show was 1843. Thereafter, these machines became one of the most important parts of the company’s production.

1851 At the 1851 Great Exhibition, Barrett, Exall & Andrewes had one of the largest displays of threshing machinery, horse gears and related implements.

1858 George Barrett died; his memorial is made of cast iron.

1864 Expansion of the business necessitated increasing the size of the Katesgrove foundry in Reading, and when the need for further capital reorganization arose, the firm was converted from a partnership into a limited company, the Reading Iron Works Ltd, in 1864.

1865 Lenoir Gas Engine in London Science Museum

The market for agricultural implements and machines was changing, and the firm started to move into steam and general engineering. They were said to have made the first set of steam ploughing equipment on the ‘roundabout’ principle in 1849, although did not continue with that line.

1876 exhibited a hay rake at the 1876 Royal Agricultural Show. [1]

1877 exhibitors at the 1877 Royal Agricultural Show at Liverpool.[2].

By the end of the 1870s the firm was making losses.

1882 Awarded a Silver Medal at the 1882 Royal Agricultural Show for their machine for washing railway milk cans.[3]

Although Reading Iron Works engines gained a good reputation, they faced very stiff competition, especially in international markets. At the same time, problems with managerial succession made it difficult for the firm to challenge the competitors.

1887 Failed to appear at the Smithfield Show. The firm had a reputation for a conservative approach to their products and their designs changed little over time[4]

1889-90 Continued losses forced the firm’s closure in 1889-90.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1876/07/28
  2. The Engineer 1877/07/13
  3. The Engineer 1882/07/14
  4. The Engineer 1887/12/09
  • [1] Museum of English Rural Life Web site
  • The Engineer of 21st July 1876 p40 & p57 & p113