RefNoBUS14
TitleThomas W Ward Limited, Albion Works, Savile Street, Sheffield
AdminHistoryThomas William Ward began his own domestic fuel supply company at 39 Norfolk Street, Sheffield in c. 1878. He soon expanded into the foundry and ironmaking markets as well as coal depots. By 1881 the company included mineral products in addition to coal and coke supplies, together with a scrap metal business. It also acquired a small company making horn and ivory handles for the cutlery trade in the same year.

Thomas's brothers, Joseph and Arthur J. Ward soon joined the company.

In 1882 the company moved to the Corn Exchange at Wharf Street. In the mid 1880s the company began renting storage at Albion Works. Expansion into machinery merchanting and railway engineering soon followed (Wards purchased 2,000 tons of rails form the Suakin railway in the Sudan for redistribution, for instance). Ship dismantling began in 1894 at Barrow and Preston.
1888 saw the firm move to Fitzalan Chambers and in 1889 Thomas W. Ward into formal partnership with his brother, Joseph.

In 1902 a London office opened, together with Tinsley Works and new and enlarged offices at Albion Works at Savile Street. Two years later the company became a limited company. 1906 saw the Silvertown works in London opened, 1909 offices in Glasgow and the extension of the Albion Works in 1910.

By the time of the outbreak of World War One the firm employed over 1,200 workers.

A major part of Ward's war work was the supply of scrap metal to steelworks (at its peak 1,000 tons a day were being processed). After the war the firm remained heavily involved in the breaking and scrapping business - dismantling ships and other war machinery. In the post war years it opened shipbreaking works and harbour at Inverkeithing (Fife, Scotland).

Further inter-war expansion included additional engineering businesses, quarries, foundries, iron and steel, etc. (including a controlling interest in Ketton Portland Cement Co Ltd.)

By the outbreak of World War Two Wards had extensive interests and was the parent of a large group of companies which included: Midget submarines, Marshalls (tanks and naval guns) of Gainsborough, Smiths of Rodley and Smiths of Keighley (winches and excavators); Widness Foundry (specialised castings), Ketton Portland Cement; Midland Iron Co. Ltd. (special steels); George Cooper and Sons (tanks and rifles parts and Bailey bridges); Deighton Motor Co. Ltd. (repair of service vehicles); Milford Haven Dock and Railway Company

1939 saw Wards acquire the famous Triumph car company which had gone into receivership. It used the factory to make aero-engines for the war effort and at the end of the war sold the firm on.

The Second World War saw Ward's remain heavily involved in dismantling, salvage and scrap, the construction and maintenance of roads, runways and railway sidings as well as maintaining and reconditioning machine tools. Wards co-ordinated the supply and distribution of materials for the Mulberry Harbour (the harbour was towed across the Channel for the D-Day landings). It also supplied the excavators for Project PLUTO (the 'pipe-line under the ocean').

In 1953 the Group's turnover was £33M. It employed over 11,500 employees across more than 30 companies.

Later developments included asbestos removal via two Wards firms: Frank Parker and Safety Service.

The Skipper Group was acquired in 1970 which saw numerous Ford and Vauxhall car dealerships across the country added to the Ward's portfolio.

The Group was acquired by Rio Tinto Zinc in Jan 1982.
DescriptionBUS 14/1 - Correspondence
BUS 14/2 - Sales Records
BUS 14/3 - Photographs
Date1903 - 1984
Extent16 items
AccessStatusOpen
LevelCollection
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