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F. Bamford & Co. Ltd. began trading in 1903, when founder Fred Bamford designed a small marine engine to power his canal boat "Ajax". The engine proved to be a success and the business prospered, but Bamford found that his customers wanted a complete drive package, so he undertook the manufacture of propellers.


Many Companies involved in the marine industry passed their propeller manufacturing work onto Bamford’s, and by the start of the First World War the firm’s sales of propellers had overtaken those of engines.

Fred Bamford became an expert in the hydrodynamics of propellers and after the end of the Great War the firm thrived as a result of concentrating in this area of marine engineering.


The Company achieved many notable successes in this field, including the manufacture of the propellers fitted to "Miss England", which achieved the world’s water speed record at over 100mph.


In 1944 Fred Bamford died, and the Company passed into the hands of his son, also named Fred. In 1947 Frank Smith, joined the Company as Assistant Managing Director and one year later, together with George Robinson, the Works Director, bought the Company from Fred Bamford Junior.


During the Fifties the Company continued to flourish with propellers and shafts being supplied world-wide to both commercial ships and navies. It also went back into marine engine production by marinising diesel engines under its trade name "Ajax", and manufacturing other products such as pumps and, more notably, flow switches.


The flow switch had been designed by Frank Smith during the Second World War to protect large diesel engines from a loss of cooling water, but it soon found use in many other areas of industry, from power stations to whisky distilleries, providing early warning of machinery failure. Other instruments were added to the portfolio with temperature, pressure and level devices designed and manufactured to the same rugged specification. A flameproof range was also designed to be used down coal mines and in petro-chemical installations.

In 1973 F Bamford Instruments Ltd was established in its own right to continue production of this equipment.


With this amount of activity, space was a problem, the Company had premises dotted all about Stockport, so, in 1959, a new purpose built factory was erected at Whitehill, to bring all the activities under one roof.

With more space, the size of the propellers and shafts increased with propellers as large as 4.2 metres and weighing 5 tons and shafts as long as 14 metres and weighing 6 tons.


In 1964 George Robinson died. Frank Smith bought his shares and the Smith family still own and run the Company.


Frank Smith died suddenly in 1984 and his son Andrew Smith took over as Chairman and Managing Director. With the demise of British Shipbuilders and the decline of the marine industry a new product was needed, and the Company designed a range of high strength, vandal resistant security doors and screens using the same attributes of high quality and in depth knowledge that had given it such a good reputation in the marine industry, marketed under F. Bamford Engineering Ltd a wholly owned subsidiary of the parent Company.


The range of doors and screens have proved to be successful with our customers, and now is the major area of production, although the marine division still continues to specialise in the supply of long, thin and difficult propeller shafts, together with high definition propellers for both the military and civil applications.


The flow switch business has also prospered, and today, as well as its traditional range, which has been updated to include ATEX certified switches, also supplies high quality flowmeters to many industries throughout the world, as well as a unique fibre optic wear gauge for real time measurement of the wear in difficult to access bearings.



F Bamford Historic Company Name


Miss England 2nd Power Boat


Company Lorry 1957


Frederick Bamford Snr


Frederick Bamford Jr


Frank Smith