Sturtevant Engineering Ltd. History

The English version of Sturtevant began its existence around 1886 after a visit to England by Benjamin Sturtevant for the purpose of establishing a foreign outlet to handle his European trade. As a result of negotiations, George Augustus Mower, an MIT grad from Wisconsin, started business on his own account under the name of Sturtevant Blower Co., on Queen Victoria St., London as an agent of the B.F.Sturtevant Co. In 1890, the name was changed to Sturtevant Engineering Co. Coinciding with the death of Benjamin Sturtevant, this name change probably signified the taking of legal control of what now was their subsidiary. Subordinate offices were located in Glasgow, Paris, Berlin, and Stockholm. In 1899, they incorporated as the Sturtevant Engineering Co. Ltd (SE).

For a brief time, until 1906, they manufactured electrical switch gear equipment under the "Igranic" name, licensed from the Cutler Hammer Co.(USA) and manufactured at Sturtevant's first factory at Bankside S.E. London. In 1904, the Electrical Transmission Company of Hammersmith, a switch-gear maker, was added to Sturtevant. Mower, appointed the Cutler agent in 1898, was responsible for these arrangments and would later, in 1913, transfer the business into an independent company, Igranic Electrical Co., under his control.

Also in 1906, at the time of exiting electrical equipment, they entered the crushing and grinding machine business that would be a core line, becoming distributors of Sturtevant Mill Co.(Boston/USA). In 1911 they had a 20 year agreement to manufacture using patents and know-how licensed from Sturtevant Mill, also preventing them from selling into the UK market. At the conclusion of the agreement, Sturtevant Mill's attempt to enter the market in 1936 was thwarted by English law that upheld the right of the established English company to restrain the use of the Sturtevant name.

B.F.Sturtevant put their technological leadership to work with the construction of one of the first industrial air conditioning systems in the British Isles around 1907, as they did in America. During WW1, a monthly newsletter appropriately called "War Letters" was produced and sold in Europe and America (10 cents). It provided vivid details of life on the front from SE personnel who had volunteered and was also used to solicit funds for the American Ambulance Service, based in Paris, from readers. B.F.Sturtevant also provided monetary contributions.

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SE became an independent, publicly traded company following WW1 as changed government policy forced a divestiture. By 1930, the business was still producing most of B.F.Sturtevant's broad range of equipment including the Monogram Fan, scooped-bladed Multivane Fans, forges (discontinued already by BFS) and vacuum cleaners. Unique to SE were crushing, grinding and screening machinery and cash tube systems. The enlarged first and last letters of the Sturtevant name cast into these product housings clearly differentiate them as British Sturtevant.

The graphic below represents a 1960s vintage sampling of their industrial product line which served Europe, the British Commonwealth and beyond:

Sturtevant House HQ @ Highgate Hills with Manchester Works background(1962)

The beginning of a series of ownership and organizational changes started with Drake & Scull's acquistion of them in 1966. Within a year Sturtevant was reorganized into two seperate companies with the air-conditioning, ventilating and process heating activities transferred to a new company, Sturtevant Air Treatment Ltd. In 1971, the vacuum line was merged with Brighton-based New Welbeck, another British vacuum company, to form the subsidiary, Sturtevant Welbeck.

In 1975, the flue gas cleaning business was sold to Peabody Int'l Corp., becoming a new subsidiary, Sturtevant Gas Cleaning Ltd. It has since been absorbed into the Lodge Cottrell division of Nol-Tec Systems, Minnesota(USA).

In 1976, the agricultural division, based in Ipswich and which had been operated over the past 7 years under the management of Horace Roote, was acquired by him and renamed Sturtevant-Roote Ltd. They designed and installed process machinery for the feed, food and malt trades. The business was dissolved around 1998.

In 1978, a holding company, Sturtevant Engineering Holdings, became the parent of Sturtevant Engineering Co.Ltd. and Sturtevant Engineering Products(industrial fans, crushing and material processing machinery and industrial washing machines). Around this time, Sturtevant Welbeck was broken into separate divisions; Sturtevant Engineering & Manufacturing Ltd. (portable vacuums) and Sturtevant Systems Ltd. (fixed vacuum systems).

Christy and Norris, part of the Christy Brothers Group, acquired Sturtevant Engineering Holdings in 1983. The industrial fan division was sold in 1984 to Matthews & Yates Ltd., a Colchester fan company founded in 1882. Derek Meyers, formerly sales director of Sturtevant Engineering Products, became division president. The Denton plant was promptly closed with all remaining work transferred to Chelmsford. Both vacuum divisions were sold in 1994 to the Scotland-based Clyde Blowers, formerly a small blower company that was transformed into an industrial investment firm after a management buyout in 1992, and renamed Clyde Sturtevant. The Sturtevant Brighton plant was closed with their assets eventually transferred to Clyde Material Handling Ltd. which organized a new Sturtevant vacuum division at South Yorkshire.

In 2007, Systemair GmbH, based in Sweden, acquired the assets of Matthews & Yates after the business became insolvent and the factory closed. Axial fan production was moved to Windischbuch, Germany.

Today, Sturtevant Turbo Exhausters and commercial Vacuum Systems are manufactured by Clyde Process, part of Schenck Process Group.