Old News

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Below are transcriptions from newspaper articles dating back to 1935. Scroll through the list of reports, or click on one of the following links to select a specific news paper report.

Peterborough Standard – 22 February 1935.






When the Newall Engineering Company get established at Fletton, where they have taken the premises of Atkins (Peterborough) Ltd., they may employ as many as 250 men.

This welcome and encouraging fact was revealed to a “Standard” representative by Mr Sidney Player, owner and managing director of the firm, when Mr Player visited Fletton on Wednesday.

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“We are taking over the premises at the end of March,” he said, “and we shall employ at the outset from 75 to 125 men. We expect to extend very considerably and we may go up to 250”.


Mr Player said that he employs about 80 in the factory at Ponder’s End Middlesex. “We shall not bring many down from the London factory to Fletton,” he said, “There will be all the key men, of course – about 20 to 25, and I expect they will bring their families and settle in Fletton. We shall be taking on the men who have been working here and I have already engaged further men from the district. We have taken seven or eight men to London from Peterborough to train them for the time when we transfer here. I expect we shall be extending the premises in the next few months.”


Our representative asked Mr Player the reason for the firm moving from London.
“We are coming here,” he said, “because our present premises are not big enough, and Peterborough is, we think, a more ideal centre for machine tools. We also think that labour conditions here are better and people are more satisfied. And, of course, Peterborough is only just over an hour’s run from London.”

Mr Player told our representative that the Newall Engineering Company was established in 1896 and had hitherto always been in London with the exception of a period in Warrington. “We are the oldest firm in the country for the making of precision gauges, and we are known all over the world for the making of screw gauges, ? [Copy not clear enough to read] and ring gauges, and internal ring gauges. We make measuring machines, and special precision instruments of all sorts. We are the pioneers of the Newall limit system which is used universally in machinery shops. We also make the well known Norton Newall lapping machines of which I and Mr Summers, my works manager and co-director, hold many patents. We have also got the exclusive licence to manufacture all patterns previously owned by the Atkins Co. The thread-grinding machines, which were the speciality of that company, we expect to be a very large part of our future business.”


“We are bringing with us from London,” he added, “quite a tremendous amount of orders. We have orders for several months ahead on our books.”

Mr Sidney Player, who bought the Newall Company in 1927, has had an interesting career. He is a native of Coventry and served his apprenticeship with Rotherham’s, of that city. He also served with  Alfred Herbert’s and other concerns in the early years of the century. He then went to America where he held the position of factory manager to the Taft Peirce Co., Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and he also became president and general manager of the Bethel-Player Co. Mass. Another position he held in the States was that of chief engineer of the mechanical lapping section of the Norton Grinding Machinery Co., Worcester, Mass.

Mr Player has still got interests in the States, and some of the designs of the firm’s lapping machines  were invented in America.


Mr Kenneth Edward Summers, director and works manager of the firm, is an East Anglian and was born in Kings Lynn. Early in life, he went to London and served his apprenticeship with the Newall Engineering Co. From there he went to America, and worked with Mr Player at the Taft Peirce Co. He was then made works manager of the Bethel-Player Co., and returned to England to undertake the works managership of the Newall Engineering Co.

Me Edward Bunting, another director, was born in Norfolk and served his time at Savage’s, Kings Lynn. He was works manager of the Newall Engineering Co. at Warrington, and has been connected with the firm for more than 30 years. Mr Bunting spent several years of his career in America. He retired from active work several years ago and resides in London, but his services are at the disposal on the company in a consulting capacity.


The secretary of the company was Mr Ernest Valdes. The sales manager is Mr Dennis S Player, the son of the owner of the company.

It is interesting to note the Mr Harry F Atkins, managing director of the former concern of Atkins (Peterborough) Ltd. was with the Newall Engineering Co. in the early years of the century.

Mr Sidney Player expects to take up residence in the vicinity.

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Peterborough Standard – 19 July 1957.


No2 factory 100dpi caption

The used machine division of the Newall Engineering Co. Ltd, located since its inauguration during 1948 at a wartime airfield in the wide open spaces of Huntingdonshire, marks its ninth anniversary by moving to the modern factory premises (illustrated above) at Oundle road, near St. Botolph’s Bridge. [[Note. This is the No.2 factory located on Shrewsbury Avenue.]]

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Established during the early days of the rearmanent programme, the division was originally planned for re-precisioning Newall machine tools which, because of age and long usage, had lost some of their initial accuracy and output potential.

Although little publicise at the time, the venture was eminently successful, and with the lack of availability of new machine tools at that time, the company was encouraged to undertake complete re-precisioning of all types of machines. The succeeding years have seen considerable extension of this service, entailing a ten-fold increase in the staff engaged.

The Newall process of re-building is not a matter of application of emery cloth to machined surfaces and spray painting of castings,. Each machine is stripped down to bars base; a complete and thorough examination is made and each unit is checked for any replacement that may be necessary.

A special process is employed for cleaning castings, and where inspection tests prove wear of working surfaces, slides and ways, they are machined and re-scraped to their original fine limits.


Throughout the entire process, or re-precisioning, all parts and components are subjected to inspection and testing in accordance with standard test sheets for various types of machines. A feature of the service appreciated by customers is that finished machines undergo stringent acceptance tests to schedules laid down by the metrology department of company, or, alternatively, to standards of the Production Engineers, or Dr. Schlesinger.

The division has its own self contained electrical department fully equipped and specialist manned to give thorough overhaul to machine tool electrical systems.

A field into which the company has made a successful entry in recent years is the conversion or modification of standard machines to meet with customers’ special requirements.

As a complement to the re-precisioning service, the Newall Used Machine Division completely rebuilds and sells from stock a range of jig borers and grinding machines.

The new premises have a main factory area of 10,000 sq. feet plus outbuildings, and are designed to increase the scope of the organisation. A 20-ton transporter crane is installed to increase handling efficiency, and machining capacity is increased to provide facilities for re-building larger machines than has hitherto been possible.

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Peterborough Standard – 19 July 1957.

Newall’s are not afraid of foreign competition

“The past years trading has seen another step forward by the group” said Mr Sydney Player, chairman and joint managing director of the Newall Engineering Co Ltd. in his address to the shareholders at the annual meeting on Wednesday.

The Machine Tool Exhibition at Olympia showed again that Newall’s were in the forefront of design and development in the industry, particularly in the jig borer field, and the whole of the very heavy costs of this exhibition had been absorbed in this year’s accounts.

“We are not, however, content with what we have achieved, and we will continue to improve our products from year to year and maintain our position and reputation.” Mr Player continued.

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“The greater precision of our machines, and the new features that we are constantly adding do, however, increase the costs of production, and this, with the recent wage award, has made it impossible for us to hold our prices as I forecast last year, and we have recently been forced to increase the prices of several of our products.

We are in no way afraid of foreign competition, provided that British industry gives its own machine tool manufacturers the backing which our foreign competitors are so fortunate to enjoy.

“We are continually developing our products to meet an ever increasing market for more precise and automatic machine tools and we are pleased to see that the home industries are becoming more aware of the necessity for keeping ahead in their individual fields by the use of the most up-to-date equipment. This guarantee of specific home demand enables us to further development, and to compete with greater success in world markets.”

The company has purchased the remainder of the shares in its foundry making it a 100 per cent subsidiary company, and had sold the minority holding in another company, making a capital profit, out of which they were making a distribution to the shareholders free of tax.

With the free-of-tax distribution in mind, the Board recommended the payment of a dividend of 15 pre cent, less income tax, on the Ordinary share capital – the same rate as last year.

“We are now looking forward to a period of steady expansion based on our substantial order books.” Mr Player continued.

The consolidated profit and loss account showed that the balance from trading accounts for the year ended March 31st was £339,043, compared with £327,172 for the previous year, and the profit, less tax £100,386 compared with £99,674.

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Peterborough Evening Telegraph – 24th April 1979.


By Colin Wright (Industrial Correspondent)

More than sixty new jobs have been created at Newall Engineering, the city machine tool manufacturers.

The Woodston-based company plans to take on extra shop floor workers and staff to cope with orders from the Coventry company, Churchill Grinding, recently taken over.

The Churchill takeover means Newall will now make a new range of machinery to be used mainly in the steel industry.

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On top of that, work is currently underway on a £2 million office and factory expansion at the Oundle Road works [[Note.This is the No.2 factory located on Shrewsbury Avenue.]] .

News of the extra jobs comes days after an announcement that city mail order giant Freemans will take on more than 400 workers over the next two years.

“We were already planning to take on between 20 and 25 shop floor workers before the Churchill takeover,” said a spokesman for Newall, which employes about 350.

“Now we will soon be doing the Churchill work, we need another 40 people, roughly half of which will be shop floor.”

Chairman Brian Bailey said the takeover would let Newall broaden its markets.

“It is our intention to double the turnover of Churchill sales to about £4 million in 12 months,” he said.

“A large percentage of this growth will be based on Newall based machines.”

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Peterborough Evening Telegraph – 18th May 1979.


By Colin Wright

Seven years ago, Newall Engineering was regarded as a firm with no future.

It closed two factories in Peterborough, made almost 1,000 workers redundant and looked to stand no chance of surviving the slump in the machine tool industry.

Today, the company has started to expand again, building an office block and two production areas at its Woodston headquarters.

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It also plans to take on 100 new staff within the next year to cope with production demands generated by the takeover of a Coventry machine tool firm.

The turn-around in fortunes is due to the company’s approach when its problems reached a peak in 1972 – it tried nothing fancy.

“It is true to say that the group as a whole nearly went bust in 1972. We kept going because one or two orders from our oldest and best customers,” said Managing Director Derek Price.

“We closed two factories, which included our largest one at Fletton and Padholme Road, and hived off the electronics and rebuilding divisions – which are now doing well.

“We also closed down a new enterprise in Croydon where we were producing drilling and tooling machines made under licence from America.

“Then we concentrated on surviving in the business we knew best from our current site in Woodston.

The reason for the slump was an indirect result of oil price rises, which meant the firm’s main customer, the car industry, cut back on orders.

Today, as then, Newall relies heavily on automotive manufacturers, with between 80 and 85 per cent of products going to car and truck builders.

“We recognise this is a very narrow field, but our first priority was to survive and that is just what we have done.” said Mr Price.

Already, Newall Engineering, with the financial backing of the B. Elliot Group, which took it over two years ago, has started to expand its range.

Recently, it acquired the Coventry machine tool firm Churchill, which specialises in producing large equipment, particularly for the steel industry.

“The expansion now is all about widening our markets and making new products, bu we do not want to lesson the importance of our present products or our relationship with our customers,” said Mr Price.

Despite the cash advantages of being taken over by B. Elliot, Mr Price takes a realistic view of his company’s future.

“Obviously, we will never be as big as we were before – the main reason being that the Newall Group has been split into different companies,” he said.

“I should imagine we will probably expand within the next three to five years to employ between 500 and 550 people.

“That would be the optimum situation where ? knows the nitty gritty of the business. The biggest companies [Copy not clear enough to read]

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Peterborough Evening Telegraph – 20th June 1979.


By Colin Wright (Industrial Correspondent)


NEWALL Electronics, the Peterborough based company, is to double the size of its production area and take on extra staff.

The firm – a UK leader in the machine tool digital readout field – plans to take on another 40 workers in the next few months to cope with increased demand.

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Work is already under-way to convert the second phase of its factory expansion at Ivatt Way, Westwood.

The company, formed as a division of Newall Engineering in 1968, produces a wide range of electronic machines to monitor and measure work on machine tools.


“The whole business has started to explode now” said sales manager Les Perry.

“The machine tool and allied industries is now starting to look at electronic aids very seriously and the business is bound to expand even further in the next five years”.

The immediate expansion means the firm will need an extra 40 staff, but that figure is bound to be increased within the next five years.

“Within that period, we would be looking to expand extensively if business continues to grow the way it is at present,” said Mr Perry.


“It is still early days for this industry, but we envisage moving into another factory unit, as well as the two we have got, and taking on even more people.”

The growth of the firm, and its impact in the machine tool world was marked last week with a Design Council Award, presented by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Four members of Newall’s design team – one of the biggest departments of the firm – came up with a new electronic machine to aid measuring in machine tools.

“We have 24 people in the design team and only 28 on production side, which might seem unusual” said Mr Perry.

“To keep abreast of the vastly increasing new knowledge in electronics, a heavy research and development team is needed.

“Our design force is almost as big as our production force, and this is something which is needed if we want to keep ahead in our field.”

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Peterborough Evening Telegraph – 5th January 1983.


“I was under pressure to tell them before Christmas, but . . . . “

CITY firm, Newall Engineering, is to slash half its workforce in the fight to survive.

Stunned workers were today coming to terms with the news that 145 must lose their jobs.

And company boss Keith Leech today said it’s going to be a hard fight to keep the rest of the company going.

The Woodston-based firm is to review its position month by month. It currently employs a total of 280.

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Mr Leech (44) broke the news personally yesterday afternoon on the first day back at work.

He said “I was under pressure to tell them before Christmas but I wanted them to enjoy Christmas at least – mine was bad enough.”

There was more New Year bad news for Peterborough’s Redring workers and staff, who were told that the entire workforce of 600 is to go on a four-day week.

The short time working starts next week and a spokesman for the Woodston firm said it was the first time short-time had hit the company.

Redring also applied to the Department of Employment for compensation under the temporary employment subsidy.

But the Newall Engineering workers were already being asked to volunteer for redundancy. Mr Leech does not expect more than six or seven to apply.

He wants volunteers in by the end of the week with a view to leaving on April 2nd.

Mr Leech said his firm was a victim of the recession – the machine tool industry had been hit harder than most.

He said Newall’s annual turnover should be in the region of £8 million but at best was expected to be £3 million or £4 million in the coming year.

Shopfloor workers were today gloomy about their future prospects and believe the redundancies are the beginning of the end of Newall.

John Cox, an electrician at the firm for 17 years, said: “I think they are going to close and that is the general feeling. If we don’t go now we will be going later.”

Shop steward, Steven Buffery agreed and said: “People knew something like this was coming but they are shocked that it is as bad as this.

“All we can do is argue about the numbers and try to help the apprentices who they say have got to go as well.”

George Whitwell (60) an electrician from Ramsey, will not be volunteering for redundancy though – he rates his chances of finding another job as “nill”.

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