The sad demise of a once long standing family company in Stockton-on-Tees. These are some of the last known images of Harkers Engineering taken around 2006, when the machines were being dismantled prior to being shipped to new owners. I worked there from 1987 until 2006. Excellent company to work for during the 80’s and 90’s.
Photograph and details courtesy of Derek Proctor.
Harkers has risen from the flames and is now part of a progressive Engineering Group.
Teescraft Engineering Ltd. Harkers Works, Church Road, Stockton-on-Tees TS18 2HN
Would anybody be interested in creating a competition for students of architecture /building /civil engineering to design a facade to be erected above the row of shops on Norton High St? Or Georgian style structures above? They are an eyesore on my, MY High St
Does Francis Brown still exist? I worked in the office around 1965.
Yes they have even expanded into two of the Harker’s big shops.
I was an apprentice at Francis Browns Sheet Metal Works starting in 1944 just before Christmas. Three Brothers Arthur Dick and Ernie were the managers with Arthur’s Wife in the Office. They were then in Prince Regent Street Stockton.
They are now a Global Provider of Steel and other metal products, yes still going strong though probably the third or even fourth generation now running it.
We probably now import what WE once made.
A big change from the original factory at Danby Road facing Lustrum Beck, a bungalow type building full of very old machines long past their sell by date. I was on loan facing 24 inch flanges for Browns it often happened in the days when the war in Europe had ended men or boys would use another firms machines for a rush job. I was on a big lathe on the wall near the beck, the bearings were shot so I had to watch what cut I used or the flange would be scarred. An old chap told me that lathe had machined Propeller shafts for ships engines, not in my time. Obviously good work had been done over the years from its founding.
Three of my Daughters worked in the office above the new workshop Janet having worked there in the old Church Road Offices overlooking the Bridge since demolished. She worked until the very end of production then when it closed went as a PA to the Surgeons at NHS. I was often in those new buildings and watched rings for American Rockets being machined a far cry from my flanges and bouncing lathe days.
So much of the Stockton engineering legacy has vanished, most of the Harkers machines went to China, I would suppose they now export machined goods to us, let us hope the New Government keep the promise to bring some of it back.
I think I have an old picture of Danby Road works will try and find it.
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You have said previously you were a boilermaker so how come you were machining flanges on a big lathe, it must of been a non-union shop in those days allowing a boilermaker to operate engineering machines.
Anon, the first thing my mentor as an apprentice did at 16 was take me to the Boilermakers and get me joined as a junior. He was Pa Forrester from Norton who’s Daughter was married to Arthur Brown manager of F.Browns which as most were during and sometime after the war was a Non-`Union Shop.
As an apprentice at that time we did everything from making templates to cutting and shaping then assembly and welding or riveting as required usually on Piece work, you paid for your mistakes hence the care facing flanges on a lathe with shot bearings.
I worked in Heads, Ashmores, Nuffields, Eaglescliff Chemicals, ICI Plastics and the Brtinewells. Facing flanges, in Harkers or welding castings at Heads riverside in Middlesbrough (seeing a girl lose her scalp there as well on the drills) was what we did.
Leaving the army and joining ICI I still had my card and became a member of the Boilermakers Staff section at Middlesbrough.
Am now a retired pension member with voting rights and a pension cheque every year for the last 25 years, you could say I have had what I paid in plus many times over.
I had a busy exciting life Anon at times too exciting.
Brief explanation Anon.
Last month of 1944 war still on, apprentices all high school boys leaving school just before 16 birthday. Wartime shortage of tradesmen and dilutees working beside them doing the same job for less money.
A 6 day week Saturday normal working day, forced to work two half shifts a week be law and most Sundays.
Health and safety (who ?) machines from the 1800’s belt driven and dangerous, boys who left school at 12-13, doing repetitive work for peanuts and us few apprentices having to do a mans job.
A far cry from Union shops in the 1950’s were apprentices got day relief, we had to do night school in our own time and cost. Old Pa Forrester setting me tests each week making cardboard developments with all the mathematics explained and correct in every detail or else.
It was no ride in the park Anon plus a lot of those named Factories I went into to do jobs contracted to F.Browns were even worse, the Browns were good employers compared with some.
Just a small insight to conditions 70 odd years ago as compared with now.
A sad reminder of a great Stockton engineering company. Harkers turned out excellent work. A shame they went down…
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I served my time there. At 76 I now live in the Philippines.
Where do you live in the Philippines? Ron my wife comes from Batangas City, I’m originally from Stockton and have visited the Philippines 13 times but we still live in UK