Report - - GKN Fasteners, Birmingham, July 2015 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - GKN Fasteners, Birmingham, July 2015

A man called Martyn

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
The company Guest, Keen and Co. was incorporated on the 9th July 1900, on the merger of the Dowlais Iron Company with Arthur Keen's Patent Nut and Bolt Company. The Dowlais Iron Company was set up in 1759 in Dowlais, South Wales and was managed by John Guest from 1767, who eventually became a partner. By 1851, his grandson, John Josiah Guest, owned the company, by which time it was one of the largest steel and iron producer in the world. Arthur Keen's Patent Nut and Bolt Company originated from the firm Watkins and Keen, based in Smethwick from 1856, which marketed a patent nut making machine and in 1864 was launched as a limited company, specialising in fasteners, whereupon it took on the name The Patent Nut and Bolt Company. Watkins retired a few years later but Keen continued to expand the business through a series of astute mergers and acquisitions, including the take over of the Dowlais Iron Company.

In 1902 Guest, Keen and Co. Ltd acquired Nettlefolds Ltd, one of the world's largest manufacturers of screws and fasteners. Nettlefolds can be traced back to John Sutton Nettlefold, who in 1823 established a small ironmongery in Holborn and traded in wood screws. In 1854 the company founded a mill in Smethwick. In the 1850s, Nettlefold was joined by Mr Joseph Chamberlain, his brother in law, changing the name to Nettlefold and Chamberlain and establishing a factory in Smethwick. The company flourished under the next generation of Chamberlain and Nettlefold. The Chamberlains left the company in 1874 and in 1880 Nettlefolds Ltd was launched as a limited company. Through a series of amalgamations and take overs, including the take over of the Birmingham Screw Company Limited in 1880 (and the later amalgamation of Mosers Limited in 1950), Nettlefolds established a monopoly in the British wood screw market.

Guest Keen and Co. changed its name to Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds Ltd as a result of the Nettlefold acquisition. At this time Guest Keen & Nettlefolds was one of the world's largest manufacturing businesses, involved in every process, from coal and iron ore extraction, to iron and steel making, and to finished products including nuts, bolts, screws and fasteners for which it was then famous.

Guest Keen and Nettlefolds expanded through the acquirement of many companies, and the establishment of numerous subsidiaries, including Guest Keen and Nettlefolds (Midlands) Ltd which was established in 1948 and was made up of The Bolt & Nut Division in Darlaston, Staffordshire and the Screw Division in Smethwick, Birmingham. In the late 1960s the headquarters of Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds Ltd., by then an investment company, adjoined the Heath Street Works, Smethwick, a 50-acre complex run by G.K.N. Screws and Fasteners Ltd. and employing some 4,500 people. G.K.N. had several other subsidiaries in Smethwick: G.K.N. Distributors Ltd. had its headquarters at the London Works, while G.K.N. Group Services Ltd. was in Cranford Street, G.K.N. Reinforcements Ltd. in Alma Street, and G.K.N. Fasteners Corrosion Laboratory in Abberley Street. Smethwick Drop Forgings Ltd. of Rolfe Street, acquired by G.K.N. in 1963, was run as a subsidiary of G.K.N. Forgings Ltd.

In 1966, in a programme of diversification, Guest Keen and Nettlefolds acquired Hardy Spicer Limited of Birmingham, England, in order to gain access to an automotive overdrive business and become a competitor in propshafts. In doing so it also acquired a share in a German business with worldwide patents on a unique constant velocity joint system for front wheel drive cars. GKN continued in this area, taking control of its German partner and moving into the US Market. As a result, in the 1980s, GKN left the steel industry. Changing its name to GKN plc, it diversified into military vehicles, aerospace and industrial services. Through a series of acquisitions in Europe and North America, GKN also rapidly became the world leader in powder metallurgy. In 1994 the GKN Group took over the Westland Group, becoming GKN Westland Helicopters, and expanded into aerospace services becoming a first tier supplier to the world's major prime contractors with participation in some of the world's most advanced aerospace programmes, including F/A-22 Raptor, the Eurofighter and the Airbus A380 "Superjumbo". In 1998 the armoured vehicle business was sold to Alvis plc, and subsequently incorporated into Alvis-Vickers. In 2001, in one of the most significant and complex transactions in its long history, GKN demerged its industrial services businesses. In February 2001, GKN and Finmeccanica of Italy agreed to merge Westland and Agusta to create AgustaWestland, one of the two leading helicopter companies in the world. GKN left the armoured vehicle business in 2003. In 2004 GKN completed the sale of it's 50% shareholding in AgustaWestland to Finmeccanica for 1.063 billion

Sourced from Black Country History.



















The Wombat

Mr Wombat
28DL Full Member
Very nicely covered :thumb
Those tunnels are epic and skanky; like the film set for a Saw film
Didn't see that warehouse when we visited
good work


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Great stuff that these are as good as ive seen from here especially those underground pics well done. I take it theres not much left here now.