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Post War

The war had produced a great demand for machine tools of all kinds, the car and aircraft industries had developed at a tremendous rate, and the post war years saw the firm back on normal production producing Parkson milling machines of all types, as well as Sunderland gear planers, Parkson gear testers and the ever growing range of Parkinsons vises. Over the years, as in all flourishing businesses, the office work and administration became more and more complex.

The family arrangement with Edward Parkinson on the administrative side, Harry Parkinson in charge of design and works supervision, and Ernest Parkinson taking an overall interest, worked very well. In 1949 a Private Company was formed and given the style of Joseph Parkinson & Son (Shipley) Limited.

Ernest Parkinson was now 80 years old and still keenly interested in every aspect of the firm's progress. All his working life he was interested not only in the design and production of machines, but in the welfare of his employees and the whole engineering world. He had that rare mixture of intense practical ability combined with fluent powers of expression in both speech and writing.

He knew every machine in the plant and could operate them all effectively. He had a great gift for simplifying processes, and ease of operation and safety were ever in his mind in machine design.

He contributed often to the journals connected with his work, writing in an enviably lucid style. In concluding the second of two articles on the development of the Parkson milling machine in the American Machinist (1921), he says:

“Failures have only been new starting points for fresh endeavours and renewed effort, which have added zest to life and led to ultimate success”.

Ernest Parkinson actively kept his zest and his interest in the firm's work to the end of his long life. He died in 1953 after only a few days' illness, aged nearly 84.

The death of Ernest Parkinson brought to an end a period covering over eighty years of the firm's history. It is a good moment now to relax from chronicling industrial progress and to glance at a few background activities of the past.

In 1954 the post-war pattern of development brought about the next change in the affairs of Parkinsons of Shipley, the shares of the company being acquired by Croft's Engineers (Holdings) Limited. Edward and Harry Parkinson were joint managing directors. During the next two and a half years a vast programme of rebuilding was carried out, and many changes were made in every direction. Parkinsons was now very well equipped to take its place in the second half of the twentieth century. Amongst the changes were the building of new fitting bays, each with a ten-ton crane, a mechanised bay for the foundry, a light-machine shop, new heat-treatment shop, special equipment fitting shop, and a new space-heating system. A new wash-room, with showers, for the foundry workers was provided. Hundreds of machines had to be moved and re-sited and much hard work was needed to bring these changes about. Great pride was taken in maintaining normal production during this period of upheaval. Early in 1957 the work was completed, with a margin left for further developments over the years.

The working partnership between the Parkinson brothers came to an end in 1961 with the retirement of Edward Parkinson, the elder of the two. Although in his first years with the firm he had suffered from poor health, he recovered during the middle twenties and made a full and most valuable contribution to the firm's success over the years, on the administrative side.

Three years later Harry Parkinson retired. His part in the firm's history was to maintain a tradition of inspired design, combining with this a very full knowledge of shop floor requirements.

With his retirement the direct family connection with Parkinsons came to an end.

Mid 60s management of a large firm shows the opposite side of the picture from the concentration brought about in specialisation. No one man could possibly run this kind of business. The responsibility was shared by a team, and Parkinsons have a very lively one, under the Chairmanship of Mr. John A. Croft.

Mr. N. Stewart was Managing Director, and the other members of the Board were Messrs. S. J. Burrage, R. W. Marston, M. T. J. Goff and J. Busfield

.J A Croft ws                               N Stewart ws

Left - John A Croft - Chairman     Right - N Dewhirst - Managing Director

At that time Parkinsons were very active in preparing themselves for the move into automation which was coming to play such an important part in this second half of the twentieth century. Several types of programme control milling machines were manufactured and with plans for more. These developments were expected to be extremely profitable.

The firm, anxious that customers should be able to examine machines at their leisure, opened the new Parkson Machine Tool Showroom on 10th July 1967, as part of the Centenary Year celebrations.

One of the new Parkson Miller-Matics was demonstrated and a complete range of products were also on display, including nine other Parkson milling machines, a Sunderland gear planer, a Parkson gear tester and a Parkson Gearbur machine. New developments and a range of milling machine attachments and accessories were also there.

Parkson Machine Tool Show Room 1967 ws

Parkson Machine Tool Showroom 1967 - Note Ronnie Stead in white overall bottom left.

The firm realised that many potential customers were reluctant to buy without seeing machines in operation; and since this could not be achieved without actually installing a machine,

a new Showroom provided the ideal solution: machines could be tested and inspected in a congenial atmosphere and customers were able to spend as much time as they wished discussing technical and financial details with the sales and demonstration staff.

The success of the first demonstrations established the Showroom as a permanent feature; on request by customers, machines were made available there for demonstration at any time during the year. The firm planned to use the Showroom for even larger demonstrations whenever new machines or developments were introduced.

Parkinsons of Shipley was always known as a good firm to work for. As the years went by so the list lengthened of men who spent their whole working lives there.

In 1967 the firm entered its second century with enthusiasm, still forward-looking, anticipating customer requirements in machine tools and supplying them the world over.

Parkinson Products 1967 ws

The firms design staff were continuously engaged on research and development to take full advantage of the latest technological advancements. The plan at that time included a range of completely new design machines whilst old designs were continuously reviewed to improve the quality and reliability and also to improve the manufacturing efficiency.

The world wide reputation enjoyed by Parkinsons for over a century for the quality and reliability of their machines was quite justified and jealously guarded.

Sadly during the 70s and into the 80s the economic decline in manufacturing in the UK took an inevitable toll and the prospects of the firm dwindled as it was unable to compete with competitors from abroad.

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