160 years of Engineering Excellence

Previously named Buckley and Taylor, Oldham Engineering Ltd. was established in 1861 and has supplied precision engineered Products to Industry for over 160 years.

1861 Partnership

The founding partners of the company, Samuel Buckley and James Taylor, were accomplished engineers and began their partnership in 1861 at a small works in part of the Castle Mill premises in Oldham, England.

Initially the company undertook millwright work for Oldham Corporation. This was principally Valve manufacturing for the waterworks schemes at the time, of which Samuel Buckley personally laid all the valves of the Piethorn scheme. The company continued to do similar work for the Oldham Corporation up to the time when Mr. Buckley became a member of the Council in 1876.

So well did the engineering business succeed in the hands of these energetic partners that they were able to build the Castle Ironworks in Greenacres road, the first portion of which was erected in 1865. This facility remains the company’s main manufacturing facility today.

1862–1926 Engineered Products

With the establishment of the Castle Ironworks the firm began the production of steam engines. Their earliest recorded engine being a vertical overhead compound engine of 20 ihp built in 1867 for Sun Mill Co. Ltd., Chadderton to power an extension to the mill.

Many of their early engines were large compound beam engines, although by the mid 1870s the firm had established a reputation for good quality horizontal twin tandem compound engines. As the engine business expanded, the Castle Ironworks were extended, from 1867 onwards, growing from just over half an acre in 1862 to nearly three acres by 1880. In 1890 new offices and a new 200 foot long erecting shop were built. Eventually the Ironworks expanded to cover four acres.

The firm specialised in the horizontal twin tandem compound engine by the late 1870s. An early example was an engine of 1,000 ihp, built in 1876 for the North Moor Spinning Co. Ltd. By this date, Buckley & Taylor had eclipsed their local rival, Woolstenhulmes & Rye, and by the 1880s were one of Lancashire’s prominent firms of engine-makers.

Buckley & Taylor had established a reputation for strong and reliable mill engines and by the 1880s they had also started to export engines to cotton mills in Brazil, Holland and India. Yet Buckley and Taylor’s main market was supplying and repairing mill engines for cotton mills in Oldham and district which at the peak of production allowed them to employ over 400 workers.

Few engines were built by Buckley & Taylor after 1914, and their last engine was a large horizontal cross compound engine made in 1926 for the Wye Spinning Co. Ltd.’s No. 2 Mill, Shaw rated at 2,500 ihp. This engine, and associated mill-gearing, cost over £20,000, and was the last spinning mill engine installed in Britain. It was scrapped in 1964.

During the period 1862-1926, Buckley & Taylor made over 200 engines, with a total capacity of 160,000 ihp or more. Many of these were built for local cotton mills, and the majority were relatively large engines, characteristic of the cotton spinning industry. The success of the firm owed much to the dynamism of its two founders, particularly Samuel Buckley who continued as head of the business after the death of James Taylor in 1892 until he died in 1911, after which William Taylor, James’ son, took control.

In 1902 the firm changed its status to that of a private limited company. It continued under family control, with both Buckley’s and Taylors involved, until 1947 when it was taken over by the Brightside Foundry and Engineering Co. Ltd., General Engineers Sheffield.

1926–1947 Products

Although no longer making engines during 1926-1947 the firm undertook general engine repairs and carried out millwright work, but this line of business finished after the take-over by the Brightside Foundry.

With the demise of the engine manufacture the firm diversified into other areas and in the 1930s acquired the business of the Liverpool Condenser Company and began manufacturing marine auxiliary equipment. The company developed a special expertise in the production and supply of heat exchangers and distillation plants including the development and production of the “Aquaflash” range of evaporation and distilling plants for marine and land service. This type of equipment was used world wide by foreign governments, companies, commercial ships, cruise liners and ships of the British Admiralty.

The firm also moved to supplying the steel and non-ferrous metal industries; flywheels sets and parts for the electrical generation industry; wheel lathes; hydraulic presses; mechanical and hydraulic shears; press breaks; gear boxes; calanders for the textile, rubber and paper trades; and lubrication sets etc.

1970’s to Present Day

In the early 1970s the firm was brought by Jessel securities and an asset stripping exercise was undertaken before it was sold on to become part of the Firsteel Group in 1972. As part of this group Buckley and Taylor continued to design and manufacture shell and tube heat exchangers and complex machinery for a wide range of industries.

By the mid 1980s Buckley and Taylor had become part of the General Machine Division of Newell and Dunford Limited, Doncaster.

In 1993 Buckley and Taylor was taken over by the Dunigan family who also owned Mayflower Engineering and Mayflower Technology. As part of the takeover it was necessary to change the name so Buckley and Taylor become Oldham Engineering Limited

Today Oldham Engineering continue the tradition of engineering on the Castle Iron Works site providing engineering solutions with heavy engineering capacity and a highly trained workforce. They undertake a wide range of engineering jobs depending on client needs including machining, fabrication, mechanical assembly, repair and refurbishment. Their client base includes the nuclear, defence, rail, power generation, steel, oil, construction and environmental industries.

James Taylor Bio

James Taylor was born in 1838 at Shaw, the son of Emmanuel and Maria Taylor. He attended the Lyceum as a student and served his apprenticeship as a fitter with the firm Wolstenhulme and Rye.

It was through working at Lowerhouse Mill that he met Samuel Buckley and the pair came together in 1861 to form the Buckley and Taylor partnership. James Taylor was very much the practical engineer in the business, complementing the skills of Samuel Buckley, and this ensured that the partnership flourished for 31 years.

In 1862 James married Lavinia Heywood at St Marys Church, Prestwich. They had three children, William, born 1865, Maria, born 1866 and Annie Beatrice, born 1869. His son William took over the firm after the death of Samuel Buckley in 1911.

Unlike his partner Mr Taylor took no active part in local politics but was well known in connection with many philanthropic and educational institutions in the town. He was a member of Hope Chapel, and took great interest in the schools connected with the Chapel.

He took also an active interest in the Oldham Lyceum, of which he was a director for 21 years, and elected president in 1892. When Mr Taylor accepted the office of president at the annual meeting, he referred fondly to the time when he attended the Lyceum as a student, and received his certificate from Lieutenant-Colonel Blackburn.

In 1891 he was placed on the commission of the peace for Oldham. He was also a member of the Iron and Steel Institute and the Society of Engineers.

James Taylor died aged 54, at his home Park House, Queens Road, Oldham, England in the early hours of 10 November 1892 after a long period of illness. He had stepped down from taking an active part in the business a year before his death. His funeral was held on the 13 November 1892 and his remains were interred at Greenacres Cemetery. James left a fortune of £24,248-3s-5d (converted to modern currency this would have a spending value of £1,452,222 in 2011).

Samuel Buckley Bio

Samuel Buckley was born in 1837 at Hey, Lees, Oldham, England, the son of a mule spinner. He attended school at Lees where he received a very elementary education before starting work aged six at Lees & Bailey’s Mill at Sett, Oldham where he stayed until he was twelve. He then began a career in engineering and attended evening classes, working his way up from workman to chief engineer at Castle Mill, by the age of twenty.

He was also responsible for Lowerhouse Mill, a post which he held until he started business in 1861, with James Taylor a Wolstenhulme and Rye apprentice whom he met at Lowerhouse Mill.

Samuel married twice, the first marriage to Elizabeth Butterworth in 1859 in Saddleworth and then after her death to Sarah Ann Wareing in 1891 in London. He had eight children, six with his first wife (Hannah Maria, James Henry, Joseph, Herbert, Alice M. and Fred Samuel) and two with his second wife (Frank and Dorothy).

Samuel Buckley was active in local politics being elected by Waterhead Mill Ward in 1876 and did not step down from public duty until he was rejected by the electors of Mumps Ward in November, 1892. During his civic life he was elected Mayor on three occasions (1883-4, 1889-90 and 1890-1) and Deputy Mayor on six occasions.

During the 1880s he was chairman of the Waterworks Committee of the Borough of Oldham, the Free Libraries Committee, the Gas Committee and was very active on a number of Parliamentary Bills, strongly supporting the Castleshaw Reservoir Scheme. Samuel was also a JP from 1885 until his death.

As chairman of the Free Libraries Committee he caused controversy when he accused the architect of the Oldham Free Library of robbing the ratepayers of Oldham after the cost of the building escalated from the estimated £9,000 to £13,000. The architect, Thomas Mitchell of Oldham, sued Samuel Buckley over his comments claiming £10,000 in damages. The Manchester Assizes found in Mr Mitchells favour but he was only awarded £20 and costs.

Samuel was made a member of the Manchester Association of Engineers in 1878, and was offered the position of president, but on account of his busy schedule he declined the position. He was elected chairman of Oldham Boiler Works Co. Ltd. upon its inception in 1875 until shortly before his death and had a substantial shareholding in this company.

Samuel Buckley died aged 74, at his home in Queens Road, on the evening of the 23 Dec 1911 after a prolonged illness. He continued to be involved with the business up until his death including retaining his position of chairman of directors. His funeral was held on the 28 Dec 1911 and his remains were interred at Greenacres Cemetery. Samuel left a fortune of £33,887-8s-9d (converted to modern currency this would have a spending value of £1,933,617 in 2011).