Francis Walter Smith

Reminiscences of Bow Lane

The following was compiled by Miss E. Shuttleworth, Mr. L.R. Smith, and Mr. T. Gardner and was presented to Mr. Francis W. Smith Esq. on his retirement on 28 December 1955 after 50 years with Dilworth & Carr Ltd., Bow Lane, Preston, Lancashire, England

In September 1905, Mr. Francis Walter Smith joined Dilworth & Carr Limited in a junior capacity. No doubt, on that day, when he first entered the building, he little realized that the greatest part of his next fifty years would be spent there.

The firm at that time were interested principally in the installation of central heating plants, and the foundry was engaged in a small way on the casting of socket and spigot piping.

Dilworth & Carr Ltd.,
                      Bow Lane, Preston
Mr. F.W.Smith It was realized after a short time that Mr. Smith's abilities were such that he could be more usefully employed in obtaining orders, and he therefore became the outside representative of the firm. His keenness and initiative were so appreciated that by 1912 he had been appointed Secretary and also Director of the Company.
For many years the Firm has supplied boilers to market gardeners and the heating trade, apart from using them in its own heating installations, and the first pattern for the 'C' Type Ribble Boiler was made in 1913. Also during the same year the first consignment of flanged pipes was sent to the Ship Street Barracks, Dublin. These pipes were only 4" and 6" diameter, but it was from this small beginning that the foundry gradually developed this type of casting.

It is interesting to note that during this period the Firm purchased their first machine - a drill made by William Allen of Manchester, and this is still used for rough drilling work.

Early in the first World War, Mr. Carr, the Managing Director, joined the Forces and was killed in action within a few weeks of landing in France, and Mr. Smith was appointed to succeed him as Managing Director at the early age of 33 years.

At the time of his appointment, there was an overdraft of £12,000 and a scarcity of work, but Mr. Smith, with his usual business acumen, realized that our resources were not being utilized by the Government Departments for the war effort, and various officials were contacted with the result that a considerable volume of orders were received for the manufacture of bombs and other war material.

The Ribble Boiler
Truckload of Flanges During the war, one of the largest heating contracts ever carried out by the firm was secured at the White Lund Munitions Works, Morecambe, the final figure being in the region of £60,000.

The Red Lion Tavern, which adjoined the offices at that time, was condemned by the local authorities as a drinking house and its license was not renewed, so the Firm purchased these premises and they were used for quite some time as a store.

In 1917 an extension was made to the foundry, which today is known as the Scotch Foundry. This was necessitated owing to the increased amount of foundry work which resulted from the large number of orders received for flange pipes and socket and spigot pipes.

Shortly after the war it was felt that the business should be expanded to cover the southern area of England, and in 1920 the London Office was opened at 59/61, New Oxford Street.

During the "twenties" the activities of the company were still confined to the heating and ventilating contracts, but the foundry increased its output and capacity to produce larger types of flanged castings up to 48" bore.

1922 was the year of the Preston Guild, and a display of the Firm's more popular products was included in the Guild procession.

In 1924 the London Office was moved to larger premises in Russell Square to cope with the additional contracts in the southern area.

During the early part of the 1930's the Firm suffered, along with the rest of the country, owing to the depression, but old employees still often remark that, although there was a shortage of work, the Firm did not stand off any workmen, and kept them employed at a time when many other firms were having to close down.

It was in 1932 that Mr. Smith first contacted a firm in London with a view to making emulsifiers for them, and later the first order was received. This business has gradually expanded until today the Firm is solely responsible to these customers for the major portion of their products, which involve the making of special castings of a very high standard.

Preston Guild Procession
Machine Shop
Round about the same time the Company was approached by another firm to make their Underfeed Stokers, and several hundred of these were manufactured, which entailed additional work in the Foundry and also in the Fitting Shops in building up the complete assemblies.

In 1934 the Firm started making Superchargers and the offices were extended (using the site of the Red Lion Tavern) to accommodate the extra staff required, and new workshops were built for the assembling and testing of the superchargers.

The activities of the Heating Department were developed to include the fitting up of hotels with hot and cold water supplies, and a special literature was compiled by Mr. Smith for the purpose of advertising to the Hotel trade.

In 1936 the Company received its first order from The United Glass Bottle Manufacturers Ltd., for machining spare parts, and in 1937 the machining of parts for the Aircraft Industry commenced.

The presentation of a silver salver was made to Mr. Smith on October 27th, 1939, on the completion of 25 years' service with the Company as Managing Director. The following is a copy of the presentation speech made by Mr. Makin:-

"Mr. Smith, Mr. Threlfall, ladies and gentlemen, you are called to this rather informal but interesting gathering on the occasion of the completion of 25 years' service by Mr. F.W. Smith as managing director of this company.
"It is my privilege to have been with him for the whole of that period and under his leadership to have seen the progress of Dilworth & Carr Limited.
"I am also proud to have the honor of making him, on your behalf, a small present to which you have all willingly subscribed.
"As you are no doubt aware, I am the oldest serving member of the staff, and I recall the time of Mr. Smith's appointment - a time when the firm was a small concern compared with its position today.
"The Company's progress has been due in no small way to Mr. Smith's leadership and management. The outbreak of the last war called for expansion in modern methods and machinery, owing to the changes in industry. The situation was taken in hand immediately to meet war-time demands.
Silver Salver

"The post-war period called for tact and ability to meet the slump in trade which followed and, with his usual determination as a background, the firm survived with a steady although depleted trade.
"In my experience I have always found Mr. Smith resolute and firm, and of sound judgement, and I am sure that everyone who has come into contact with him must agree that they have generally received a square deal.
"There have been times when small differences have cropped up, but personally I have always agreed that the best man won.
"It is perhaps expecting too much to hope that Mr. Smith may be here for another 25 years, but I am sure I am voicing the feelings of all present when I say I hope a good many more years may be set aside in which the firm may continue to benefit by his guidance.
"And now I will ask Mr. Smith to accept this Salver as a small token of appreciation from the members of the staff (including London Office), and I trust it will serve as a tender reminder of their appreciation of your valuable services."
Preston-October 27th, 1939

Bottle Making Machine With the end of the war came the re-adjustment of production, and the turn over to goods required for peace-time pursuits. The output of parts for The United Glass Bottle Manufacturers was greatly increased, and the manufacture of complete machines for this Company began. The first machine built was the Uprighter, and since then sixteen of these have been made. It is interesting to record that the first Uprighter was assembled from photographs as no assembly drawings were available.

The Firm found itself inundated with orders for flanged pipes, the majority of which were required to equip Power Stations, not only in this country, but all over the world. At one period the Firm's Order Book included orders for 35 stations. Apart from the flanged piping, a large volume of work was received for assemblies in connection with Ash Handling Plant for Power Stations.

Female labor in the Machine Shops was dispensed with as the type of work in which the shops were now engaged did not require unskilled labor, and the skilled labor force was strengthened by the return of many employees whose services had been lost during the war.
Presentation to
                      Employees of 20+ years On the night of 29th February, 1948, the Pattern Shop was destroyed by fire. It was replaced by a more modern building, and the opportunity was seized to equip it with up-to-date machinery.

In April 1950, a presentation was made by the Firm to sixteen employees who had been with the Company for 20 years or over, Mr. F.W. Smith making the presentation on behalf of the Directors. The employees concerned are listed below:-
NAME Years of
NAME Years of
NAME Years of

Andrew Alexander 30 James Brown 25 Thomas Hindle 22
James McLay 29 John Nightingale 24 Joseph Atkinson 21
Leslie R. Smith 28 Thomas Parkinson 24 Thomas Briggs 21
Harry Hancox 27 John Atkinson 23 Richard Farnworth 21
Richard James 27 Clifford Green 23 Thomas Harrison 20
Robert Hodson 26

In 1950, the controlling interest of the Company was taken over by the United Glass Bottle Manufacturers Ltd., Mr. Smith retaining his position of Chairman and Managing Director.

The nature of the Company's business remained the same after this amalgamation, but a considerable impetus was given to the manufacture of complete machines for glass bottle making of a larger size than had hitherto been attempted, the largest of these being the Westlake Machine for the manufacture of stemware.

In 1951 it was realized that the existing cupola, which had given yeoman service, would not last very much longer, and an additional cupola of 5 ton capacity and mechanically charged was therefore installed.

About this time also a lease was negotiated with the owners of Ribble Bank Mills to acquire the premises for the storage of patterns. The ground floor was re-arranged so that the assembly of large machines could take place in this building, thus avoiding congestion in the existing machine shops.
Drafting Room
Presentation to the King On April 11th, 1951, Mr. Smith had the honor of being presented to His Majesty, The Late King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Mr. Smith was presented in his capacity as Vice-President of the Preston & District Engineering Employers' Federation.

The Following is an extract from the "Lancashire Evening Post" in connection with this occasion:-

"The King, Queen and Princess margaret signed the visitors' book, watched by attendant William Hogg.

"The Mayor then presented Mr. Julian Amery (M.P. Preston North), Mr. E.A.A. Shackleton (M.P. Preston South), Alderman F. Jamieson (Deputy Mayor) and Mrs. Jamieson, Alderman Mrs. Pimblett (Honorary Freeman of the borough), Alderman R.C. and Mrs. Pye, Alderman W. and Mrs Beckett, Alderman J. Herbert, Alderman A. Wilson, Councillor J.F. Gray, Councillor J.W. Taylor and Mrs. Taylor, Councillor Mrs. M.A. Wignall, Mrs. W.E.E. Lockley (wife of the Town Clerk), Mrs. H. Garth (wife of the Chief Constable), Mr. W. Allison Davies (President, Preston and Chorley Hospital Managemant Committee), Rev. W.G. Fallows (Vicar of Preston), and the Very Rev. Father F. McGuiness (Roman Catholic Church), Rev. N. Armstrong, minister at Lancaster Road Congregational Church.
"Mr. Edward G. Lee (Preston Textile Employers), Miss Jessie Watson (Preston Textile Employees), Mr. F.W. Smith (Preston Engineering Employers), and Mr. Robert Bamber (Preston Engineering Employees)."

At the present time the Firm's activities are restricted by the limitation of manpower, but the volume of turnover continues to increase, the 1954 figure being the highest in the history of the Company.

Although most people associated with Dilworth & Carr Ltd., realize that it is principally through Mr. Smith's efforts that the Firm has grown from its humble beginnings to its present position, they do not all fully appreciate the immense amount of time and energy, very often at great personal inconvenience, that he has expended to bring about the present status of the Company.

He was a season ticket holder on the London,Midland & Scottish Railway for 40 years, covering journeys from Glasgow to London, and he invariably made the journey to London twice a week, and on one occasion, three time in the same week. He left no stone unturned in his endeavor to obtain orders, and at one time during the slump period, he made the journey to the North of Ireland for the sole purpose of obtaining an order to the value of £60.

Not sparing himself in his efforts to increase the business turnover of the firm, he expected the same enthusiasm from his staff, and generally this was given wholeheartedly. He inspired loyalty and devotion to the firm, as is proved by the large number of employees who have been with him for over twenty, and in a few cases, over thirty years.

All his staff and many of the firm's customers will feel a grievous loss on his retirement, and we can be certain that Mr. Smith's achievements and personal magnetism will be a legend in the firm for many years to come.

Go to Mr. Smith's Family Card                                    See More Pictures from Reminiscences of Bow Lane

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