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Simon Engineering Group Archives

Date range: 1860s–1970s.

In 2004 the JRUL acquired the archives of two important engineering companies that were founded by Henry Gustav Simon (1835–99): Simon-Carves Ltd and Henry Simon Ltd.

Henry Simon emigrated from Germany to Manchester in 1860 at the age of twenty-four. He arrived penniless but joined a thriving German community in the city, and he soon established himself as a consulting engineer with a genius for invention. From 1877 to 1881 he applied for sixty-two patents for a wide range of applications.

He revolutionized the milling industry by inventing steel rollers, purifiers and sieving machines, and founded Henry Simon Limited to manufacture these machines. 

In a separate venture, he formed a partnership in 1880 with François Carvès to manufacture by-product coke ovens. The notoriously conservative iron and steel industry was slow to adopt the new process and it was not until the end of the nineteenth century that Simon-Carves Ltd achieved prominence in the coke-oven industry.

Later the firm diversified into the manufacture of a wide range of chemical plant at its Cheadle Heath factory.

In the twentieth century Simon-Carves Ltd and Henry Simon Ltd, together with their many subsidiaries, were brought together within the holding company Simon Engineering Group.

The collection comprises the archives of both Henry Simon Ltd and Simon-Carves Ltd, together with some of their subsiduary companies.

There are also private papers, such as the ledger of Henry Simon himself, ledgers for his residuary estate, and trusteeship records.

The archives document the remarkable growth of the two firms, and will be of considerable interest to students of nineteenth-century industrial technology, business organization and entrepreneurship.

They are also relevant for studies of the social and cultural life of Manchester.

See also the papers of August Heinrich Simon (1805–1860), uncle of Henry Simon.

Finding aids

  • Uncatalogued.
  • Anthony Simon, The Simon Engineering Group (Cheadle Heath, Stockport, 1953).
  • Brian Simon, In Search of a Grandfather: Henry Simon of Manchester, 18351899 (Leicester, 1997).
  • Glyn Jones, The Millers: a story of technological endeavour and industrial success, 1870-2001 (Lancaster, 2001).


The John Rylands Library

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