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Simon Engineering Group Archive

Date range: 1860s-1970s

Medium: Archive

In 2004 the Library 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 19th 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 20th 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 subsidiary 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 19th-century industrial technology, business organization and entrepreneurship.

See also:

Further information:

  • Uncatalogued.
  • Brian Simon, In Search of a Grandfather: Henry Simon of Manchester, 1835-1899 (Leicester, 1997).
  • Glyn Jones, The Millers: a story of technological endeavour and industrial success, 1870-2001 (Lancaster, 2001).


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