Laycock Engineering Company Limited of Archer Road, Millhouses,
Sheffield, Yorkshire, England was an engineering business established
in 1884 by W S Laycock which made small and major components for
railway rolling stock.
After Laycock died in 1916 the business passed through the hands of
Charron, a French automobile manufacturer, into receivership from
where it was bought by
Sheffield engineer and shipbreaker Thos W Ward.
Laycock was bought from Ward by a group of investors and put into the
ownership of a new holding company, Birfield Limited, along with Hardy
Spicer. Both Laycock and
Hardy Spicer made transmission or driveline
components for the automotive industry.
In 1966 Birfield, with Laycock and Hardy Spicer, were bought by the
GKN group which was entering the automotive components field following
government's announcement of the intended nationalisation of its GKN
2.1 Charron Limited
2.2 Thos W Ward
2.3 Birfield Engineering and Front
5 External links
Laycock's initial business was the manufacture of railway carriage and
steamship fittings and underframe gear for railway coaches and
locomotives. The range was extended to include axles, gearboxes, and
motor chassis components, motorcar propellor shafts and the Layrub
rubber bushed propellor shaft.
After 25 years of importing goods from USA following annual visits
W S Laycock introduced for the first time in UK a method of steam
heating carriages in a Great Northern train in 1893 following a few
years of experience with a similar system in USA.
The carriage interiors of the 1908 Southern Belle "the most luxurious
train in the world" later known as the
Brighton Belle were built by W
S Laycock's business in Sheffield.
By 1964 Laycock's principal products were: Laycock de Normanville
overdrives and spring diaphragm clutches for the motor industry and
flexible couplings also for industrial use. Dual clutches for
tractors, garage equipment, railway air and vacuum brakes, control
valves for fluids and gases were also manufactured.
William Samuel Laycock (1842-1916) of Upper Hallam,
later of Oakbrook, Yorkshire, established this business as his
personal sideline to a family business which was his principal
occupation until well into the twentieth century. The long-established
family business, Samuel Laycock and Sons Limited with branches in
Crewkerne and Lavenham, manufactured hair seating and hair fabrics.
Horsehair was particularly suited to use in the confined space of
railway carriages as it did not retain offensive odours. Blinds made
of hair fabric also screened carriage occupants from unwelcome
sunshine and attention. In the 1911 census he described himself as
a Government and Railway contractor of Oakbrook, Fulwood, Sheffield. W
S Laycock was born in October 1842 and died 2 March 1916. At the time
of his death he was also head, chairman of directors, of Cravens
Limited. Laycock and his wife born Catherine Kirkby left no surviving
Puteaux near Paris, a manufacturer of motorcars, bought a
controlling interest in Laycock in 1917 and began the manufacture of
aero-engines under contract to the British government.
Charron-Laycock cars were sold between 1920 and 1926. A Receiver
was appointed in 1924.
Thos W Ward
Sheffield engineering business
Thos W Ward
Thos W Ward bought Laycock in November
1930 from the Receiver. At that time its products were of a
specialised nature, mostly highly skilled precision machinery. More
specifically: general engineering supplies and machinery, motor
components, railway, tram, omnibus and motor coach equipment. Garage
equipment. Aircraft supplies. Some of the most important customers
were: Citroen, Daimler, Humber, Jowett, Morris, Riley, Rolls-Royce,
Standard, Vauxhall and in commercial vehicles: AEC, Commer, Dennis,
Guy Motors, Karrier, Leyland, Metro-Cammell and Morris Commercial.
In 1936, when Laycock had 700 employees, an agreement was reached
between Thos W Ward and an investment trust led by Herbert Hill to
buy Laycock. At the end of 1938 Laycock chairman Herbert Hill
(1901-1987) then arranged that Laycock should be sold to a new owner
named Birfield Engineering which would also buy Hardy Spicer.
Birfield Engineering and Front
Herbert Hill led Birfield to develop the constant-velocity joint
breakthrough which permitted reliable front-wheel drive and led to the
development of the
Mini and the subsequent popularity of front wheel
drive cars. He retired in 1961 but remained a member of the board.
GKN bought Birfield and its subsidiaries
Hardy Spicer and Laycock in
GKN Laycock retained an individual identity until the
^ To The Editor Of The Times.. W. S. Laycock. The Times, Friday, 1
June 1900; pg. 13; Issue 36157
^ Railway Carriage Warming. The Times, Friday, 17 February 1893; pg.
15; Issue 33877
^ New Train To Brighton. The Times, Monday, 2 November 1908; pg. 3;
^ The Birfield Group Of Companies. The Times, Tuesday, 13 October
1964; pg. 9; Issue 56141
^ page 3,
Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 19 January 1889
^ The British Trade Journal and Export World, January 1885,
^ W. S. Laycock, Limited. The Times, Monday, 26 May 1919; pg. 21;
^ Marian Suman-Hreblay, Automobile Manufacturers Worldwide Registry,
McFarland, 2000 ISBN 9780786409723
^ Law Notices, 5 May. The Times, Monday, 5 May 1924; pg. 5; Issue
^ a b c The
Laycock Engineering Company, Limited. The Times,
Wednesday, 8 January 1936; pg. 16; Issue 47266.
^ Engineering Transfer. The Times, Monday, 23 December 1935; pg. 20;
^ Engineering Merger. The Times, Friday, 23 December 1938; pg. 17;
^ Mr Herbert Hill. The Times, Tuesday, 7 July 1987; pg. 14; Issue
^ Birfield Accept. The Times, Friday, 5 August 1966; pg. 17; Issue
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Transmissions.
Look up transmission in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Part of the Automobile series
Hybrid (Plug-in hybrid)
Internal combustion engine
Continuously variable transmission
Electrohydraulic manual transmission
Park by wire
Shift by wire
Transmission control unit
Wheels and Tires
Wheel hub assembly
Hybrid vehicle drivetrain