Carlton House: a history

This history of a Leytonstone House is now available.
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Greenwood and Batley - a Company History

Original Kin also has experience in company history research and can search the archives and other sources for old business records. This report on an Leeds engineering company was constructed using its minute books, accounts and bank overdraft documents.

Greenwood and Batley was an engineering firm in Leeds. It was established as a limited company in 1889 and continued trading until 1980. Its range of manufactured goods was large, with workshops specialising in a whole variety of products including horse shoes, textile machinery (especially silk mills), steam turbines, electric traction and armaments. According to its prospectus of 1888, it had a worldwide reputation for making machines for producing war material. Its capital in 1889 consisted of £400,000 of shares and £100,000 of debentures. Initially, 8,000 preference and 14,000 ordinary shares at £10 each, and 800 debentures at £100 each, were issued. A third of these went to the directors of whom three were military officers and three of whom were members of the Greenwood family. These, and Mr Wurtzburg, the Secretary made up the membership of the board. Its fixed assets were valued at £265,000, a book value that did not vary much for the next 26 years. Profits for the eight years preceding the launch had averaged just under £25,000 a year.

The balance sheets reveal something of the fortunes of the company over the next 25 years. Profits averaged about £18,000 a year but fluctuated considerably, from a loss of £8,160 in 1894 to a peak of £43,126 in 1901. Dividends absorbed on average about 45 per cent of the profit. The story behind these figures is found in the minute books but it is difficult to get a complete picture because of the gap from 1893 to 1901, during which time the company changed its focus. In the initial period from 1889 to 1893, the company faced a number of problems. There was a shortage of funds for both fixed and working capital, prompted by the expansion of the business. There were difficulties getting continuous contracts, delays in receiving book debts and it was in legal trouble over faulty machinery. Meanwhile costs were rising, producing losses in some departments and prompting an examination of the management structure by the board and cost cutting. During the same four year period, the Board were looking into what would be the most profitable area of electrical engineering for their electrical department to engage in. These difficulties probably continued after the minute book finishes, as in 1894, a loss was made.

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