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Rose Badge History

David Brown Company History

David Brown commenced business in 1860 as a general pattern maker. This included the manufacture of patterns for cast gears.
By 1873 the company was manufacturing spur, skew, bevel and eccentric gears. The castings were subcontracted.
In 1898 David Brown began to manufacture machine cut gears.
All gear cutting moved to the new Park Works site in 1902. Ernest, the oldest son, stayed at the pattern works.
David Brown died in 1903. Sons Frank and Percy succeeded him at Park Works. They began to produce self contained worm gear units complete with bearings and shafts.
The first major expansion of Park Works took place in 1910.
1913 saw the company's first overseas venture when Timken-David Brown was established in the USA to manufacture worm gear units.
Between 1914 and 1918 the number of employees at Park Works increased from 200 to 1000 as the company began to manufacture products for the War effort. These products included main propulsion units for warships, Gun training and elevating mechanisms and Trench mortar bombs.
By 1921 the company was the largest worm gear manufacturer in the world.
P.R. Jackson Ltd, steel founders and manufacturers of heavy gearing, were acquired in 1930.
Following Percy Brown's death in 1931, Frank became Chairman and his 28 year old son David, Managing Director.
The Radicon worm gear was introduced in 1933. The name Radicon refers to the dissipation of heat by Radiation, Conduction and Convection.
David Brown's overseas involvement expanded further in 1934 when links were established with Richardson Gears (Pty) Ltd of Footscray, Victoria, Australia.
The Merritt-Brown controlled differential steering on tank transmissions was patented by the company in 1935.
The first David Brown/Ferguson tractor was produced in 1936.
The Second World War saw another massive increase in production for the company which between 1939 and 1945, the Aero Division produced over 500,000 gears and the Gearbox Division produced over 10,000 tank transmissions and was the sole supplier of gears for the Spitfire fighter plane for a period during the Battle of Britain. Both these Divisions belonged to the Tractor Company, a subsidiary of David Brown.

David Brown was entrusted with planning and coordinating the production of tank transmissions components by all other British firms. The workforce including tractors and foundries grew to almost 7000.

1939 also saw the first David Brown Tractor exhibited at the Royal Show.

In conjunction with VSEL and GEC, David Brown was a founder member of NAVGRA (Navy and Vickers Gear Research Assocation) in 1946.

1946 also sees the establishment of a sales and distribution company in Johannesberg.

Aston Martin was acquired by David Brown in 1947 and Lagonda the following year.
Precision Equipment (Pty) Ltd of Benoni, Transvaal was acquired in 1949.
In 1951 the Automobile Gear Box Division was established at Park Works.
In 1959 Aston Martin won the world sports car championship which included Le Mans and the third successive win at the Nurburg Ring.
The Sunderland factory was established in 1962 to manufacture Radicon worm gear units.
A controlling interest was acquired in Sonnerdale Richardson David Brown (Pty) Ltd, Australia in 1966, consummating the 1934 link with Richardson.
The one millionth Radicon was delivered in 1968.
In 1972 Aston Martin-Lagonda was sold to Company Developments Ltd - now owned by the Ford Motor Company and the Tractor interests were sold to Tenneco International(inc.), becoming affiliates of J.I. Case.
By 1983, some fifteen years after providing the gearbox for the conversion of HMS Exmouth, the first major warship to use gas turbine propulsion, a total of 120 gearboxes had been delivered or were on order for 64 warships in 9 Navies.
The David Brown family interest in the Group was sold to the current management with the exception of plants in the southern hemisphere in 1990.
The company was successfully floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1993, ending 133 years of private ownership.
Following Sir David's death in 1993 the companies in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia were re-acquired in 1995.
In October 1998 Textron Inc. announced it had completed the acquisition of David Brown Group of the U.K.

Rose Badge History