By Edgar Jones
This can be the tale of an immense company. It describes the transformation of a small partnership, shaped in 1759, into a world workforce, the dimensions of whose varied actions has demanded the construction of a multi-divisional constitution, supported by way of many expert departments. essentially the most longeval of Britain's present production businesses, GKN's heritage can be interpreted as a distinct and revealing perception into Britain's commercial event over earlier centuries.
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Additional info for A History of GKN: Volume 1 Innovation and Enterprise, 1759–1918
Not putting every egg in the same basket has an age-old appeal, whilst the advantages provided by vertical integration over the control of inputs were also clearly perceived. By beginning as early as 1759 and then pursuing a range of activities, GKN offers the historian an opportunity to take a crosssection through the Industrial Revolution and subsequent periods of economic growth. As in a picaresque novel, the fortunes of the company can be followed from its conception as a single waterpowered blast furnace in remote Merthyr Tydfil, to the adoption of steam engines to provide the blast and drive the rolling mills, the sinking of deep pits rather than open cast mines, the acquisition of the Bessemer patent for making steel and its replacement by the open hearth furnace and the switch from acid to basic technology.
PROVIDING THE FINANCE Besides the need to import technical expertise, the second dimension to the dominance of outsiders was financial. The main cause of John Guest's migration to Merthyr was that as a yeoman farmer he possessed the resources neither to buy nor to erect a blast furnace. Although Thomas Lewis, Price and Jenkins of the original partnership all resided in South Wales, Harris, Curtis, Webb and Jones, the last an ironmaster, were from Bristol and Edward Blakeway lived in Shrewsbury.
Proposed to erect blast furnaces, forges, mills, engines, store houses, kilns and coalhouses. 6 The two principal leases included a fixed annual rental of £26, with an extra £5 consequent upon the 1763 agreement, which in retrospect was to prove unrealistically low, based on the value of land in an agrarian economy. Doubtless the speculative and then novel nature of THE GUESTS AT MERTHYR, 1759-93 5 the undertaking had prevented Lady Windsor, the owner of the freehold, from inserting a royalty clause on the coal and ore to be mined or iron manufactured.
A History of GKN: Volume 1 Innovation and Enterprise, 1759–1918 by Edgar Jones