Bradbury & Co. Ltd


George Francis Bradbury (1827-1884) founded the Bradbury Sewing Machine Company in 1852 in Oldham, Lancashire. Bradbury and a colleague, T. Sugden, are believed to have been partners when establishing the firm and were both trained as mechanics in previous employment. Bradbury's were one of the first companies in Europe to produce a sewing machine capable of a practical rate of stitching.

Subsequently the firm acquired another partner, Thomas Chadwick of Glodwick Road in Oldham, and in 1868 they opened the Wellington Works in Wellington Street in Oldham. In addition to 'Bradbury', sewing machines were later marketed under the 'Wellington' and 'Soeze' brand names. In 1874 shares were sold and Bradbury's became a limited company.

By 1882 the firm were producing twelve different models of sewing machines at the rate of around five hundred per week. The company also built a range of specialised machine tools to manufacture components for their own products in batches of eight. Different departments handled moulding, dressing, enamelling and assembly of the machines, and the firm had a total workforce of around 480 at this time. Showrooms for their products were opened at 14, Newgate Street and 217, Commercial Road in London.

Bradbury & Co. made a number of other products throughout their life, including typewriters, capstan lathes and machine tools, and in 1897 a separate department was established in Longley Street, Oldham, for the production of bicycles. The firm began to construct motorcycles in the early twentieth century. Production of sewing machines was taken over by the Jones Sewing Machine Company in 1905, when the last one under the Bradbury name was produced. The firm then concentrated on their motorcycles, but success in this line of business eluded them even during the First World War. The last motorcycle was assembled in 1923, and Bradbury's works finally closed in 1924.