Engineers of Radford, Nottingham.

By John Pownall


          The above company was established during the 1830’s in Radford. It was located just off Ilkeston Road, with the main entrance located on Norton Street. It closed in 1970 and moved to Scotland.

          I chose to work in engineering and was fortunate enough to be employed by Manloves as an apprentice. It had a reputation for making world-class products and also had one of the best Apprentice training schemes in Nottingham.

          There were several trades catered for, Engineering Fitters, Lathe Turners, Tinsmiths, Platers and Boiler makers, etc.

          However, a big surprise to me was that Manloves had its own Foundry. This was quite a large facility with Cupolas, which would supply the molten iron for castings of up to about 3 tons. I’m not too sure about the weight, but they could be quite large, often several feet long.

          In the 1st attached picture, probably from the 1950’s, is a good example of the foundry facilities. The liquid iron in the ladle is about to be poured in to the mould. Note the concentration on the men’s faces, and also, the man with device is checking the iron temperature – it’s not a camera he’s holding. Not a process to make an error with!

          Manloves was famous for its products which were exported all around the world. The two main machine types were the Flatbed Ironing machine and Autoclaves.

The Ironers were used in industrial sized laundries, such as Sketchley’s in Arnold. They were also often supplied to Convents and were used along side industrial washing machines to generate an income. This was achieved by the laundering of sheets, etc, for Hospitals and Hotels.

          The other type of machine produced were Autoclaves, known as sterilisers. This is where I spent months of my apprentice involved in their construction. There were again several sizes and models. For instance the small “Bowl and Instrument” models being used in the operating theatres to sterilise surgeon’s instruments. The much larger types were used to sterilise stainless steel boxes containing materials used during in operations. The largest were capable of cleaning a complete bed mattress. One design that I helped to construct was to be set into a wall with a door at each end. This allowed hospitals to have what was known as “clean and dirty” sides. This was to help prevent cross contamination from items being in the same area.

The steriliser in the photo is of the single door type. Note the polished aluminium insulation. Some pipe work was often chrome plated if visible and not hidden from general view.

 It was standard practice for machines for export to be photographed. This was important because it would be of assistance to the engineers on site. The machines on completion of test in Nottingham would be broken down in to small sub assemblies for packing. Supplied with each machine was an array of drawings, service manuals and of course the photos, which were of help to the engineers reassembling the machine abroad.

The photos were loaned to me for this article by another ex-apprentice Keith Rodda; he became a Section Leader Design Draughtsman for the Ironer machines.

The last picture is a scan of the Manlove Alliott company logo.

Alas there is so much to write about Manloves, especially the people that I worked with during my formative years as an apprentice. Unfortunately, I will have to leave that until another time.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'MANLOVE ALLIOTT & co Ltd.' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'MANLOVE ALLIOTT & co Ltd.' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'MANLOVE ALLIOTT & co Ltd.' page
This page was added by John Pownall on 22/06/2016.
Comments about this page

I was an apprentice pattern maker 1964-1966 the foundry manager then was mr Duggan ,i worked in the pattern shop my forman was mr King who was a decent man work mates were Harry Brady Jack Demera -qualified pattern makers highly skilled,there were also Steve ,Pete, young Steve Dabel who were qualified joiner carpenters highly skilled.Steve the eldest out of all of us was Steve i worked with him most of the time great bloke.Harry Brady lived at strelley with is wife i used to go fishing with him he left manloves just before me i would like to think these were still arround which would be great ,i could tell a lot more names a facts perhaps another day.

By Dennis Wren
On 15/09/2021

Around 1890 my great grandfather was head of the drawing office at Manlove Alliot & this time they made steam engines and other heavy castings.They may also have made sugar making machinery? I have a photo of him and senior staff taken around this time.When he left to set up as a consulting engineer on his own account in 1890 he was given a number of reference books to help him  with his new venture.These books are still extant.I should add that he was born in 1860 in Scotland.

Mike Clarkson.

By Michael John Edward Clarkson
On 28/09/2021

I am managing director of Perrems Dry Cleaners (Pvt) Ltd. I bought the laundry and dry cleaning business in 1990 as a going concern. To date we still use a Manlove Alliot roller ironer for all our flatwork.

 I understand it was first used in the early 1950s. Its still serving us well.

By Farai Msabaeka
On 12/10/2021

Perrems Dry Cleaners is in Mutare, Zimbabwe 

By Farai Msabaeka
On 12/10/2021

          When I was apprenticed at Manloves I remember many times going to the pattern shop to talk to people about mould pattern design.

As mentioned previously by Mr Wren, I do remember the pattern shop foreman Mr King. Later in my apprenticeship I became a Junior/trainee Production Engineer. On one occasion, I remember asking him for advice of how to modify a casting. He suggested to me what to do to solve the problem. I modified the drawings for the pattern, he then had the Pattern altered, this allowed me to have the part recast.

In those days he was like many skilled men employed at Manloves who were only too pleased to pass on tips of the trade. This would help the young apprentices improve and learn their trade. It was not just about going to college!

One little anecdote I remember. He taught me about a Pattern Makers Rule. I knew what a rule was and how to use it, but not about this important difference.  

I was explaining what was causing machining problems on a Vertical Borer. I was using my own rule to explain. No problem there then. I explained to him that the pattern was a fraction to large in one place. Mr King just smiled, so did a couple of the pattern makers who were listening.

He then went on to educate me about the Pattern Makers rule. This was not a rule of law, but a special type of rule made for use in the manufacture of castings. Pattern makers had to read a component drawing and then produce a very accurate copy of the part required. This would become the mould pattern which would be used to make an impression in the sand. Not unlike when on holiday making a sand castle, only it would be an impression.

The reason Mr King and his men were smiling, was because I was using an ordinary standard rule. They would use a special Pattern makers rule. In the 1960s it was still the Imperial Standards in use, i.e., Inches and fractions such as 1/8th and 1/16th etc.

He taught me that the pattern would have to be made slightly larger on all dimensions. It was because when the molten metal was poured in to the mould, it formed the product shape. But, as it cooled down it would shrink!

Manloves would cast items in Aluminium, Brass and Cast Iron. When in the molten state, all of those metals had a different rate of expansion. If I remember correctly it could be about 2 to 4 percent. This is my best guess; remember it was fifty odd years ago!

The problem was overcome by the manufacture of a special Pattern Makers rule. On the rules 2 edges, there were stamped 4 different sets of dimensions, which were adjusted to suit the metal type to be cast. The skilled Pattern Makers had to remember which side and edge of the rule to use. A mix up would be very costly!

Mr King taught me, and other apprentices about pattern manufacture to make sure when buying a rule, that it was the correct one for your skill. In my case a British Standard rules. Otherwise you could be in big trouble! I did meet him many years after Manloves closed down; this was at the annual reunions which were held in Radford. He was very pleasant when reminiscing during those gatherings.

With reference to other members of the Pattern shop. The only one who I remember was possibly a Mr Brady. At that time I lived in Strelley, just down the road was a man who worked in the Pattern shop. I can’t remember his name at all. I was due to go for an interview at Manloves, and can remember talking to someone who recommended Manloves for its quality of apprenticeships. I think that it could have been his father, because he was the same age as my father. Also, I didn’t start in the Light Machine shop until about 1962. My time as an apprentice would have overlapped with Mr Wren. During our time there we would have trained and worked in different departments. Therefor our paths would not necessarily have crossed.

Mr Wren’s article though, has certainly brought back some memories for me.

One last thing, apologises, I cannot remember any of the other people that were mentioned in your article.

By John Pownall
On 18/01/2022

Manlove Alliott flatbed ironing machine.

          I am pleased to read the addition by Farai Msabaeka that one of the machines produced by Manloves is still going strong in Mutare Zimbabwe, Africa. Indeed it will be at least fifty plus years old, because the factory in Nottingham closed for good during 1970. Although some manufacturing was transferred to Scotland following Manloves take over.

I was talking to one of the men who worked there for many years and became a Senior Designer of these machines and worked in the drawing office. He agreed with me in those days machines were made very strong and durable.

In the drawing office there were two men who worked on requests for information from existing customers. This was about obtaining spares to repair their machines. On the side of the office was a bank of shelves with very large leather bound books. When I first saw them as an apprentice, they reminded me of the large books i.e. bibles that were often seen in churches. The shelves were about 30feet long. The records in those books must have contained spares details going back well before the First World War.

On one occasion I opened one up, the hand writing was possibly written using a pen with a nib similar to one found in a fountain pen. The lists were all hand written in an elaborate italic style. The two clerks who would write out new spares lists in the 1960’s were not far off from being as good.


Machine Name plate.

          All machines machine would have a company name plate screwed or riveted prominently somewhere on its frame. This would be important because as well as displaying the full Manlove name and address it had the machine assembly number.

          This was important, because when communicating with Manloves, this number would enable the clerks in the Drawing Office to go to the bank of books on the shelf and look up the components and their drawing numbers. This information would allow the people in various departments to begin to work out the cost of spares and supply a quote.

          One time an old autoclave (sterilizer) came in for refurbishment. The original supply plate was on it. It was made just before WW1. Of course in the 1960’s the world was starting the “make it hard to repair and throwaway society”!

          I think that this is how a machines part list and the relevant drawings were retrieved enabling the clerks to assemble a customer quote.

          The machine had a very basic number allocated to it as follows.


The first character “B” would signify the month the order was received, and placed in the company system. For instance “B” in the example is “February”. March would be “C”, and so on.

The second and third characters i.e.  “53”, signified the year that the machine was manufactured. In this case 1953.

The fourth and fifth characters i.e.  “5 7”, would be the order the machine was to be made that month or year. Not sure about that detail. This was a very simple clerical system to use. It enabled the clerk’s to use the old record books and retrieve drawing numbers and manufacturing details.

 I spoke to my friend; he reminded me that there were old manufacturing drawings, which were drawn on a kind of linen/cloth in Ink. They could not be copied using the old Ammonia developing machine, but some had to photographed and then developed as an old type of blue print.

I hope what I have written about today is accurate, but many years have now passed and memories do become a little blurred!


By John David Pownall
On 25/01/2022

I am attending a memorial service to Ron Archer, who died during the pandemic Lockdown.

Ron was the foreman of the electricians department and my first manager when starting as an apprentice in 1967.

My Dad, James Horridge, used to call Mr King: Nos Mo King!


By Peter Horridge
On 06/09/2022

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