The Vickers Endeavors

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Two men by the names of Edward Vickers and George Naylor joined forced in the year 1828 to create a steel foundry named Naylor Vickers and Company. Originally this company made steel castings and was most well-known for casting church bells. As the company grew to include new employees, such as Thomas and Albert, sons of Edward Vickers, the company expanded its ventures. By 1863 they had moved to Sheffield, England, and in 1867 the company went public. Soon thereafter they incorporated marine equipment into their production line followed by armor plates and artillery pieces. From there they moved on to automotive ventures and dabbled in the manufacture of torpedoes.

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Photo Source: Riepe Roots

By the time 1911 rolled around, a name change was in order and Vickers Ltd was born. This new company included an aviation department. By 1919, they invested in other companies both electrical and rail in nature. In 1927, another merger had occurred that was responsible for artillery manufacture and shipbuilding. To say Vickers had a hand in many things would be quite the understatement; at one point they even sold machine guns and a semi-automatic rifle called the Vickers Rifle before moving on to tank design.

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Photo Source: Wikipedia

At some point in all of this dabbling in everything from torpedoes to tanks, a tractor was born. Initially this began as a deal made with International Harvester in the early 1920's which would allow Vickers to build IH's 15-30. Rather than build their own model, Vickers built this tractor with the intention of marketing it in Australia. As a result, this tractor came to be known as the Vickers Aussie. Although some minor changes and modifications were made, this tractor remained similar in design to the IHC 15-30, albeit a bright orange version of it with a Vickers label.

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Photo Source: Geograph.org

It was not until 1925 that the first actual Vickers tractor was released. After years of modifications being made to the 15-30, the MK I was introduced. This tractor offered 30hp and was followed by another release in 1926 of the MK III which could achieve 23-40hp. All the while these designs kept International Harvester close to the vest as these new machines were similar to the IHC 23-36. Yet another tractor was released in 1929, the MK IV. This machine was intended for use on Australian soil but was marketed in the UK as well.

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Photo Source: Old Classic Forum

In the end, sales of Vickers tractors were not as stellar as the company had hoped. The tractor branch of Vickers was put to bed in the early 1930's but many of their other pursuits lived on. They went on to experiment with carriages and wagons while continuing their endeavors in the fields of aircraft, shipbuilding, and marine. Their name lived in those and other forms until 1999 when the company's remaining pursuits were purchased and renamed, making Vickers another manufacturer of tractors (and more!) that was destined for the history books.

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Photo Source: Tractor Data/ Flickr

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July 4, 2015  •  09:22 PM
Interesting history. I did an engineering cadetship with Vickers Ruwolt in Melbourne, Australia (actually Burnley Street, Richmond) starting in 1981, straight out of high-school. I believe this was the Australian incarnation of Vickers. They had an 18 acre site on the banks of the Yarra River, employed about 700 men and were a totally self-contained operation with everything from the drafting offices through pattern makers, foundry, electrical, machine shop, plumbing, everything. Even had our own staff petrol station. I believe they also had bomb shelters under the factory to house 700+ since they were a munitions manufacturer during the war (2nd I believe). I believe the factory was about 70 years old when I was there and it was a fantastic operation for those interested in heavy engineering. Unfortunately Vickers Ruwolt closed down only a few years later (late 80, early 90's). The site was sold some years later and now houses a shopping centre, Ikea, Hotels, etc. Nowhere near as interesting! I wonder from time to time if those bomb shelters are still there underground, or whether they were filled in during redevelopment?
 
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