Fielding & Platt

Fielding & Platt (founded October 1866)[1] was a firm of hydraulic engineers who were an important part of the manufacturing sector in Gloucester until the 1990s.[2] Started by two Lancashire men, Samuel Fielding (died 1874) and James Platt, the firm exploited the portable hydraulic rivetting technology of Ralph Hart Tweddell to build a business that exported hydraulic machinery worldwide.[2] Apart from the wide range of items made, the firm was particularly noted for the quality and long-life of their products.

James Platt was also a director of the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company.[3]

First orders

The first orders were for small engineering machines and components but the firm quickly expanded into bigger items. They produced an iron seagoing steamer in 1868[1] and in 1870 they produced the steam boat S.S. Sabrina for the Gloucester & Berkeley Canal Co[4] that was used on the canal between Gloucester and Sharpness. The Sabrina is still in use on the Thames.

Between 1873 and 1875 they converted a number of broad gauge locomotives for stationary duties at Llanharon Colliery and in 1880 they built a bridge across the Severn at Gloucester Docks, adjacent to the North Warehouse, which was not replaced until 1962.[1]

The Tweddell System

In 1871 the firm was approached by the engineer Ralph Tweddell to manufacture his portable hydraulic riveter and it was the firm's exploitation of the Tweddell System that enabled them to become pre-eminent in the field of portable hydraulic riveting. The riveter was soon being exported worldwide and it was used in the construction of sewage mains in Sydney, Australia (1892) and in building the Forth Bridge (1890).[1]

1870s - 1890s

In 1874 Samuel Fielding died and his two sons, James and John Fielding, became joint junior partners with James Platt. The company was expanding rapidly at this time, building new equipment and registering patents. The firm built furnaces, hydraulic presses, travelling cranes, and machinery for processing girders. In 1874 they made a 900 ton flanging press. The firm won awards for its equipment at Philadelphia (1876), Paris (1878) and London (1880). A wide range of steam and oil engines were developed.[1]

The firm worked on the construction of Blackpool Tower.[6]

The twentieth century

In 1902 Fielding & Platt manufactured the first vacuum cleaner, designed by Hubert Cecil Booth, also of Gloucester.

The company was acquired by Heenan & Froude in 1939.[7]

Archive project

In 2012, the Fielding & Platt Community Archive Project received a £42,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to record and preserve the history of the company in Gloucester.[8] A gallery with displays relating to the company has been opened at the Gloucester Quays shopping centre, which stands on land once occupied by Fielding & Platt.[9]


  1. "FIELDING & PLATT, An innovative Gloucester engineering company. The First 100 Years, 1866-1966." by Stephen Mills in Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal, 1992, pp. 8-17. Archived April 2, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  2. "Industrial heritage was a huge apprentice draw" by Kevin George in The Citizen, Saturday 17 September 2011.
  3. "GLOUCESTER RAILWAY CARRIAGE AND WAGON COMPANY" in The Birmingham Daily Post, 17 August 1889, Issue 9718, p. 6.
  4. National Historic Ships.
  5. The Engineer, Vol. 60 (1885), p. 88.
  6. Stephan Mills: Fielding & Platt, An innovative Gloucester engineering company. The first 100 Years, 1866–1966, S. 11
  7. "Fielding and Platt - Graces Guide".
  8. Fielding and Platt Community Archive Project gains Heritage Lottery Fund Support Gloucestershire Archives, 30 May 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2013. Archived September 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  9. Fielding and Platt gallery at Gloucester Quays Gloucestershire Archives, September 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2013. Archived September 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
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