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Markham and Co (Derbyshire)

Markham & Co. was an ironworks and steelworks company near Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England.

The Victoria Foundry near Chesterfield, Derbyshire was owned and run by William Oliver and his father John Oliver from the mid-1850s until 1862 when, following the death of the father, it became the sole property of William. The Victoria Foundry, located at what was formerly Shepley's Yard, relocated to a greenfield site at Broad Oaks Meadows, south east of the town centre close by the Midland Railway’s main line. Disaster hit the business in 1885, a slump in the coal and iron trades and the high overheads of the new factory and equipment undermined the firm and the following year Oliver called in the receivers. In 1889 the business was sold to industrialist Charles Paxton Markham and became Markham & Co. Ltd.

By 1948 the company had built more than 200 steam and electric winding engines and associated machinery for the home and export markets including a mine winder with a 34 feet diameter drum, 7 feet larger than the ones which made William Oliver move to new premises. The company diversified over the years and in 1948 the Broad Oaks works were making haulage gears, rolling mills and ancillary equipment, steel girders, large steel-framed buildings, light alloy extrusion presses, spun cast iron plant, blast furnace plant, large iron castings and research equipment in addition to its involvement in turbine and tunnelling operations.

During the Second World War the firm worked on several secret projects including building X craft submarines for Vickers-Armstrong. They built X22 Exploit, X23 Xphias, XE11 Lucifer, XE12 Excitable. Others were built by Marshalls of Gainsborough and Broadbent of Huddersfield.

In 1925 Charles Paxton Markham reconstituted his company as part of the Staveley Coal and Iron Company ensuring its future. The following year Charles Paxton Markham died and ownership of the company changed again. By 1937 the firm had been bought by Sheffield-based steel makers and engineers John Brown & Company for £50,000, the Chesterfield works continuing operations as before. John Brown was taken over by Trafalgar House, who also owned the Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company. Trafalgar House was subsequently taken over by the Kvaerner Group of Norway in 1996. The works was closed by Kvaerner in 1998 and the site redeveloped for housing following a sale by the firm who took over John Brown's parent company.

The company is now merged with former Trafalgar House engineering subsidiary Davy in Sheffield to form Davy Markham, and specialises in large engineering fabrications and machining works, from the Davy site in Sheffield. Davy Markham worked on the fabrication of the "B of the Bang" sculpture installed outside the City of Manchester Stadium in Manchester, England. This was the tallest sculpture in the UK until it was dismantled.


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