Vickers And Its Growth To Its Demise

176 years after an industry magnet was born, the company was sold to BAE systems in 2004 - who already had a 29% stake in the company, for £355 million pounds. David Mulholland of Jane's Defence Weekly said "I don't believe BAE expects to make money from this deal,"

Sold effectively to keep a defence arm in British hands, another company may have been forced into a situation where a purchase was necessary but where did this all begin and how did such a great name that featured heavily in wars around the world, end up being split to its final end? Albeit in name only.

As with any company, success can be its downfall. Having been listed on the stock market within decades of inception, the hawks and harriers have often circled for different divisions. Indeed, Vickers themselves acted in much the same manner when growing their company in the first place and which probably gave them the standing they had in the last century.

Two brothers, William and Edward Vickers started the company in 1828 with Edward's father in law George Naylor. Together they had combined interests in steel making. Over the years they became famous for making church bells and making steel casings but the family were on the better side of fate.

In 1876 the company listed on the stock exchange which provided them with backing, investment and interest to invest and form subsidiaries in other sectors. One of which was into ship building with marina propellers and then armour plating and artillery in 1890.

As fate and luck would have it, business was about to boom with the Boer War and World War I just about to take place. From 1890 onwards their purchases were more military related, Torpedoes, ammunition, ship building for naval war ships and soon Vickers was to become a name in British Engineering for a whole suite of products.

The quirk comes that in the mid 20th century parts of Vickers was incorporated into a conglomerate of businesses which when formed was named BAC Group which was then later acquired and nationalised by the UK Government and called British Aerospace group, which today is more commonly known as BAE Systems. And incidentally is the company which bought Vickers to keep the assets and current active business interests, British.

Vickers has been involved in metallurgy and creative metal working for defence in tanks, other land vehicles, naval shipping, artillery, armaments and church bells for 176 years and if you care to look within BAE Systems, Vickers may well have gone by name but by nature it is still going strong and may well be back one day.

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