Historic Birmingham company Webster & Horsfall, which created the revolutionary wire for the first communication cable laid across the Atlantic Ocean in 1865, is making a million-pound investment in wire production technology for the 21st century.
The Hay Mills firm is investing an initial £1 million in new production line plant and equipment to manufacture high-strength drawn wire, which is used in a vast range of products, including specialist springs.
The investment has been made possible with support from Advantage West Midlands, and forms part of a comprehensive site development project by the company worth £3.4 million.
And the move has safeguarded jobs in the area – with plans to create even more.
The family-run firm is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of steel wire and strip, providing bespoke products to a range of clients throughout the world.
Finance director Robert Horsfall said: “We are creating eight jobs and safeguarding another 19 jobs, while levering in £775,000 of private sector investment.
“The project is a real boost, enabling us to reduce costs and improve efficiency by modernising machinery and infrastructure and improve our site. It will also ensure we reduce our carbon foot print.”
The new plant and machinery includes state-of-the-art wire drawing machinery, a new electric furnace, specialist testing equipment and a highly efficient thermal fluid heating system.
“The new footprint will be overclad, fully insulated and updated with efficient utility services.”
Steve Hines at AWM said: “Innovation is one of the main challenges facing the West Midlands and encouraging companies of all sizes to develop new products and ideas is a key priority.”
The company is seeking to regenerate an area of Tyseley, creating new jobs in a deprived area of the city. Webster & Horsfall, which was established in 1720 and currently employs fifth and sixth generation Horsfalls, has received planning consent for a 10-acre redevelopment project near the A45 in Birmingham.
It moved to the Tyseley site in 1856 and currently shares a 16-acre plot with sister company Latch & Batchelor, a manufacturer of specialist wire rope for cranes and deep shaft mining.
At present, the companies occupy approximately 227,000 sq ft of floor space, with a further 80,000 sq ft now lying redundant.
The management team is seeking to consolidate operations into buildings of approximately 150,000 sq ft. This is approximately half of the site’s total footprint and will free up around seven acres for development.
Charles Horsfall, chairman of Webster & Horsfall, believes the proposals will help safeguard jobs within the company, as well as regenerate one of the most deprived areas of the city.
He said: “The strong support from AWM and Birmingham City Council’s Planning & Regeneration Department has given us the opportunity to build on our manufacturing expertise and secure a successful future beyond our 300th anniversary which we are due to celebrate in 2020.”