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Why we’re proud of 150 years of engineering excellence

150 years of engineering excellence from Hodgkinson Bennis

In 2022, we’re marking 150 years of engineering excellence since the founding of Edward Bennis Ltd, part of today’s Hodgkinson Bennis.

For many people in 2022, the pre-Covid world of three years ago can feel like the long-lost past. But here at Hodgkinson Bennis, we’re looking further back into history this year. That’s because 2022 marks 150 years of our company. In 1872, Edward Bennis initially set up a factory in Bolton to develop an automatic self-cleaning compressed air furnace. The company he founded would later go on to merge with James Hodgkinson Ltd in the early 1960s, and Hodgkinson Bennis Ltd was born. For us, our company history represents 150 years of engineering excellence. But of course, it’s important to keep moving with the times too, especially given the challenges that the twenty-first century holds. In this blog, we pay tribute to the past, and we look to the future.

A history of innovation

In addition to his earlier self-cleaning furnace, Edward Bennis gained a patent on a mechanical stoker in 1875. Getting coal into boilers (stoking) was a skilled and physically exhausting task. The aim was to establish and control a uniform fire-bed maximising steam production and limiting excessive black smoke. The greater the number of boilers in use, the more difficult this task became for the workers on site. In an automatic stoker, coal was sprinkled evenly from a storage hopper above, onto a moving metal belt or firebar, and into the boiler at a controlled and consistent rate.

E Bennis & Co became a leading manufacturer and installer of stokers, boilers, and other coal handling equipment. Indeed, Bennis’s inventions proved a remarkable success, achieving increases in efficiency, together with reductions in smoke emissions. However, these improvements were probably not fully appreciated until the outbreak of the Great War, when such technological advances were incorporated into the nation's push for victory. The company foundries were used for munitions, substantially increasing industrial output at a time of great need. In the years between the two world wars, Edward Bennis Ltd manufactured the coal-feed systems for the boilers fitted in ocean-going steam ships. And in 1935, the company went public as Bennis Combustion Ltd.

The changing face of Britain after World War II

Throughout the Second World War and into the 1950s, Bennis Combustion continued to perform well and continued to innovate. The company provided boilers and stokers to a range of sectors, from industry to hospitals in the newly formed NHS. In the early 1960's, with new customers in South Africa and Australia, and a workforce in excess of 250 people, the decision was made to merge with James Hodgkinson Ltd. This merger was mutually beneficial, in that it married the experience of Bennis Combustion with the well-regarded James Hodgkinson Group based in Salford.

But for a company that was founded on coal and coke, times were changing. Following the miners' strikes in 1972, the coal market was in clear decline. The company became part of a larger group of manufacturing companies, until it regained its independence as Hodgkinson Bennis Ltd in 1992. The reinvigorated company established a new team of directors comprising of dedicated employees, supported by sound financial backing. It successfully expanded into gas- and oil-fired boiler technology, and more recently into biomass, to become the company our customers know today.

150 years of engineering excellence – and helping to shape the future

Now more than ever, we’re all aware of the emissions from burning fossil fuels. Just as there was an earlier move away from coal, we need to think about moving away from gas and oil too. Here at Hodgkinson Bennis, we have expertise in design, assembly, installation and commissioning of industrial and commercial hot water and steam production plant using a variety of fuels, including biomass. And given the increasing need to think of heating and cooling as one coherent system, we can look after heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

We’re also great believers in making sure that boiler and HVAC equipment is well-maintained. That way, you can be sure that it’s operating at peak efficiency (and therefore producing the minimum possible emissions). We can work with you to establish a planned preventive maintenance schedule, and we’re qualified to undertake annual inspections across all different fuel types too. And for when things do go wrong, we’re on hand for repairs. With such a long and rich history, we know the importance of staying future proof.

To find out more about Hodgkinson Bennis water services, contact one of the team today.

About Hodgkinson Bennis and our 150 years of engineering excellence

Hodgkinson Bennis designs, installs, and maintains the most fuel-efficient commercial and industrial boilers. Headquartered in Manchester, we work across the UK, particularly in the Northwest, Northeast and throughout the Midlands. Contact us today to discuss how we can deliver advanced commercial and industrial boilers, and our range of other services. At Hodgkinson Bennis, we have worked with commercial and industrial boilers since 1872. This history gives us an enviable amount of experience as pioneers in the industry. We place an enormous emphasis on ensuring the health and safety of all team members, suppliers, contractors, and the public. We provide the most fuel-efficient boiler solutions for industrial and commercial applications.


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