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"How SDF began"

A review of Smethwick Drop Forge Ltd by John Worthington written on Friday 21st of November 2014


The roots of SDF can be traced to the establishment at Dudley in 1826 of a small concern, A Harper, who produced fire-irons. Later the firm expanded, becoming A Harper & Son, and later, A Harper, Sons & Bean Ltd., who aquired a small forge in Rolfe Street, Smethwick in1912. During World War I this company built the main forge in Rolfe Street. The Successors to Harper Sons & Bean were Bean Cars Ltd., who produced in the early 20's the popular 11.9 HP Bean Car. (One can still be seen in the Birmingham Science Museum).

Following liquidation of the Bean Company, a separate company was floated to continue drop forgings production at Smethwick, and Smethwick Drop Forgings came into being. In 1936 this company took over the Smethwick Stamping Company at Bridge Street, Smethwick.

The idea of a modern Forge was conceived prior to World War II, a site was acquired at Kidderminster,

and plans drawn up. With the outbreak of war, the Ministry of Supply stepped in and speeded up construction. Production, mainly for the armed forces, began in 1942. During the war about 1,200 workers were employed at Kidderminster, and 1,000 at Smethwick. After the war, production of munitions was drastically reduced, and numbers of workpeople dropped to under 150 at Kidderminster

and less than 500 at Smethwick.

In 1963 SDF became part of the Forgings and Presswork Division of GKN Ltd.

The Smethwick Works were closed down in1981.

In 1986 SDF was transferred to United Engineering Steels..

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