Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 14, 2019
Webpage updated: September 15, 2019




Messrs Bickle Engineering Company Limited, formerly Messrs Bickle and Company, was established in the Plymouth Great Western Docks in 1887 for the purpose of carrying out general engineering work.

It was founded by two Cornishmen, Mr James Massey and Mr Thomas Edwin Bickle, who it would appear had both worked at the Hayle Factory of Messrs Harvey and Company.  At the time of the 1881 census, Mr Massey was already in Plymouth working as a Engineer Foreman but Thomas Bickle, the son of Mr Jabus Bickle, a civil engineer, was a draughtsman living at Ivy Cottage, Foundry Hill, Saint Erth.  They at first traded as Messrs Massey and Bickle.

In the 1891 census there was no real hint that they were running their own business.  Mr James Massey, by now a widower, was quoted as being a foreman ship boiler maker, living at 54 Emma Place, EastStonehouse, while Mr Thomas Bickle was just an engineer.  He was living at 1 Durnford Street, East Stonehouse, with his new wife, Miss Annie Bone, also from Hayle, whom he married at Saint Andrew's Church, Plymouth, on December 31st 1890.

The business became Messrs Bickle and Company Limited in 1891.  This may reflect the fact that there were other members of the Bickle family becoming involved in the venture.  Thomas's older brother, Jabus (or sometimes spelt Jebus), was a steam engine maker and his son, Thomas's nephew, Mr Jabus Trenery Bickle, became an apprentice steam engine maker.

The principal productions were pumping and winding machinery, Chilean mills, Cornish crushers, air compressors and general machinery for the mining industry, amongst which was the Bickle Rock Drill.  They also manufactured marine and Lancashire boilers up to a maximum of 7 feet 6 inches in diameter by 30 feet in length.  There was a large graving dock within Millbay Docks, where the Company carried out marine engine and ship repairs.  About 270 men were employed at the end of the nineteenth century.

In 1935 Bickle's took over Messrs Davey, Sleep and Company, the agricultural machinery manufacturers, and in 1946 the business changed its name to Messrs Bickle Engineering Company Limited.

Bickle's were themselves were taken over in 1958 by Messrs Willoughby (Plymouth) Limited.  The latter Company moved out of their foundry in Rendle Street in to the Bickle premises in Millbay Docks.

Messrs Bickle Engineering Company Limited (presumably as part of Messrs Willoughby (Plymouth) Limited) closed down at Millbay Docks on Friday November 29th 1969.  The liquidation of the Company was then dealt with by Mr J T Raybould, of Messrs John W Hinks and Company, chartered accountants, of 36a Waterloo Street, Birmingham.