Amalgamations (1968-1990)

Up until the early 60’s Allens had been an independent family business but it was becoming apparent that small companies must grow to survive in a new world market and many companies, including Allens, saw that growth as being through acquisition and amalgamation. Allens had tried ‘diversification’ and this had in the main proved unsuccessful. Stick to what you do best is a good adage.

Back in 1927 the company of Gwynnes, at that time in Chiswick, went into receivership and they were eventually purchased by William Fosters of Lincoln. Well known as a builder of Traction Engines, threshing machines and the first ‘tanks’ during WWI, Fosters moved the entire Gwynnes plant to Lincoln as a separate company called Gwynnes Pumps Ltd manufacturing centrifugal pumps. With their traditional products dying out the entire Foster/Gwynnes output slowly turned to pumps. Over 120 pumping stations in the fens used Gwynnes Pumps.

In 1960 Fosters was acquired by Allens and Allens thereby owned Gwynnes, the company that W H had been manager of back in 187? The company changed their name to Allen Gwynne Pumps and in 1962 all Allen pump manufacture was transferred to Lincoln.

About this time Nelson Engineering in Lancashire, who built small electric motors, was added to the portfolio as well as J P Hall in Peterborough, who built small pumps.

In 1961 the 3 acres at the Bromham road end of the site, which had been sold was repurchased when the owners found it surplus to requirements.

In the late 60’s trading was getting harder and in 1968 Allens and Bellis & Morcom, compressor manufacturers in Birmingham were merged into a new Company, Amalgamated Power Engineering Ltd. (APE).

This event technically marked the end of the Allen Dynasty although there was an Allen on the board until 1977.

The Allen Gwynne business transferred back to Bedford and the Lincoln site was sold.

The new APE group included W H Allen, Allen Gears, Allen Gwynnes Pumps, Bellis and Morcom and their subsidiary Crossley Engines of Manchester who between them employed over 3600 people. For the next decade this grouping prospered and the world looked good. Overseas subsidiaries were established in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Malaysia, India and South Africa.

In 1977 APE passed into the hands of Northern Engineering Industries (NEI).

This company had been formed by the merger of some of the great engineering companies in the North of England. C A Parsons of Newcastle, steam turbine manufacturers, Reyrolle of Hebburn-on-Tyne, Clarke Chapman of Gateshead, John Thompson, boilermakers of Wolverhampton, International Combustion of Derby, Peebles of Edinburgh. This new grouping, together with the companies within the APE grouping, was seen as a major force in the design, manufacture and construction of complete power plant installations of all sizes.

By 1988 the shipbuilding business in the UK had been decimated by the new far Eastern shipyards, even Royal Navy contracts had all but disappeared. (Nuclear submarines are steam powered and Allen produced the turbo-generators for them.)

With other areas of engineering on the decline NEI started to downsize. The Allen pump interests were sold to Weir Pumps. The turbine interests were sold to a separate company trading as Allen Steam Turbines and the remaining diesel engine business was taken over by Rolls Royce in 1989.