Longford Wire, Iron and Steel Company

Dates: 1874 until 1986

Location: Dallam, Warrington

Specialities: bright, black and galvanised iron and steel wire, weaving wire, baling wire, wire fencing, wire ropes, wire netting, ship’s rigging, wire weaving, wire belting, mattresses, bedsteads, bicycles, bicycle saddles

Founded in Dallam in 1874 the Longford Wire, Iron and Steel Company initially occupied a 80 by 40 foot building which as the company developed over time was expanded to cover 4 acres.

A specialist plant at the Longford works was dedicated to producing crucible steel wire for ship’s hawsers, colliery ropes and suspension bridges. The hawsers (rigging) for both the Lusitania and its sister ship the Mauritania were produced here.

Other products of the Longford works, which was driven by a mixture of steam, electric and hydraulic power, included the fittings for train carriages and a patent woven wire mattress used in hospitals.

During the 1890s Longfords also developed a reputation for manufacturing items related to cycling. In 1897 they produced the “Number 49 Home Trainer” which could be fitted to the rear wheel of a bicycle and meant that it took the equivalent of 1 mile of pedalling to move forward 15 feet. The device was demonstrated by the famous racing cyclist A.E. Walters onstage at the London Pavilion the following year.

Around the same Longfords unveiled the “Woods Patent Wire Cycle Saddle”, made from woven wire and supposedly able to entirely prevent saddle soreness it was endorsed by the Baroness de Langsdaff!

Unfortunately the recession of the early 1980s hit Longford really badly and it was put on a 4 day week in 1980. The pressure increased until 75 job losses were announced in 1986, leaving only a skeleton staff of 28.

This article was written for the Wire Works Project 2020-2021, a National Lottery Heritage funded project aiming to highlight and celebrate the legacy left by the wire industry, which dominated Warrington’s employment structure for over 170 years, putting the town at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution.