1931 – 1945

Company records show that 1931 was an exceptionally busy season and 500 people were now employed. It was also the year when an explosion occurred in the foundry during casting operations. A moulding box was being filled with molten metal, which came into contact with damp sand, the resulting explosion shooting metal to the height of the roof! Fortunately nobody was seriously injured. The continuing prosperity of the company, brought about by the rapid expansion of farm mechanisation, received a setback in 1932 with the general slump. Nevertheless development did not suffer too greatly for, in spite of the difficult times, the company went into diesel engine manufacture in 1932 with three models of 6, 8 and 10 h.p. These engines were an immediate success and gained top honours at shows in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. With the general depression, which was to last until 1934, the company was for a time working only three days a fortnight and for a short period the works were forced to close. This sad occasion is recalled in a notice, which was posted in the works on June 29th, 1932, saying “Owing to the continued trade depression these works will close tonight until further notice, except those men who have received notification that their services are required.”

In 1933, the Bamford diesel engine was successful in obtaining the highest awards of the Royal Agricultural Societies of England, Scotland, Wales, The Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. This record for engines had only once been equalled and this was by the Bamford engine in the 1920s. 1933 also saw the introduction of the first Bamford mower to be made specifically for tractor use. Called the 7RT and developed from the successful 7R two-horse mower, it was developed over the years becoming the 7RTA in 1934, 7RTB in1938 and culminating in 1940 in the 7RTC which, without doubt, was one of the most popular tractor mowers of its time. This mower remained in production until 1964 by which time many thousands had been built.

Continuous development was taking place at the works, but problems were again to present themselves in 1939 with the outbreak of the Second World War. Bamfords were placed on the approved list of agricultural machinery manufacturers, and in line with the policy of rationalisation to conserve steel and other products which were rationed, they were required to make mowers rather than the other lines of machinery which had been part of their range of products. This was natural in view of the company’s great experience in the design of mowers.At the same time the company was called upon to undertake much sub-contract work on radar components, gears, measuring gauges etc. To assist in the national effort a portion of the factory was taken over by the Daimler company for the production of scout cars. As was common practice during the war years, to alleviate the shortage of labour women were recruited to work during the day and so release men to work the night shift thus ensuring 24-hour production.