AN engineer which moved to the region more than 100 years ago to supply the railway has won major orders and expanded operations to help build a transport network fit for the 21st century.

Since it set up shop in Darlington in 1911 Henry Williams Limited has played a pivotal role in providing control and signalling equipment for the UK rail network, as well as becoming a key supplier to the Highways Agency.

The firm’s wide range of engineering capabilities, which includes traditional forging and cutting-edge design, are set to expand further following investment in new equipment from a rival company in Hull, as well as a recruitment drive, and a host of multi-million pound deals.

Loading article content

Since managing director Andrew Nelson joined the firm six years ago turnover has grown from £7.8m to almost £12m last year, and as the firm’s order book has grown in recent years staff numbers have risen from 85 to 105.

“About five or six years ago the firm was probably guilty of relying too much on its reputation to sell itself rather than shouting about what it could do,” noted Mr Nelson. “We have a new culture here which is forward-thinking and flexible. It is helping us to win major orders with OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in the transport industry, as well as our rail and highways work.

“We have an amazing heritage here, but thanks to what we have been doing here over the last three or four years in terms of investment, staff training and winning new business, we are more optimistic than ever.”

Henry Williams Ltd was established in Glasgow in 1883 and moved to Darlington 113 years ago to the Dodsworth Street site that it has occupied ever since. It is now part of the Con Mech Group chaired by Howard Dilley.