THE BIRMINGHAM SMALL ARMS CO. LIMITED.
The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited was established in 1861 for the manufacture of Military Rifles for the Government by machinery on the interchangeable principle.
A factory on similar lines had just previously been started at Enfield by the Government and every assistance was rendered to the Directors by the War Office which encouraged the project, and placed at the disposal of the Company the experience gained at Enfield, with free access to the Enfield factory and permission to make drawings of machines.
Notwithstanding this Government encouragement at the outset the position of the Company for many years was a very precarious one in consequence of the small and fluctuating orders given by the Government. At times the factory was practically standing without work, while at other times when the Government pattern rifle was changed the factory had a spurt of work for a year or two.
In view of this the Directors early in the 1890s realised that something must be done or some new industry undertaken to keep the works together, and it was then that they decided to use some of the standing machinery for the manufacture of bicycle fittings. This move proved so successful that by 1900 and later the Company possessed quite a large department, which had been added to year by year, for the manufacture of cycles and had built up an extensive business.
Although the business had been started to occupy rifle plant which was standing, its growth required the installation of a separate plant, otherwise the rifle plant would not have been maintained available for Government orders.
Although this move had placed the Company in a strong position, the same conditions prevailed more or less with regard to the employment of the rifle plant so much so that