A brief history of Fry's Metals Ltd

At tandem works christchurch road merton abbey by eric shaw

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Tandem works was built in 1907 by the Tandem Smelting Syndicate, a German company who were taken over in 1914 by the Board of Trade as an alien concern. In 1917 it was sold to the Eyre Smelting Co Ltd who were acquired in 1925 by Fry's Metal Foundries Ltd from Blackfriars, in London. They moved on to the site between 1926 and 1930.

Their diecasting operation became a separate concern in 1933 as Fry's Diecastings Ltd, and were located behind the Tandem Works in Prince George's Road. The solder department, from Blackfriars, became a separate unit at Tandem Works in 1934. Soldering flux manufacture was introduced in 1935 and a separate factory for fluxes was established in 1936, as was the research department.

In 1952 the manufacturing rights of Fluxite and Bakers Fluid, two very well known soldering fluxes, were acquired from a company in Isleworth - Sir Wm. Burnett & Co Ltd. A new office block which housed the Printing Metal Sales, the Laboratory and the Research Department, was built in 1958 on to the railway end of the original office building.

The bronze and flowsolder* divisions moved from Tandem Works in 1961 to a site in Willow Lane, Mitcham. This site was originally developed, at the request of the Ministry of Aircraft production, for the manufacture of secondary aluminium alloys, in 1942. Some of the older readers, if they knew that area, may remember the heaps of scrap aircraft waiting to be recycled.

* Flowsolder was a process invented in 1956 by Fry's Metals Ltd where a wave of molten solder was used to solder components to printed circuit boards. The component tails were inserted into corresponding holes in the boards and the assembly was passed along a conveyor, tails down, so that the underside of the board passed through a flux spray and then through the solder wave. Thus the components and board were soldered together in one pass. Prior to this invention, circuit boards and components were individually soldered by hand! This process was used world wide.
In 1962, Chillcast Phosphor Bronze Rod Production was also transferred from Tandem Works to Willow Lane. A new office block, to house the Accounts and Solder Departments, was occupied in 1965. This office block was built on the site of eleven cottages in Bridge Road, and Bridge Road was closed in 1966.

On 1st January 1967, Fry's Metal Foundries Ltd changed its name to Fry's Metals Ltd, and on 7th September, Mr John Fry, the Founder, died, aged 91. He had founded the company in 1911.

A new extension was built for flux and solder powder manufacture at the end of what was Bridge road in 1968. An extension to the offices built in 1965 was opened in 1977, housing the Accounts and Sales Departments. Various improvements and additions to the buildings and plant in the work area took place in subsequent years.

The author has a hopper head from the works (but it may not be an early one) on his garden wall with flowers in it. He also has granite chip from one of the bollards that were in front of the original office building.
Finally, in 1990, a decision was made to move from the Tandem Works site to a smaller area at Marlowe Way, Croydon (at the rear of ASDA in Beddington Lane). The move was completed in 1991, and in 1995 Tandem Works was demolished. Subsequently the Tandem Retail Centre site was built in its place. All that exists now are two cast iron rainwater hopper heads, with date 1907 cast on them. The original idea was that they would be resited on one of the buildings in Marlowe Way.

Contrary to a notion held by some older local residents, bicycles were never made at Tandem Works. Bronzes, solders, whitemetals, typemetals, soldering fluxes and solder paints were the products.

Eric Shaw, Museum member and one time chairman of the Management Committee. He originally came to the Museum as a representative for Fry's when the Museum was located in Hartfield Crescent, Wimbledon. He started at Fry's in 1972 as a design draughtsman, in 1975 he was appointed Smelting Manager and in 1984 he became their Administration Manager and Fire Officer. He also undertook the training and examination of all of their fork lift truck drivers at Tandem Works and the various branches of Fry's in the UK

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