Bolt firm buys historic foundry

The former Darwins premises on Sheffield Road, Rotherham.
The former Darwins premises on Sheffield Road, Rotherham.

A historic Sheffield foundry has closed with the loss of 45 jobs - but the site is set to be reborn after being acquired by bolt maker Cooper & Turner.

Darwins Castings, which dates back to 1774, sold its site on Sheffield Road, Rotherham, with the majority of the workforce turning down the chance to work at a sister site in Scunthorpe. Bosses hoped “a sizeable number” would transfer, but just six took up the offer, with the rest taking redundancy.

But the building will not stand empty, it was bought by fast growing bolt maker Cooper & Turner and will be used for manufacturing. The company has a factory on the other side of Sheffield Road.

A Darwins worker, who asked not to be named, said: “It was a sad day, a chapter has closed in Sheffield’s industrial history. But times move on.
“Some staff have gone to other foundries, office staff have joined firms in other sectors, the ones I have kept in contact with have all found jobs.
“From a personal viewpoint, the owners dealt with everyone fairly and handled it as well as they could have.”

Owners Bonds issued a statement: ‘Having been under the ownership of Bonds since 2015, Darwins Holdings has contributed to the manufacture of mid-sized steel castings and is now closed as a trading entity.

‘The Darwins’ staff were offered alternative roles or redundancy and we are pleased that the site has been purchased by a neighbouring company, in which to expand.

‘The manufacturing capabilities and expertise have been shared across the Bonds Group of foundries and all trading activity will now be undertaken by Bonds Foundry of Crook, County Durham, and Bonds Precision Castings of Alston, Cumbria.’

The Fitzwilliam Works includes a foundry building, workshops, first floor offices and stores. It also has two detached stores.

Cooper & Turner was acquired by US-based The Watermill Group in 2017.

The firm makes high-strength fastener systems for wind turbines, railway tracks and steel construction buildings.

Chief executive Tony Brown and head of group production David Brown remained in post.

At the time, Watermill said it pursued the deal due to Cooper & Turner’s expanding market opportunities, and global manufacturing and distribution footprint.

Cooper & Turner has a strong presence in wind energy, which is set to grow five per cent annually through 2020. Mr Brown said: “We are thrilled to join Watermill for the next chapter in our history.”