The History of Alcad in    Redditch 1918 - 1993

Overview

Redditch was unique in having two alkaline battery manufacturers within its area. The first to arrive was the Batteries Limited which was established in 1918 in a factory in Hunt End and the second was Britannia Batteries which was set up in 1929 in Union Street. The two companies were merged in 1947, to become Alkaline Batteries Ltd, and were based at the Union Street site. In 1993, after a long history and two changes of ownership, the manufacturing site, now called Alcad Ltd, was closed down and the site sold for redevelopment.

A tale of two battery companies in Redditch

Shortly after World War 1, a Nife battery facility was set up in England and a young engineer, Martin Dybeck, established headquarters in Redditch. The company had actually been registered in a London office in 1918, four £1 shares being issued, but it was not until February, 1920 that production began. The company was named Batteries Ltd. and they found premises at Hunt End which had previously been occupied by two other well-known Redditch firms, the Enfield Cycle Co., and the Eadie Manufacturing Co., who later moved to the present Union Street premises we now occupy and whose emblem, EMCo 1896, still remains on the gates to the offices. In 1923, the Chloride Group bought some shares in Batteries Ltd. In 1926/28 Lucas took an interest and in 1933 Chloride finally acquired a controlling interest with Lucas retaining a shareholding. Subsequently Lucas was bought out in 1968/69. Some 40 years before then, in 1928-29, Varta took over the present Union Street premises to establish a new factory, Britannia Batteries, for the manufacture of lead acid, alkaline (Edison tubular and a fiat plate type) and dry batteries (Pertrix). Following negotiations between 1931 and 1936, Chloride purchased all Varta interests in the UK. Before acquisition by Varta, the Union Street factory was occupied by the BSA Company for the manufacture of motor cycles. Many ex-BSA employees stayed on in the factory to work for Britannia Batteries and later for Chloride. For a time Chloride continued with the manufacture in Redditch of lead acid and dry batteries, in addition to the two alkaline types, but the lead-acid activities were gradually absorbed by other companies in the Group. Chloride disposed of the Pertrix dry battery section, helped perhaps by a disastrous fire which occurred during the Second World War and destroyed the main Pertrix building. In about 1933 Batteries Ltd. was renamed Nife Batteries Ltd. and in 1947 the company moved from Hunt End to Union Street to be merged with the alkaline section of Britannia Batteries, forming a new unit named Alkaline Batteries Ltd. The names of Nife Batteries and Britannia were retained for commercial use. The company changed its name to Chloride Alcad in April, 1973. They later sold the company in 1982 to the Marathon Manufacturing Inc of Waco, Texas, USA  who retained ownership for 5 years. However, due to the financial difficulties of the parent company resulting from the oil crisis of that time, they were forced to sell a number of their acquisitions, including Alcad. In 1987 it was acquired by the French specialist battery company Saft, who embarked on a major transfer of all their pocket plate manufacture from their site in Bordeaux to Redditch. However, in 1991 Saft acquired the Swedish company NIFE AB, the descendant if the original Nife Company, who were in financial difficulty due to to a large manufacturing investment. In 1993 the Redditch plant was closed and the production of the Alcad products moved to the Swedish factory based in Oskarashamn. The Alcad brand name was retained and still continues to to made and sold.

Timeline

1919 Martin Dybeck  started a subsidiary in the UK of the  Swedish battery company AB Jungner under the name Batteries Ltd using the brand name NIFE, and  at Hunt End, Redditch. 1923 Batteries Ltd. commenced manufacturing, assembling batteries from components made in Sweden. During the 1920's production facilities expanded. 1926 Lucas CAV took a financial interest in the company with an entitlement of two directors. 1929 Varta founded Britannia Batteries Ltd at Union Street, Redditch and commenced making dry batteries and lead acid batteries. In the mid 1930's they also began production of nickel-iron batteries. 1933 Chloride acquired a controlling interest in Batteries Ltd. and renamed it Nife Batteries Ltd. 1936 Chloride acquired Britannia Batteries Ltd. This gave them the Union Street plant and also the Britannia and Alklum brands. 1947 Nife and Britannia were merged to form Alkaline Batteries Ltd., operating from the Union Street site. 1964 A manufacturing plant was set up in Pont Henry, South Wales, to produce small sealed nickel-cadmium batteries based on technology and machines designed and developed in Redditch.. 1966 Alkaline Batteries Ltd. began using the Alcad brand name and allowed the Swedish Jungner company to gradually buy back the NIFE brand name for use also in the Brittish Commonwealth,except for in the UK.  Alkaline Batteries Ltd  kept the rights to “NIFE” in the UK until the 1980´s. 1973 Chloride bought out the Lucas CAV interest  and the name was changed to Chloride Alcad Ltd. 1982 Chloride sold Chloride Alcad Ltd to the Marathon Manufacturing Inc. of Waco, Texas, USA and the name was changed to Marathon Alcad Ltd. 1987 Marathon Alcad Ltd was sold to the French company, Saft,  The Redditch company then operated under the name Alcad Ltd. 1988 Redditch became the primary manufacturer of nickel-cadmium pocket plate cells for the Saft Group but various cost cutting measures reduced the workforce. 1991 Saft purchased the Swedish NIFE company, the descendant of the Svenska Ackumulator AB Jungner which had started the original Redditch company. Its brand name was changed to Saft-Nife. 1993 The Alcad factory in Redditch was closed and the production of the Alcad products moved to the Swedish factory based in Oskarshamn, Sweden. The Alcad UK sales were moved to the Saft (UK) Ltd offices in Hampton, Middlesex and the international sales moved to Sweden. Although the site was now derelict, due to the contamination of years of battery manufacture, it would be some time before the site could be declared safe for other use.
Alcad  History is part of my Explore Redditch group of websites                Designed, maintained and administered by Anthony Green
The History of Alcad    in Redditch    1918 - 1993

Overview

Redditch was unique in having two alkaline battery manufacturers within its area. The first to arrive was the Batteries Limited which was established in 1918 in a factory in Hunt End and the second was Britannia Batteries which was set up in 1929 in Union Street. The two companies were merged in 1947, to become Alkaline Batteries Ltd, and were based at the Union Street site. In 1993, after a long history and two changes of ownership, the manufacturing site, now called Alcad Ltd, was closed down and the site sold for redevelopment.

A tale of two battery companies in

Redditch

Shortly after World War 1, a Nife battery facility was set up in England and a young engineer, Martin Dybeck, established headquarters in Redditch. The company had actually been registered in a London office in 1918, four £1 shares being issued, but it was not until February, 1920 that production began. The company was named Batteries Ltd. and they found premises at Hunt End which had previously been occupied by two other well-known Redditch firms, the Enfield Cycle Co., and the Eadie Manufacturing Co., who later moved to the present Union Street premises we now occupy and whose emblem, EMCo 1896, still remains on the gates to the offices. In 1923, the Chloride Group bought some shares in Batteries Ltd. In 1926/28 Lucas took an interest and in 1933 Chloride finally acquired a controlling interest with Lucas retaining a shareholding. Subsequently Lucas was bought out in 1968/69. Some 40 years before then, in 1928-29, Varta took over the present Union Street premises to establish a new factory, Britannia Batteries, for the manufacture of lead acid, alkaline (Edison tubular and a fiat plate type) and dry batteries (Pertrix). Following negotiations between 1931 and 1936, Chloride purchased all Varta interests in the UK. Before acquisition by Varta, the Union Street factory was occupied by the BSA Company for the manufacture of motor cycles. Many ex-BSA employees stayed on in the factory to work for Britannia Batteries and later for Chloride. For a time Chloride continued with the manufacture in Redditch of lead acid and dry batteries, in addition to the two alkaline types, but the lead-acid activities were gradually absorbed by other companies in the Group. Chloride disposed of the Pertrix dry battery section, helped perhaps by a disastrous fire which occurred during the Second World War and destroyed the main Pertrix building. In about 1933 Batteries Ltd. was renamed Nife Batteries Ltd. and in 1947 the company moved from Hunt End to Union Street to be merged with the alkaline section of Britannia Batteries, forming a new unit named Alkaline Batteries Ltd. The names of Nife Batteries and Britannia were retained for commercial use. The company changed its name to Chloride Alcad in April, 1973. They later sold the company in 1982 to the Marathon Manufacturing Inc of Waco, Texas, USA  who retained ownership for 5 years. However, due to the financial difficulties of the parent company resulting from the oil crisis of that time, they were forced to sell a number of their acquisitions, including Alcad. In 1987 it was acquired by the French specialist battery company Saft, who embarked on a major transfer of all their pocket plate manufacture from their site in Bordeaux to Redditch. However, in 1991 Saft acquired the Swedish company NIFE AB, the descendant if the original Nife Company, who were in financial difficulty due to to a large manufacturing investment. In 1993 the Redditch plant was closed and the production of the Alcad products moved to the Swedish factory based in Oskarashamn. The Alcad brand name was retained and still continues to to made and sold.

Timeline

1919 Martin Dybeck  started a subsidiary in the UK of the  Swedish battery company AB Jungner under the name Batteries Ltd using the brand name NIFE, and  at Hunt End, Redditch. 1923 Batteries Ltd. commenced manufacturing, assembling batteries from components made in Sweden. During the 1920's production facilities expanded. 1926 Lucas CAV took a financial interest in the company with an entitlement of two directors. 1929 Varta founded Britannia Batteries Ltd at Union Street, Redditch and commenced making dry batteries and lead acid batteries. In the mid 1930's they also began production of nickel-iron batteries. 1933 Chloride acquired a controlling interest in Batteries Ltd. and renamed it Nife Batteries Ltd. 1936 Chloride acquired Britannia Batteries Ltd. This gave them the Union Street plant and also the Britannia and Alklum brands. 1947 Nife and Britannia were merged to form Alkaline Batteries Ltd., operating from the Union Street site. 1964 A manufacturing plant was set up in Pont Henry, South Wales, to produce small sealed nickel- cadmium batteries based on technology and machines designed and developed in Redditch.. 1966 Alkaline Batteries Ltd. began using the Alcad brand name and allowed the Swedish Jungner company to gradually buy back the NIFE brand name for use also in the Brittish Commonwealth,except for in the UK.  Alkaline Batteries Ltd  kept the rights to “NIFE” in the UK until the 1980´s. 1973 Chloride bought out the Lucas CAV interest  and the name was changed to Chloride Alcad Ltd. 1982 Chloride sold Chloride Alcad Ltd to the Marathon Manufacturing Inc. of Waco, Texas, USA and the name was changed to Marathon Alcad Ltd. 1987 Marathon Alcad Ltd was sold to the French company, Saft,  The Redditch company then operated under the name Alcad Ltd. 1988 Redditch became the primary manufacturer of nickel-cadmium pocket plate cells for the Saft Group but various cost cutting measures reduced the workforce. 1991 Saft purchased the Swedish NIFE company, the descendant of the Svenska Ackumulator AB Jungner which had started the original Redditch company. Its brand name was changed to Saft-Nife. 1993 The Alcad factory in Redditch was closed and the production of the Alcad products moved to the Swedish factory based in Oskarshamn, Sweden. The Alcad UK sales were moved to the Saft (UK) Ltd offices in Hampton, Middlesex and the international sales moved to Sweden. Although the site was now derelict, due to the contamination of years of battery manufacture, it would be some time before the site could be declared safe for other use.