The story of 75 years of Ni-Cd Battery manufacture in Redditch

Site Designed, administered and published by  Anthony Green  2015


Chronology

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.

 

.

Ni-Cd Battery Production in Redditch