160 Years of Sykes Pumps

When Henry Sykes traded Sheffield for London to found a small engineering business on Upper Thames Street, few could have envisaged the company’s status today.

By 1900, Sykes’ organisation had already worked on some of the city’s highest profile pumping schemes. Business headquarters were transferred to Southwark, coinciding with the introduction of several new innovations that became synonymous with the name Henry Sykes.

Prior to the 20th century, his prospering firm was registered as a Private Limited Company under the stewardship of Henry Sykes Jr.

The First World War unsurprisingly had the potential to be a destabilising time for the company – particularly as many employees had been conscripted. Amazingly, some of the remaining workmen helped design and construct special rolling-friction winches which allowed Allied forces to pinpoint enemy locations!

The interwar period saw the acquisition of 51 acres of Greenwich marshland, adjoining the Woolwich Road at Charlton. Even now – 90 years on – Sykes retain an extremely strong presence in the area, which is where our flagship depot is based.

Stakeholder and long-term staff member Edmond Jackson died the year the Second World War broke out, but was recognised as the inventor of several revolutionary machines during an association that exceeded four decades.

Once again, Sykes played a significant role during the ensuing six years of international conflict – this time by assisting the construction of steel masts that would house radar installations for British Army intelligence.

Even more remarkably, however, was the rapidity with which pumps were supplied after MOD units failed. Without them, the Mulberry Harbours (widely considered one of the World War II’s greatest engineering accomplishments) would undoubtedly have sunk.

1957 marked the company’s centenary year and it was also around this time that another major development – the ‘Univac’ pump – was introduced to market. Many generations of the Univac product have since been developed with the current adaptation still prominently available.

Fifteen years on, and with the company still going from strength to strength, Sykes unveiled our first submersible pumps.

Domestic growth prompted expansion overseas, with Sykes venturing to the Middle East by the mid-1970s. Following two unconnected procurements, the Braithwaite Group merged Henry Sykes Ltd with the well-established Andrews Heat for Hire to form what we know today as Andrews Sykes.

The company’s reputation has continued to flourish, and in the last twenty years Sykes Pumps have been responsible for an incredible number of huge developments both in the UK and abroad.

It remains to be seen exactly what the future may hold for the organisation but maintaining a steady level of progress and expanding our international presence remain two constant targets.

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Sykes’ dewatering expertise opens the door to residential development in Somerset

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Sykes Pumps help leading university with construction project

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