Metal works factory that was at Willow Lane, from 1950 to 1990.
The factory equipment was offered at auction on 12th and 13th July 1990, while the staff were still there, as one recalled:
We were all told on 27th April 1990 that the manufacturing site at Willow lane was finishing and we would be made redundant on 27th July 1990. The auction was two weeks from end. They sold everything including our desks and computers. We were left with the boardroom table and one pc!
The building interiors shown in the auction catalogue are of jet building which had been the largest clean room in Europe at the time.
The auction catalogue can downloaded here as a pdf.
A copy of their brochure, published 4th June 1977, was kindly provided by Joseph from Hong Kong, who was a trainee at the factory in that year:
Surrey CR4 4TD
Telephone: 01 648 7040
Cable: Morfax Croydon
Company Registered Number 536753 England
Registered trade names and symbols
Design, development and manufacturing contractor to the aerospace and defence industries, nuclear research establishments, UK and overseas, the Procurement Executive of the British Ministry of Defence and the Departments of Environment and Energy.
Morfax was founded in 1945 by Mr. T.C. Morss and Mr. F.J. Frost as a partnership for sheet metal subcontract work. Later, machining facilities were added to give a more complete service.
By 1950 the business had progressed into more complicated metal working for industry – in particular, the aerospace industry. In order to have both the extra modern plant and floor space required for this type of work a new and larger factory was built at Mitcham. This factory was equipped with additional facilities for heavy fabrications, high speed milling of light alloys (sculpture routing) and a Government-approved inspection department.
As expansion continued other companies were formed in London and Scotland to offer a similar subcontract service. Companies were also acquired to provide a service to the group – for machine tools, maintenance of plant and construction of new buildings.
In 1966 work commenced on the present headquarters at Mitcham. This has progressively provided over 200,000 square feet (18,580 square metres) of work-space, which includes a 25-ton main crane bay, subsidiary five-ton crane bays and other service areas.
A further factory is now in the course of construction on the Mitcham site which will provide an additional 70,00 square feet (6,500 square metres).
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
T.C. Morss, Chairman
L.B. Williams, Director of Engineering and Deputy Chairman
F.C. Hatton, Managing
A.J. Camilleri, General Manager
C.A. Waller, Commercial
H. Tinsley, Works
D.C. Leek, Quality
F.J. Frost, Administrative
Morfax is a private limited company.
Sculpture Machining Limited,
Central Way, Bedfont, Middlesex
Morfax (Scotland) Limited,
Danderhall, Dalkeith, Midlothian,
High Street, Prestonpans, East Lothian, Scotland
Lang London Limited, and
Barker Machine Tools Limited, and
Roman Machine Tools Limited, all at
Central Way, Bedfont, Middlesex
Morfax, 550 employees.
Associated manufacturing companies, 300 employees.
TOTAL FLOOR SPACE
Over 400,000 sq.ft. (37,160 sq.m.).
Barclays Bank Limited,
342 London Road, Mitcham, Surrey
C.J. White & Company,
Sutton Court Road, Sutton, Surrey SMI 4TA
Lovell, White & King,
1 Serjeants’ Inn, London EC4Y IIP
1976/77 over £10,000,000 including more than £5,500,000 direct exports.
DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT
The nature of the company’s business involves the design office in a large variety of projects for the aerospace and other major engineering industries; the Ministry of Defence, the Department of the Environment and design of the company’s own special purpose machine tools and equipment.
This design service is backed by many years of manufacturing experience for a broad cross section of the engineering industry. This – together with the coordination of project engineers, planners, quality cootrol and design teams — enables the manufacturing shops to provide an efficient, practical and speedy set-up for prototype and development projects leading to production.
QUALITY CONTROL, INSPECTION AND TESTING
The Company is registered on the British Ministry of Defence Procurement Executive’s Defence Contractors List as eligible to undertake Ministry of Defence work to the Quality Requirements of the Defence Standard 05-21 (similar to NATO Standard AQAP 1) in respect of design, development and complete manufacture within the engineering fields of fighting vehicles, aerospace, machine tools, handling equipment, process equipment, test rigs, nuclear, electronics and telecommunications.
The company also has the approval of the British Qvil Aviation Authority.
The quality and inspection departments employ a wide variety of modem measuring equipment, general and specialist test facilities. These include an approved mechanical test house offering radiography, metallurgical weld assessment, high vacuum analysis and most testing requirements of the aerospace industry.
All details, units and assemblies are monitored by quality control personnel through all stages of design, develop¬ment and manufacture, and a history is compiled as work progresses. Each shop or department has a high ratio of inspectors for direct surveillance.
The company’s services include the design and manufacture of prototype equipment, sheet metal development, metal structural fabrication, precision machining and all aspects of welding, including electron beam. Design and manufacture of complete engineering projects, electronics and wiring assembly, testing and site installation, are also undertaken.
Work ranges from experimental and prototype development, pre-production or small batches through to medium quantity production runs, or contracts extending over several years. The facilities are varied – covering light, medium and heavy requirements.
Included in a range of over 500 modern machine tools are some 36 numerically controlled machines, amongst which are the latest and most advanced CNC controlled four axis machining centres. All machines are supported by sophisticated measuring and checking equipment.
Design and manufacture of special tooling.
The company is equipped for the manufacture of close tolerance metal fabrications in all specialised materials, as required by the aerospace industry, the Ministry of Defence and the Department of the Environment. Manufactures range from precision sheet metal development to heavy gauge metal fabrications — supported by quality-controlled welding and full machining facilities.
Morfax has many years’ experience of specialised welding and is approved by the aerospace, nuclear, Government departments and marine industries for the following:
Electron beam welding
Resistance spot and seam
Inert gas (mig & tig) orbital and CO2
Metallic arc (steel and aluminium armour plate, stainless.)
The electronics department is complementary to the main manufacturing and assembly shops, and offers a sub-contract service for design and installation of systems and functional testing.
Some past and present projects, involving electronics include:
HF 200 height finding radar equipment for Plesscy Radar Limited.
Manufacture and assembly work to the Ministry of Defence and
Electrical Quality Directorate (EQD).
Installation – for the Ministry of Defence of various telecommunications projects in army vehicles and transportable containers to E.Q.D. and Science Research and Development Establishment (SRDE).
The Chieftain tank gunnery classroom instructional units for Ministry of Defence.
Testing equipment for the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment (RARDE) Ministry of Defence.
Control equipment for the Anglo French Concorde Aircraft to the Ministry of Defence/Aeronautical Quality Directorate Standards and British Gvil Aviation Authority requirements.
The design, development and manufacture of the Morfax OPTICAL LINE-TRACE system.
Post design services for the Ministry of Defence projects, and site installation support facilities.
Morfax ensures that – by continuous investment in modern plant – its facilities always remain flexible, in order to meet the many changing demands of industry.
PRINCIPAL MARKETING OBJECTIVES
To provide a comprehensive design, manufacture and product facility in both the United Kingdom and Europe.
The Procurement Executive — Ministry of Defence
Department of Environment
Department of Energy
In the United Kingdom
British Composites limited
British Aircraft Corporation Limited
B.A.C. (Guided Weapons Division)
Brown Brothers Limited
Central Electricity Generating Board
Cossor Electronics Limited
Decca Navigation Limited
Decca Radar Limited
Dennis Brothers Limited
Dowty Fuel Systems Limited
Dowty Rotol Limited
English Electric Company Limited
Fairey Engineering Limited
Foster Wheeler John Brown Boilers Limited
GEC Gas Turbines Limited
GEC-Marconi Electronics Limited
Hawker Siddeley Aviation
Hawker Siddeley Dynamics
Honeywell Controls Limited
IBM (UK) Limited
International Research and Development Company Limited
Kodak (Engineering Division) Limited
Louis Newmark Limited
Marconi Instruments Limited
Marconi Space & Defence Systems Limited
Marconi-Elliott Avionic Systems Limited
Metal Box Company Limited
Noel Penny Turbines Limited
Pilkington Brothers Limited
Plessey Company Limited
Rank Precision Industries Limited
Redifon Flight Simulation Limited
Rolls-Royce Industrial and Marine Division
Science Research Council
Scottish Aviation Limited
Stone Manganese Limited
United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
Westland Aircraft Limited
Wildt Mellor Bromley Limited
European Organisation for Nucfear Research
Messerschmitt, BB Germany
SAAB – SCANIA, Sweden
Main British manufacturing contractor to Aerospatiale of France for the EXOCET ship-to-ship missile (MM 38) which has been purchased by the Procurement Executive of the British Ministry of Defence.
Manufacture of airframe components for the Concorde, A300 Airbus, MRCA, VFW 614, Mercure and Viggen aircraft.
Manufacture of flying controls, artificial feel and relay chassis for roll, pitch and yaw for the Concorde Aircraft.
Completion of the largest mechanical component contract ever awarded by CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) was effected by Morfax in December 1975. The contract, valued at more than 40,000,000 SF was for Bending Magnets for the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS). Two further contracts valued at 25,000,000 SF have been received to supply magnets for the experimental areas of the SPS.
The contract for the Torus for JET (Joint European Tokomak), a plasma fusion project, has been awarded to Morfax Ltd.
Contractors to the Ministry of Defence for:
Design and manufacture of fighting vehicle training aids for Scorpion, Fox and Chieftain, including full-size layouts for driving, maintenance and electrical equipment.
Sectional engines, gearboxes, etc.
Manufacture and installation of vehicle mounted missile launcher equipment.
Manufacture of Chieftain tank gunnery simulators. Fabricated engine simulators for Rolls-Royce Olympus, 593, RB 211, RB 199, also full-scale simulators for pipe run acceptance and nacelle clearance.
Production of machined fabrications – engine support structure,
exhaust, intake, and gas generator enclosures for the Rolls-Royce Marine Olympus and Tyne engines being produced as prime movers for the current frigates, destroyers and through-deck cruisers for the Royal Navy and similar vessels for overseas naval forces. Similar equipment for stand-by industrial electrical power generators for land based and offshore applications.
Crown Agents for a remotely controlled vehicle, Wheelbarrow, capable of handling a variety of equipment necessary for the locating and disposal of potentially dangerous objects. Wheelbarrow Mk. 7, which has been developed in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence and manufactured by Morfax, including full back-up of spares (NATO coded), is the only equipment of this type that is used by the British Army to date.
PRODUCT SUMMARY ANN DESCRIPTION
DESCRIPTION OF PRINCIPAL SERVICES
Contractors for the design, manufacture and development of complete engineering projects for experimental prototype and prc-production units leading to limited production.
Design and general drawing office facilities
Welding, including electron beam
Precision metal structural fabrications
Sheet metal development
Design and manufacture of special tooling
More on the Exocet missiles, from Flight International magazine, 10th August 1972, page 216a:
Exocet consists of six functional units: the homing head, front equipment compartment, warhead, sustainer motor, boost motor and rear equipment case. Four equi-distant wings on the sustainer-motor casing give aerodynamic lift and stability;
four fins mounted on the rear equipment casing in the same planes as the wings are powered for pitch, roll and yaw control.
One of the major British sub-contractors is Morfax Ltd of Mitcham, Surrey. The company began talks with Aerospatiale in the first half of 1971, getting down to detailed planning following the inter-Governmental agreement in June of that year. Many of the items which are now the responsibility of Morfax were built on a pre-production basis by Aerospatiale,
although production parts will entirely be the responsibility of the British firm.
A lull between prototype fabrication and full production, while Aerospatiale and French test inspectors check that units built by Morfax conform to specification requirements, is
allowing the Mitcham concern to finalise its arrangements for a full-scale assembly line.
Many of the machine tools to be used have been developed specially by Morfax for the Exocet programme. Typical of these is a four-headed, seven-axis unit which performs the complete machining operations on the launching ramp. The company’s interest in the weapon is comprehensive, making as it does parts for both the missile and its launcher.
Missile work includes aluminium alloy castings for the front and rear equipment cases, the main machined forging for the front ring and the rocket motor venturi tube, as well as
a wide range of other parts. Of the ten sections of mechanical items pro-
duced in Britain, nine are manufactured by Morfax and the remaining
one by the Manchester Royal Ordnance Factory.
The largest of the major units being produced by Morfax is the launching
ramp, for which the company not only constructs the complex main beam
assembly but also parts for the locking box and missile suspension. In addition to holding sub-contracts from Aerospatiale, the firm has agreements with SFENA (Societe Frangaise d’
Equipements pour la Navigation Aerienne) under which it manufactures very-high-precision mechanical parts for the missile’s gyro.
Other Newspaper Articles and Ads
An ad in Norwood News – Friday 8 July 1955 refers to the ‘new factory’:
TOOLROOM PERSONNEL, night or day shift, millers, turners, detail fitters, etc.: high rates, new factory, excellent conditions.
— Morfax, Willow-lane. Mit. 4525
Norwood News – Friday 14 April 1961
Birmingham Daily Post – Tuesday 28 September 1976 reporting on the Subcontractors’ Expo ‘SUBCON’
HOW TO HANDLE A BOMB . .
An unusual exhibit at Subcon is the Morfax Wheelbarrow Mark VII a remote controlled vehicle for bomb disposal and security.
The need for a remote handling vehicle for the investigation, removal and neutralisation of potentially lethal explosive devices has become more apparent over the past few years, during which there has been a marked increase in terrorist activity directed against both military and civilian targets.
In 3 1/2 years the Wheelbarrow has already proved itself in this role during its service with the British Army and has revolutionised methods of handling suspicious objects. Urban terrorist warfare is now a world-wide problem and overseas defence agencies have shown considerable interest in this entirely British equipment.
So far, more than 200 wheelbarrows are in use and 5,000 bombs have been dealt with, saving many lives.
The wheelbarrow is part of the exhibit on the Morfax stand at SUBCON 76
From the Liverpool Echo – Friday 26 November 1993
DEFENCE equipment group Alvis is to buy a firm which makes bomb disposal robots in a deal worth an initial £600,000. The purchase of Morfax, which makes the so-called Wheelbarrow robots, comes after Alvis in conjunction with Racal won the contract for robot updates. Alvis, which already supplies the devices, will pay an additional £1.4m if sales targets are beaten.
The factory was probably built in the early part of the 1950s, and expanded thereafter.
From the Merton Council Planning website, this is a summary of some of the many planning applications, most of which do not have a reliable date, although some do have a date showing when permission was granted.
MIT1625 – office and combined garage and workshop for building contractors
MIT1874 – use of land as building contractors yard and erection of workshop, stores and offices
MIT1834(O) – Office and Factory for general engineering
MIT1931 – factory for general purposes
MIT1932 – liquid oxygen supply store
MIT2020 – extension to factory
MIT2064 – power house, stores and additional WC’s
MIT2839 – workshop for a limited period (granted permission 19/07/1956)
MIT2899 – building to house press, bending rails and forge
MIT2776 – extension to factory and retention of drawing office
MIT2946 – covered loading area (granted permission 20/12/1956)
MIT3519 – motor cycle shed (granted permission 29/01/1959)
MIT3566 – office block, works canteen and lavatories
MIT3589 – transformer chamber
MIT3420A – press and profile shop
MIT3619 – extension to heavy crane bay
MIT3646 – extension to heavy crane bay, oxygen store and tensile testing bay
MIT3678 – extension of factory including 3 storey office block
MIT3755 – lavatory and cloakroom block
MIT3760 – liquid oxygen store and meter room
MIT3956 – extension of factory including four storey office block
MIT3956B – lift and staircase block
MIT4216 – temporary cycle rack and motor cycle shed
The following applications indicate the year, e.g. MER978/67 was 1967.
MER978/67 – erection of single storey workshop and gantry at rear of factory for use in connection with nuclear and aircraft research
MER645/73 – erection of building to house hydraulic press for use in connection iwth high precision engineering research developing nuclear, atomic aircraft and defence production
MER595/77 – extension to factory (withdrawn 31/12/1977)
No associated documents are available online before the year 2005.