Based at the James Estate, corner of Bond Road and Western Road.
THE MITCHAM INDUSTRIALIST WHO BEAT THE NAVY EXPERTS
He solved U-boat secret
When the Navy captured a German U-boat during the early part of the war, an underwater metal cutter with an entirely unknown type of valve was discovered inside it.
Admiralty experts were stumped. They wanted to use similar valves on equipment in our own submarines, but did not know how they were made. Naval engineers started to draw up plans and meanwhile one of the small valves was sent to the Mitcham Foundry and Engineering Company.
Mr. Robert Badcoe, one of the two partners at the foundry, studied the valve carefully. He decided, after a lot of thought, that he could make one, and set about it.
The valve took 64 operations and contained 13 different threads, but it was soon completed and sent back to the Admiralty. A few days later blueprints arrived at Mitcham telling Mr. Badcoe how the valve could be made!
Work at the foundry ranges from the manufacture of cheese and sweet moulds to the building of underwater television equipment and secret components for Harwell, the atomic research centre.
Originally a workhouse, and, in the first world war a hospital, the foundry lies back from the Western Road near Mitcham Fair Green.
At a very early age, Mr. Badcoe, who now lives in Worcester Park, was apprenticed to a Tooting firm of carburettor manufacturers. Steadily he built up an extensive knowledge of the motoring and light engineering trade.
For a number of years he acted as a second mechanic to a Maserati motor racing team in this country.
Later, when the firm closed, Mr. Badcoe decided to take over the foundry at Mitcham and with his father-in-law, Mr. George Langlands, as a partner, gradually built up the business.
Mr. Badcoe, now nearing 60, is a man who believes in facing emergencies only when they arise and his 35 hand-picked and skilled men follow in his footsteps. They still refuse to wear protective clothing for their faces and hands although they are continually dealing with white hot molten metal.
When the war started the factory immediately began to manufacture shells, aeroplane parts, fire-fighting apparatus and metal air valves for frogmen’s breathing units.
The firm once received an order from the Air Ministry for thousands of aircraft parts for which over 80 tons of lead had to be used.
It was stored on the floor of one of the workshops, and a few days later, when workmen reached the bottom of the pile, they found that the weight had caused it to sink about four feet into the ground.
A big order which the foundry is dealing with at present is a speciality and they have often been called upon to make such things as jewellers’ lathes for Hatton Garden merchants.
Mr. Badcoe and his team are now working on a special type of outboard propellor unit for a Commonwealth Government.
Each unit is made up of hundreds of different parts and often the men have had to make their own jigs and fixtures.
(photo) Mr. Badcoe’s son, Christopher, places a finished unit among the other equipment for an important contract.
Note that some online company check websites show this company as number 00245458 at 174 London Road, CR4 3LD, the engineering works at the rear of the Swan.