William Kendall, a draftsman, and George Gent formed the Salford machine manufacturing company of Kendall and Gent in 1847. In 1863 their Victoria Works were situated in Dickinson Street, Springfield, Salford.
The British Machine Tool Engineering Journal of 1957 contained an article about Kendall & Gent giving a short history of its development, an extract of which is below.
NB The article transposes their Christian names but hopefully the other information is correct!
|“In the year 1847 two men, a draftsman George Kendall and William Gent, a fitter, together opened a business in Manchester for the manufacture of gas burners. Premises were obtained in the centre of the city adjacent to the recently completed London Road Station, the main line terminus of the Midland Railway from London. Although the gas burner business seems to have prospered, it was not long before the new Company branched out into other fields. A Manchester directory dated as far back as 1857 referred to the company as manufacturers of Engineering Tools, including drills, cutters, lathe tools, etc.
While still at the London Road works, at a date unfortunately unknown, Kendall and Gent began manufacture of machine tools and soon found it necessary to obtain more extensive workshops for their expanding business. A move was therefore made to Springfield Lane, Salford where much larger premises were acquired and named Victoria Works. These premises still exist today  and it was here that the real foundation of Kendall and Gent as machine tool builders of repute was laid. In line with the practice of every type of machine tool was constructed. In due course the new Salford premises were entirely outgrown and further efforts had to be made to increase manufacturing capacity.
It was therefore decided to build a complete new works at a site in Gorton, Manchester, which was well served by road and rail facilities and provided reserve space to allow for future expansion. The work opened in 1897 and named like the predecessor Victoria Works, are still used by the Company today ”
The photograph (left) shows a Kendall & Gent Milling Machine currently at the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester.
The earliest reference to the firm Kendall & Gent in the local Trade Directories was in 1853 where they are described as engineers, tool makers, general machinists and gas burner manufacturers in Silver Street off Aytoun Street, close to the London Road Station as the potted history above described.
Although the name of Kendall & Gent remained (and still remains to the present) the same, the ownership by the Gent family stopped (as far as we know) in 1880 with the death of Joseph Shaw Gent.
We have found a number of newspaper articles from the Manchester Times which refer to Kendall & Gent.
The above article refers to a 10 year old boy who was employed by Kendall and Gent. He was charged with stealing 32 gas burners from his employers with intent to sell them. After being found quilty the boy was ordered to be whipped as a punishment. He was brought before the Borough Court in Salford, which indicates that the Kendall and Gent premises had moved to their Victoria Works site in Dickinson Street, Salford. (see below)
The map below shows where the Victoria Works (purple pin) would have been on an up to date map of the area. As you can see the course of the river has changed and is further south than it was in 1920. The coloured balloons indicate where the Gent family were living at various times. (click on the link under the map for more details)
View Gent Family in Manchester in a larger map
The ‘scuttling’ nuisance, as mentioned in the above article, refers to a gang of lads employed by Kendall & Gent who had been in the habit of fighting the lads employed at the local Greengate Mill, owned by Messrs. Langworthy, during mealtimes. The ‘scuttling’ is what the lads called the fights in which they used sticks, stones and other weapons. These scuttles included about 50 lads and spilled out into Springfield Lane much to the annoyance, and probably fear, of the inhabitants. The two lads that were caught were both sentenced to 14 days imprisonment.
The first article (above) is a rather long one but worth reading as it tells of how a new sewer gave way at Springfield Lane footbridge after heavy rainfall which swelled the River Irwell to 11 feet above the low-water mark. The inhabitants of 3 dwellings, including the Bridge Inn at the corner of St Simon Street and Springfiled Lane, were awakened by cracking walls, tearing wallpaper and the dropping of plaster as they lay in bed and when they rushed into Springfield Lane in their nightdresses they found a hole had formed in the middle of the street. Later in the morning a number of work places, including Kendall & Gent, had to stop work because gas and water pipes had been broken by the river water and their workforces became spectators of the hole that eventually became 40 feet wide and 25 feet deep. The article doesn’t say whether there were any human injuries but does reassure readers that the sewer is unharmed(!) The second article is a follow up and mentions that the Kendall & Gent works might be undermined as they were very close to the holes that the flood created.
There are a number of references to Kendall & Gent in The London Gazette the archive of which is available online. Some are notices of patents for eg, improvements in gas burners or screwing machines.
The Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester have more information about Kendall & Gent.