Stephenson Blake is an engineering company based in Sheffield. The company was active from the early 19th century as a type founder, remaining until the 1990s as the last active type foundry in Britain, after which it has diversified into specialist engineering.
The type foundry began operations in July 1818 by silversmith and mechanic William Garnett and toolmaker John Stephenson, financially supported by James Blake. That November, news came that the breakaway Caslon foundry (formed when William Caslon III left the original firm and acquired Joseph Jackson Foundry in 1792 was put up for sale by William Caslon IV. In 1819 the deal was concluded and Blake, Garnett & Co. were suddenly in charge of one of England’s most prestigious typefoundries. In 1829 Garnett left to become a farmer.
The company was renamed Blake & Stephenson in 1830, but Blake died soon after. It became Stephenson, Blake & Co. in 1841- 1905. John Stephenson died in 1864, the year after he handed control to his son Henry. In 1905 the firm purchased Sir Charles Reed and Sons Ltd. It was then known as Stephenson, Blake & Co., and Sir Charles Reed and Sons between 1905 - 1914. In 1914, without any change in proprietorship, the business was converted into a private limited liability company. The early 1900s the foundry had ventured into steel making and tool production, which would prove to be the core business of the current firm Stephenson, Blake and Co.,Ltd from until 2004 when Tom Blake (5th Generation) retired.
Mergers and acquisitions
• Fann Street Foundry (1906)
• Fry’s Type Street Letter Foundry via merger of Sir Charles Reed & Sons in 1905. Sir Charles Reed & Sons historically purchased Edmund Fry & Son in 1828 via the William Thorowgood Foundry 'Letter Foundry to His Majesty' which changed the Company name three times - Thorowgood and Besley 1838-1849; Robert Besley & Co 1849-1861; till it was Reed & Fox in 1861- 1877.
• H.W. Caslon & Sons (1937)
• Miller & Richard (1952)
While the foundry was still producing some type in zinc as late as 2001, the foundry had shut down by 2005 when the matrices and other typographic equipment, by then of little commercial value (but of great historical value), were passed to Monotype, becoming a key part of the Type Museum, London. There are plans to turn the former premises into an apartment complex.
The foundry types produced by Stephenson Blake fall into three categories: those designed in-house, those designed by firms subsequently merged into Stephenson Blake, and those designs licensed from other foundries.
Stephenson & Blake is now a company which specializes in High Frequency Welding brass electrodes and CNC machining for all types of brass welding/cutting dies and has a huge collection of samples and products which are machined to order.
Their in-house machining/engineering department make tooling for any kind of plastic welding, and because of the CNC machining department, can make extraordinary dies which are impossible to make out of tooling rule.
In December 2007, Stephenson & Blake acquired Nu-Gauge engineering, who are a major manufacturer to the glass gauge industry in the United Kingdom. Nu-Gauge engineering has been merged to within Stephenson & Blake, and will make any type of gauge to order with extremely tight tolerances.
In December 2009, Stephenson & Blake acquired the steel rule tooling business from DR Tooling Ltd; They now design and manufacture steel cutting tools alongside their High Frequency Welding tools.
In 2010 Stephenson & Blake acquired the Brass Welding/High Frequency Welding rule business from Caslon. Stephenson & Blake now manufacture the whole of Caslon's High Frequency Welding Rule range alongside their own inventory.