Over a century of metallurgical engineering

Tracing its history back over a century, Copper Alloys has developed a first-class reputation as a global leader in material development and applied engineering.

From the very first castings made from nickel-aluminium-bronze to support the war effort in the 1940s, through to the development of wrought nickel-aluminium-bronze in the 1980s, our higher specification replacement, wrought copper-nickel-chromium was developed in the 2010s.

Seeking to develop next generation wrought versions of advanced cast alloys, Copper Alloys has spearheaded the drive for innovating and creating ever more reliable and high integrity metals. Some of these alloys have become the specified standard for marine and naval defence applications, others are set to become the next standard as the process of metallurgical development continues.


Development of military-grade Nickel-Aluminium Bronze


Shift from casting to forging, developing the leading process to make Nickel-Aluminium Bronze forging


Development of "game changing" material technology for extreme engineering applications - the Elite Alloys


Copper Alloys completes the project to successfully produce wrought Copper-Nickel-Chromium

Heritage entwined with Aluminium Bronze

Aluminium Bronze as an alloy was discovered in the mid 1800’s and was first used for French Artillery in 1860, but excessive production costs prevented its widespread usage.

In 1885, Cowles Bros. in America successfully produced Aluminium Bronze at a much lower cost and the Cowles Company went on to open a subsidiary in Stoke-on-Trent, England.

In 1892, also in Stoke-on-Trent, Charles Harold Meigh was born. Having served with the British Army during the First World War, he married a close friend of Pierre Durville’s daughter and joined Durville at his foundry in Mouy, France.

Pierre Durville had perfected a technique for producing sound, oxide-free Aluminium Bronze billets for coinage manufacture. Paradoxically, the success of the alloy for coinage resulted in high stock levels, with consequent cash flow problems and the company went out of business.

In 1923 Charles Meigh left Durville to develop the ‘Meigh process’ at his own foundry in Rouen, France for the commercial production of high integrity Aluminium Bronze sand castings. Charles Meigh returned to England in 1937, where he set up ‘Meighs of Cheltenham’.

An MBE for contribution to the war effort

During the Second World War, Charles Meigh designed and produced an Aluminium Bronze aerial torpedo fin that greatly improved the torpedo accuracy since it replaced a steel fabrication that distorted on impact. He was later awarded the MBE in recognition of his contribution to the war effort.

The ‘Meigh process’ was licensed to Birkett Billington & Newton, Stoke-on-Trent for the production of Aluminium Bronze castings. Birkett Billington & Newton, following a merger with another Stoke-on-Trent foundry, Whyte & Collins, were acquired by the Brookside Metal Group who went on to acquire the assets of ‘Meighs of Cheltenham’ in 1991.

In 1992 the Cheltenham site was closed and ‘MEIGHS’ foundry transferred to Stoke-on-Trent from where it operates today. It has since undergone a demerger from Brookside Metal and was a successful privately owned Limited Company until it was sold to an American casting company, MetalTek in 2007 and then, rescued from the brink of failure by the Westley Group who acquired the company in January 2017.

In 1999, Mr. John Dudley who at the time was Managing Director of Meighs Castings saw an opportunity to focus on continuous casting, and led a management buy-out of Meighs Castings with Mr Mark Hemus who owned a group of multi metal stockists. This took a division of Meighs Castings across of the city of Stoke-on-Trent to Burslem, and Copper Alloys was established.

Achieving the highest quality standards

Starting with the production of commercial grades, the owners of Copper Alloys identified a gap in the market for a very high-quality manufacturer of high spec metals.

With the addition of the leading metallurgist of wrought alloys in 2004, Mr Simon Gregory, the company added a suite of high specification wrought alloys to its capability, and the scope widened to include nickel alloys and special steels.

In 2005, the company attained the highest quality standard for manufacturing – ISO 9000:2001 AS9100 – and started working with key aerospace customers such as Airbus and Messier Dowty. Alloy development continued to over 200 different alloys, thousands of different specifications and nine Elite Alloys, game changing material technology.

Capability developed to include the provision of complex finish machined components which improved the conventional supply chain to upgrade control over materials and efficiency in machining. By enabling the mill to machine its own metal, engineering OEMs could reduce the risk profile of high value projects, speed up production and reduce cost. One of the first significant projects was to manufacture over 1,000 critical components for Rolls-Royce Submarines for the Astute Submarine. The project went so well that the project team received an award for the outstanding performance.

Copper Alloys now supports Governments, OEMs and leading design engineers worldwide to make sustainable high-quality solutions to demanding applications. With focus on customers, Copper Alloys has continued to add capabilities such as welding, assembly, testing and design support to further enhance the options for engineers worldwide.

Details obtained from CAST & WROUGHT Aluminium Bronzes.


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