J H Richards was founded in 1880 by Job Richards, but registered in the name of his son John Hartland Richard, who later took over the company. The premises of the old Vale of Evesham Brewery in Saltley were secured and some of the original buildings remain behind our current factory.
The company started by manufacturing white metal alloys for the railway and rotating machinery industries, but in the early part of the twentieth century started supplying bearings for the blossoming motor industry. It could soon list Austin, BSA, Thorneycroft, Morris, Rover, Riley and Alvis amongst its customers. JH Richards also started to refurbish white metal bearings for a wider industrial market.
During the Second World War, the company was heavily involved in the production of thick wall white metal bearings for armoured vehicles and aircraft. After the War, the motor industry, led by America, started mass-producing cars with thin wall bearings. Recognising that work from the motor industry was going to decline, the Company concentrated on refurbishment work from the metal processing and power generation industries. As this work steadily grew and the size of bearing increased, it became clear that the original factory was no longer suitable so in 1963, a purpose-built factory was built in front of the original building, on the site of an old church. These are still our premises today.
The last quarter of the twentieth century saw a major decline in heavy industry, so the company decided to move into the manufacture of white metal bearings to complement our more traditional refurbishment work. New manufacture now makes up around 50% of the total turnover. In 1987, J H Richards became the first Whitemetalling company to achieve BS5750 approval and have maintained ISO approval ever since.
More recent developments have seen the introduction of sophisticated CNC machines and measuring equipment, housed in a new extension to the factory. While J H Richards is rightly proud of its history, it recognises the needs of industry are constantly changing and that it has to service those needs. The Continuous Improvement Programme is designed to meet this challenge.