How an innovative 1920’s engine rebuilding business sparked an electrifying journey

1920’s engine rebuilding business

How an innovative 1920’s engine rebuilding business sparked an electrifying journey

With our rich history in precision engineering, we have been involved with many notable milestones that have established us as the leaders in cold forming and CNC machining. Over the coming months we look forward to sharing some of the incredible milestones (and moments of historical innovation) that we’ve been part of over the last 75 years.

To celebrate this special anniversary, let’s go back a little further to the early 1920s when Edward Dawson, the current Chairman’s father, launched an innovative engine rebuilding business in North London. What made Edward’s business different was that this was a mobile engine rebuilding business and one that clearly gave its owner a competitive edge.

With the help of specialised tools, Edward was able to perform all of the major work on motor car engines at the customer’s home.  Edward was the first engineer in the UK to import specialised boring bars and vacuum equipment from America. These allowed him to recondition automotive engine cylinders without removing the engine from the chassis, saving considerable time and cost. His innovative and entrepreneurial spirit was soon to play its part in establishing Dawson Shanahan.

Before that, however, Edward’s mobile engine rebuilding business continued to grow apace as car ownership rapidly increased.  During this time, Edward gained an enviable reputation as a first-rate engine rebuilder and a man capable of negotiating problems.

Just as Edward’s reputation grew as an established and specialised automotive and aviation engineer throughout North London, in South London another entrepreneur, Mr Fred Shanahan, became well-known for his expertise in the same sector.  In January 1943, the two businesses merged to become Dawson Shanahan Ltd.

The new company grew steadily, with two factories, one in Chalk Farm and the other in Wimbledon, and from the outset, the partners established a reputation for innovative and effective solutions to engineering problems.

You can see more in the Dawson Shanahan timeline where our expertise was put to the test in the manufacture of precision components for anti-lock braking systems during the war years and our relationship with the Lancaster Bomber.