OUR PROUD HISTORY

245 YEARS
AND COUNTING …

With technical expertise spanning nearly 250 years, there’s no doubting our pedigree when it comes to engineering excellence.

Established in 1778 by Daniel Doncaster, the company began its life in Sheffield, UK. From forging tools, we soon developed a reputation for quality craftsmanship, reliability and metallurgical know-how. Over the years we’ve built on this foundation to excel in the specialist manufacturing and casting of superalloys, becoming the Doncasters of today, a dynamic group of 15 advanced production facilities across Europe, USA and Asia, each with market leading specialist capabilities and serving a broad blue-chip client base worldwide.

We’ve certainly stood the test of time, constantly evolving, adapting and improving to remain at the forefront of our industry. We continue to invest in a highly skilled workforce, and by employing the very latest in advanced technologies and lean production techniques we continue to be the very best in our field, offering our customers a capability, quality, service and production agility second to none.

TIMELINE

1778

The company is established by Daniel Doncaster in Sheffield. Daniel begins file-making as a ‘journeyman’, travelling long distances to supply his customers. His trademark is granted by King George III.

1793

William Doncaster is born, son of Daniel I.

In 1808, aged 15, William works with his father as an apprentice for seven years. He then continues working with Daniel I until his father’s death in 1819. William with his brother, John (born 1800), then continue the business, initially as filemakers and later as steel converters and refiners as well. 

1807

Daniel Doncaster II is born, son of Daniel I.

Daniel II starts his working life serving an apprenticeship with a draper in York until 1829. 

1829

Following his brother John’s death in 1825, Daniel II joins William in the family business, as a steel converter.

1831

Daniel II builds his office and steel warehouse and his first converting furnace in Doncaster Street, on land which had been his father’s garden and orchard. 

1833

The partnership of William and Daniel doesn’t last long, and is dissolved. Daniel II carries on the business of steel converting. His first step is to become an iron and steel stockholder, buying large batches of Swedish iron from the Hull importers and selling it in smaller quantities to edge tool or steel makers.

1851

Daniel II creates an Exhibit of Steel at the Great Exhibition of 1851 for which he receives a medal.

The exhibition takes place in Hyde Park in London from May to October, and is the first ever international exhibition of manufactured products. Other attendees include Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Samuel Colt, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, George Eliot, and Alfred Tennyson. The event is organised by Henry Cole and Prince Albert.

1863

Ten years before Daniel II retires, having brought his three eldest sons into the business, Daniel changes the name of the company to ‘Daniel Doncaster & Sons’. Prior to this Daniel I and William were trading as filemakers and Daniel II was trading as Doncaster Steel. The eldest sons were Charles I, Samuel and Daniel III. 

1865

Three crucible furnaces are built on the Doncaster Street site, increasing profitability. The furnaces are used to melt, hold, and/or transfer nonferrous metals, and are the least expensive melting method preferred for melting small volumes of nonferrous metals.

The furnace pictured was restored in the mid 20th century, and was used on blister steel until 1870. Blister steel was the first type of commercially produced steel. The process in the cementation furnace left it with a blistered appearance, hence it’s name. It remained in use until 1952. It is now the sole survivor of a Sheffield industrial building once numerous in the city. The Cementation furnace in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England is a Grade II Listed Building and is the only example of this type of steel making furnace to survive intact in Great Britain. It is situated on Doncaster Street in the St Vincent’s Quarter just 0.6 miles north west of the city centre. You can find out more about it here.

1872

Daniel II retiresCharles I Doncaster becomes Head of Daniel Doncaster and Sons (1872 – 1884).

1876

Samuel’s brother-in-law and partner, Herbert Barber, joins the firm

1884

Daniel II and Charles I die. Samuel Doncaster becomes Head of Daniel Doncaster and Sons (1884-1931). 

1898

Samuel Doncaster and Herbert Barber decide to demolish the three existing 6-hole crucible furnaces in Doncaster Street, and replace them with an efficient 24-hole furnace on a new site close by in Hoyle Street.

This year they also purchase Penistone Road forge from John Denton, to re-equip with steam hammers up to a weight of 5 tons, and to fight the competition in Swedish Bessemer.

1902

Daniel Doncasters and Sons is incorporated as a limited company, and expands into forging and drop forging trades in addition to manipulating special tool steels.

Drop forging is a process that uses a pair of impression dies and a heavy hammer to form and compress metal bars or billets into complex shapes. Forging is a manufacturing process involving the shaping of metal using a hammer or a die.

1912

The first heat treating furnace is installed at Penistone Road Forge.

Heat treating furnaces are used to alter a material’s physical and chemical properties via extreme heating or cooling to achieve the desired reaction. At this time, two years before WWI begins, Daniel Doncaster and Sons are asked to quote for the supply of a steel which must possess some demanding properties. It must exhibit “an absence of scaling and malleability at temperatures between 700 C and 1100 C, together with high tensile strength both initially and at high temperature.” The material was needed for the poppet valves of an internal combustion engine.

1919

The first machine shop for die making is opened, which is a sub-discipline of tool making that focuses on making and maintaining dies. This often includes making punches, dies, steel rule dies, and die sets.

1920

Daniel Doncasters and Sons becomes part of the United Steel Companies, who offer not only financial support, but also assist with sales outlets and organisation. In order to expand the sales of its materials, and in particular of its alloy steels, the parent company encourages the growth of drop stamping, and a new stamp department was soon established. Valve forging is also introduced, and the steam hammer business continues: ingots are cogged; blocks, blanks, bars and shafts are forged. 

The United Steel Companies group was founded in 1918 when Samuel Fox, Steel, Peech and Tozer, Appleby-Frodingham Steel Co, and Rother Vale Collieries joined together, subsequently acquiring Daniel Doncaster and Sons, and Martino Steel and Metal Company.

1931

Samuel retires. James Henry (Harry) becomes Head of Doncasters (1931 – 1944). 

1936

Daniel Doncaster and Sons separates from the United Steel Company Ltd as the family takes back control.

As a subsidiary of the United Steel Co. Ltd., Doncasters had still traded as Doncaster and Sons Ltd. The transaction that gave it independence technically creates a new company, but only because of the requirement to register under the provisions of the Companies Act 1929, which was then the applicable law.

The ownership reverts to what it was prior to United Steel’s take-over. Free now to compete, Daniel Doncaster and Son’s directors concentrate on the development of the forging business. Having been the pioneers of automotive forging they move on to be the first in another major developing market, aerospace.

1948

James Henry and Charles II dies. Basil Doncaster becomes Head of Doncasters (1948 – 1955). 

1940s

Daniel Doncaster and Sons becomes a leading supplier of forged steel tools and valves to the automotive industry.

1951

A factory in Leeds is acquired to make gas turbine blade forgings – Monk Bridge Works.

The Monk Bridge Iron and Steel Company had owed its prosperity to the railways, but had failed to meet the challenge of the new age. Daniel Doncaster and Sons had preempted a large increase in the need for valves and drop stampings, and an urgent need for military jet engines for the war in Korea led to Monk Bridge Works becoming the manufacturer of these difficult precision components.

1953

Daniel Doncaster and Sons becomes a public company on July 8th, where two million shares are issued at 5/- (25p) each on the London Stock Exchange.

Records state that in the preceding financial year 43% of sales were to the tool steel trades and general forgings, 33% was to automotive applications, 17% was aircraft components for gas turbines and 7% was steel balls for ball mills.

1955

Ronald Steel becomes the Head of Doncasters (1955 – 1963).

Ronald began working for the company when the business joined the United Steel Companies from 1920 to 1936. After five generations of being led by Doncaster family members, Ronald becomes the first non-family member to lead the business and is later succeeded by another Doncaster, Richard.

Ronald (Ronnie) was instrumental in providing the business with its first end-product since the file – the hardened steel roll. He also helps Daniel Doncaster and Sons to leave United Steel in 1936, and at that time joined the re-formed company as Managing Director. His vision and energy are cited as being of great importance to the advance of the business until his sudden death in 1963, after eight years as Chairman.

1957

The Blaenavon Iron and Steel company, South Wales, is purchased.

The initial intention is to use Blaenavon for steam hammer forging of ingots and die blocks to supplement the Sheffield capacity. This includes the hammer forging of rings, but the requirement for rings of larger size for aero-engines was growing and in 1967 a modern ring rolling unit was installed (pictured).

During the 18th century the Blaenavon works had smelted pig-iron, mining and quarrying its own raw materials. One hundred years later they began melting steel, using the new Bessemer and open-hearth processes. During the first world war Blaenavon had been regarded as the largest iron and steel works in Europe, but like the old Monk Bridge Works and United Steel it had not been able to adapt successfully to the changing needs of the 20th century. Daniel Doncaster and Sons brought new life and a new appearance not only to the factory, but to the small township, again with products and techniques.

1960s

Daniel Doncaster and Sons expands its market offerings for general engineering, motor vehicle, aero-engine, gas turbines and other industries. The company now has 3,000 employees.

1965

Birley House is acquired as head quarters to house both group staff and the ‘test-house’; the research and development laboratories.

This was a stone built gentleman’s house between Hillsborough and Grenoside, which also offered some accommodation for, as records say, ‘distinguished guests and served excellent lunches for the directors’.

The team at Birley House supported the developments of the growing business, creating for example special apparatus for the determination of hydrogen in titanium alloys.

1970s

Daniel Doncaster and Sons expands into industrial turbine markets, with acquisitions in USA and Belgium.

1973

Whittingham and Porter, and John Brereton and Company are purchased. They become subsidiary companies, as Daniel Doncaster and Sons expands further.

Whittingham and Porter enables Daniel Doncaster and Sons to extend its range of drop forged parts. The business is situated in the dockland of Hull, and has a history stretching back to 1880.

1974

Hingley Rings Limited is established on Washington Street, Dudley, to create rolled and forged rings. By taking over a part of the Dudley factory of Wright Hingley, Daniel Doncaster and Sons adds a further complete and working ring rolling facility to its resources.

1975

International Nickel Company of Canada (Inco) purchases all of the shares in Daniel Doncaster and Sons Limited. The business becomes known as Inco (Alloy Products) Ltd. Inco Limited was a Canadian mining company and the world’s leading producer of nickel for much of the 20th century.

The move helps the business meet the needs of the times and creates new opportunities.

1988

Aerospace fabricator Bramah Engineering is acquired.

The directors are three brothers who are the fifth generation descendants of Joseph Bramah, the father of production engineering. The business is acquired for £2.5 million and Daniel Doncaster and Sons begins aerospace fabrications.

1989

Storms Forge in Springfield, Massachusetts is bought for $8 million.

Earlier that year, the business acquires a US airfoil machining house: Turbo Products in Ivoryton, Connecticut. The machining house is extensively equipped with copy-milling machines that makes six airfoils at a time by copying from a master pattern. Its customers are GE and Westinghouse. The investment proves in the long term to be one of the most important that Daniel Doncaster and Sons makes. It creates a position in the industrial gas turbine market, which has grown dramatically when the electricity companies begin to appreciate that combined-cycle power generation is more efficient and flexible than coal and oil fired plants using only steam turbines.

Storms Forge is Turbo Products’ best forging supplier.

1990

New England Airfoil Products, Inc (NEAP) located in Connecticut, USA, is acquired.

NEAP provides gas turbine products for air, sea and land. The company has built its reputation on large volume airfoil production supporting the United States aerospace and defense sectors including NASA and USAF.

1997

Doncasters plc is formed.

On January 27th the shares of the company are traded in New York for the first time. Share certificates are produced using an image of Pamela Doncaster, the widow of Richard Doncaster, and the background is taken from a fine painting of Monk Bridge in the 19th century that hung in the boardroom in Leeds.

1998

The Triplex Lloyd group of companies is acquired. This significant acquisition doubles the size of Doncasters. One business included in the purchase, alongside Thyssen Feinguss, is Deritend near Droitwich which is a well established supplier to the big industrial turbine manufacturers.

The group is purchased with the intention of retaining certain companies in order to increase Doncasters’ market share of the industrial gas turbine industry. Doncasters has 3,700 employees working at 22 companies spread throughout Europe and North America.

1999

A large-parts precision casting facility based in Groton, Connecticut, is acquired from Wyman-Gordon Co.

Doncasters is now one of the world’s largest producers of gas turbine airfoils with casting operations in Europe and finish machining operations in New England, Georgia and the UK.

2001

Doncasters merges with Ross Catherall Group, near Sheffield, a world leader in the manufacture and supply of vacuum and air melted ferrous, nickel and cobalt base alloy and superalloy barstock to the investment casting industry. Ross Catherall Group includes Ross & Catherall, CAPI (now known as Doncasters Superalloys of Long Beach) and Trucast. Former senior leaders from Trucast leave to form Unipol.

Doncasters is also acquired by the private equity arm of Royal Bank of Scotland and is delisted.

2006

Dubai International Capital acquires Doncasters.

The company is the international investment arm of Dubai Holding, a global conglomerate and sovereign wealth fund of the government of Dubai and its ruling family.

2007

FastenTech Inc, a manufacturer of fastener systems, is acquired.

The company offers aluminum pop, copper, jean, and cherry max rivets. FastenTech markets their products in the US.

2018-19

Doncasters divests non-core businesses and focusses on superalloy manufacturing and precision casting.

2020

Under new management, Doncasters refocusses its business model, carving a long term investment plan and refinanced under new supportive ownership, with Mike Quinn as CEO.

2021

The capital raise commitment starts being deployed, including plans for new furnaces at Ross & Catherall and Doncasters Structural Castings of Oxford, and an extension and a merging of premises for Doncasters Precision Castings – Deritend.

2022

Uni-Pol and Polycast are acquired, with sites in China, India, Mexico and the UK. Doncasters’ business portfolio continues to grow and ‘Team Doncasters’ welcome 800 new team members into the group.

The acquisition of the businesses also means that Doncasters becomes one of the largest suppliers of turbo charger wheels in the world.