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Success built on over 175 years of sound British engineering

Christy Turner recently celebrated 175 years of supplying high quality flaking mills, hammer mills, pulverizers, and associated plant for industries around the world. To mark our momentous achievements over the last two centuries Milling & Grain Magazine ran a feature on us earlier this year.

FEATURED IN MILLING AND GRAIN MAGAZINE
February 2016

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In 2012 Christy Turner celebrated 175 years of supplying high quality, robust and reliable flaking mills, hammer mills, pulverizers, and associated plant for industries around the world working with human foods, animal feed, biomass, waste recycling, minerals, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

Combining years of experience with innovative ideas, the latest design tools, materials and sound engineering, Christy Turner manufacture its machines on site in Ipswich, where E R & F Turner began its journey in 1837.

A consolidation of highly respected British brands E R & F Turner, Christy & Norris and Miracle Mills, Christy Turner Ltd is renowned for quality British engineering and innovation in the milling industry, attracting an international client base.

Building upon manufacturing skills and expertise since E R & F Turner started production in 1837, while making the most of modern technological advances, Christy Turner continue to produce machines of choice for manufacturers around the globe. Over 90% of the machines used by UK cereal giant Weetabix at Burton, Latimer & Corby sites are Christy Turner's E R & F Turner Flaking Mills. 

There are many reasons behind Christy Turner's longevity: its reputation for robust, long-life machines and excellent spares and servicing, coupled with its innovative and dynamic approach to the ever-changing milling landscape to name a few.

While It is certainly true that the company has a long and distinguished collective history, which inspires a great deal of trust, Managing Director Chris Jones said the company's focus on innovation has also played a key role in its maintaining a market leading position.

He said: "We are constantly working to improve the machinery we supply and the parts that go with them across all our machines, whether that is looking for the highest possible grade materials to make the toughest possible hammer parts or using modern technology to produce machines which  provide intuitive control panels for ease of use, helping overcome language barriers."

"As part of our continuous development work we want to make sure if new materials or technology become available we are able to quickly deliver these benefits to our customers"

"To determine the optimum milling solution we have access to test records and reports from the 1940s to the present day. When combined with the latest advances in technology and materials, it is not surprising that our machines remain market leaders."

He added: "We have worked hard to gain an excellent reputation for supplying countries around the world with durable, versatile equipment of the highest standard and we are committed to maintaining this position."

Currently wholly owned by the Gosling family, Christy Turner's trio of leading engineering brands have each helped shape the UK's milling landscape and played an important role in the country's esteemed milling history.

Today E R & F Turner is renowned for its 600, 550 and 460 model flaking mills, designed for flaking breakfast cereals and also widely used across the animal feed industry. The longest-established of Christy Turner's core brands, the roots of the company were formed in 1837 when brothers Edward Rush and Frederick Turner began making steam engines from St Peter's Works in Ipswich. During the early days of its existence the firm centred its activities around steam engines and agricultural machinery of all kinds. The company pioneered machine engine design and in 1851 exhibited its own portable steam engine design to more than six million visitors at the famous Great Exhibition, held at Crystal Palace. The exhibition put Turner's on the world stage and helped them attract a world-wide reputation as esteemed engine builders and boiler makers. The portable steam engine of 4-horse power was cutting edge technology. Subsequent successes included the introduction of its traction engine in 1865.

machinery

From the Book: The International Exhibition of 1862 - Cambridge Library Collection

Throughout the 19th Century, Turners were gainfully employed manufacturing agricultural machinery, steam engines and boilers -  their main customers being flour millers and animal feed processors. The development of the steam engine enabled innovation and greater efficiency into many forms of agriculture and early food processing. Up to that time milling had been carried out using wind or water power for millennia, however, the steam engine enabled the operation of a number of different machines to be used continuously without relying on wind or water. ER & F Turner was at the forefront of the new technology.

Old Flaking Mill

An original E R & F Turner Flaking Mill

In 1846 Mr Turner entered into a contract to fit up a complete steam driven flour millstone system for the eminent miller Mr Joseph Fison of Ipswich. Sixteen years later, in 1862, they manufactured from the designs of Mr G A Buckholz, a Prussian Engineer, another milling plant for Mr Fison which included roller mills, which is believed to be the first of its kind in England. This system enabled the bran and germ to be separated from the flour to meet the increasing demand for whiter and lighter flours.

During this period, two major changes were taking place, roller mills were replacing mill stones and electric motors were replacing steam engines. Flour milling development was also being stimulated by superior quality Hungarian flours being imported into the UK. The Hungarians were producing superior flour using horizontal rolling mills which could produce finer more consistent flour.

To fully understand the pioneering system Mr J Harrison Carter (a milling expert) and Pierson Turner travelled to Hungary to investigate and on their return ER & F Turner conceived a new range of milling machinery. By 1888 ER & F Turner were designing and producing their own roller mills - mills that could crush seeds and beans for their oil, and maize, to create cornflakes and other breakfast cereal.

For the next 20 years a considerable number of mills were equipped with Turner's products, including engines and boilers, transmission gears and drive shafts. In 1908 Turners decided to discontinue the manufacture of steam engines and boilers to make way for the growing demands of its milling business. The success at this time necessitated the acquisition of further premises which became known as Greyfriars Works. In addition to flour milling machinery the firm manufactured and erected the first complete maize flaking plant for animal feed in the UK.

The outbreak of war in 1914 saw an immediate response from the company. Arthur Leggett (then works manager, later to become managing director and in 1932 owner) conceived the idea of a single purpose lathe for the accurate production of shell bodies. These were so successful that some 2,000 similar machines were produced for plants in all parts of the country.

After the war demand for manufactured products and agricultural machinery collapsed and all UK engineering companies went through hard times. The defence work which had kept their factories busy during the war years suddenly came to an end. The large export markets which had sustained these companies before the war had either been lost or were greatly diminished.

A number of leading companies in the region were struggling and following discussions, in June 1919, formed Agricultural & General Engineers Ltd (AGE) working on a 'together we are stronger' premise. AGE combined 14 companies, including E R & F Turner, and took over the entire share capital of the companies. Others included Barford and Perkins of Peterborough, E H Bentall of Maldon, Peter Brotherhood of Peterborough, Bull Motors of Stowmarket, Davey Paxman of Colchester and Richard Garrett of Leiston.

In a 1921 advertisement in The Miller Magazine the company listed its products as flour milling machinery, maize milling and flaking machinery, wheat and maize cleaning machinery, grinding mills and chilled iron rolls. (PDF of advert sent)

In 1922, ER & F Turner purchased a nine acre site in Foxhall Road, Ipswich, that had previously been Valley Brickworks and began the lengthy process of moving the works from their town centre site in College Street to the new premises.  The original St Peter’s Work’s site included the famous Wolsey’s Gate, and on vacating the premises, the firm presented the Gate to the town of Ipswich.

St Peters Works

A view of St Peter's works in Ipswich

By 1932 AGE was suffering from a desperate shortage of liquidity and a receiver was appointed. Each constituent company was then sold off separately by the receiver and in most cases back to the original owner. The firm underwent a reorganisation under the Chairmanship of Mr Arthur Leggett and E R & F Turner became independent once again, while also acquiring Bull Motors Ltd.

The new premises offered the opportunity to re-plan production on the most up-to-date lines and to consolidate the firm’s electric motor production and milling machinery production onto one site and in 1937 they opened the new factory in Foxhall Road.

It was about this time that the breakfast cereal landscape was also changing and in addition to the traditional porridge oats other products were being introduced to the UK. In 1937 Turners supplied its first flaking mills to Weetabix Ltd, which laid the foundations to a significant working relationship with the breakfast giants which it continues today.

The outbreak of the Second World War found E R & F Turner well prepared to meet the heavy demands that were to be made for its products to contribute to the Armaments Programme. As well as making their turning lathes for shells, a quarter of a million electric motors were manufactured by the firm during the war years. They included motors for radar equipment, bomber flap operating gear, electrical transmitters and generating sets.

On the milling side, Turner's long experience of seed cleaning plant was also being put to good use during the war years, enabling the country to produce products it once relied on imports for, including the separating, cleaning and drying of flax. Another application of the company’s experience in this field was the manufacture and installation of large numbers of drying, cleaning and storage plants for grain. With the introduction of combine harvesting this equipment became essential to the UK’s home food production.

Following the Second World War E R & F Turner invested in improving its milling products by introducing a new totally enclosed flour roller mill and a completely new flaking mill with improved bearing design and lubrication.

The 1960’s once again sparked turbulent times for the business and saw considerable changes in ownership and management. The Leggett family that had owned and run the company since 1932, first under the stewardship of Mr Arthur Leggett and then his two sons Alan and Percy, decided to retire. As a result the business was sold in 1966 to an investment company, Forgeway Finance, at a time when corporate asset stripping was par for the course. Forgeway liquidated a lot of the property and E R & F Turner again was set on a new course. On May 1, 1969 the company of E R & F Turner Ltd (incorporating J Harrison Carter), complete with all the drawings, patterns, spare parts and work in progress, was purchased by W G Gosling & Sons (Precision Engineers) Ltd, an Ipswich company founded by Walter George Gosling in 1925 and run at that time by his grandsons. The company selling electric motors remained at the Foxhall Road site and became Bull Motors Ltd. The business of E R & T Turner Ltd was relocated to Knightsdale Road, Ipswich, where it stands today. Also included in the sale was the associate company of J. Harrison Carter Limited, which manufactured a wide range of crushing and grinding equipment.

During 1970s the first flaking mill made by the new owners was sold to a South African company.  Since then larger and more sophisticated mills have been designed leading to hundreds of flaking mills being manufactured and shipped all over the world.

In the 1980’s a project to make cornflakes using extruders instead of the traditional process, led by Simon Foods Ltd, resulted in the design of a 550 diameter flaking mill. Many plants were sold by Simon Foods Ltd, incorporating the Turner 550 mills, to parts of the world where cornflakes had not been traditionally eaten.

The 1990’s saw computerisation introduced to the flaking mill and a brand new 600mm diameter roller mill was designed incorporating computerised gap control and many other innovative features. This gave a larger roll diameter and higher capacity than the existing 550 mill. Development of this mill continues today with the introduction of intuitive touch screen controls. Christy Turner also launched a simplified version of its E R & F Turner 600 Flaking Mill specifically re-engineered for the animal feed market at Victam earlier this year (2015).

600 Breakfast Cereal with Integral Conveyor1

E R & F Turner 600 Breakfast Cereal with integral conveyor

The J. Harrison Carter products acquired with E R & F Turner Ltd back in 1969 had resulted in the manufacture of numerous crushing & grinding machines. In January 1986 a London firm, Miracle Mills Ltd of Penge, producing similar machines to the Harrison Carter range, came up for sale and was quickly snapped up by E R & F Turner Ltd. Its relocation to Ipswich enabled the company to combine the skills and engineering expertise of its staff, which led to the development of a new and improved range of hammer mills under the Miracle Mills brand. Miracle Mills currentlyproduces a range of heavy duty swing top hammer mills primarily designed for feed milling but also widely used for grinding waste wood products and more abrasive applications,ideal for reducing products such as waste wood for animal bedding and biomass. The Miracle Mill 300 Series is a range of heavy duty mills with a hardened top section especially suited to particle size reduction of abrasive materials.

And last, but by no means least, Christy Turner's Christy & Norrisbrand has an equally rich heritage going back to 1858. A leading competitor in the size reduction industry,  Christy Hunt (Agricultural) Ltd of Scunthorpe (formally Christy & Norris of Chelmsford) became available in May of 2002 and was bought and relocated to Ipswich at the end of that year, joining an impressive line up of leading UK engineering brands.

Fell Christy, the youngest son of a Chelmsford Quaker family, was apprenticed in1853 to Whitmore and Bunyon, renowned millwrights and agricultural engineers based in Wickham Market. With this experience he set up in partnership with his father in 1858, and they established works in Broomfield Road, Chelmsford. In the 1860s Fell Christy, working as an engineer and millwright, travelled widely throughout Britain to service wind and water-mills - gaining a reputation for meticulous care and attention to detail.

In 1872 Fell Christy introduced to the UK the manufacture of the beater type disintegrator, a machine pioneered in the USA. It reduced dry material to powder with great efficiency, and found extensive use in agriculture, milling, food manufacture and other industries

In 1880 with business expanding rapidly, Mr J A Norris was recruited from another Chelmsford firm, and five years later he was taken into partnership to form the firm Christy & Norris. Christy’s son William was taken on in 1897 to concentrate on maintaining the company’s fine reputation as millwrights and mill engineers.

The following century saw the company develop its range of hammer mills and pulverizers and expand into complete animal feed plants which they installed around the world. Christy Norris earned the enviable reputation of being able to build a complete feed mill installation from the ground up.

The company’s diversification continued still further in the 1980s, when Christy’s acquired the businesses of Beken Engineering and Sturtevant Engineering Ltd. Shortly after the company became one of the UK's most renowned manufacturers of size reduction machinery, producing a full range of the original Christy & Norris pulverizers and hammer mills, Beken mixers and Sturtevant crushers. 

In 1985 Christy & Norris Ltd acquired the company of R Hunt & Co, and moved from its Chelmsford factory to the R Hunt & Co works in Earls Colne, creating the combined company of Christy Hunt Ltd. This union did not prove successful and the attraction of the large Earls Colne Works for housing proved too great and in 1988 the works was closed and the Christy & Norris and R Hunt & Co product ranges were sold to Bentall Simplex, a Scunthorpe company.

In May 2002 Christy Hunt Agricultural Ltd, whose foundations were laid in Essex, was brought back to East Anglia by the Goslings.

Under the Christy Turner umbrella, and reverting to its original brand name, Christy & Norris currently offers a range of high speed dual rotation swing beater hammer mills with direct drive, including the X380, X660 and X960, ideal for grinding cereals for livestock feed, pet food and aquatic feed; size reduction of wood waste for animal bedding or pelleting and size reduction of biomass materials for power generation. It also produces a range of heavy duty pulverizers used for limestone, plasterboard and general recycling.

Over the years thousands of X15 and X26 hammer mills have been made and the industry is very familiar with these models, many still in service today and forming the basis of design for many modern hammer mills, including the current Christy & Norris X mill series. Christy Turner continue to provide supply parts and servicing for all Christy Norris machines, including the Sturtevant Crushers & Beken Mixers.

As well as supplying new and reconditioned machines, Christy Turner has a busy spares and service department, delivering everything from machine maintenance advice, on-site servicing, roll regrinding and replacement rolls to wear parts such as beaters, screens, rotor parts, scraper blades, bearings and bearing housings.

Businesses looking for high quality flaking equipment for breakfast cereal and animal feed production, hammer mills with a reputation for  reliability and longevity or excellent spares and servicing can comfortably place their trust in a trio of Great British brands with a rich heritage of the finest UK engineering.

In addition to the machines at Weetabix's Burton Latimer & Corby sites, E R & F Turner Flaking Mills, are also installed at Weetabix sites in Kenya, South Africa & Canada. Over 650 E R & F Turner Flaking Mills are operational across the globe with mills installed across sites in the UK, Europe, Australia/New Zealand, South America, Middle East, Kenya, South Africa and Canada.

In 2004, in an effort to simplify the company administration, E R & F Turner, Christy Hunt (Agricultural), and Miracle Mills were combined by the Goslings into one trading company called Christy Turner Ltd. The consolidation process did, however, lead to some confusion for customers, with some thinking the historic brands no longer existed. This year Christy Turner embarked on an important rebrand across its business to reclaim its rich heritage and ensure E R & F Turner, Christy & Norris and Miracle Mills continue to benefit from their own hard-earned reputations, while trading under the Christy Turner umbrella. A new and updated web site allows customers to view all the products now available across its extensive range which is a veritable one-stop shop for most milling needs.

In January 2013 Chris Jones became Managing Director of Christy Turner Ltd, joined by Mags Humphrey as Finance Director. The company remains wholly owned by the Gosling family with Ron Gosling as Chairman. Bringing business experience from outside the industry the new appointments were made to introduce fresh new leadership and re-invigorate product development to continue the work and safeguard the legacy of those early innovators who started the Christy Turner journey almost 200 years ago.

While continuing to provide support for its legacy equipment, Christy Turner is also committed to furthering the evolution of its range of machines and maintain an ambitious development program to ensure its machines remain market leaders in their field.  With the consolidation process firmly established the last 10 years has seen the company go from strength to strength. 

With a reputation for robust, long-life machines and excellent after-sales care, Christy Turner continue to be the preferred supplier of equipment for many household names and look set to be making flaking mills and size reduction machinery for many more years to come.

Contact Information

Knightsdale Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, United Kingdom,  IP1 4LE
T: +44 (0)1473 742325  |   F: +44 (0)1473 462773  |  E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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