Johnson Machinery Ltd can be traced back to 1790 as a company making hand woven wire cloth. In 1913 the company branched out into conveyors for the coal mining industry. Following World War I the emphasis shifted from coal mining to labour saving machinery for the construction industry.
Johnson's were a very innovative firm and introduced a number of new ideas to improve construction efficiency and remove a lot of the laborious manual jobs which the construction industry accepted as the norm. For example the first vibrating poker for concreting and the Johnson Humper all-terrain forklift.
After World War II, the company became known as C H Johnson (Machinery) Ltd and from 1935 operated from the Johnson Works at Adswood in Stockport.
The 1950's saw a range of lightweight diesel site dumpers powered by Petter diesel engines. In 1962 the Humper rough terrain dumper based forklift was introduced. This is believed to be the first true materials handler.
Around 1966, the company became known as Johnson Machinery when it went public. During the 1970's it had a workforce of around 300 and products such as the Motil lightweight utility truck.
Johnsons also had a plant hire division called Trinity Plant Hire with a head office at Cassington Oxford and branches at Whaley Bridge and London? There was also an Australian company C H Johnson Machinery (Pty) Australia based in West Heidleberg north of Melbourne started by an emigrating manager from Stockport. (thanks to Ken for this information)
The company was wound up following an Extraordinary General Meeting on the 5th December 1979 as it could no longer meet its liabilities (source The London Gazette). A sad end for yet another British manufacturing company after nearly 200 years. Johnson Machinery (Northern) Limited was also liquidated in 1980. Although Johnson Machinery Ltd, stopped trading in 1979, the business was bought out by J F Nash Securities Ltd which was part of the Reliant Motor Group. They renamed it Johnson Construction Machinery Ltd. It moved from Stockport to Worsley in 1982 and eventually closed in the mid 80's (thanks to David for this last piece of information).
You can read two in-depth histories of Johnson Machinery which are posted in the Literature Archive. I am grateful to Alistair who gave me a lot of Johnson literature when he very kindly helped me identify my Johnson 2HG dumper which enabled me to start this site.
My main interest in Johnson Machinery arose because I bought my dumper. I had never heard of Johnson Machinery prior to that. I was interested in the dumper because it was an unusual rear wheel drive variety. I now know that Johnson's produced a comprehensive range of construction plant as well as the dumpers which were a main part of their business.
Their "Plant Guide" from the late 1970's lists:
Alistair supplied these excellent photo's of Johnson's stand at a Contractors Plant exhibition held at the NEC in 1977.
Another view of the stand with a Humper in the foreground and a 2HG dumper (the same as mine) top right. The full range of products are on display.
For full details of the range, please see the PDF version of the Plant Guide
If you have any more Johnson information or pictures which could be added to this site please contact me.