Our History

History

We’re proud of the reputation we have built over the past 120-years

Poeton Industries has been developed on the back of continued innovation, development and customer support for the past 120-years. From enamelling bicycle frames through to collaborating on the world’s largest engineering projects, we have strived to push the boundaries of materials and enabling our customers to achieve their engineering goals.

Explore the moments that have enabled Poeton to become the UK’s leading surface treatment experts below.

1866

1866

Our story starts with the birth of our founder Arthur Thomas (AT) Poeton. He is one of 12 children to parents Josiah Poeton Snr, a watch and clockmaker, and Ann Poeton (nee. Barnes). The family emigrates before Arthur marries a Connecticut girl named Alice Boothroyd.

1895

1895

Using the skills acquired from his father, Arthur works in Seth Thomas’ clock factory silver plating dials.

1898

1898

After returning to the UK following the birth of his son George, Arthur sets up AT Poeton with the help of an investment of £184.

The first premises were rented from the Bristol Corporation in the Tower Hill area of Bristol. The business is focussed on the plating of bicycle parts and enamelling of bicycle frames.

1914

With the business ticking over and now with 4 employees, AT Poeton secures its first government contract, plating plugs for artillery shells, in time for the breakout of World War 1.

 

Arthur’s daughter Maude joins the business as a bookkeeper. The demand from the government contract means that a day and night shift is now required to plate the thousands of parts ordered.

1918

The WW1 armistice sees the return to bright nickel polishing and plating of parts for bicycles, motorcycles and motor cars.

1919

1919

George Poeton (left) joins the business having previously worked at Cadbury’s and training in business procedures. AT Poeton’s nephew, Lawrence Poeton (right), joins as a bookkeeper and recalls that polishers were “paid 1s 2d for a 60-hour week”.

1920s

1920s

The business continues to expand with a number of new contracts won, including:

  • Polishing of aluminium covers for tobacco machinery
  • Rust proofing frames for printing firms
  • Cellulose spraying of wireless set panels
  • Coating motorcycle tanks
  • Cadmium and dull nickel plating of post office vending machines

George marries Gladys before his sons Roy (1923) and William George (1926) are born.

1929

1929

Chromium plating is introduced, with the required capital raised by selling shares and quickly overtaking other Bristol firms offering this.

1931

Chromium plating continues expanding and is now 80% of the work processed. The chromium work and high demand for plating on photogravure rollers means the Tower Hill site is now too small.

1935

1935

A brand-new £5000 factory is built allowing the business to remain in Tower Hill Bristol and staff numbers reach 35.

1938

1938

George’s son Roy joins the business. Approval is received from the Aeronautical Inspection Directorate for Nickel Cadmium and Chrome prior to the outbreak of World War II.

1939

1939

World War 2 begins, and the government bans bright chromium with a move to hard chrome plating. During the war Poeton plays a key role in processing a number of parts used in the war efforts, including:

  • Flap tubes for the Blenheim Bomber
  • 9000 hard chrome bearing sleeves for the Hercules aircraft
  • Oleo legs for naval aircraft
  • 36,000 piston rods for tank shock absorbers
  • Tail pipe barrels for Beaufighter and all other Bristol plane engines

When the Bristol Aeroplane Company’s factory was damaged, space in the Poeton factory was given over to them. This ensured that Poeton avoided acquisition by government decree although cooperation tax of 100% was maintained over war time.

1940

1940

Roy Poeton joins the war effort as a wireless operator in North Africa. This is despite being injured in a motorcycle accident the previous year whilst working as an air raid warden.

1941

1941

Arthur Thomas Poeton passes away – with his last act being the signing of a cheque for the final payment for the 1935 factory.

1944

1944

William George Poeton, George’s son, joins the business having previously worked at the Bristol Aeroplane Company. William had trained in electroplating shops and laboratories and this experience would be key for the future development of the company.

1945

1945

Following the end of the war, chemicals and equipment are in short supply with the problem compounded by the fact the factory is worn out from the war efforts.

William’s first son Anthony is born in 1948 with Barrie following a few years later.

1952

1952

The first corrochrome process is developed which instantly doubled the life of paper production rollers.

1953

1953

A limited company is formed, named A T Poeton & Son Ltd with shares issued to:

  • 86% William
  • 10% Roy
  • 2% P L Lynch – a salesman who joined the company in 1951
  • 1% E S Johnstone – a loyal foreman who had remained with the firm throughout the difficult times.
  • 1% George – with an additional annual income of £3000 guaranteed until his death.

William was now leading the business, and when asked about his ambition for the business he was quoted as saying “We don’t want to be the biggest electroplaters in the UK – we just want to be the best!”.

Over the next few years, heavy investment in technology and equipment was made, with a focus placed on nickel polished chromium and approval for the industrial motor trade being achieved. William also takes aim at plating giant 20-tonne cylinders used in the chemical, paper and steel industries.

(Image L-R: Charles Worth, who would later join, WG Poeton, Roy Poeton, and Paddy Lynch.)

1958

1958

The largest aluminium anodising plant in Europe is opened at the Whitehouse Street factory.

1960

1960

George Poeton passes away.

1961

1961

Following troubles with local bureaucrats, including the battle for compensation for the Tower Hill site which had been taken for the local hospital, a new hard chrome and anodising facility in Bedminster, Bristol was used before relocation to Gloucester. The freehold factory of Gloucester Plating had unexpectedly become available and is still our headquarters today.

 

This move had the added approval of Dowty Equipment of Gloucestershire as William had developed coatings that had solved their fretting problems as well as other issues besetting the aircraft industry.

1963

1963

William purchases Magrath Metal Finishing in Cardiff which is now our Poeton Cardiff site.

1965

1965

By now plants had been established in Newcastle and Southampton and a technical knowledge sharing agreement established with US electroplater ‘Superior Plating’. Employees numbers had also reached the 200 mark.

1966

Poeton perfects the hard chrome process for piston ring grooves in large bore marine engines.

1967

William takes a back seat as his career with a top management post in TV takes over.

1969

1969

William returns as Chairman and Managing Director, but tough business conditions see some downsizing of the business to ensure steady profits and long-term stability.

1972

New facilities open at Gloucester to provide thermal coatings, primarily to the aerospace industry.

1973

1973

William’s oldest son Anthony joins the business after attending the University of Indiana and a period working for Superior Plating in Connecticut.

1974

1974

Poeton cracked a problem that had previously defeated the world’s best researchers by hard chrome plating titanium components and is used on US Space Shuttles.

1977

Poeton looks abroad for growth with Anthony setting up Poeton Hartchrom Ltd in Munich, Germany.

1978

The M200 process for Hard Anodising, which allows for double of the regular film thickness becomes available.

1980

Anthony returns to the UK as Managing Director and immediately priorities training. Barrie Poeton, who had been working for the Anodine Corporation in Orange County, California with the view to setting up a business there, returns to the UK to run Poeton Cardiff due to problems arising at the site.

William takes the role for Margaret Thatcher’s government in Brussels in the European Community’s Economic and Social Committee.

1983

Poeton achieves nickel and hard chrome plating of continuous casting moulds for the steel industry, extending their lives 6-fold.

1987

Announcement of the first composite coating, Electroless Nickel with PTFE, followed by the development of composite anodic and electroplated composites.

1988

1988

The Apticote (Advanced Plating Technological Coatings) range is introduced to ensure precise definition and performance characteristics of our advanced treatment solutions.

1988

1988

Poeton enter into a licensee agreement with US surface treatment company General Magnaplate. This relationship continues today and means the most advanced surface treatments are available on both sides of the Atlantic.

1991

William is awarded a CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours for political service.

1993

1993

A robotic thermal coating installation is commissioned.

1995

1995

NDT facility built at the Cardiff site completing a 40% expansion to become a one-stop-shop surface treatment supplier for the aerospace industry.

1996

1996

Teikuro Poeton, a Japanese-English joint venture is set up in Gloucester, offering a dedicated press chromium plating service for the automotive industry.

1997

1997

Integrated Surface Engineering Information System (ISIS) launched – a PC based software system that helped customers select the best surface treatment for a specific application.

1998

1998

Max Power Cylinders is established in the USA in conjunction with Aptec to provide technology coating to the motor industry.

2003

2003

Apticote 3000 Keronite, a plasma electrolytic oxidation process developed in the Poeton R&D lab is awarded a Smart Achievement Award by the Department for Trade & Industry.

2003

2003

Apticote 100 Hard Chrome is used on the Beagle 2 Mars Lander and then on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission the following year.

2004

2004

Our first Nadcap accreditations are achieved – NDT & Chemical Processing in Cardiff and for Coatings in Gloucester.

2005

2005

Originally developed for high performance motorsport engines, Apticote 2000 is used on rotary engines for Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) to improve engine operating characteristics under extreme climatic conditions.

2011

2011

Airbus approval for Tartaric Sulphuric Acid Anodising (TSA) is achieved at Poeton Cardiff in support of the Airbus A350XWB program.

2012

2012

ATC Poeton, a joint venture in Singapore is established to support growing demand in South East Asia in the aerospace, defence and oil & gas industries.

2014

Anthony Poeton receives a lifetime achievement award from the Surface Engineering Association, for his work on behalf of the surface coating industry, both in the UK and abroad.

2016

2016

Poeton is selected for government backed Sharing in Growth (SiG) scheme, attracting £1.2million in funding to use SiG’s experts to achieve ambitious growth plans across the business.

2017

2017

Poeton Polska, a brand-new surface treatment facility located in Poland’s Aviation Valley, is launched at the Paris Air Show.

2017

2017

The first Poeton rebrand for 40 years is also launched at Paris Air Show.

2018

2018

Poeton win double at the Surface Engineering Association (SEA) awards. The event saw us pick up the Environmental and Quality awards for outstanding work in both of these areas.

2019

2019

Aptec Motorsport rebrands and is launched at the Autosport show along with a brand-new website.

2020

2020

James Poeton-Bridgens, the fifth generation of the Poeton family, joins the business.

Contact us today and let our surface treatment solutions be part of your story