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Bray Construction Machinery Ltd
Successor Matbro
Founded 1911
Founder(s) W.E. Bray
Defunct 1991
Headquarters Feltham, Middlesex, England
Industry Manufacturer
Products agriculture machinery tractor construction plant

Bray Construction Machinery Limited company was based at Feltham in Middlesex and later at Tetbury in Gloucestershire.They were pioneers in building add-on equipment for several other early Tractors and Crawler tractors. Most machines being based on Ford skid units, with some other models using County Tractors 4WD conversions as a donorbase. From the early 1950s onwards Bray developed and produced their original equipment such an small range of several tractors and a large range of industrial loaders of many sizes often fitted with 4WD on most of their machines together with a few early 4X4 ADT prototypes were also made. The Bray company was taken over by another similar manufacturer called Matbro Limited in 1973. Both firms then merged and have worked together closely ever since and operated from four sitelocations until the early 1990s.

HistoryEdit

BRAY was founded by W.E.Bray in 1911 as Ironsmith toolbuilders from a disused empty warehouse moving on to build and supply parts for motor torpedo boats during WWI to keep business active during the conflict. Gradually by the early 1940s Bray started to develop wheeled diggers and became specialists in construction and earthmoving equipment ever since under the tradename of Bray Construction Equipment Company Limited of Feltham near London as they were known from 1936. There was NO Connection to William Bray Limited (1857-1867) an earlier company from New Cross in South London who were shortlived builders of farmtrailers, steam rollers and traction engines.

Fowler VF no. 4700094 with Bray Bulldozer gear at Kettering 08 - IMG 1998

A Fowler VF with Bray Angledozer gear

By 1934 Bray had built its first hydraulically operated machine called the Angledozer a crawler tractor their first original earthmover. Supplying the MOD (Ministry Of Defence) department with 18 units during the WW2 all of them with Ford Tractor mechanicals some going to France and Middle East. It was later much improved both mechanically and hydraulically along the years it was made.

In 1946 they built their first loading shovel on a David Brown tractor unit. They then developed the all new Hydraloader model this time based on a Fordson E27N Major skid unit in 1949. The Angledozer in heavyduty model was fitted to the County CFT Crawler and it became known as Braydozer which proved popular with farmers and sold in their thousands, with a number of these exported to all over Europe where they were mostly used for agriculture and farmyard work.

Later they moved to a brandnew factorysite at Faggs Road in Feltham, Middlesex in 1950 where every new Bray model assembly and manufacturing was done giving Bray the chance to develop a fresh new range.Their modern factory had just launched the new light Bray BL Series and their yard premises were beside London Heathrow Airport´s grounds. Famous car name called Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd were producing the lovely DB-Series nearby in the same estate.

In 1954 a new model called the Bray Dualoader was introduced and this loader could allow its bucket to pass it over the driverscab to discharge its load faster. A year later Bray Construction Equipment Ltd was taken over by machine attachment and parts specialist manufacturer called Sheepbridge Engineering Ltd who also worked with several other earthmover manufacturers operating mostly from other parts of Europe.

In 1956 the new Bray Hydraloader model was launched and was available as in bulldozer, loader, tractor, yardcrane, forklift and snowplough versions. They were also fitted to several Roadless and County built versions of the Fordson Tractor. A Half-track Hydraloader was introduced on a Fordson Major fitted with Roadless DG Halftrack bulldozer type gear promoted to use it as a prototype new model for other UK brands another first for Bray.

Bray-Sherman f8 digger Fordson at Andrew Beaulas WD - IMG 4680

Bray - Sherman Power Digger on Fordson Major tractor

By 1958 Bray were also the UK agents and suppliers for the American firm Sherman Products Inc. of Royal Oak based in Michigan who are bulldozer and tractor parts specialists. Bray acquired a licence to produce their S-P Digger backhoe excavator which was fitted to a new model the Bray Longford Digger of 1960, itself based on a redesigned Fordson Major 4WD tractor resembling an early JCB 4WD Diggerloader with AWD axles, front loader and backhoe digger.

In March 1971 Bray relocates from Middlesex to Tetbury in Gloucestershire where Matbro Limited made their own original construction machinery based on a large 100,000 sqm sized factory on a new 10 acre site at London Road their main manufacturing center for most of their largest earthmoving equipment. Besides this large factory at Tetbury, Matbro Limited had earlier opened and owned since 1951 another two smaller factories in Surrey, one at Horley used for diggers and farmtractors production and a second one at Wallington used for forklifts and garden tractors production. Later Bray quitted tractor conversions for other makes and focused solely on their current 1960s generation original new loader range. Soon after BRAY were renamed Bray Construction Machinery Ltd now fully active at Tetbury with a new modern factory opposite to their later owners Matbro Limited.For a long while Bray still used their Feltham factory to build their large and heaviest models the PS Series. Around the mid 1960s to late 1970s AWD Ltd of Camberley the famous wellknown British vehicle allwheeldrive conversion specialist was their regular supplier of heavy 4X4 axles for the BRAY biggest models.

Bray company was later sold to Matbro Limited in November 1973 after a successful merger of both specialists and the Bray Feltham factorysite was later sold to their former owners Sheepbridge Engineering Ltd who wanted another recent factory for their own production of machinery parts. With BRAY huge engineering and mechanical knowledge it was known for, both firms decided to merge together and joining forces so they worked closely at the time allowing several more unique models to be entirely developed and launched with some old models redesigned in a very similar way UK mobilecrane and crane specialists IRON FAIRY and JONES decided to do with great results. The designation BRAY was still in regular use in the 1970s and the 1980s with new models now renamed as Bray-Matbro around this time Bray no longer had their own factory widely used for producing their range in the 1980s beside Heathrow Airport.

After that Bray was now under the Matbro Limited ownership and fullcontrol. Their owners were finally able to redevelop and relaunch a whole new generation batch of loaders and forklifts in the 1970s. Matbro Limited using Bray advanced experience and technology, they redesigned and heavily modified their entire model range using new extras such as centerpivot steering, new hydraulics, 4WD with 4WS (four wheel steering) and new power steering. Once this begun Bray earned some ideas too so they precisely the same with a another reorganized completely brandnew generation of loader models in four groups: the PS-Series, the 500-Series large ones and the AG-Series, the RS-Series single axledriven smaller ones. Bray also introduced other new models in prototype form that were still under development: The new Bray T100 4WD pivot-steered forestwork tractor of which 6 were made and also a completely different new model the Bray D120 4WD their first ever experimental original ADT articulated dumptruck meaning D for Dumptruck and the 12 meant it carried any 12 ton loads of which 6 exist. The time was the late 1970s when these two new models were launched while the Bray loader production kept growing normally alongside the MATBRO model production.

Since early 1974 Matbro Mastiff diggers and Matbro Ram forklift handlers of Bray inspired design but built entirely by Matbro Limited were launched. Most of these were of 4WD type but some other models were available in either front or rear wheel drive forms and these had front or rear steering depending on the models. By the early 1980s every model manufactured by Matbro Limited was often rebranded carrying the famous words Matbro-Bray on the units whatever the machines were to avoid mistakes with Bray similar model range until the early 1990s.

Both Bray and Matbro had a long choice of running gear and mechanicals to move their earthmovers and were sourced from a variety of wellknown makes such as Cummins, Ford, Leyland, Perkins and even Volvo engines for the heaviest and biggest models and many other transmission components for each of these two manufacturers model ranges.

Matbro Limited company were themselves taken over in 1991 by UK independent firm called Powerscreen International based in Lisburn Northern Ireland, a general mechanical engineering big firm. After the take-over, output production has increased nearly tenfold and with the Tetbury factory running at full capacity, Matbro then managed to open another new factory in Belfast Northern Ireland for production of the latest hydraulic large Matbro 4WD forklifts. When Bray company closed their own modern recent factory made the popular Matbro TR250 4WD Digger and Matbro TS270 4WD 4WS Loader/Forklift updated versions were made plus a few other models at Tetbury.

Unfortunately the early 1990s brought an end too for centenary and historic BRAY brandname the original manufacturer that started in 1911 and had a remarkable life until the early 1990s when some problems emerged partly by the arrival of other similar but far superior earthmoving equipment makes and partly caused by falling Bray slowsales.Their owners Matbro Limited were stuck in a critical status at the time and that firm could no longer afford to support or attempt to save their older sister BRAY because Matbro only just had little capital. Sadly by May 1991 Bray had a quiet departure and marked the end for our once great and famous manufacturing name of BRAY and left the earthmovers market soon.

Meawhile Matbro Limited were also struggling hard to keep manufacturing active and their own daily production with their latest modern and updated model range they created at that time consisting of 5 different big loaders, 4 different telescopic handlers and 3 different Teleshift forklifts. All of these are powered by the latest modern Cummins, Leyland and Perkins 6 cylinder powerful TDI engines. Some models carry automatic gearboxes and the majority of them have standard factory built 4WD/4WS axles or in 4WD only, with standard go anywhere large wheels and power steering with latest hydraulics and fitted with new noise-reduction cabs with new chassis. They all sold in great numbers in the 1990s.

Finally the giant American earthmover manufacturer called Terex bought the remnants of Powerscreen International following this company closure in 2003 and used this factory for the assembly and for building new giant go anywhere Terex Mobilecranes. Occasionally used BRAY and MATBRO models turn up for sale everyday on the Internet and at Plant sales all over the UK proving how popular they were and still are today but several are seen in constant use now.

Bray model rangeEdit

Bray Supermajor 4WD

Bray Supermajor

Bray BL30 4X4 loader

Bray BL300 loader

Bray 54O 4WD Loader

Bray 540 Loader

Bray PS5000C 4WD Loader

Bray PS5000C Loader

THE ORIGINAL BRAY PAST RANGE

Historic Machinery mostly consisting of early original loaders are:

  • Bray Angledozer 1940s Attachment dozerblade tradename fitted to other makes of British crawlers and tractors.
  • Bray Pupdozer 1949 This was an small buldozer blade fitted to Fordson Major hydraulic tractors at the time.
  • Bray Braydozer A 1949 bulldozer model based on the County CFT Crawler that later sold very successfully.
  • Bray Dualoader 1957 Formerly known as Bray BL35 it was a light wheeled model with a Perkins engine .
  • Bray Hydraloader 1949 A normal Fordson Major 4WD tractor with a useful front bucket that sold very good.
  • Bray Hydraloader HL21 1952 An improved fullcab Fordson Major 4x4 with new hydraulic arms for the loadbucket.
  • Bray Hydraloader Half-track 1955 A Fordson Major with Roadless DG Halftrack used for muddy and sandy work.
  • Bray BL25 1956 New Bulldozer with new closed fullcab based on a County Crawler with Fordson Major engine.
  • Bray BL30 1956 A new model using a more confortable rear fullcab, rear wheel drive and front axle steering.
  • Bray BL32 1957 New version of the BL30 with optional tracks or wheels and new Highlift longreach arms fitted.
  • Bray HL23 1954 An early hydraulic model but with front cab mounted available with the Sherman SP bucket.
  • Bray HL27 1957 Another new model with front wheel drive and rear steering with front new cab Fordson engine.
  • Bray Centaur 1968 An new early original BRAY 4WD tractor using loader running gear that sold very good.
  • Bray Longford Digger 1960 A new Loader-Digger model using Sherman backhoes from USA under license.
THE BRAY BL Series

Medium sized early original and much developed loader models produced are:

  • Bray BL430 1956 Probably was the UK's first 4WD loader with AWD Ltd axles based on a Fordson skid unit.
  • Bray BL432T 1959 A similar model to the above but fitted with a BrockhouseTC Torque Converter.
  • Bray BL440 1957 An original Bray completely new Loader that used 4WD axles and Ford mechanicals.
  • Bray BL450 1961 A simlar model but longer of the above with a choice of Ford, Leyland or Perkins power.
  • Bray BL450TF 1970 Redesigned and updated model of the above with new drivers cab and AWD axles used.
  • Bray BL455T 1962 Similar as above but with a further improved 90 hp Torqueconverter and new gearbox.
  • Bray BL455 MW 1963 A Special Amphibious AWD model version for the MOD with 23 of these were built.
  • Bray BL460T 1962 A loader further improvement with 110 bhp powerful ngine and Torqueconverter.
THE BRAY AG Series

Light and smaller original loader model range some using 4WD are:

  • Bray AG4000 New concept it used four equal sized tyres with rear wheel drive and new Ford tractor engine.
  • Bray AG4400 An improved model like the above with 4WD and a new longreach arms land Perkins engine.
  • Bray AG4500C Just a longer 4WD version of the above model except it used a Cummins 6 cylinder engine.
  • Bray AG5000 This used larger 4WD axles and other wheels with a new Ford tractor sourced diesel engine.
THE BRAY 500 Series

Large sized original loader model range fitted with both 4WD and 4WS are:

  • Bray 530 1963 An original new compact loader with front wheel drive and rear steering with a new Ford engine.
  • Bray 534 1964 Similar as above but with new front axle steering and rear axle drive using a new Perkins engine.
  • Bray 536 1965 Like the previous one a larger model with rear steering and front axledrive with the same engine.
  • Bray 540 1980 This was a 4WD model with optional cab or no cab that used a new Ford D Series lorry engine.
  • Bray 544 1979 Same as previous but had 4WS, new angular cab, centre pivot steering and same Ford engine.
  • Bray 552 1981 A further development and improved Bray 540 with new cab and new Leyland truck engine used.
  • Bray 560 1978 Improved new model with longer cab, fitted with larger 4WD axles with Leyland lorry engine.
  • Bray 566 1982 Another model based on the Bray 560 with 4WD and 4WS with Leyland TD lorry engine used.
  • Bray 570 1984 Improved 4WD unit had new rear wheel steering a reshaped new cab and new Ford lorry engine.
  • Bray 588 1985 This one used large offroad wheels with new lights and used a Leyland TD truck engine.
THE BRAY PS Series

Large and even bigger original loader model range fitted with 4WD are:

  • Bray PS4000 1976 New loader concept a larger model with Bray 4WD Axles and Ford tractor engine.
  • Bray PS4400 1979 Very much like the model above with 4WD axles and new steering with Perkins engine.
  • Bray PS4500C 1981 Resembling much the previous model except it used new Cummins engine.
  • Bray PS5000 1977 Similar as above with Bray 4WD axles and a bigger new cab but with the same engine.
  • Bray PS6000 1978 As above using Bray 4X4 axles but with a new lorry Leyland Turbodiesel 6 cylinder engine.
  • Bray PS7000 1982 Much like the above but with articulating chassis new 4WD axles and the same engine.
  • Bray PS7500 1979 Like above but used Ford 4WD axles and a choice of Leyland or Perkins 135 bhp engines.
  • Bray PS9000 1981 Updated 4WD model as above but it used a new Leyland truck engine and new driverscab.
  • Bray PS10000B From 1989 its a longer Timber loader, with Perkins 150 hp engine, using Ford 7000 4WD tractor axles with a Volvo truck engine option it had a Boughton 12 ton winch mounted to the forestwork model.
  • Bray PS10500C 1992 This model resembled a huge mining loader and it was the largest Bray 4WD model ever made and it had Volvo L82 TD engine with reshaped new cab and loadbucket using new large axles and wheels.
THE BRAY RS Series

Medium sized and original loader model range but without 4WD/4WS are:

  • Bray RS4000 A new concept with front wheel drive and rear wheel steering powered by Ford tractor engine
  • Bray RS4500 Improved model with a wider loadbucket and new larger offroad tyres with Perkins engine.
  • Bray RS4500C Resembling much like the previous one above and powered by a modern Cummins engine.
  • Bray RS5000 Similar as above a longer model with improved hydraulics and fitted with a Leyland tractor engine.

Bray Four-Series Tractors & Other 4WD Tractor Conversions ListEdit

Model Year(s) of Production Horsepower Engine Type Misc Notes Photo
Bray Centaur Ford 4-wd reversible tractor similar to the Matbro Mastiff Bray Centaur 4WD
Bray T100 Ford protoype brochure Bray T1000 4WD b&w prototype
Bray Four 4/65 1967-1970 65 hp (48 kW) Fordson Nuffield 4/65 conversion Bray in Well Holland
Bray 4 10/60 1966-1967 60 hp (45 kW) Fordson Nuffield 10/60 conversion; less than 100 believed built Bray Four 10-60 sn 6XN0057A reg LNL 576E at Masham 09 - IMG 0348
Bray 6 10/90 90 hp (67 kW) Fordson prototype Nuffield conversion
Bray Four 70 71 hp (53 kW) Leyland Leyland 270 conversion
Bray Four 384 70 hp (52 kW) Leyland Leyland 384 conversion Bray Four 384 4WD (Leyland)
Bray 385 1970- Leyland Leyland 385 conversion
Bray 485 Leyland Leyland 485 conversion

Preserved MachinesEdit

There are a few Bray Nuffields 4WD that exist on classic and vintage tractor shows and on the rally circuit, but as only a few were built they are quite rare. At the same time plenty of original BRAY PS Series and 500 Series loaders survive still and are in regular use in constructions, farms, mines and quarries all over the UK. Youtube also provides some original videos of several BRAY PS Series being used in many tasks and another video shows a Swedish farmer named Carlipc driving and starting his classic yellow BRAY 570 4WD loader in a farm being used for snow removal and general farmwork. Its frequently used all over the owners property though its an old model and it still works nicely.

GalleryEdit

Photos of Bray machines

See alsoEdit

ReferenceEdit

External linksEdit


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