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K & L STEELFOUNDERS AND ENGINEERS LIMITED 1915-1928 Stanningley Leeds, Yorkshire, England

JONES CRANES LIMITED 1938-1994 Halstead, Essex & Letchworth, Hertfordshire, England

SOUTHDOWN JONES CRANES LIMITED 2001-To Date Letchworth, Hertfordshire, England


Jones Cranes was a UK brand for several types of crane originally produced by its first brandname called K & L Steelfounders and Engineers Ltd from a large factory site based at Letchworth in Hertfordshire, England. The firm was very similar in many ways to the larger manufacturer Coles Cranes Limited their closest supplier and name of several crane types, later by the 1940s the company was renamed JONES CRANES LIMITE until they collapsed in the 1990s. These days the Jones Cranes brand have since returned under a new private ownership and management in 2001. Production has meanwhile restarted that year again at Letchworth but at the moment only crawlercranes and wheeled cranes are produced.

Company HistoryEdit

K & L Steelfounders And Engineers Ltd - 1915-1928

The Jones Cranes brand was founded in 1915 by two Belgian industrialists named Jacques Drynn and Raoul Lahy. The pair had the capital to invest on something huge that made them relocate to England but needed external development to help their own business. They were originally known as K & L Steelfounders And Engineers Limited a crane manufacturing company who were the original owners and traders of that famous name Jones Cranes from the 1930s. Before any major important development, they decide to build steam locomotives, several railway wagons, 2 and 3 axled trailers and later they attempt to make petrol engined cars.

The company was later to became part of the giant George Cohen & Sons Group Ltd empire known globally as The 600 Group a long and old established steelworks engineering concern based in Stanningley near Leeds Yorkshire with their head office in London who aided and provided K & L with all the necessary mechanical and technical knowledge who later took over management and ownership of crane manufacturer K & L Ltd in the Spring of 1928. Then in early 1938 saw the original company name dropped but was renamed as JONES used for every single model of their mobile crane and yard crane machines made from this point under the tradename of Jones Cranes Limited a brand new designation for an already long experienced crane maker who were starting to become well known all over UK and in Europe too where Jones crane sales peaked at very high numbers until the 1990s almost rivalling Coles Cranes Ltd at times.

Even the delicate 1930s proved good for Jones Cranes Ltd to be one of England´s best known and largest producers of diesel-mechanical crane manufacturers and exported their machines all over the world with very successful export levels and were selling them heavily to all the possible markets they found almost everywhere. War History has described and recorded that by 1941 they were producing over 1000 mobile cranes in World War II for the Allies needs during the conflict. These were frequently used in many locations for the British and the French during the wartime including the unloading the first Allies barges to land on the beaches of Arromanches at Normandy on D-Day. To meet the demand Jones manufactured 180 cranes in 25 weeks for the British Army. About the same time and period Coles Cranes were also involved by supplying hundreds of their truck-mounted Coles EMA models.

Jones Cranes Ltd 1938-1994 Edit

When Peacetime returned Jones Cranes Ltd were finally able to expand and resume their manufacturing life so they started to modernise/update its entire mobile and yard crane model range using their external and internal resources with both new and old engineering since it was their only solution in 1945. Several different yard crane prototype models were made each of them using the KL letters, starting with one of the earliest the 1945 Jones KL22 a 4 wheeled yard crane with lattice jib and a oneman cab for any 2 ton lifts that became very popular in yacht clubs and stockyards with many hundreds of them sold. Around 1946 another new larger yard crane on 4 wheels appeared called the Jones KL44 for heavier 4 ton lifts that was another instant big seller that found many owners for assembling yards and builders cranes these became available mounted on just any British lorry of that decade orelse available as mobile cranes.

In 1949 another yard crane the Jones KL66 was developed and it was bigger with more improved cab this was very similar to the KL44 but designed for any 6 ton lifts and it was an alternative to the very popular Coles Argosyardcrane that was the nearest similar machine around that time and this KL66 was also found mounted on numerous trucks too. So all these yardcrane Jones KL-Series models kept them very busy manufacturing them well until the 1970s when production of the KL cranes ended. With cash flowing into the firm due to their healthy sales this now gave Jones a chance to develop another whole new original concept but werent able to yet because they never built cranetrucks before of their own except their models mounted on standard AEC, ERF, FODEN and LEYLAND lorries. Jones Cranes Management then ordered to their neighbours a firm called SD Shelvoke & Drewry Limited a very long established lorry firm to build them a special 6X6 offroad truck to use it as cranecarrier for their next prototype crane model using 3 axle drive. This was later known as the useful 1962 JONES KL10-10 6WD cranetruck their first original go-anywhere allwheel driven crane that was selling moderately well but suffered from the big sales champion and rival all hydraulic mobilecrane the famous and bigger Coles Hydra 4WD 4WS of about the same decade but the KL10-10 still sold well and it was available with either Leyland TD or Perkins Diesel engines similar to 1960s lorries.

This KL10-10 6X6 a completely new model was partially co-developed by SD Ltd using a six wheel driven crosscountry chassis, built with a new 2 men fibreglass cab, with new hydraulic crane controls within the drivers cab, offroad driving axles and tyres plus a new 32ft long latticejib and was able to lift any 12 ton loads. Around 6980 models or so of them were sold with several improvements done to it until 1973 when its production ended. This was another successful first attempt at a new large model to have sold rather well and by the early 1970s Jones felt the need to redevelop their modern cranecarrier concept and they entered another period of internal redevelopment for diesel-hydraulic new models for that decade using other heavy truck mechanicals available like Bedford, Ford, Leyland, Cummins, Perkins and Scania in order to relaunch another new crane generation.

JONES CRANES develops their new original Model Range Edit

JONES CRANES LIMITED opens a second factory in 1958 based at Halstead in Essex, that was mainly for the production of the smaller yardcranes the very successful Jones KL-Series all based on a four wheeled chassis, later a new JONES CRANES subsidiary was known as the K-L FOUNDRIES LIMITED. Meanwhile a eparate Northern UK company called Crane Travellers Limited, that are a specialist in making finished working parts for cranes and other general construction equipment, attempted to buy Vickers AWD Ltd of Swindon in Wiltshire, the well known road vehicle conversion expert, but CT Ltd never managed that because Vickers AWD were also owned by the giant Leeds-based operation The 600 Group. Crane Travellers company had been in existence since 1971 and helped to build several components for numerous other domestic manufacturers mainly UK crane firms and in 1977 Jones Cranes Ltd became their new managers and owners, both firms have worked together closely ever since as partners with CT Ltd as their mechanical and technical engineering division. Meanwhile by the late 1960s Vickers AWD Ltd was providing both Jones Cranes Ltd and smaller BHCC-IF Ltd with several large but latest new different crane-carrier models with alternative running gear and these were designated as the Vickers-AWD V500 Series to match most of their much larger and longer Jones mobile cranes available that decade each of them were entirely redeveloped and relaunched for their new model range of the 1970s. This was the most advanced solution that Jones was really searching for and these latest news assured that could join Coles Cranes and other UK crane brands to face the growing outside competition.

Jones Cranes - ReorganisedEdit

While Jones finally balaced as was Coles and other domestic crane makes and themselves enjoying endless sales all over the UK together with several other European markets not all was great unfortunately. As the big UK crane market was naturally growing since the 1970s to the early 1990s so did the numerous other foreign mobile crane and yard crane manufacturers found the open market access and these could be exported anywhere and everywhere. The result was that many were imported mostly from all over Europe, while others from the Far East and US brands were entering our market too. That meant a sudden New Wave of hundreds of ultramodern all hydraulic crane type makes and models to enter and invade the UK so this slowly proved to be fatal to some domestic brands and often disturbed the larger ones of our very own breed, though the only firm able to resist this foreign crane invasion was huge Coles Cranes Limited. While some UK makes were slowly collapsing one by one, due to the arrival of these new generation of machines the Jones company managed to survive the tough 1980s and early 1990s. Unfortunately by 1994 they were into trouble too and were closing their factory doors another similar fate that happened to the other makes.Sudden fierce competition of ultra new modern mobilecranes that totally swept the entire UK market and strangled our local construction machinery .

JONES brand Returns Edit

Jones Cranes Limited - 2001-To Date (Revival)

The name of JONES CRANES LTD is still around today when this historic UK crane company were successfully rescued, currently owned and managed since 2001 by small Southdown Engineers Ltd who acquired them and reopened the long closed doors but still intact Letchworth factory site where the original Jones Cranes works was and started reassembling plenty of abandoned models left unfinished remaining still there and slowly have resumed production but only Jones Crawler cranes to begin because earlier in 1994 just before closure it was their main output and some remaining mobile cranes left there have been finished recently. The Southdown Engineering Company are a construction machinery engineering firm and crane specialists that make and supply parts as well as rebuilding, refurbishing, restoring and repairing mobile cranes and yard cranes of several makes and models in active operation since the early 1970s. Their factory site with head office are at Albourne near Hassocks in rural Sussex and usually carry on general work needed on old and new Coles, Iron Fairy and Jones models of many types. They also have set up a service network and a growing website for any necessary assistance aimed at customers seeking for help to their units of those 3 classic manufacturers. Their eternal rival smaller crane expert called Iron Fairy returned in 1997 and their revival was done by an independent South Yorkshire industrial engineering group who bought the BHCC IF Ltd brand.

Further JONES Engineering DevelopmentsEdit

Finally in the early 1980s Jones Cranes Ltd also entered a technical agreement connection with a Suomi truck manufacturer called Lokkeri Rauma Repola OY Suomi (known as Lokomo outside Finland) of Tampere to supply Jones of the UK with Lokomo 8X4 cranecarriers powered by Volvo mechanicals and over 700 models were shipped from Finland to England for final assembly at the Letchworth factory. For a while Jones was also ordering new generation reliable Scania TDI lorry engines from Sweden to power their heaviest and largest mobilecranes constructed, besides using several domestic and wellknown powerful Cummins TD and Leyland TDI heavy truck engines both of which were the main running gear providers besides other mechanical brands and resources at the time. By 1992 Jones Cranes were only relying on British and Swedish drivetrains and mechanicals.

Meanwhile in the 1980s Coles Cranes Limited already developed and made the new Coles Colossus HPT Harbour Port Towercrane, an enormous Coles cranetruck that worked both as mobilecrane and as a towercrane in less than 30min thanks to its fully new hydraulic capabliity for any of the two possible options.This latest giant Coles model then gave Jones Cranes new ideas in the early 1980s and after previous extensive experience producing harbour and port cranes using both crawlertracks and wheeled axles, there was time for them to develop something completely new. This brand new model took around six weeks for development and engineering it and the final result was called Jones 2200 HLB This was a special new mobilecrane on 4 axles, built with a new longer carrier chassis, a new longer latticejib with extensions fitted, used 2 new drivers cabs one much higher than usual and the other lower one with hydraulic elevating, 4 allnew hydraulic folding outriggers for up to 100 Ton lifts and its mechanicals were taken from modern heavy duty Scania DS11 TDI V8 400 bhp heavy duty truck engine. All these technical items remained on this massive and unique crane model, so to date it still remains the largest machine ever made by Jones Cranes Ltd so far, around 500 of these were produced.

Jones Cranes Model RangeEdit

Crawler cranes

Yard cranes

Mobile cranes

Ship loader cranes

Military models

  • Two special model were built for the Ministry of supply during WWII.
  • The 1943-45 Bridging Crane - 111 units built for the British Army.
  • The 1942-45 Barge Crane - 180 units built for the Allies used by British and French forces.

Railway cranes

==Gallery of Jones Cranes==

PreservationEdit

  • Today several models are still operating in boat yards and docks plus many Heritage railways throughout the UK.
  • The VET Vintage Excavator Trust have a early 1980s Jones 565C crawler crane unit on their site at Threlkeld, Cumbria at the mining museum and its awaiting restoration so not yet working. (photo above)
  • There are still 2 units of KL 44 4 ton cranes surviving in store in New Zealand belonging to the local railway company and used daily on trains.[1][2]
  • Some 120 Jones of several types were bought by the British Rail, and used for general railway works.
  • Many Jones IF Series mobile cranes are used in warehouses and yards with several Jones 900 Series cranes models used in warehouses, construction and engineering works all over the UK.

See alsoEdit

British Crane makers;
Crane carrier makers;

References and SourcesEdit

  1. KL44 listing On www.NZRcranes.org
  2. www.nzrcranes.org History of railway cranes in new Zealand
  • Classic Plant & Machinery Magazine
  • Flickr, a photo website that includes copyright pictures of very good Jones crane models most of them in colour.
  • The current Iron Fairy and Jones websites are under construction but some pictures of both makes are seen.
  • Google Images has provided many good free photos of Jones Iron Fairy new and old models for viewing.


Further readingEdit

  • The Classic Construction Series The Histoy Of Cranes, many authors, The KHL Group International (England) 1997
  • An Illustrated History Of Cranes , by Hinton J. Sheryn, Ian Allan Publishing (England) 1997
  • Off Highway And Construction Trucks, by Arthur Ingram & Colin Peck, Blandford Press Limited (England) 1980
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Trucks And Buses, by Denis Miller, Quantum Books Limited (England) 2002

External LinksEdit


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