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  • Brothers, Josiah and Benjamin Gimson started their engineering business in 1842.
  • During the First Wolrd War, Gimson & Co. made weapons. Sydney Gimson was Chairman of the local Munitions Committee.
  • Josiah’s son, Ernest Gimson, became a famous architect, designer and craftsman known for his buildings and furniture, and was a key figure in the Victorian Arts and Crafts Movement.

An impressive building for industry

Brothers Josiah and Benjamin Gimson started their engineering business in 1842. The Vulcan Works was built for their company between 1876 and 1879. It was one of the earliest in Britain to combine an iron foundry with an engineering works. Designed by John Breedon Everard, it is three storeys high and 268 feet long. The foundry was on the left, facing the railway line, with a 120 foot-high chimney at the back.

A family of engineers

Gimson’s were one of Leicester’s biggest employers. By 1881, they employed 270 men and 1 boy. Josiah believed in fair conditions and supported the movement for a 9-hour working day. As well as smaller machinery, the factory built large steam engines. In 1889-91 they built the four beam engines for Abbey Pumping Station. Josiah’s son, Ernest Gimson, became a famous architect, designer and craftsman. Known for his buildings and furniture, Ernest was important in the Victorian Arts and Crafts movement.

Vulcan Works 003
Josiah Gimson co-founder of the Gimson & Co, The History of the Secular Society, F.J. Gould (1900)

From Vulcan Works to Vulcan House Business Centre

During World War One, Gimson and Co made weapons. Sydney Gimson was Chairman the local Munitions Committee. By 1961, Gimson’s were general engineers and iron founders, with 450 employees. The Company remained at Vulcan Road until 1986 when modern facilities were built at Beaumont Leys. In the early 1990s the building was refurbished and is now the Vulcan House Business Centre. It has 49 offices and light industrial spaces.

Visitor information
Viewable from the road


Roman Leicester

(47- 500) A military fort was erected, attracting traders and a growing civilian community to Leicester (known as Ratae Corieltauvorum to the Romans). The town steadily grew throughout the reign of the Romans.

Tudor & Stuart Leicester

(1500 – 1700) The wool trade flourished in Leicester with one local, a former mayor named William Wigston, making his fortune. During the English Civil War a bloody battle was fought as the forces of King Charles I laid siege to the town.

Georgian Leicester

(1700 – 1837) The knitting industry had really stared to take hold and Leicester was fast becoming the main centre of hosiery manufacture in Britain. This new prosperity was reflected throughout the town with broader, paved streets lined with elegant brick buildings and genteel residences.

Victorian Leicester

(1837 – 1901) The industrial revolution had a huge effect on Leicester resulting in the population growing from 40,000 to 212,000 during this period. Many of Leicester's most iconic buildings were erected during this time as wealthy Victorians made their mark on the town.

Edwardian Leicester

(1901 – 1910) Electric trams came to the streets of Leicester and increased literacy among the citizens led to many becoming politicised. The famous 1905 ‘March of the Unemployed to London’ left from Leicester market when 30,000 people came to witness the historic event.

Modern Leicester

(1973 – present day) Industry was still thriving in the city during the 1970s, with the work opportunities attracting many immigrants from all over the world. While industry has declined in recent years, excellent transport links have made Leicester an attractive centre for many businesses. The City now has much to be proud of including its sporting achievements and the richness of its cultural heritage and diversity.

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