Howden and its many subsidiaries have a long history of innovation in the air and gas handling field. Many of these are listed here in the innovation section, and others can be found on the individual company history pages on this site.
The business development section traces the growth of the group into the major supplier of fans rotary heat exchangers and compressors that it is today.
1857 James Howden commences the design and supply of boilers and steam
engines for the marine industry.
1860 James Howden patents a method of preheating combustion air.
1863 James Howden introduces a furnace mechanical draught system which
uses a steam turbine driven axial flow fan.
1867 Benjamin Franklin Sturtevant patents a rotary exhaust fan.
1866 BF Sturtevant Co pioneers the use of mechanical draught fans for ventilation
in the marine industry when its fans are fitted on the USS Alliance.
1880 Bryan Donkin Co pioneers the use of gas boosting at Beckton Gas Works in UK.
1882 James Howden patents the 'Howden System of Forced Draught' which
combines mechanical draught with the transfer of heat from the flue gases
to the combustion air.
1886 Buffalo Forge Co pioneers the use of centralised heated air circulation for
1895 Buffalo Forge Co becomes known as “The Birthplace of Air Conditioning” when it
designs the first practical cooling system for the Auditorium Hotel in Chicago.
1898 Samuel Davidson invents the forward bladed centrifugal fan - the 'Sirocco' fan.
1904 Howden commences manufacture of steam turbines for use in the power
1909 The Wallsend-Howden oil fired burner is developed to work in combination with
the company's forced draught system.
1910 Bryan Donkin Co commences manufacture of turbo-exhausters and blowers based
on the Rateau principle.
1912 Howden designs and supplies water tube boilers for the marine propulsion industry.
1914 The largest turbo-generator running in the UK (a 15MW unit for Manchester
Corporation) is supplied by James Howden & Co.
1914 Buffalo Forge publishes the first edition of 'Fan Engineering', the industry-standard
reference work on air and gas movement.
1916 The metal diaphragm compressor is invented by H Corblin.
Late '10s BF Sturtevant invents the backward-inclined bladed centrifugal fan.
1926 The Davidson mechanical dust collector is patented.
1934 In conjunction with ICI, Howden develops a flue gas desulphurisation (FGD)
system for use in power stations.
1938 James Howden & Co Ltd licences the screw compressor from SRM in Sweden
and is the first company to commercialise the technology.
1940s Stork brothers develops the aerofoil bladed centrifugal fan. Joint development
work with Howden raises the efficiency of centrifugal fans to 90%.
1947 Howden supplies the main blowers for the world's first two large nuclear reactors
at Windscale, UK.
1951 Novenco supplies the world’s first variable pitch axial flow fan in the
power generation industry.
1966 James Howden & Co receives the order for the world's first submerged gas
circulators for the UK AGR programme.
1973 Howden Canada supplies the turbo-generators to the world's first large CANDU
nuclear power station, the 4x514MW Pickering A station near Toronto.
1982 Howden supplies the first wind turbine in the utility industry in the United Kingdom.
1984 Howden supplies 26MW of wind turbine capacity to Altamont Pass, California.
1992 Howden designs and launches an ultra low noise cooling fan.
1999 Large centrifugal fan impellers which are tolerant of dynamic excitation under
off-load duties are introduced by Howden.
2000 Large centrifugal boster fans with rotors designed to run above their critical speed
supplied to Howden customers.
2006 Howden develops a fully submerged gas circulator running on magnetic bearings
for handling helium as a nuclear reactor core coolant.
2008 Introduction of super-high pressure blading for modern single and two-stage
1854 James Howden sets up business working as a consulting engineer in Glasgow.
1878 BF Sturtevant builds the largest fan manufacturing plant in the world at that time.
1881 Samuel Davidson sets up business in Belfast, UK.
1923 Negotiations with A/B Ljungströms Angeturbin (ALA) result in the formation of a
joint venture company – Howden Ljungström Preheaters (Land) Limited based in
Glasgow and Wellsville to develop and manufacture the rotary air preheater.
1931 Holdings in the Howden-Ljungstrom joint ventures are exchanged and James
Howden & Company and the Ljungstrom Company take full control of the UK
and the US organisations respectively.
1945 The Joy Manufacturing Company enters the fan business by purchasing
LADEL Mfg., a fan maker located in New Philadelphia, OH.
1947 S T Westerholz forms the Nordisk Ventilator Company to produce the
“Variax” variable pitch axial flow fan.
1950 James Howden Australia Pty Limited is formed.
1952 James Howden & Company Africa (Pty) is formed
1956 James Howden and Company of Canada Limited is formed and located at
1961 Howden takes controlling stake in Holima Ingenieursbureau voor Warmte en
Koudetechnick NV which designed and manufactured refrigeration installations.
1968 Sir George Godfrey & Partners is taken over by James Howden & Company to
expand activities in the refrigeration and precision engineering fields.
1970 Howden Group is formed as the holding company.
1971 Howden acquires the fan business of Carter in UK.
1974 Howden acquires Airscrew in UK.
1977 At the ending of the agreement with Parsons, Howden becomes a manufacturing
associate of Brown Boveri to manufacture steam turbines for the Canadian market.
1979 James Howden America is formed in Hartford, Connecticut, after the acquisition of
Aetna Special Manufacturing Corp.
1988 Howden acquires Davidson & Co., which includes Berry, Sturtevant,
American Blower, Ventilateurs Neu, Airtech.
1988 Howden acquires Ventilatoren Stork Hengelo.
1991 Howden acquires Turbowerke Meissen in Germany.
1993 Howden acquires the Nordisk Ventilator Co., which includes Sheldon, Engart,
Aerex, and Voith Novenco.
1993 Howden acquires The Buffalo Forge Fan Co and Canadian Blowers.
1995 Howden acquires Burton Corblin®, manufacturers of piston and
1997 Howden acquires Joy Green Fans.
1997 Howden acquires Tallares Sanchez Luengo (TSL).
1997 Howden acquires Bryan Donkin Blowers.
1997 Charter plc acquires Howden Group plc.
1998 Carrier Corporation acquires a majority stake in Howden Compressors. Howden
Process Compressors, a wholly owned Howden subsidiary is formed to supply
package compressor sets.
2007 Howden re-acquires from Carrier Corporation the remaining 51% shareholding in
Howden Compressors Ltd, and its affiliated sales company, that it had sold to
Carrier in 1998.
2007 Howden Russia is established and opens in Moscow.
2007 Howden India is established, and opens in Delhi in 2008.
2008 Howden acquires Aeolus Industra e Comercio Ltd, a leading Brazilian designer
and manufacturer of fans.
2009 Howden Water Technology A/S established in Birkerød, Denmark.
2009 Howden Middle East is established in Dubai.
2010 AustCold Refrigeration Pty Ltd. in NSW, Australia is acquired by Howden
2011 Howden acquires Thomassen Compression Systems, a leading manufacturer of reciprocating compressors
2012 Colfax Corporation acquires Howden Group plc.
2012 COVENT Fans Inc in Canada is acquired by Howden.