Evolution of Roots® brand in the UK

The History of Howden - Roots® Rotary Blowers in the UK

This article is one in a series of articles exploring the history of some of Howden’s world famous product brands. It is fitting therefore to start with one of the stories regarding Roots® blowers. We focus here on the history of the Roots brand in the United Kingdom.

Francis and Philander Roots developed rotary positive air blowers in 1854. The Roots-Connersville Blower Company operation grew in size and importance over the following years and in 1944 was acquired by Dresser. In 1990 Dresser purchased the Peabody Holmes factory in Huddersfield and paired the new company to the existing Roots division. It was this division that Howden acquired in 2015.

WC Holmes

The eight acre Huddersfield plant had originally belonged to WC Holmes Ltd. WC Holmes had formed in 1850 and was a manufacturer of industrial air blowers, employing up to a thousand people in the Huddersfield area. In 1927 WC Holmes started to produce positive displacement blowers.

After being acquired by BHD Engineers – who at this time also owned Bryan Donkin Co – WC Holmes became established as a leading company in the supply of gas systems and generators, along with their range of blowers. And, in an interesting foreshadowing of what was to come, the WC Holmes company became a UK distributor for the Connersville based Roots company, although it would be 30 years before the two were joined.

Peabody Holmes, Dresser and GE

In 1973 BHD sold WC Holmes to the London based firm Peabody. Peabody was known for their scrubbers used to deal with flue gases. The new firm of Peabody Holmes would continue to develop and manufacture industrial blowers, many of which still form a core part of the Howden range such as the Tri-Nado blowers as well as HR 80 Blowers, RBTM Blowers, HV Boosters and XPL. All these products are still supported (and some are still manufactured) by Howden.

In 1990 Dresser Roots acquired Peabody Holmes and the Huddersfield factory and added more blower products to the range produced there, including URAI and RAS/RGS machines. In 2007, the Huddersfield factory was closed and the main UK operation moved to Skelmersdale, where it remained until 2015 when Howden’s parent company, Colfax, purchased the Roots operation from GE (who had purchased Dresser in 2010) and the factory work was moved to Renfrew. 

Howden and the present

As you can see then, it is with great pride that Howden can state that we are the end product of an unbroken lineage that includes WC Holmes, Peabody Holmes and The Roots-Connersville Blower Company. With such a rich history, it should come as no surprise to find out that we continue to excel and innovate, you can read about a recent example...