Elgin Central Engineers: an important expansion in 1967 – part 1

One of the important names in agricultural engineering in the north of Scotland was Elgin Central Engineers. In 1967 the business underwent a significant expansion with the opening of its works at Moycroft, Elgin. This had significant implications for the organisation of its departments and the way that it undertook its business. Because of the importance of this change, it was widely reported in the press in north east Scotland. The Aberdeen press and journal carried an extensive feature of the business, and its development, in its pages of 15 November 1967.

Today and in a further two posts we are going to quote from that extensive feature. It includes lots of insightful information on the development of the business and its activities in 1967.

“North firm that got to the top

Today marks the opening of Moycroft, Elgin, the new head office and agricultural engineering centre of Elgin Centre Engineers Ltd, now recognised as one of the leading firms of its kind in Scotland and indeed, the largest in the North and North-east.

Theirs is a success story from small beginnings-a bicycle shop in Moss Street, Elgin, to the most up-to-date premises covering a total area of 34,000 square feet in five acres of ground.

The new development at Moycroft was an inevitable step. Their former premises in Hill Street had become too small and cramped for the ever-increasing agricultural business. The Industrial Equipment Department assumed vast possibilities, and already their manufacturing plant is laying an important role in the growth of the company.

The proposed street widening at the west end of High Street has denied the company developing the car department’s accommodation there and accordingly, after re-organisation and constructional alterations, the Hill Street premises will be occupied by the Car and Commercial Vehicle Department for workshops and stores early in the New Year.

The new premises at Moycroft are vast, modern and well equipped for the purpose for which they are built.

Situated at the east end of Elgin (adjoining Alexander’s bus depost), they are only a stone’s-throw from the firm’s large used car depot at Pinefield, behind which is their extensive agriculture machinery storage and repair depot.

On entering Moycroft one gets the instant impression of immensity of space. A modern showroom is in front for the display of a comprehensive range of Ford tractors and farm machinery of international repute.

Behind this shop window of the farming world are sited the largest agricultural stores in Scotland, carrying a full range of spare parts and accessories for all tractors and implements.

To the rear of them, and within the area of the expansive workshops, are the workshop offices for the service manager, workshop foreman, stores manager and the costing and stock control staff.

Along the west wall of the workshops are the electrical shop and diesel shop with fully specialised diesel fuel injection equipment.

Adjoining them are the staff quarters-canteen and toilets – and an instruction room for staff training or for special film demonstrations, which may be organised from time to time to interest customers.

While an area in the wide expanse of the workshops has been earmarked for repairs, other enterprises of this big undertaking will be carried on here.

The manufacturing side of the business has been allocated half the available space; the other side of the building, to the tractor, combine, and baler repair sections and the Horticultural Department.

The entire area is heated by two giant high volume space heaters, the first of their kind in the North, which will ensure ideal working conditions even in the severest weather.

The manufacturing side of the business is probably the least known of the activities of Elgin Central Engineers Ltd, but for the past two years they have been manufacturing special transmissions and drives for road rollers which have been exported to India.

But the firm are no novices in the export trade, because they have exported hundreds of used tractors to Europe for the past eight years.

But this is only the beginning, a number of projects on the drawing board will make a practical contribution to timber handling, shipbuilding, the aircraft industry and grain drying for agricultural and distillery uses.

Plans are also afoot to produce a variety of farm machinery and equipment.

On the industrial equipment side, too, considerable expansion will be put into operation at Moycroft. Elgin Central Engineers Ltd were the first firm in Scotland to be appointed Ford Industrial Equipment distributors, and hold the distributorship for the whole of the North of Scotland.

It is their intention to handle a complete range of public works contractors’ plant, and they have already acquired some valuable agencies.

As headquarters for Elgin Central Engineers Ltd, it was important to focus the main offices of the firm at Moycroft, so here we find the accounting and administrative offices for all departments. These are located to the left of the showroom, with easy access for the customer.

The staff moved in nearly three weeks ago, but not until today are Elgin Central Engineers Ltd officially opened at Moycroft.

Formal individual invitations have not been sent out to customers. They number more than 3000. But those who are interested are cordially invited to attend the ceremony, which will be performed this afternoon by Lord Provost George Smith of Elgin, among a notable representative company of local dignitaries from Banff, Moray and Nairn.

Among speakers who will form part of the platform party will be Mr Norman S. Matheson, Chairman and Managing Director of the firm, which was originally started by his father: Mr Robert L. Prentice, a Director; Mr Michael Joughin, Past President of the Scottish Farmers’ Union, and Mr Geoff Buckley, Director of the Ford Motor Company Ltd’s tractor operations.

Many of the leading manufacturer, for whom Elgin Central Engineers Ltd hold agencies, will be putting on their own special displays at trade stands at the rear of Moycroft, which will add a novel touch to a very important occasion.

It is thus their tribute to a North of Scotland firm, who, through their own ingenuity and enterprise, have achieved such a high reputation far and wide.

From small beginnings Elgin Central Engineers Ltd have grown in size and reputation, and today they are fully geared for the future. There is no doubt that it will be successful.”