Do you remember Brixton’s ACE Machinery?

antique stationary engine
The ACE engine

86 years ago tomorrow (4 July) a sturdy and functional Lister stationary petrol engine was delivered to the ACE Machinery company for use in its works.

The engine’s present owner, Neilson Stirling, would like to discover more about that company.

In the 1950s and 60s, ACE Machinery was based in Hambrook House, a large office block at the then junction of Brixton Hill and Porden Road, which later became council offices.

Until it was demolished to make way for the new town hall development, the initials ACE remained carved into the top of the building.

“The engine still runs beautifully,” says Neilson who lives in rural West Wales. In its day, it would have driven a belt to power other machinery like cement mixers or rock crushers.

Now it is kept for show and started only occasionally, but Neilson hopes set it up to run a water pump or saw bench.

He has already had some help from the Brixton Society’s Alan Piper, who told him that ACE stood for Amalgamated Construction Equipment.

Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History says the company, which also had premises in Brentford, West London, was formed in 1919 and became a public company in 1938 – four years after it got Neilson’s engine.

old publicity material
ACE publicity material from the 50s and 60s

In 1999, Lambeth council described Hambrook House as “a representative example of 1950s commercial architecture”. It was designed in 1959 for ACE Machinery and was “a substantial six-storey structure of Ibstock facing brick with a Portland stone panel on the Porden Road elevation incorporating the ACE stone lettering and a popular architectural device for office buildings at this time – the porthole window.” 

It was bought by the council in 1982 and housed its housing services department.

Should anyone have more information about ACE, please let us know at newsdesk@brixtonblog.com, and we will pass it on to Neilson.

Still going strong after 86 years

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