About Us


The Company's Origins

T W Ward CNC Machinery Ltd (Ward CNC) was originally part of the Thomas W Ward Group, which had its origins in Sheffield over 130 years ago and which grew to be a major industrial conglomerate with worldwide activities.

The machinery division of Thos. W Ward Ltd was acquired through M.B.O in 1983 by the current owners, which has since developed into the present day company in it's current form.


At twenty five years old, Thomas William Ward began his business in 1878 as a small domestic fuel supplier which, with the help of brothers Joseph and Arthur, from 1881 added the valuable commodity of scrap metal vital to Sheffield's foundries and steelmakers.

The brother's first acquisition in 1881 of a small horn and ivory handle supplier to Sheffield's famous cutlery industry began an ambitious and rapid development into an industrial conglomerate with worldwide activities covering Scrap Metal (1881), Works Dismantling (1885), Machinery (1887), Shipbreaking (1894).

The company took considerable advantage of the wealth of opportunities resulting from the two 20th Century world wars to develop, expand and diversify.

At the outbreak of World War I, 1,235 people were on the payroll - 1,000 tons of scrap metal per day was being fed to the country's steel makers - Thomas W Ward was elected to the prestigious office of Master Cutler in 1913 and Joseph Ward became Chairman of the Scrap Advisory Committee to the Ministry of Munitions.

In the years between the wars, the company extended its own activities and increased its family of associated enterprises. Engineering businesses, quarries, foundries, iron and steel producers all came into the fold, and in 1928, the company took a controlling interest in the new Ketton Portland Cement Co. Ltd. That year was also the 50th anniversary of Thos. W. Ward Ltd.

Albion Works, Sheffield in 1902

During World War II, the Group had notable involvement in construction of roads, runways, railway sidings, machine tool reconditioning. Twenty four hour movement of aircraft shadow factories ; Mulberry Harbour and Pluto - oil pipelines to the Normandy D-Day landings, amongst a wealth of vital industrial activities linked to the war effort.

An acute awareness of the value of good publicity gave rise to the known slogan "Ward's Might Have It" attracting both national and international recognition as a wide-ranging source of industrial goods.

Lizzie Ward

Typically the famous Wards elephant, the legendary Lizzie, purchased from a visiting circus, replaced horses conscripted by the military to serve in Europe in 1916. She transported machinery, etc., around Sheffield until the cobble stone roads damaged her feet, when she retired. T W Ward are still regularly asked about this fascinating story of Lizzie.

When more orthodox means of transport were requisitioned during the First World War, Lizzie the elephant became a well·known Ward employee in Sheffield.

In 1939 the company rescued the famous Triumph car factory in receivership from oblivion which was sold on to the Standard Motor Co. Ltd. in 1944.

The number of famous capital ships being reduced to scrap in Ward's Inverkeithing and other yards became commonly known as Ward's Navy and at one period many hundreds of vessels included - Revenge, Rodney, Nelson, Royal Sovereign and Formidable.

By the time of the company's 75th Anniversary in 1957, more than 11,500 people were employed by the Group which then comprised over 30 companies and by its Centenary in 1978, the Thos. Ward Group was re-organised into five divisions:

  • RAW MATERIALS - Scrap, Shipbreaking, Works Dismantling;
  • CONSTRUCTION - Cement Manufacture, Roadstone;
  • ENGINEERING - Boiler manufacture, Cranes, Construction equipment makers;
  • MOTOR DISTRIBUTION - Cars and commercial vehicle dealerships;
  • INDUSTRIAL SUPPLIES - Machine tools, construction equipment and consumables, boilers, etc.

The Group was acquired by Rio Tinto Zinc in 1980, following which the Machinery Division (now T W Ward CNC Machinery Ltd) was acquired by MBO by the current owners.