Henry Williams Limited, of Darlington, which has been a major supplier to the UK’s railway network since 1883, has appointed Andrew Nelson as Managing Director.

“Henry Williams has a long and illustrious history, but more importantly it has an exciting future ahead of it, and I feel privileged to be able to lead the company as it enters this period,” said Mr Nelson, 30, who joined the company as forging and fabrication director in March 2008.

The engineering firm was established in Glasgow by industrial pioneer Henry Williams, inventor of the spring-loaded switch lever for railway points. In 1911, it moved to Darlington, the home of the railways, and became Britain’s biggest supplier of railway switch levers, points, cranks and joints.

Today, as well as control and signalling equipment for the railways, it also supplies forgings and fabrications to a number of sectors and supply chains, including the Highways, Defence and Oil and Gas.

Mr. Nelson added: “A lot of our recent successes are largely due to the fact we are getting better at supporting existing customers and developing new customers through production and product innovation. Undoubtedly the great challenge we face is the pursuit of new products in ever changing markets whilst ensuring that we continue to provide an improving service to our longstanding customers.”

A recent contract supplying over 80 Function Supply Points (FSPs), robust 316 grade stainless steel location cabinets fitted out with power distribution equipment, as part of a £40m signalling refurbishment of the London Overground, ahead of the 2012 Olympics, is held up by the company as a good example of its two main divisions – Electrical Projects and Forging and Fabrication – combining their expertise into one major project.

Howard Dilley, chairman of Henry Williams and Con Mech Group, which also includes construction and earthmoving machinery manufacturer Con Mech Engineers Ltd, at Annfield Plain, County Durham, said: “In the 26 months or so Andrew has been with the company, he has added a wealth of knowledge and enterprise and has become an important member of the management team. I am confident his leadership will give Henry Williams the focus and impetus to become a world-class engineering company, both in the UK and internationally.”

Mr Nelson, who lives in Bedale, North Yorkshire, was previously at Sheffield-based stainless steel product-maker Outokumpu, where he helped to develop the business towards a world-class operation.

He was appointed Forging and Fabrication director at Henry Williams in March 2008, and since then has overseen a major investment programme at Henry Williams, including the installation of the Tempest, a German-made Banning air-powered drop hammer capable of shaping steel with four-tonne blows coupled to a high output induction heater for the Forge, as well as a new 100 tonne electric press brake, new welding facility and other associated equipment in Fabrication.