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Company History

John M Henderson journey began in 1866, when John MacDonald Henderson founded an Engineering business in Jopp’s Lane in Aberdeen, taking up as a speciality the manufacture of machinery and appliances as required in the granite, stone, and allied trades in the area at the time.

In 1873 John M Henderson manufactured the first Aerial Cableway in The United Kingdom and went on to provide Aerial Cableway installations to all parts of the world for applications such as Quarrying, Open Pit Mining, Dam, Lock and Bridge construction.

In 1878, due to the company’s success and demand for their products, the King Street Engineering works were built. The new factory was purpose built and covered an area of approx 7-1/2 acres. The company continued manufacturing at the King Street premises until 1985 when the manufacturing unit was re-located to Arbroath, Angus.

In 1927 John M Henderson manufactured and installed a 550 ton Slipway at Fleetwood Harbour on the west coast of England.

Other Slipway installations include Egypt, Nigeria, Malta, Gibraltar and many United Kingdom Ports.


In 1930 John M Henderson supplied Derrick Cranes for the heightening of the Aswan Dam in Egypt.

The company has supplied Cranes and other Mechanical Handling equipment for many other Dam projects worldwide. These include Dams in Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Hong Kong, Mexico, Sudan, India and the United Kingdom.

During the second world war, Hendersons factory was solely committed to manufacturing components for the war effort. Items manufactured include Howitzer Guns, Ammunition Hoists, Bailey Bridges, Mine Sweeping Equipment, Tank Components and Shells.

In the early 1950s John M Henderson became involved in the manufacture of coke oven machines for the National Coal Board and British Steel Plants.

This was soon to become the company’s main product line for which we have become one of the leading manufacturers in the world.

In 1959 John M Henderson supplied 32-Ton Climbing and Stage Derrick Cranes for the construction of the Forth Road bridge.

The company has supplied Cranes and other Mechanical Handling equipment for many other bridge construction projects (Forth Rail, Severn and Rio-Niteroi Bridges, Bridges in Australia, South Africa, India, Rhodesia and Uganda.

In 1971 John M Henderson manufactured and installed two Pusher Machines and two Charge Cars at the Hamilton Coke Ovens in Canada.

This was the company’s first major export order in Coke Oven Machinery.

In 1985 the Aberdeen manufacturing unit was re-located to Arbroath, Angus, and all equipment moved to the new 75,000 square feet factory.

The 1990s have opened up new international horizons for John M Henderson, as the company’s cutting edge technology started to be recognized and adopted all over the world.

Between 1990 and 2000 John M Henderson has successfully manufactured and installed more than 100 Coke Oven Machines in USA, France, Slovakia, Australia and UK.

The last 15 years brought a decade of unprecedented growth for John M Henderson. The excellent reputation and long proved expertise established John M Henderson as one of the worldwide leaders in Coke Oven Machinery.

Since 2000 John M Henderson has successfully installed over 100 new coke oven machines in Korea, Argentina, Canada, Italy and Brazil.

In 2014 John M Henderson achieved a new milestone in their 148 year history, with Otto Simon Holdings successfully acquiring the John M Henderson coke oven machinery technology, expertise and core engineering team.

John M Henderson will continue its long established presence in the coke making industry, providing best available coke oven machinery solutions to coke plants worldwide. The business operates as an independent entity out of newly established offices in Forfar, Scotland.