The Hadfield Bean. Built with famous Sheffield steels

Hadfield Bean. The steel-maker Hadfields took it over in 1926 but by 1929 it ceased car production. In 1933 Hadfield re-launched the company as Beans Industries, making components for other motor vehicle manufacturers. Photograph: Fluxposure

Hadfields limited of Hecla and East Hecla, Sheffield, founded by Robert Hadfield in 1869, was an established manufacturer of special steels, in particular manganese alloys and steel castings. The company was taken over by his son, Sir Robert Abbott Hadfield (1858-1940) and by 1911 was believed to employ more workmen than any other business in the city. It specialised in the production of war materials but in 1926 agreed to rescue Harper Bean Ltd, manufacturer of Bean Cars, with factories in Dudley, Worcestershire and Coseley, Staffordshire.

The car company traced its origins to two auto component suppliers, A Harper and Sons and Bean Ltd. For a few years in the early 1920s Bean outsold Austin and Morris, the business model relying on high volumes, but its financial troubles resulted in its rescue by Sheffield-based Hadfields which supplied steel for the cars.

The 1928 14-45 H.P. Hadfield Bean with fabric body was featured in magazine articles of the day. Photograph: British Newspaper Archive

From 1927, all cars were known as Hadfield Beans, but the last model was launched in 1928 and by the following year production had ceased.

Hadfields eventually merged with Samuel Osborn and after various takeovers came to prominence in the steel strike of 1980 when ugly picket line scenes hit national headlines. It eventually suffered the same fate as much of the British steel industry and was closed in 1983. The East Hecla site is now mainly covered by Meadowhall Shopping Centre.

A 1928 newspaper advert for the Hadfield Bean 14-45 car. Built with Hadfields’ famous Sheffield steels. Photograph: British Newspaper Archive

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