Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Company Ltd (Metrovicks) built an armament factory on Attercliffe Common in Sheffield, a 9-acre site for the manufacture of traction motors in 1921. In 1923 it was made into a self-contained traction motor factory with its own engineering department and the manufacture of complete locomotives and electric delivery vehicles. Metrovicks merged with British Thomson-Houston Co Ltd (BTH) in 1928 to form the holding company Associated Electrical Industries (AEI) still trading under each individual company’s name. In 1931, Metrovicks bought the whole Attercliffe Common Works apart from the stamp shop which made 4 1/2 acres of single-storey building available for traction work. During the Second World War the Works suffered bomb damage and became the major supplier of dc generator/ high frequency alternator sets for aircraft and a ‘shadow’ factory was set up at Bamford. Together, 140000 sets were produced with military work continued at the factory up to the 1970’s.
In 1956 Attercliffe Works became the feeder department for the new AEI factory on Greenland Road also located in Sheffield for the manufacture of smaller type of machines, traction gears. AEI created a subsidiary called AEI Traction Ltd in 1959, which took over the Attercliffe Common works to manufacture traction motors, generators, gears and other machines such as motor-generator sets used for converting the high traction voltage to a safer voltage suitable for train lighting, heating, battery-charging and for the control equipment on locomotives and suburban electric trains. The General Electric Company Ltd (GEC) took over AEI in 1967 and Attercliffe Works became owned by a subsidiary of GEC, GEC Traction Ltd who designed and manufactured a full range of traction machines and control equipment for electric vehicles.
All British Railways a/c electric loco motors and motor coach d/c motor orders for Hong Kong and Korea up to the mid-seventies were built at the Works. The Attercliffe Common works closed in 1985 when GEC and the French Alsthom group merged in 1989, and the design and manufacture of motors and inductors moved to GEC Preston works and gears moved to GEC Rugby works.