Firm that’s been a shining light for 100 years

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THE industrial lighting company formerly run by the pioneering female engineer Monica Maurice has celebrated one hundred years in business with a visit from the Earl of Wessex.

Ms Maurice was managing director and chairman of the Wolf Safety Lamp Company from 1951-1988 and was known as “the Lady of the Lamp” throughout the Yorkshire coal fields.

After working for British intelligence in the aftermath of World War Two, she rebuilt the company and its markets in the post-war years and over the decades diversified the business from old-fashioned mining lamps to industrial lighting.

It is now a market leader in the design and manufacture of advanced lighting for use in explosive gas, vapour and dust atmospheres.

Wolf Safety remains very much a family concern. Monica’s son, John Jackson, is chairman; his son Miles is marketing director and his nephew Alex Jackson is technical director.

Monica’s father William Maurice, a mining engineer and manager, established the company in 1912 after acquiring the rights to the UK distributor of German-made mining lamps.

Mr Maurice moved Wolf Safety from Leeds to Sheffield and shortly afterwards started designing and manufacturing mining lamps.

Today, the £7m turnover business is a good example of a Yorkshire manufacturer selling into international markets.

It exports 60 per cent of its output, of which a third goes to Europe and the rest further afield. Much of what it sells in the UK is then sold overseas.

Wolf Safety’s strongest European markets are Norway, Germany and France. Key global markets include Singapore, the United States, Australia, the Middle East, North Africa and the Caspian Sea region.

Alex Jackson, who joined the company 20 years ago, said: “We are world leader for this equipment, which is a niche market. We sell to the petrochemical and oil and gas industry and anywhere where there’s an explosive atmosphere.”

Mr Jackson becomes managing director in October.

Most of the work at the Saxon Road Works site in Heeley involves assembly, although there is some manufacturing, said Mr Jackson.

For economic reasons the company sometimes has to source goods from overseas.

Monica Maurice died in 1995 at the age of 87.

Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, visited on Wednesday.

@bernardginns