The original company was established in 1878 by Thomas Thompson[i]. The business now has over 120 years of experience and has traded through many economic cycles producing engineering products which have been specified by their customers. Those have included farm machinery, turbines, haulage wagons, hydroelectric installations, ammunitions, aeroplane parts, peat processing machinery and much more. First under its founder and afterwards under the late Fred Thompson, the firm expanded to acquire premises and business in Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Wexford, Carrick-on-Suir and Ballyellen[ii].
In 1902 the company had expanded substantially and it was moved to a new site in Carlow Town. The new premises, formerly the Gaol house, was renamed the Hanover Works. In 1903 Fred Thompson, Thomas’s son took charge of the company. Thompsons built the Carlow Sugar Factory in 1926[iii]. The first sod was turned on 5th January 1926 and the building was finished in nine months.
The Bristol F.2 Fighter was a British two seat biplane fighter and reconnaissance aircraft of the World War 1 and was developed by the Bristol Aeroplane Company. Despite being a two-seater, the F.2B proved to be an agile aircraft that could hold its own against opposing single seat fighters. The designer of the plane was Captain Frank Barnwell. The main users of the plane were the Royal Flying Corps and the Polish Air Force[iv]. The frame of a Bristol Fighter wing is on display in Carlow County Museum. The frame was manufactured in Thompsons and the wing on display is dated September 1918.
This piece has been researched and written by Seth Heslin, Transition Year Student, Knockbeg College, Carlow as part of his work experience in Carlow County Museum.
[iii] A History of Farm Mechanism in Ireland 1890-1990 by John Neill-Watson 1993