A brief history of pumps

Can you help us keep our history of pumps up to date? (Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.)
Can you help us keep our history of pumps up to date? (Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.)

Since this time line was published five years ago, we have received various updates and comments – many of which have now been incorporated where possible. Suggested additions should be as brief and accompanied by a date.

To help us bring this time-line up to date, please leave your message in the 'Comment on this article' box at the foot of the article, but you must be registered and logged in first.

Driving trends

One trend has been the increasing importance of niche positive displacement pumps, particularly rotary types. Peristaltic, progressing cavity and rotary lobe pumps have all risen in profile as their capabilities have been introduced to new markets by improved communications. Increasing competition has meant that users have been more inclined to experiment in the search for the ideal pump for difficult duties.

The trends that have affected all of us have also had their impact on the pump market. Increased environmental awareness gave a real boost to pumps without shaft seals. Magnetic drive and canned motor units have thrived and even produced a hybrid combining the two technologies. Pump shaft sealing has also changed dramatically. Asbestos in packing is outlawed and today the vast majority of new pumps are supplied with mechanical seals, often in factory-assembled cartridge format to avoid the risk of face damage during handling.

Materials have also developed. Sea-water pumps have seen gunmetal and aluminum bronze replaced by highly alloyed super-austenitic and super-duplex stainless steels. New non-metals have made possible tiny pumps for human implant. Ceramics and tungsten/silicon carbide have vastly reduced wear rates in pumps of all sizes. Even large sub-sea variable speed super-synchronous drive motors for pumps are now possible.

Overtaken by computers

Electronics and computers have overtaken all our lives and inevitably have entered the physical world of pumps in the form of variable speed drives (VSD's), SCADA systems and condition monitoring equipment. Integral VSDs on in-line pumping units now dominate the building services market. Pump selection software has speeded up the process of choosing a pump, as well as opening opportunities in marketing. For the designer, CAD and CFD have reached new heights. They can now interact but they still have some way to go before they fully replace personal expertise.

Life cycle costing has become a part of everyday life and has shown that energy costs usually eclipse all other lifetime costs. Vast savings are frequently realised by system improvement but appropriate legislation is practically impossible to formulate. Although pump efficiency improvements give relatively small returns for large outlays, legislation for raising efficiency now exists in Korea and China. The European Commission, as part of its Energy Using Products Directive, has targeted the raising of efficiencies of water pumps. Europump has been instrumental in assisting the EC in this task and has proposed a method for eliminating bad performers.

We are all aware that in recent years, discussions about the pump industry have been dominated by talk of mergers, takeovers and disposals. Indeed, as we consider the major pump makers of 2009, it is hard to name one which has not changed markedly since 1959.

Comings and goings

ITT, IDP, Sterling Fluid Systems, Grundfos, Wilo and ABS have changed almost beyond recognition. Established independent makers like Harland, Flygt, Worthington and now Weir Pumps have disappeared, whilst newer names like Textron, Constellation Capital, IDEX, Pentair and Flowserve have arrived on the scene, continuing the trend for the biggest companies to get bigger.

Other interesting changes include diversification. For example, after more than 50 years of providing submersible motors to pump makers, Franklin Electric has ‘pulled the plug’ and now buys pump companies to produce its own units.

Mind you, it is also interesting to note from the chronology of the pump industry listed below, that even in the early years of this magazine mergers and acquisitions were not unknown and ever since there has been a continuous environment of change.

Global marketplace

Probably the biggest single change in this industry has been the transition from a local to a global marketplace. Fifty years ago we had only national trade associations but today the significant impetus in inter-company relations is at intercontinental level. The Europump Association has grown massively in stature and effectiveness in its 49 years, and now works in close partnership with the Hydraulic Institute in the US. This partnership reflects ever closer cooperation between pump manufacturers' associations, a development that mirrors this magazine's evolution from national through European to global coverage. ♦

200 BC

  • Ctesibius invents the reciprocating pump
  • Archimedean screw pump described (but not invented) by Archimedes


  • Sliding vane pump invented by Ramelli
  • Serviere invents the gear pump


  • Otto van Guericke invents his piston vacuum pump


  • Sir Samuel Morland patents the packed plunger pump


  • Ural hydraulic machinery plant established


  • Plenty Ltd established
  • Thomas Simpson establishes his pump business in London Hayward Tyler established


  • Screw pump invented by Revillion


  • Sulzer Brothers founded


  • Henry R Worthington invents the first direct-acting steam pump


  • Goulds Pumps founded


  • John Gwynne patents his centrifugal pump improvements


  • Bornemann Pumpen founded


  • Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon founded


  • Roper Pump Company founded
  • Jacob Edson invents the diaphragm pump and founds the Edson Corporation


  • David Brown commences business as pattern maker
  • Allweiler founded
  • A.S. Cameron invents the first reciprocating steam pump


  • Allis Chalmers Manufacturing. Co, Milwaukee, WI., USA founded


  • Lawrence Pumps established
  • Philipp Hilge founded


  • Lederle founded
  • Sigma Lutin founded
  • Stork Pumpen founded Scanpump founded


  • KSB established
  • Southern Cross established in Australia
  • George and James Weir set up the partnership that forms the Weir Group


  • Weise & Monski, Ochsner, Byron Jackson and Wilo founded


  • G & J Weir moves to Glasgow


  • Herborner Pumpenfabrik found by J H Hoffman


  • Hodgkin and Neuhaus, forerunner of SPP, founded


  • Ritz Pumpenfabrik established


  • Steimel founded
  • Hodgkin and Neuhaus becomes the Pulsometer Engineering Company Ltd


  • Halberg Maschinenbau founded


  • Mahlon Layne invents the vertical turbine pump.


  • Holden & Brooke founded
  • A W Chesterton founded


  • Allis Chalmers Manufacturing Co. builds world’s largest centrifugal pump


  • Kirloskar Brothers Ltd founded


  • Salmson starts making pumps in Paris
  • Osna Pumpen established


  • Uraca Pumpenfabrik founded


  • Sero Pumpenfabrik founded
  • Peroni founded


  • KSB opens UK subsidiary; Dia Pumpen founded


  • Wirth founded
  • Worthington Pump Company and Thomas Simpson amalgamate to form Worthington Simpson Ltd


  • Flygt's forerunner Stenberg founded


  • Rateau founded
  • Blackmer founded in Petosky MI, USA
  • Mahlon Layne and entrepreneur P.D Bowler begin manufacturing vertical turbine pumps as Layne Bowler in MS, USA.


  • Leistritz Company established


  • Stuart Turner Ltd founded
  • André Petit invents the eccentric disc pump, Mouvex founded in Paris, France


  • Mitsubishi Heavy Industries produces its first pump


  • Tristam Pumpen and Pumpen fabrik Ernst Vogel founded
  • Ingersoll-Rand enters the pump business by acquiring the Cameron Steam Pumps Works


  • Gilbarco produces its first gasoline pump
  • Dickow Pumpen and Hitachi founded
  • OSNA established by J. Hartlage


Jens Nielsen builds the first Viking internal gear pump, founding the Viking Pump Company


  • Ebara Corporation founded
  • Duriron (Durco Pumps) founded


  • Myers Gog Gear enables the pump user to retrieve water from the down stroke as well as up stock with 40% less effort


  • Gaso (reciprocating pumps) formed in Tulsa, OK, USA


  • Hazleton Pumps founded as Barrett Haentjens and Co.
  • Worthington Pump & Machinery Corporation acquires Worthington Simpson Ltd
  • Wheatly (reciprocating pumps) established in Kansas City, Missouri, by Frank Wheatley Sr. and his brother
  • Gaso Burner Manufacturing Company formed – designs reciprocating piston pump for oil


  • John Crane founded
  • Hydraulic Institute established
  • Louis Bergeron invented the concrete volute pump and founded Bergeron S.A.


  • Scanpump and CCM Sulzer founded


Torishima Pump Mfg Co and Kawamoto Pump Mfg established


  • Bombas Itur, Wernert Pumpen and SIHI established


  • LaBour founded


  • Midland Dairy Machines founded


  • Peerless founded
  • Pacific Pumps founded


  • Jung Pumpen established
  • Leistritz starts making screw pumps
  • Rheinhuette starts pump production


  • Arai Pump Mfg. Co. founded


  • Industrial Filter and Pump Mfg Co forerunner founded
  • Edur Pumpenfabrik founded


Girdlestone Pumps founded


  • Heishin Works, and Houttuin founded
  • Pleuger pioneers the submersible turbine pump motor
  • Stenberg and Flygt commence their cooperation


  • René Moineau receives a doctorate for his thesis which will lead to the invention of the progressing cavity pump
  • Ensival starts selling centrifugal pumps
  • Reda Pump Company founded


  • Imo established by Ingeström and Montelius
  • VNII Gidromash research and design organization founded in Moscow


  • PCM founded
  • Sarlin Pumps founded; Bran+Luebbe founded


  • Bush pump invented
  • Gormann-Rupp established


Floway Pumps started as Fiese & Firstenberger Munufacturering


  • Robbins & Myers acquires North American license for the Moineau progressing cavity pump
  • Mono Pumps Ltd formed to manufacture and distribute Moineau's pump design in the UK


  • Sigmund Pumps Ltd (GB) established


  • Ebsray and Warman International founded


  • Grindex founded
  • Dresser acquires Pacific Pumps


  • British Pump Manufacturers Association founded
  • Smedegaard Pumps founded


  • Franklin Electric founded


  • Grundfos Pumps, Caprari and Flexibox founded


  • Cornell Pumps, Klaus Union, Totton Pumps founded


  • HMD Seal/Less Pumps established
  • Hyundai founded


  • Abel Pumps launched
  • Mast Pumpen founded
  • Stenberg Flygt AB designs the first submersible drainage pump
  • Varisco starts pump production


HMD supplies its first production magnet-drive pump


  • Batescrew estabIished
  • Delasco founded
  • Vanton Pump and Equipment develops all-plastic pump for use in conjunction with the first heart-lung device


  • Saer Elettropompe, Tsurumi, Netzsch Mohno pumpen founded


  • Lewa and Rovatti founded


  • Nikkiso established


  • Orlita and Sta-Rite founded
  • Bell & Gossett opens its Little Red Schoolhouse training facility


  • Wilden and DMW Corporation established
  • Borg-Warner acquires Byron Jackson


  • Flygt introduces the submersible sewage pump
  • Watson-Marlow founded in Marlow, UK, to exploit the peristaltic pumping principle


  • Richter Chemie-Technik founded
  • Centrilift founded


  • Heishin Works becomes Heishin Pump Works Co Ltd
  • SSP Pumps founded


  • World Pumps is launched as Pumping
  • ABS and Calpeda founded


  • David Brown Pumps division formed
  • Europump established


  • Ingersoll-Rand acquires the Aldrich Pump Company
  • Pulsometer Engineering joins the Booker McConnel Group, which had already acquired Sigmund Pumps


  • Acromet commences operations


  • First edition of the Pumping Manual published


  • Nigo's Pumps incorporated in India
  • Warren Rupp founded
  • Sulzer acquires majority interest in Weise & Monski
  • Pumping becomes Pumps, Pompes, Pumpen
  • Layne Bowler Pompa Sanayi A.S becomes first vertical turbine pump manufacturer in Turkey.


  • Crisafulli Pump Company founded
  • ITT acquires Jabsco


  • Scienco founded


  • Johnson Pump International founded
  • ITT Corporation acquires Flygt
  • Falcon Seabord acquires Wheatly


  • Weir acquires Harland Engineering; Worthington acquires Worthington-Simpson
  • Mouvex launches the first seal-less rotary pump not based on magnets


  • Alma Pompe founded
  • Weir buys Drysdale
  • Ingersoll-Rand buys Sigmund Pumps Ltd (GB) in Gateshead, UK
  • Allis Chalmers Mfg. Co. designs and builds the first world’s largest high head centrifugal pump


  • SIHI takes over Halberg
  • Gévelot group acquires Delasco
  • Turbosan founded
  • Seepex Seeberger founded


  • Crest Pumps Ltd founded
  • Tesoro acquires Wheatly


  • Worthington acquires Sier-Bath Pump Division from Gilbarco
  • Valco founded in Marostica (Vicenza) Venice Region, Italy


  • Ingersoll-Rand buys Western Land Roller Irrigation Pumps
  • Sterling Fluid Systems (TBG) buys Peerless Pump


  • Thompsons acquires the pump manufacturing operations of Kelly & Lewis to form Thompsons, Kelly & Lewis


  • Totton Pumps bought by Wolseley plc
  • SPP acquires Godiva Fire Pumps
  • Geosource acquires Wheatly


  • Red Jacket and Hydromatic merge to form Marley Pump
  • Sterling Fluid Systems takes a half share in SIHI


  • Pumps, Pompes, Pumpen is relaunched as World Pumps magazine
  • Biwater acquires Wallwin Pumps
  • SPP is subject to a management buy-out


  • First Texas A&M Pump Users Symposium
  • SIHI buys the canned motor programme of Bran+Luebbe
  • Moorco Internation acquires Wheatly


  • Dresser Industries acquires Worthington Pumps
  • KSB acquires Pompes Guinard
  • Scanpump acquires Pumpex
  • SIHI buys the pump programme of MAN
  • Pentair acquires FE Myers
  • Goulds Pumps acquires Lowara
  • SPP acquires Henry Sykes plc
  • Goulds Pumps acquires Gaso Pump and Burner Manufacturing Company


  • Bedford Pumps launched
  • BW/IP formed by management buy-out of Borg-Warner's Industrial Products subsidiary
  • Weir buys Mather and Platt Machinery
  • SIHI France buys Schabaver
  • Dresser acquires Pleuger Pumps


  • KSB acquires a majority stake in Georgia Iron Works
  • Scanpump acquires Pompes Lefi
  • Idex Corporation founded
  • Weir buys the large pumps business of WH Allen & Gwynnes from NEI
  • BW/IP acquires United Centrifugal Pumps
  • Braithwaite acquires SPP and sells off Godiva Fire Pumps


  • Elsevier acquires World Pumps magazine
  • Scanpump acquires ABS
  • Pearce Pump Supply founded
  • TBG acquires SPP Ltd as part of Sterling Fluid Systems
  • Dresser Industries acquires Mono Pumps Ltd
  • Ingersoll-Rand acquires Scienco Ltd
  • Watson-Marlow bought by Spirax-Sarco
  • Formed as Wheatley Pump and Valve, the company acquires Gaso Inc from Goulds Pumps Inc, forming Wheatley Gaso Inc


  • Idex acquires Corken;
  • Baker Hughes acquires Geho


  • Ingersoll-Rand and Dresser Industries merge their pump businesses to form Ingersoll Dresser Pumps (IDP)
  • Warman acquires Girdlestone Pumps
  • Idex acquires Pulsafeeder and Johnson Pump (UK) Ltd
  • Weir buys Floway;
  • BW/IP buys ACEC
  • Ebara establishes state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Italy


  • United Dominion acquires Marley Pump
  • Vogel acquires Ochsner
  • Sterling Fluid Systems acquires LaBour


  • Weir acquires EnviroTech Pumpsys tems
  • Warman acquires Barrett Haentjens
  • Idex acquires Hale Products
  • Goulds acquires Vogel
  • ITT buys Richter Chemie-Technik
  • Sundstrand acquires HMD Seal/less Pumps
  • General Electric enters pump business by acquiring Nuovo Pignone (Italy)
  • Dresser Industries acquire Wheatly Gaso Inc


  • Idex acquires Micropump
  • BW/IP acquires the Wilson-Snyder centrifugal pump business from National Oilwell
  • Durametallic acquires Pacseal and then is bought by Duriron


  • Hayward Tyler sold by Sterling Fluid Systems, which buys the remaining half share in SIHI
  • Grundfos acquires Interdab
  • Pump Industry Analyst launched
  • BW/IP acquires Stork Pumps' engineered pumps business
  • Johnson Pumps International acquires the modular pumps business
  • Durco and BW/IP merge to form Flowserve Corp
  • ITT Industries acquires Goulds
  • Idex acquires Blagdon Pumps
  • Textron acquires Maag Pump Systems
  • Spirax-Sarco acquires Bredel
  • Pentair acquires General Signal's Pump Group
  • Constellation Capital acquires Imo
  • David Brown acquires Union Pump Company
  • Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon buys Wallwin Pumps from Biwater
  • Textron buys David Brown Union Pumps
  • Constellation Capital buys Allweiler
  • Glynwed acquires Friatec
  • Sundstrand acquires Ansimag and Masco
  • Weir buys Schabaver


  • Blackmer acquires Mouvex


  • Hayward Tyler acquires APV Industrial Pumps
  • Ebara acquires Cryostar cryogenic pumps
  • Howard Anderson buys Pullen Pumps
  • Sterling Fluid Systems acquires QVF Engineering (Germany)
  • United Technologies Corp acquires Sundstrand
  • Textron buys KSB Annecy (France)
  • Weir Group acquires Warman International (including Girdle stone Pumps)
  • United Dominion Industries acquires Bran+Luebbe; Ensival merges with Moret 2000 Flowserve acquires IDP
  • Halliburton acquires Wheatly Gaso Inc 


  • ABS acquires CH&E Pumps (USA)
  • Cat Pumps (UK) buys Ram Pumps
  • Grundfos acquires Myson and Sarlin Pumps
  • Sulzer acquires Ahlstrom Pumps
  • Watson-Marlow Bredel acquires Alitea (Sweden)
  • Roper acquires Abel; Blackmer buys Chesterton's System One pumps
  • Sulzer (temporarily) decides to leave the pump business
  • Sundyne acquires Caster (Italy)
  • National Oilwell acquires Wheatly Gaso Inc


  • SPX acquires United Dominion Industries
  • Godwin Pumps of America acquires Godwin Pumps (UK)
  • Lightnin (of SPX) acquires Plenty Group
  • Metso acquires Svedala
  • Idex acquires Versa-Matic


  • Gorman-Rupp acquires American Machine and Tool
  • Grundfos takes controlling interest in Chung Suk (Korea)
  • ITT acquires Svedala Robot (Holland)
  • Idex acquires Wrightech (USA)


  • National Oilwell acquires Mono and Corlac (Canada)
  • Wilo acquires EMU
  • Weir Engineering Services acquires Allen Gwynnes pump business
  • Kirloskar acquires SPP Pumps
  • KSB acquires controlling share in Bombas Itur (Spain)


  • Howden pumps merge with Orbit in South Africa
  • Flowserve acquire Thompsons, Kelly & Lewis
  • Armstrong Pumps buy Holden Brooke Pullen, Baric and RMI
  • Grundfos take control of Philipp Hilge
  • Dover Resources acquire Almatec


  • Grundfos takes over Tesla (Italian submersible motor maker)
  • National Oilwell merges with Varco International
  • Interpump acquires Hammelmann
  • Weir acquires Pompe Gabbioneta (Italy)
  • Wilo acquires majority holding in Mather & Platt Pumps and Fire Systems (India)
  • Grundfos acquires Brisan Turbo (South Africa)


  • SPX acquires Johnson Pump
  • Franklin Electric acquires Little Giant Pump
  • United Components acquire ASC Industries (USA)
  • Wilo acquires Circulating Pumps (UK)
  • South Bank UK acquires Hayward Tyler Group
  • Sulzer Pumps sells Paco to Grundfos
  • Pentair acquires Jung Pumpen (Germany)
  • Lowara buys Mercury submersible motors (Italy)


  • Sulzer's proposed acquisition of Weir Pumps falls through
  • Clyde Pumps (part of Clyde Blowers) acquires Weir Pumps
  • SPX acquires APV
  • Grundfos acquires Peerless Pump
  • Wilden Pump acquires Griswold Pump
  • Franklin Electric acquires Monarch Industries pump division (USA)
  • Weir Group acquires Multifl o Australia and SPM Flow Control (USA)


  • Weir Group acquires CH Warman Pump Group
  • Franklin Electric acquires Industrias Schneider (Brazil)
  • Flowserve complete acquisition of Niigata Worthington (Japan)
  • Dover Corporation acquires Neptune Chemical Pump to join its Pump Solutions Group (Wilden, Blackmer, Griswold, Almatec)
  • Weir Group acquires Mesa Manufacturing (USA)
  • Hamilton Sunstrand acquires Marelli Pumps (Spain)
  • Clyde Blowers acquires Textron Fluid and Power division (including Maag Pump Systems and Union Pumps)
  • IDEX acquires Richter Chemie-Technik.

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