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Putting the brake on
The shed where Herbert Frood perfected his first brake shoes: courtesy of Federal Mogul Friction Products.Just over 100 years ago a former boot salesman named Herbert Frood moved to Combs in the north-western Peak District.

Working in a hut in his garden, Frood began to develop an idea. In his travels through the Peak he had noticed how farmers and carriers coped with getting their horse-drawn carts down steep hills. They used to fasten an old boot to the wooden brakes, giving them a better grip against the metal rims of the wheels.

By 1897 Frood was designing and testing his ‘brake shoes’. He finally found a satisfactory material, made from laminated hair and bitumen.

Frood went into production and the brake shoes were an immediate success. He named his new company Ferodo, based on the letters of his name. The E is said to be for his wife, Elizabeth.

Within a few years the London General Omnibus Company had fitted Ferodo brake shoes to their fleet of 5,000 horse-drawn vehicles.

Meanwhile, Frood had moved into the old Sovereign Mill at Chapel en le Frith. By 1902 he was making asbestos brake linings. His invention could not have been better-timed; this was the dawn of motorised transport.

Ferodo linings were fitted to British tanks during the First World War. After the war the growth of the company matched the expanding motor car industry. The factory was extended and began producing friction linings for mining industries, shipyards and for transport ranging from trams to locomotives and aircraft.

Between the two World Wars the Ferodo workforce rose to more than 800. The Chapel en le Frith factory was the world’s largest producer of friction linings. By the 1950s there were 3,000 employees. Twelve drivers from the testing section each covered about 200 miles (320 km) a day, testing Ferodo products along the hilly Peakland roads taken by their founder all those years earlier.

The factory is still in operation - and Herbert Frood’s historic garden hut is preserved on the works bowling green.


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