|I've had a number of queries from contributors relating to their old pumps which turn out to be of Czechoslovakian origin, and this prompted me to do a bit of research. It turned up two manufacturers - Sigma and Kovoplast - and three suppliers of their pumps and spares. And there's a Chinese link...|
Ludvik Sigmund founded his pump-making firm in 1868 in Lutín, a village near Olomouc in what was then Czechoslovakia. They initially produced both wooden and iron pumps, including "K-type" semi-rotary pumps. His sons, Jan and Frantiek, took over in 1894, and in a few years transferred K-type pump production to a factory in Olomouc - named the Sigma Olomouc Concern Corporation.
In 1922 they registered the trade name "Sigma" and adopted Neptune's trident as their trademark. By 1924 they had opened an office and shop in Prague, by the 1930s they were trading with 24 countries, and the Sigmund Pumps factories in Lutín employed 650 workers. They introduced the Nautila series of submersible pumps for deep wells, and further expanded into other areas related to water supply.
In 1935 they formed a UK subsidiary, Sigmund Pumps Ltd, with branches in Newcastle and London, and produced 1000 fire engines for the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the London Fire Brigade. During WWII their British subsidiary extended its manufacturing programme, but in 1942 the parent company was forcibly taken over to produce military components for the German war effort.
After the war the firm was nationalised, and they resumed the production of pumps for industrial applications. In 1965 they operated under the name Sigma Lutín Národní Podnik ("National Enterprise"), and developed their research further. They established a relationship with a British firm, Crane Packing, in 1968, and over the ensuing years further extended their foreign trade.
In 1990, major political changes were taking place in Czechoslovakia, and in 1993 it became two independent countries - the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Sigma was privatised and the Sigma Group established: it continues to trade today, still based in Lutín, which is now in the Czech Republic.
However, back in 1966 Sigma Engineering (M/C) Ltd was founded in Altrincham, Greater Manchester, by Josef Sever, a Czechoslovakian who served in the British Army in World War II and later settled in England. The firm claims to be the "exclusive distributors worldwide for the Sigma semi-rotary hand wing pumps", and can also supply NP and Standard pumps.
Just to confuse the issue, there's another Czech company, Kovoplast, based in Chlumec nad Cidlinou which also deals in pumps, among many other product lines. Their website advertises Standard pumps, and elsewhere they offer NP-75 and semi-rotaries. I've seen a Sigma pump advertised on their pages as well, complete with trident.
(Note also that there's a company in China, the Jiangyan Fashion Machinery Manufacturing Co., Ltd, which produces highly-decorated models BSK/BSL and BSM, and as far as I can see these correspond directly to the NP75N and Nostalgic/Big Nostalgic designs.)
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