The steel casting Vickers company started its rise to the spot of one of the largest arms manufacturers in the world towards the end of the 19th century. In 1897, it bought out Maxim Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company, propelling the steel casters from Sheffield into leading positions in the small arms and artillery markets. Slowly, Vickers acquired shipbuilding companies and naval artillery producers. Finally, in 1919, they bought Metropolitan Railway Carriage and Wagon Company which, along with making wagons, was making tanks since 1917.
Vickers' rise to greatness was connected with two figures. Sir George Thomas Beckham was Vickers' chief designer. He managed new types of weapons that were developed and produced by the company. He is linked to another figure, Sir Arthur Trevor Dowson, the controlling director of the Vickers company from 1906 to 1931. Nearly all new developments at Vickers that had to do with armament were patented by these individuals.
During the First World War, Vickers, or rather its child company Wolseley, built armoured cars. The company had almost no direct connection to tank building. This changed in the early 1920s. The heavy and medium tank crisis was a chance that was too good to miss for Vickers. A decision was made to not compete with the Medium Mk.D, but to stake a claim on the barren light tank market.
In 1921, Vickers received a contract to develop and produce three light infantry tanks. The first prototype was ready by December of 1921 and sent to Farnborough, where a research facility was established at the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Armoured Corps. In 1928, it was renamed to MWEE (Mechanical Warfare Experimental Establishment). The tank later received a registration number: MWEE 7.