The Yorkshire Group of 16mm N.G. Modellers Ltd

Built in Leeds

by Tony Wright [ Leeds and Bradford Shed ]


Balmforth Bros

Joseph Booth and Bros Limited

John Fowler (Leeds) and Co

Thomas Green and Son

Greenwood and Batley

Robert Hudson Limited

Hunslet Engine Company

Hudswell Clarke

J&H Mclaren

Leeds Forge

Manning, Wardle

Matthew Murray

Murray, Fenton and Wood

Shepherd and Todd

E B Wilson and Company




There are many notable towns and cities whose names are synonymous with railways. Mention Doncaster and you think of the great works there, likewise Swindon. York and Crewe are noted as major junction towns on the network. Even the minor towns of Stockton and Darlington have their place in history. But mention Leeds to the majority of people and they would struggle to make any railway connection to the city. Leeds was, in the heyday of railways, an important centre for the meeting of lines and boasted more junctions than York and Crewe combined. The notorious George Hudson was involved with lines running into Leeds, where during the ‘railway mania’ any scheme seemed feasible. This activity was not unnoticed by that great Victorian institution, the Engineer Entrepreneur whose unfailing faith in their abilities led to the rapid growth in Leeds’s engineering might. The need for locomotives coupled with their manufacturing capability led to many companies to turn to their manufacture. As a result Leeds became a centre of locomotive production with many companies involved in the trade, some failed, some turned to other products but one, Hunslet Engine Company survives. No other city in these isles had such a concentration of builders within its boundaries, only the Scottish lowland town of Kilmarnock comes close.

The building boom in the city during the noughties has transformed the industrialised parts of the city with large areas south of the river Aire now yuppified and gentrified. It is easy to wonder these days how our wealth is created, offices full of key-tapping staff would be alien to our Victorian Engineer. To them the world was hard work enterprise and an unshakable faith in ones ability albeit tempered with poor living standard and poor life expectancy. I will leave it to others if loss of the manufacturing base is a good or bad thing;  the loss of skill, camaraderie, and community spirit that existed in and around these works cannot be seen as great.

In these notes I have tried to give a potted history of the companies within the modern Leeds boundaries who produced locomotives. Many of these companies had a great engineering tradition and boasted a worldwide reputation and here I have tried to give the reader a feel for this tradition. I have also tried to give an overview of the narrow gauge prototypes that would make varied and interesting projects. I make no apology that many of these are my own personal favourites and include steam, diesel and electric locomotives as well as rolling stock There is so much more to narrow gauge modelling than, for example, plonking a Lady Anne on a rake of Brandbright panelled coaches – Get modelling!

Tony Wright

December 2009


Balmforth Bros

Peel Ings Foundry, Rodley, Leeds

Jeremiah Balmforth and David Smith set up business in Calverley in 1820 as millwrights producing machinery for the woollen industry.  Jeremiah Booth joined the business in 1833 which expanded into other areas, and in 1840 hand-operated cranes were produced.  Booth left the business in 1847 and set up his one crane-making business ( see Joseph Booth ).  Jeremiah died in 1858 and was succeeded by his son William.  David was succeeded by his son Thomas a year later.  Following a fall out in 1861 Thomas bought out William, the company becoming Thomas Smith ( see Thomas Smith ).  William set up the Peel Ings Foundry to manufacture quarry cranes.  The use of steam power was developed leading to the production of small locomotives.  On William's death his sons took over the business, which failed in 1916.  Peel Ings Foundry survives and has been converted recently into apartments.

Products of 16mm interest

Three locomotives were known to have been built c1876.  These were of plate frame construction with four coupled inside wheels driven by outside inclined cylinders and outside cranks and rods.  A vertical boiler was placed centrally with a rectangular water tank at the front and a simple corrugated roof on pillars over the driver and controls at the other end.  Two locomotives ended up working on the three foot Piel and Walney Gravel line where one was rebuilt with a Burrell traction engine boiler complete with the redundant cylinder block on the barrel.  Sheffield Corporation also used one on the Langsett Resevoir construction three foot line.  Although of three foot gauge they were small locomotives and their vertical boilers and conventional cylinder layout make a quirky and unusual but attractive prototypes.


The Narrow Gauge No 51 – Narrow Gauge Railway Society.

The Narrow Gauge No 129 – Narrow Gauge Railway Society. (Good article with importantly good photos and drawings).

Vertical Boiler Locomotives and Rail motors built in Great Britain – Rowland A.S. Abbott – The Oakwood Press.

150 years of Crane Making – NEI Cranes.

Smiths Cranes – Various early sales brochures.

Joseph Booth and Bros Ltd.

Union Crane Works, Rodley, Leeds.

Joseph Booth set up the Union Crane works in 1847 having worked previously with local engineers Balmforth and Smith (see J.Balmforth). The demand for cranes by industry was such that Booths along with Smiths flourished and both built considerable works along Rodley Town Street. Booth’s works to the North of Mill Bridge cramped between the road and the Leeds Liverpool canal. In the nineteen sixties the Booths merged with Cylde Crane and later still became part of the Clarke Chapman engineering empire. This in the late seventies became the Northern Engineering Industries, both Booths and Smiths joined together and were grouped in the cranes division with other names such as Cowans Sheldon. During this period the works produced overhead cranes, oilfield equipment, crawler and lorry cranes. Railway bogies were made for Cowans rail layer trains and wheel drop sets for South African Railways.


Products of 16mm interest.

Booths were primarily a crane maker although like many such companies they were not averse to making many other products. The range of cranes they produced included many type of rail mounted cranes from simple four wheel jib crane used in a works yard to large breakdown cranes. Although the majority were standard gauge they made a number of narrow gauge cranes mostly to three foot six gauge, including one particularly impressive crane ordered by the Central Africa Railway to erect the Lower Zambezi Bridge. The cranes were either powered by steam or electricity for which Booths made their own electric motors and controllers. This led to the ‘Union’ range of battery powered locomotives and industrial trucks. The shunting locomotives were a simple wagon type four wheel chassis with a centre cab and battery boxes at either end. A nice narrow gauge type was made which was available in eighteen inch to two foot six gauge – with its clean lines would be a simple to make project. Included in the range were mines locomotives these had a rugged frame with cast buffer beams a large rectangular battery box a scuttle at one end for the driver – not pretty but workman like.

Armley Mills Industrial Museum




A Handbook of Cranes – published by Booths in 1930.

A Handbook of Cranes Edition 32 – published by Booths in 1932.

The Locomotive 15-8-1925 – Article on locomotives supplied to Air Ministry.

John Fowler ( Leeds ) and Co   

Leathley Road, Hunslet, Leeds 


 It would be difficult to do justice in these brief notes to the full story of John Fowler and the Steam Plough Works. Fowler’s manufactured railway equipment was a sideline to their main business unlike other locomotive builders in Leeds. Therefore the story is slanted towards their railway activities.

 John Fowler was born in 1826 in Melksham, the third child of eight born to a Quaker family. Close by the family home ran Brunel’s great Western Railway and young John would have seen the building and marvelled at the engineering feat unseen before. By sixteen John was apprenticed to a corn merchant. Not taking to the work he persuaded his father via his grandfather’s Quaker contacts to be apprenticed to the locomotive building firm Gilkes, Wilson and Hopkins in Middlesbrough. Here, John was accepted in to the local Friends Meeting House of Quakers. In 1849 he joined as engineering adviser a delegation sent by the Friends to Ireland offering assistance in the wake of the Potato Famine. What John saw there had a profound affect on him and he resolved to dedicate his life’s efforts into the development of cultivating machinery to increase food production. John’s first efforts were to experiment in the mechanisation of land drainage and by 1850 he was awarded a silver medal from the Royal Agricultural Society. He used a horse powered gin to power a mole draining winch which pulled in wooden pipes. Further improvements followed and in the 1854 R.A.S. show at Lincoln he demonstrated his mole drain system powered by a portable steam engine. It had now become obvious to John that steam power would be the way to drive his machines and the following year he demonstrated a steam driven winch operating a land cultivation system. The next couple of years saw John improve and exhibit his system at R.A.S. shows and in the 1858 R.A.S. Chester show John’s system of cultivating was trialled against other systems. His system was the only one to complete successfully the trails and to the judges’ satisfaction. John was awarded a five hundred pound prize. Spurred on by the success and with further developments culminating in the well known double engine ploughing system Fowlers won every trial at the R.A.S. show for the next forty years. In John’s early years he had no manufacturing facility was forced to adapt and modify products from other makers. The peculiarity of ploughing demands on the steam engine brought out the weaknesses in the engine, a frustration to John, who declared that the steam pressure in the cylinder should be the weakest part of the machine. Through his Quaker contacts John approached Kitson, Thompson and Hewitt in Leeds asking them to build a suitable self propelled ploughing engine. The resulting engine was a success and Kitson proposed John set up a works to concentrate on the manufacture of ploughing engines and tackle. A suitable site on Leathley Road adjacent to Kitson’s works was chosen and with Leeds growing reputation as a centre of engineering excellence John had the necessary skilled work force to hand. John’s dedication and his untiring efforts to bring forward steam cultivation to better mankind paid a great toll on his health. On doctors’ orders he moved away from Leeds to Ackworth, an established centre of Quakerism. To help in his recuperation he took up riding. While out on a ride he was thrown from his horse and crushed. While recovering from his injuries he contracted tetanus and died on the fourth of December 1864.

Robert and William, John’s two brothers, took control of the business and furthered John’s ideas on steam cultivation as well as developing agricultural and road locomotives. The railway mania which gripped Britain in the 1860s saw a massive demand for locomotives but many of the small railway companies didn’t possess the works to build them. This placed demands on the burgeoning locomotive building industry. Fowlers with their links to Kitsons and growing engineering prowess were well placed to meet this demand. Fredrick Parker, who had worked at the Great Northern Railway in Doncaster joined Fowlers in 1865, set about establishing a locomotive department. A new site opposite the Steam Plough Works was chosen. Early orders for railway companies both in Britain and abroad were of designs by established locomotive engineers such as Kirtley, Sturrock and Stirling. 1866 saw Fowlers first attempts at their own designs with a traction engine type locomotive with four wheels of equal diameter connected by side rods. The end of the 1860s brought about the end of the boom in locomotive demand and a drying up of orders. To safeguard Fowlers new venture they set about designing and producing their own designs of contractors and narrow gauge locomotives. The new designs were varied and to suited to individual requirements of the customer, everything from workman-like 0-4-0 saddle tanks for contractors to imposing 2-6-0 side tanks for export. In the mid 1880s a series of diminutive 18” gauge locomotives for the Woolwich Arsenal railways were produced as well as 2’ and 2’6” gauge plantation-type locomotives. Fowlers often included a number of novel features on their locomotives, such as outside Stephenson’s valve gear and the connecting rod pivoted to a yoke on the coupling rod rather than onto the crankpin. Perhaps the most bizarre feature used on very small locomotives was the drive system patented by Alfred Grieg and William Beadon, a draughtsman at Fowlers. It was perceived that small locomotives with small wheels made the cylinders and valve gear vulnerable to damage from line side obstructions and dirt ingress into the bearings. Their  solution was to lift the cylinders and valve gear up to the running board and have them drive a cross crankshaft, this was placed above the leading drivers and connected to them by a short vertical connecting rod. Following an association with Decauville of France, Fowlers became licensed to manufacture their patent portable railway system with Alfred Grieg being put in charge of the light railway department. A number of improvements to the system were made by Fowlers including the taking out of several patents. Large quantities of track-work and components were supplied as well as a growing number of locomotives. The Decauville system was particularly suited to colonial and plantation type railways where they needed to be laid quickly and by less skilled labour and could be re-located easily. Fowlers supplied many such systems and with the diversification of their other products often supplied the machinery to cultivate, harvest and process crops, especially on sugar plantations where the railways ran. 

The end of the 1880’s saw Fowlers produce a number of traction engine types despite having made successful conventional locomotives for a number of years. These were either the traditional traction engine type of a 2-2-0 or a 0-4-0 with side rod drive. At the time when the demand for steam ploughs began to fall in stepped Robert Henry Fowler, the son of John Fowler’s elder brother, who vigourously set about revitalizing the company. He had served his articles as a solicitor and with this background he began regularizing the status of the company by forming John Fowler & Co (Leeds) Ltd. The new company again looked to other markets and one that was opening up was in electric generation with the development of the separately excited dynamo. Fowlers began to manufacture steam engines which could drive these dynamos at the increased speed necessary for improved generation. Eventually these engines developed into large compound machines as the demand for larger power plants necessary to power growing towns and tramway systems. In 1892 three 100hp engines were installed into a power station on Whitehall Road in Leeds which survived until the 1990s. Many other sets of engines were supplied to home and export markets and their design was taken to develop engines to drive many other machines. With the development of deep coal mines these required large water pumps and fans to clear the mine as well as large winders to access the coal seams.  Fowlers status and the diversity of products was such that they made the tunnel-boring machine that was intended to be used for the ill fated 1882 Channel tunnel project. The range of locomotives offered by the locomotive department was standardised in 1891; seven sizes of 0-4-0 were available in gauges from 18” to 36”; six sizes of 0-4-2 were available in gauges of 18” to 30” as well two sizes of 0-4-0 and three sizes of 0-6-0 in standard gauge. Specials and non-standard locomotives were still made but were based on the standard classes. The Fowler house style became well developed with these classes. Side tank locomotives had large boxy tanks with sand pots either side of the dome on top of the boiler. Well tank locomotives had deep frames with high pitched coal bunkers to the cab front and saddle tank locomotives were fitted with deep saddle tanks. One feature the locomotives possessed, betraying Fowlers origins, was a large mud-hole on the boiler barrel as per traction engine practice. A brief diversion into electric traction saw a four wheel locomotive made for the newly built City and South London underground railway. This diminutive locomotive was a one-off and not repeated. 

From turn of the twentieth century up to the First World War was to be the heyday of the traction engine when many developments were made to the range of ploughing engines. The double engine system was fully developed with large engines built capable of ploughing over great distances. The range of other types of engine was also improved and a varied range of tractors, road locomotives, showmans and crane engines, as well as steam lorries was produced. Up to the First World War Fowlers had produced 670 traction engines and 2500 ploughing engines.

Fowler BB Ploughing engine


Fowler crane loco" Duke of York " and road loco " City of Hull"


Fowler road loco "Titan"


Fowler DCC Showman's

Great Dorset Steam Fair 2010 photos Chris Cooper

The vast majority of all engines were for export. Perhaps the most significant development and one which would send Fowlers in a change of direction occurred in 1902 when Robert Fowler took out a patent for a four stoke petrol fuelled engine. Built in this year the engine was developed for a couple of years but little came of it.  However the seeds had been sown as Robert was now keen to see further development of the oil engine and its usages.. In 1909 the first oil-engine tractor was built that looked much like a conventional steam tractor. The engine was mounted on top of the “boiler” where the cylinders would have been and the smoke-box and chimney formed the exhaust. Its success was such that soon a range of tractors, rollers and ploughing engine were developed powered by oil engines. The onset of the First World War saw Fowlers build large numbers of traction engines to the war effort which were used to supply the front lines. Because of the numbers of engines supplied by Fowlers and other makers the market for new engines after the war was depressed by cheap second-hand engines released by the War Department. Surprisingly the market for Showman’s engines was buoyant because perhaps after the horrors of war the country needed cheering up. The depressed market seriously affected the business and Robert feared for the future of the company. This took its toll on his health and he died in 1919. 

The lean period of the 1920s and 1930s saw the decline of the ploughing engine with the last steam ploughing engines built in 1933. However the increase of metalled roads in the growing cities demanded use of road rollers and the sales of these were buoyant in this period. Not for the first time Fowlers looked to new and growing markets. The new motor ploughing engines were developed as well as direct ploughing tractors and even motorised ploughs. The licenses to make Gyrotillers, a machine that deep tilled the soil rather than turned over the top layer, was taken up and a range of Gyrotillers made. Many other avenues were exploited, motor showman’s tractors were developed as well as motor lorries, motor rollers, gully emptier’s and a range of construction equipment and concrete mixers. However none of these products recreated the heady days of steam plough production. The use of crawler tracks on the Gyrotillers led Fowlers to utilise them on a number of products and a range of crawler tractors was developed. The policy of using oil engines on traction engines was also applied to the locomotive department. In 1922 a diminutive standard gauge petrol mechanical locomotive was supplied to the railway at Nelson Gas Works in Lancashire. In 1930 the first diesel locomotive was built for the Chesterfield Tube Company and fitted with a M.A.N. 65 h.p. engine. These early engines set the house style for Fowlers’ diesel locomotives for many years to follow. At the front of the locomotive was a low bonnet housing the transmission, behind this was a tall thin bonnet covering the engine this was fronted by a heavy cast radiator and topped with a steam locomotive chimney for the exhaust. The cab was usually open sided as per steam locomotive practice. 1922 also saw the range of standard steam locomotives rationalised Six sizes denoted by nominal horsepower were offered available in 0-4-0, 0-4-2, 0-6-0 and 0-6-2 wheel arrangements. Again non-standards were made based on the range including eight impressive 0-8-0 tank locomotives for India in 1923. The Railway department was also busy and produced a range of wagons including cane trucks, tank wagons and tipping bodies. As usual most of the rolling stock was exported and designs reflected these markets. The numbers of steam locomotives dwindled in the 1930s with the last two built in 1935 exported to Pakistan. Two further locomotives were supplied but as the boiler shop was being modernised for diesel engine production the locomotives had to be sub-contracted, one to Kitsons and one to Hudswell Clarke. 

Going back to 1904 Harry Cooper had joined Fowlers. He was an able and established engineer who took on Fowlers early internal combustion engine work and developed it into a range of engines suitable for powering Fowlers’ products. The engines were not available in higher horsepower’s so M.A.N. engines were generally used for the bigger Gyrotillers and locomotives. Cooper was killed in a car crash in 1935 and was replaced by the brilliant Arthur Sanders. Sanders was appointed to lead the diesel engine development. He undertook to design out the faults with the Cooper engines and improve their performance. He took out jointly a number of patents with Fowlers involving particularly the combustion chamber design. Therefore from 1936 all engines were branded ‘Fowler-Sanders’. Such was the faith in the application of the new engines that in 1938 a large portion of the old works was given over to and re-equipped for the manufacture of Fowler-Sanders diesel engines. A range of two to six cylinder engines was introduced available in sizes from 32 to 135 horsepower. These were used in all Fowlers’ products at the time and also employed in many other applications. Eventually by the time production ceased in 1950 tens of thousands of engines had been made. 

The Second World War opened with Fowlers again struggling but so vital was their importance to the war effort that the Ministry of Supply took control of the business. In 1938 Fowlers experience in tracked vehicles manufacture lead to an order for a hundred Matilda tanks. Their speed of delivery was noted and stood Fowlers in good stead for orders in the war. By the cessation of hostilities over sixteen hundred tanks and over four thousand generator and lighting sets had been produced as well as other items for the war. The locomotive department also contributed to the war effort. Prior to the war the shunter design had altered little, but bigger and better engines had seen increases in power. The resilient drive developed for use in motor rollers was applied to narrow gauge locomotives. This was where the engine and gearbox was one unit supported on the output shaft, the engine end of the unit was carried on a large spring which took the engine torque. This system prevented frame twist affecting the engine and gave good power take-up. In the war two hundred 150 h.p. 0-4-0’s were constructed for the Air Ministry of a new design. The transmission was placed at the rear covered over by a large bonnet also containing the starting engine. An off-centre enclosed cab with sliding doors was provided; the engine and radiator were housed in the longer front bonnet. In 1945 the standard diesel locomotive range was rationalised and a new number and class system introduced. The seven digit number used had the first three number indicating class and the last four digits the locomotive number; Class 390 was used for the resilient and narrow gauge locomotives and rising to 424 for the largest locomotives. 

By 1944 when the Ministry of Supply had relinquished control of Fowlers, the board re-capitalised and re-structured and in an effort to boost business an ambitious programme of increased crawler tractors and locomotive production was planned. Whether this plan was over optimistic is not clear and for what ever reasons the board approached Marshalls of Gainsborough with plans to merge the businesses. By 1946 the deal had been done. It would appear Fowlers got the poor end of the deal as their range of crawler tractors was dropped in favour of Marshalls. Fowlers produced these in Leeds. The locomotive department following the merger freed them from using Fowler engines and other makers such as Paxman were used. Marshall’s small engines were used in the narrow gauge resilient locomotives and had the distinctive tractor style bonnet. Fred Turner was appointed in 1948 as Diesel Locomotive Department Manager. The autonomy enjoyed by the department continued and by 1950 more modern designs emerged. These new locomotives had full rear mounted cabs equipped with the comforts expected by drivers. The sloping sided bonnet was stylised with a large curved top and large radii to the front panel. The sides and front panels of the bonnet were pierced with large mesh vents giving the locomotives a distinctive style. Hydraulic transmissions were also introduced and higher horsepower engines fitted. Like other locomotive builders the modernisation plan introduced to rationalized British Railway’s system cut the demand for shunting locomotives as yards closed and goods moved to the road.

The decline in orders resulted in Andrew Barclay of Kilmarnock buying the business. The stock was transferred and the Leeds works closed. Marshalls seemed to have little interest in the Leeds works and production was by stages transferred to Gainsborough. The Fowler site finally closed in 1974. The site was cleared rapidly and by 1975 the land had been used for the building of a state of the art warehouse for educational supplier E.J.Arnold. This lasted barely two years. Printing presses maker Crabtree-Vickers moved all their Leeds works into the building which was ironic because in 1941 the Ministry of Supply had wanted Charles Crabtree appointed as director but this was fiercely opposed by Fowlers then board. Sadly Crabtree Vickers stay on the site didn’t last much longer and the site was again cleared and a discount warehouse built.

What remains? Well the Steam Plough works site was cleared away and nothing of the buildings remains. The Locomotive Department was a separate works and this was built on the opposite side of Leathley Road on its corner with Butterley Street. As of September 2013 this building still survives in more or less condition as built.  The rear door way is still in use but sadly it no longer carries rails from the Midland Goods yard. If the second doorway roller shutter on Leathley Road is open you can still see the dual gauge tracks in the floor which once crossed to road into the Steam Plough Works. Following the demise of the Steam Plough Works the Leeds Branch of the National Traction Engine Club placed a memorial on the corner of Leathley Road and Hunslet Road which can still be seen.


Products of 16mm interest.

 Four Fowler based product have been made by the trade:-

Roundhouse produce a model based on a 0-6-2 tender locomotive built for the Innisfial Tramway in New Zealand. While a fair model on the original the use of standard Roundhouse components compromise the cylinders and valve gear. To my mind the availability of the ‘Fowler’ as a kit means a side tank version of a standard 0-6-2 class can be easily built with a scratch built body. A slightly more adventurous ‘kit-bash’ would be to make a 0-6-0 version of a standard locomotive. However as most of Fowlers’ products were exported your taste would have to be for a colonial type of locomotive. 

Essel produce a detailed and good representation of the 35 h.p. diesel locomotive supplied to Australia. This diminutive 0-4-0 locomotive is a classic Fowler style diesel locomotive but with a dropped footplate and cab making the stature of the locomotive even lower. 

In 1924 Fowler’s produced a 10 h.p. rail tractor for India Railways and I.P. Engineering produce a kit of it. The Whitemetal casting of the bonnet is delightful and the rather crude wood parts can easily be improved to more faithfully copy the original. The gauge may be wrong and the wheels should be spoked but for the price a good kit of the original. 

Brandbright a while ago produced a version of the bonneted ‘Resilient’ locomotive; this was a kit which could be constructed with optional additional detail. The body was a brass etching with half recessed rivet and bolt detail simply soldered together and bolted to the chassis. The chassis was powered with a small high speed motor driving via gear reduction and worm gears to both axles that gives the locomotive a distinctive busy grinding whine as it trundles round the line. 

So what’s worth modelling? As mentioned most of Fowlers’ steam locomotives were exported and therefore have a colonial appearance. The later standard designs have a boxy rugged appearance, not to everyone’s liking but easy to model. The pre-1922 designs are more stylish but Fowlers’ early locomotives all seem to have very small diameter cylinders, which in 16mm are almost impossible to model. Perhaps these are suitable candidates for 7/8ths projects? There are numerous designs of 0-4-0, 0-4-2, 0-6-0 and 0-6-2 outside frame locomotive which could be modelled, suitable Accucraft or Roundhouse chassis could be adapted or as mentioned above adapting the Roundhouse Fowler kit. On the diesel front, Essel have cornered the market but even with Fowlers limited styling there are a few variations which would make distinctive and individual models. 

There are a few items worth modelling in the rolling stock range, but again as most items were exported they are not of a particularly British prototype.  Favourites of mine are the bogie molasses tank wagons for South America.



The story of the Steam Plough Works – Michael Lane – Northgate Publishing 1980.

Fowler locomotives in the Kingdom of Hawaii – Jesse Conde – Narrow Gauge Railway Society 1993.

British steam locomotive builders – James Lowe – Guild Publishing 1975.

John Fowler locomotive works list – Frank Jux – Industrial Locomotive Society 1985.

Thomas Green & Son.

Smithfield Foundry, North Street, Leeds.


Thomas Green was born and raised in Newark; coming to Leeds he founded his company in 1835 on the Lower Headrow. The company made small general engineering products but was noted for its wire products. With the business expanding larger premises were required and a site located on North Street was purchased in 1848 with building commencing in 1850. That essential Victorian requirement a London office followed being opened in 1863.

Like many Victorian engineering entrepreneurs Thomas Green turned his hand to many products but the two most associated with his company are road rollers and lawn mowers. The first lawnmower appeared in 1855, this was to a patent design which Green improved and in 1858 it won first prize at trails. By 1885 Green’s produced a Steam Tram locomotive to a Wilkinson Patent, a change to the law in 1879 had allowed the easier use of steam locomotive for tramway use. Green again saw ways to improve the patent and after making thirty nine under patent produced his own design. A total of one hundred and fifty seven were made the last in 1898, most tram systems in the UK used Green’s tram engines as well as many exported. The first roller was constructed in 1872 for the Royal Gardens in Windsor, and soon a range of rollers and convertible types were made.

The first conventional locomotive was produced in 1888, which was a 0-4-0 well tank exported to Australia. Both standard gauge and narrow gauge locomotive were made with Claro, Harrogate, Masham and Barber being the most noted (see below). Two 0-4-4 tank locomotives were supplied to the Cork and Muskerry three foot gauge line in 1892/3 as well as two 2-6-2 tanks to the West Clare line in 1900/1. A modest total of forty conventional locomotives were made, the last in 1920.

From then on Green’s focused on the roller and lawnmower products, both these products were early in the utilisation of petrol and later diesel engines as a source of power. Munitions were produced in the First World War and again in the Second World War, these being chiefly aircraft components for Blackburn Aircraft. In 1951 Blackburn took over Greens, eventually they themselves became part of the Hawker Siddeley empire. Not being a core business to Hawker it was sold to Atkinson’s of Clitheroe in 1975, the order book was transferred closing the Leeds Works down in 1976. Atkinson’s for a time continued producing the roller range but they then closed a short time later.

Today the frontage of the works in North Street survives and Thomas Green’s contribution to the city of Leeds is marked by a blue plaque. The Locomotive ‘Barber’ was placed in the Armley Mill Industrial Museum, here it lay partially restored and neglected, and since 2004 ‘Barber’ has been loaned to the South Tynedale Railway at Alston in Northumberland. It is a great shame that with Leeds’ reputation as a city of locomotive builders our own museum cannot find a home for this locomotive. Two other Green’ Locomotives exist in Australia both being narrow gauge, a handful of steam rollers and many motor rollers exist and can be seen at rallies during the summer.

Products of 16mm interest.

Greens produced four locomotives which were built for local two foot gauge lines. Harrogate Council used a line to assist in construction of a dam for water supply. The line ran from Masham Station and two 0-4-2’s were built called ‘Harrogate’ and ‘Claro’ both differing but of pleasing lines. Later ‘Masham’ was built, a 0-6-2 which again had good lines albeit spoilt by a solid looking cab side. Masham’s design was developed into ‘Barber’ for use at Harrogate gas works; this line had a very tight bore tunnel. ‘Barber’ was therefore built with a stepped footplate and cut down cab and fittings, this made ‘Barber’ unique as the only cut down locomotive I know that still looks pleasing. The whole Harrogate Gas Works line would make a good prototype to base a garden line on if industrial setting is your thing. I seem to recall that at Stoneleigh 09 a trader was showing models of the unique bogie hoppers (built by Robert Hudson q.v.) used on this line.


Harrogate Gas Works – M. Hallow & D. Smith – Narrow Gauge Railway Society.

Lesser Railways of the Yorkshire Dales – H. Bowtell – Plateway Press.

The Light Railway Handbook – R.W.Kidner – The Oakwood Press.

Greenwood and Batley

Albion Works, Armley Road, Leeds. Potted history.

Thomas Greenwood made woollen machinery in his father business in Gildersome; gaining this experience he and his brother formed a small engineering business in 1833. This business was closed down following a family breathment; Greenwood went on to further his skills at Whitham’s in Kirkstall, Leeds. Here he was noticed by Peter Fairburn offering a position at Fairburn’s Wellington Foundry, where he met John Batley. They were taken into partnership with Fairburn where they developed a reputation for engineering excellence. Following the outbreak of the Crimean war a shortage of arms production was identified by the War Office who sent out to locate suitable engineering works. At a visit to the Wellington foundry the committee witnessed Greenwood’s design of arms machinery and soon had them installed at Woolwich Arsenal. Greenwood further enhanced the works at Woolwich and developed new methods of arms production.  

In 1856 Greenwood and Batley formed their own works in East Street, Leeds, the development of arms was such that the works was soon too small and a new site was founded on Armley Road in 1859. By 1888 the works had been extended to cover 11 acres, in 1894 the steam driven machinery was replaced by an on site power station and machinery driven by electric motors. These developments formed the direction which Greenwood and Batley would take, although the company had many other departments. The Machine Tool Dept made a variety of machines, notable was thread rolling equipment for the mass production of bolts; many of these machines remain in use. The Ordnance Dept produced small arms ammunition and shell cases as well as torpedoes; apocryphal tales claim these were tested in the adjacent Leeds Liverpool canal. Sewing machines, printing presses, textile machinery and oil milling machinery were also made.


The outbreak of the Great War the work came under the munitions act and deemed to be a controller Establishment, this lead to massive increases in munitions work, a feat which was marked by a visit by the King in 1918. The Second World War also saw Greenwood and Batley again mass producing munitions. In the 1920 Greenwood and Batley produced a range of battery powered works trucks, these were produced in the thousand and are probably the way most people know of Greenwood and Batley or Greenbat as the trucks were marketed. In 1927 the first locomotive was made, a batch of five narrow gauge battery electric for use on the Mersey tunnel contract. Battery electric locomotives were seen as a suitable type for use underground particularly in gaseous mines and Greenwood and Batley were well placed to exploit this market. The locomotive Dept moved into specialist area and many types of battery and wire electric locomotives were produced, the most specialist and perhaps there most notable product was coke oven locomotives. Other specials include the Post Office railway cars now sadly mothballed.


The Greenbat name was adopted by the company in the 1960s and was absorbed by the Fairburn Lawson group, the same Fairburn they split from in 1856. The company went in to receivership in 1980 and the works closed on the 9th of May. Hunslet Engine Company took over the Locomotive business and goodwill, locomotives were still produced the last being the battery/wire electrics used on the Channel Tunnel construction. The site was sold to a property developer in 1987, the works were partially demolished, parts of the office block remain on Armley road and three of the erecting shop buildings remain now let out as multi-tenancy use.

Cedric Binns took these pictures of 6061 an 18” gauge loco at the Steeple Grange railway. Steeple Grange Railway is built on part of the old Cromford and High Peak Railway trackbed near Wirksworth in Debyshire.


Products of 16mm interest.

Greenbat produced 1,303 standard and narrow gauge locomotives of many designs; all were electric powered except for one diesel. They also made 65 coke ovens locomotives, the biggest builder of these in Britain. The products were designed for tough industrial use and therefore were utilitarian rather than things of beauty. They did however produce a variety of pleasing centre cab locomotives which would make a different model. They also made a number of transfer cars; these were a four wheeled or bogies flat bed wagon with a drivers cab at one end. Some like No1536 had a simple cab of four pillars supporting a roof. Where as No 6132 was a bogie vehicle with a full panel cab with doors and sliding windows, an ideal model for your P-Way gang to have.


Greenwood and Batley Locomotive 1927-1980 -  A. J. Booth – The Industrial Railway Society.

Various Industrial Railway Record Journals - The Industrial Railway Society.

Various, The Narrow Gauge Journals – Narrow Gauge Railway Society.

Robert Hudson Ltd.

Gildersome Foundry, Gildersome Nr Leeds.   


The Hudson family owned the Victoria Colliery in nearby Bruncliffe, Morley. Presumably from this Robert Hudson saw a market for rail and ropeway equipment to assist in the haulage of coal. He set up a works in Gildersome in 1865 and commenced making small wagons and other associated equipment. Hudson’s first patent was in 1875 for the rolling triple centre pivot, this was fitted to V-skip bodies which gave a stable upright position to the body for loading but when tipped lifted the body and gave a full ninety degree to the tip. This was further developed into Hudson signature product the RUGGA skip wagon. The success of the products required the works to be extended and in 1890 a rail connection to the works was installed from the Wakefield to Bradford Great Northern Line. By 1900 the works covered thirty one acres and was capable of producing its own steel from iron as well as having iron and steel foundries, forges and full machining facilities. Demand for light rail products in the Empire lead to Hudson’s opening a sales office and store in South Africa in 1906 and the following year an agency was opened in India followed by a works.  By 1927 a manufacturing plant was established in South Africa at Durban which in turn was replaced by a large works in Durban in 1948.

Despite producing complete rail systems Hudson’s didn’t produce any locomotives in volume, In the 1920’s they dabbled with a modified Fordson tractor mounted on a four wheel chassis but lack of equal forward and reverse gearing, a major drawback. To cover this admission in 1911 they entered into an agreement with Hudswell Clarke for the design of sixteen types of standard locomotives. During the term of this agreement Hudswell’s made and supplied 188 locomotives to Hudson’s. Around 1911 Hudson also entered into an agreement to market Kerr, Stuart’s range of small locomotives; Kerr’s in turn stopped producing narrow gauge equipment, forwarding orders to Hudson’s. Seeing the advantage of internal combustion locomotive Hudson again entered into an agreement this time with the Avonside Engine Company who were early pioneers with internal combustion power. Avonside produced their first internal combustion locomotive in 1914 from this a range of five types were offered. Kerr, Stuart foundered in 1930 followed by Avonside in 1934, Hunslet Engine Company took over the goodwill of both these companies therefore it was logical for Hudson’s to throw in their lot with them. Kerr’s range of small steam locomotives were re-branded and made by Hunslet’s and a range of small diesel locomotives introduced , the first in 1937. These locomotives were made by Hunslet but carried a Hudson-Hunslet name cast into the radiator header and Hudson-Hunslet maker’s plates. The range started with a 20 h.p. for a three and a quarter ton machine and the largest a 50 h.p. seven and a half ton machine. All locomotives were visually similar with a cast radiator in front of an open sided bonnet and a waist high cab side and back sheet with one opening on the left hand side. In 1968 Hudson’s again dabbled in the production of its own locomotives and produced two experimental ‘Minitram’ a four wheel diesel hydraulic locomotives one of these went briefly to the Woodhead tunnel power cable scheme before being sold to for use at Dukinfield Sewage works. This locomotive is now preserved but not operational at the Moseley Trust.

By the 1950’s road transport was beginning to affect rail haulage used in civil engineering contracts and in 1960 a dumper truck was produced followed by other contractor’s equipment. The company was split into two with the Contractor Equipment division moving into new premises in Gildersome, The new Raletrux division struggled on re-locating in 1981 to Mill Green in Wortley, but the end came in 1984. The goodwill passed to NEI Clayton Equipment who still produces some rail contractor’s equipment.

Products of 16mm interest.

Robert Hudson’s produced a vast amount of light railway equipment but not any locomotives of note. However they did produce many types’ rolling stock items in vast numbers. The most famous has to be the ubiquitous ‘RUGGA’ V-body tipper skip wagon. These were produced in their tens of thousands and if you not seen one them you probably don’t know what narrow gauge is. If the RUGGA is for you them Binnie and Brandbright produce kits. Another mass produced wagon was the colliery tub, a simple box mounted on four wheels, not very inspiring but Hudson’s tubs were in use in most British collieries. To go with the tubs man riding cars were also built and like the tubs were used almost exclusively underground, whilst interesting they were rarely seen.

Many other wagons were made which are of interest, if your lines main traffic is mineral then four wheel and bogies hoppers may be for you. These ranged from simple hoppers on a four wheel chassis to double drop door bogie wagons with continuous brakes. Hudson’s also built the unique bogie hoppers used on the Harrogate Gas Works railway. Brake vans varied from the simple shelter with two ballast boxes to the pleasing single veranda van supplied to the Sand Hutton Railway. Four wheel and bogies open wagons were made in a variety of sizes. As were flats, cage, cane cars and my favourite tanks wagon, these ranged from a square tank on a RUGGA chassis to elliptic tanks on braked bogies. Many bogies wagons used RUGGA chassis’s fitted with pivots, why not pick up a couple of Binnie kits, chuck the bodies and make a simple flat body for something different. Alternatively I.P Engineering make a copy of type 5084 axle boxes used on many of Hudson four wheel wagons or I.P’s bogie kit is not a million miles off the arch bar bogies used on many wagons.






General Catalogue 57 – Hudson Light Railway Materials – Sales catalogue published by Hudson in 1957.

Hunslet Engine Company

1864 – 1995. Jack Lane, Hunslet, Leeds.1995 – 1997. Qualter Hall, Barnsley1997 – 2003. 280 Tong Road, Whingate Junction, Leeds.2003 – Present. Maple Park, Lowfields Road, Leeds. 

John Towlerton Leather set up the Hunslet Engine Company in 1864; Leather was a Civil Engineer whose work on railway building brought him into contact with E.B. Wilson’s contractor locomotives. Leather’s family were local colliery owners and they had interests in steam traction. Leather saw Hunslet’s as a means to providing his son Arthur with business success. Arthur was not successful, so James Campbell, son of the manager at next door loco builder Manning Wardle took over instead. In 1865 loco number 1 was built and due to the Manning connections it looked just like their Class L. The new business was immediately successful and notched up many firsts. The first narrow gauge loco was built in 1870 for the Dinorwic slate quarries; the first of the famous ‘Quarry Hunslets’. “Beddgelert” for the NWNGR was built in 1878 and “Charles” for the Penrhyn followed in 1882. Many other famous Hunslets were to follow. 

Andy Cooper

Trevor Oughton

Edgar Alcock born in Macclesfield and was apprenticed to the Horwich works of the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway. He moved to Beyer Peacock and although responsible for the re-organisation of their works was overlooked for promotion as Works Manager. Dissatisfied he moved to Hunslets in 1912 taking the post of Works Manager. The Alcock and the Campbell families were then to dominate the history of Hunslets. The depression of the thirties saw the winding up of Kerr Stuart in 1930 and the liquidation of the Avonside Engine Works in 1934. Hunslets acquired the drawing and manufacturing rights for both of these companies. Both had been early pioneers of diesel and articulated locomotives, knowledge which Hunslets put to good use. In 1932 Hunslet produced its first diesel which was based on Kerr’s technology and used Kerr’s stock parts.  

John Alcock pressed for the development of diesel power and this was manifested in the first true Hunslet diesel design produced for the L.M.S. This design was continued on many diesels with its curved bonnet front and top producing a sharp angle where they meet. On the steam side Hunslet’s developed a standard range of inside cylindered six wheel saddle tanks. These had simple clean lines with exposed smoke boxes and sloping bunker rears available in 12”, 14” 15” and 16” cylinders. Their design was enlarged to 18” and several early examples were produced.  

At the onset of the Second World War and at the request of the Ministry of Supply, the design evolved into Hunslet’s piece de résistance, the Austerity, the most numerous standard gauge shunters ever produced and the most common type seen today in preservation. After the war work continued on diesel development, most notably the use of hydraulic transmissions to deliver the increasing horsepower’s utilised smoothly to the rail.

Many other products were developed by Hunslet after the war including permanent way machines, mining equipment, tow tractors and even cancer treatment radio cobalt therapy machines. Perhaps the most well known were the Scootacar three wheelers and the Lizard fork trucks. Post war the balance of steam production to diesel shifted, the ‘Austerity’ class continued to sell mainly in to the iron and coal industries but diesel production overtook steam sales. The passing of the clean air act spelt the death knell for steam and almost overnight killed the steam order book for new engines. Hunslet counted this by developing the gas producer system to burn ‘smalls’ in steam locomotives cleanly and with the mechanical stoker could be crewed by a single engineman. Many steamers owned by the Coal Board were so fitted.  

The early 1970’s saw many good orders for diesels, the large fleet of 1124 h.p. Bo-Bo’s for Anchor steelworks were produced and many other locomotives were made for the modernisation of the coal industry and the re-fleeting of the steel industry. 1971 saw the last new build locomotive, a Kerr, Stuart Brazil class despatched with much press interest to Java, now repatriated and on the Statfold Barn Railway. A new system was developed in 1977 where locomotives were fitted with rack and pinion to enable steep gradients to be climbed. The system was intended for use in the newer drift collieries being developed in the Selby coalfield, but also stood Hunslet’s in good stead when three locomotives were ordered for the Snowdon Mountain Railway.  In 1987 the first rack and pinion locomotives for the building of the channel tunnel were delivered, with many more to follow. 

A momentous event occurred in 1987 when the Holding company mainly held by Alcock family members sold their holding to Telfos.  This led to major re-structuring of the company. With the recently acquired Barclay, Hunslet –Barclay was formed at Kilmarnock to manufacture surface locomotives. At Leeds,  Hunslet was merged with mining specialist Gyro Mining Technology to form Hunslet GMT, specialising in underground and rack locomotives. Telfos’s restructuring and other acquisition left it in financial difficulties and in 1991 the business was acquired by Jenbacher. By this time the Channel Tunnel order book was complete and the rack locomotives for the coal board had also dried up.

Jenbacher had an eye on the proposed modernisation which had stuttered following the breakup of British Rail and to this end the Hunslet GMT production was pushed out of the main works and a major re-development of the Jack Lane site commenced. The newly formed Hunslet Transportation Projects had new buildings erected to manufacture the class 323 EMUs. This hard fought for contract seemed to be the future but tight margins and small build numbers hobbled to project. This was exacerbated when gearbox problems, then transformer and finally system shutdown problems caused by overhead wire icing caused the fleet to be delayed and penalties to be imposed. This was the death knell for the works and mid 1995 the last workers were completing the remaining 323s.  The last rack locomotives in build were transferred to Qualter Hall in Barnsley and a number of diesel powered machines for Korea where built here. 

The closure of Jack Lane and the finishing off of locomotives at Qualter Hall left the business as a service and spares concern. In 1997 it was felt a Leeds presence was required and a small office was re-opened, although removed from the Hunslet area. After a couple of years the business was again sold, this time to LH Holdings based in Burton on Trent. LH had moved from materials handling equipment into rail maintenance and refurbishment and operated via Hunslet a fleet of hire locomotives. In LH’s favour was owner Graham Lee, who now is better known as the owner of Statfold Farm and its private railways. This connection was favourable for Hunslet and the development of new locomotives and remanufacturing has begun albeit at Burton. This famously has included the new built of two Alice class locomotives. These feature in the sales brochure so can be ordered!

Andy Cooper

The Hunslet story continues. Road congestion problems have prompted more enterprising concerns to develop rail usage again and left a niche which Hunslet over their many years of experience is able to exploit.  

Eva Class. These 0-4-2's were built over a number of years for the 2ft Howrah - Anta railway in Calcutta. In the sixties when the Talyllyn Railway was looking for new motive power, Hunslet offered to build an Eva Class but it didn't happen.


Grobi Class - The 2ft Groby granite quarry in Leics had a clapped out 0-4-0 "Sextus" which was sent to Hunslet for overhaul. Instead they ordered a new loco 0-6-0 Grobi class becoming the new Sextus. The old Sextus was rebuilt and sold to Dinorwic Quarry becoming The Lady Madcap.

Waril Class

Catalogue Pictures from Keith Crosthwaite

Products of 16mm interest.

Where Do I start? Well commercially there are more Hunslets available than any other maker. Pearse produced Leeds No1 as well as SLR No14.


Paul Butler

Roundhouse offered the Penhyn sisters Linda and Charles

  Andy Cooper

and produces WHR Russell.

Andy Cooper

Several classes of Quarry Hunslet have been available from Finescale and TME

Gerv Wright

Locomotion produced a Mills class. Early Accucraft efforts were based on Kerr Stuart designs which Hunslet took over. New kid on the block in 16mm is Western Steam who will be producing Penhryn’s Lilla. Slater’s produce a electric powered quarry Hunslet based on Dinorwic’s Rough Pup. On the diesel side Essel, Friog and John Turner have both produced designs.

As primarily a bespoke builder Hunslet produced a varied class of locomotive, so what is there to tempt us:- 

Steam – Well, the iconic Hunslet is the quarry loco which there were many types such as the Alice and Port but I prefer the chunkier cabbed Mills class used at Dinorwic. My all time favourite is Leeds No1 and yes I do own one. A close joint second is the Victorian charms of Beddgelert and the opposing utilitarian Gowie of the NWNG Railway. As equally close but in third is the Eva class of which eighteen were built from 1906 to 1955 for use in India. A new build Eva was picked by the Talyllyn as a possible loco to cure their motive power problems in the 60’s but sadly not built. For a smaller prototype then the eighteen inch gauge Waril class is a must, Jack at Armley Mills museum is an excellent example.

Diesel – Ignoring the mines locos which Hunslet produced in abundance, if these types of locos do it for you then I suggest modelling a much prettier Hudswell types. My favourites are the bogie locos built for the Woolwich arsenal, and the later versions built for South Africa including the massive two foot centre cab HE4754 for Natal.Many other early Hunslet diesel have aesthetic charm, HE2257 for Africa is a pleasing outside framed six-wheeler with outside cranks. HE1774 is a diminutive four wheel chain drive loco built for Park Gate Steel at Rotherham. The later 60’s design style of centre cabs produced another bogied gem in HE7066.

A change in the 80’s to a more angular style produced a six-wheel chain drive HE9237 for Natal. The later designs for narrow gauge are predominately for the mining and tunnelling industries and as such have a austere and rugged look, not to my tastes.




For Quarry lovers:


Quarry Hunslets of North Wales by Cliff Thomas. (Every loco in nut and bolt detail!)


Linda and Blanche, Penhryn to Festiniog by Dick Blenkinsop. (Mainly about Linda and Blanche but some nice photos of quarry Hunslets and others).


Slate quarry railways of Gwynedd. Michael Messenger. (A good few quarry Hunslet’s featured but worth owning for the photos to inspire a quarry theme to your railway.


Slate quarry Album. Gordon and Ann Hatherill (As above a truly inspiring book).

And of course our own 16mm Penhryn Modellers’ Guide.


For Waril lovers:


The Sand Hutton Light Railway by K.E. Hartley (Issues 95/96 special of The Narrow Gauge – NGRS).


Tramways and Railways of John Knowles (Wooden Box) Ltd, by R. Etherington and R.West. (Warils photographed in working surroundings).


18 inch gauge steam railways by Mark Smithers. (Includes photos of very nice non-Hunslet products.


For the rest of us;


The Hunslet engine works – over a century and a half of locomotive building, by Don Townsley. (The definitive book by the man who was there - excellent).


A Hunslet Hundred by L.T.C.Rolt. (Poor, if you don’t have it don’t look it up).


The Hunslet archive and drawings at Statfold Barn Railway.


Kerr, Stuart Locomotives – Reprint of List C by Plateway Press. (Includes KS loco classes built by Hunslet).


Narrow Gauge & Industrial album by Ann and Gordon Hatherill. (A few quarry Hunslets shown but does include lots of industrial shots with super details).


Industrial Narrow Gauge Album, Andrew Neale

Hudswell Clarke

Hudswell Clarke Engineers, 1860 to 1870.

Hudswell, Clarke and Rodgers, 1870 to 1879.

Hudswell, Clarke Ltd, 1979 to 1968.

Hudswell Badger Ltd, 1978 to 1972.

The Railway Foundry, Jack Lane, Hunslet, Leeds.   


On a site once a part of the mighty E.B Wilson Railway Hudswell Clarke was founded in 1860 by William Hudswell, son of a local pastor and apprenticed draughtsman to Kitson, Thompson and Hewitt, and John Clarke who had been apprenticed at R & W Hawthorns in Newcastle reaching the post of works manager. The third partner was Dr William Clayton a surgeon who provided the finance for the venture. Whilst Clayton played no part in the day to day running of the business he saw a career opportunity for his son William Wikely.


By 1861 the first steam engines were being produced with work’s number one being the horizontal engine used to power the works. Other early products were fine looking locomotives for the Buckley Railway. Joseph Rodgers joined the business as a director in 1866, and, due to his contribution to the business,  a partner in 1870. He developed and held the patent for line shaft pulleys which could be mass produced.  They were light, accurate and, importantly, concentric and balanced. These pulleys and their fittings were in great demand for the burgeoning factories and mills, with their desperate need to provide power to drive machinery, so much so that their production eclipsed locomotive work. For whatever reason, Rodgers left in 1883 and the company was re-founded with two new directors, George Wallis who came from a distinguished iron founding background and Harold Lambert who was to become Commercial Director.

With new impetus the company forged ahead on locomotive production and in the period up to the Great War many classic designs were produced. The first of the Manchester Ship Canal tanks was delivered. Repeat orders followed over the coming years. Perhaps the most famous designs were the tank and tender locomotives for the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway and equally as impressive were the numerous products for the colonies. The distinctive Hudswell house style was also developed; Hudswell’s locomotives always had a softer, friendlier look to them rather than the utilitarian functionality design of Hunslet’s.

Like the Alcock dynasty at Hunslet’s, Hudswell had the Claytons. William Wikely passed away in 1901 but had seen the company become a limited company. Three years later William’s son, William Wikely Ward joined as an apprentice, Billy, as he was known, would have a long and significant career at Hudswell.


In 1911 an agreement was signed with Robert Hudson for Hudswell to manufacture locomotives for inclusion in Hudson’s railway equipment catalogue. A range of sixteen types of four and six coupled designs were produced and lettered as class A to Q. By the time the deal ended and Hunslet’s took over supplying Hudson’s with diesel locomotives in 1929 188 had been built. 1911 also saw the only crane tank produced by Hudswell’s which had the crane parts provided by nearby Thomas Smith. In 1912 the iconic Londonderry and Lough Swilly 4-8-4 tanks where built for the Burtonport extension and the following year the first of the Port of London tanks were produced which developed into the famous and much ordered PLA tanks design.

Billy Clayton’s interest in cars is said to have led to the firm’s development of petrol locomotives. These were simple chain drive machines and were referred to as rail tractors. The first, number P251 (loco number 1 in 1925) went initially to Leeds City Council for construction of the Gledhow Valley Road. The success of the rail tractors brought Billy Clayton to prominence and he was appointed joint M.D. in 1926. The first true locomotive was built in 1928, a six wheel petrol machine for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, an organisation for whom Hudswell’s produced many locomotives. This machine was an elegant design and was the first to carry the famous steam locomotive chimney, a trade mark that would appear on Hudswell diesels almost up to the end of locomotive production. The following year saw the building of the mighty ‘Junin’ a massive two foot six inch gauge locomotive which at the time was the most powerful direct drive machine, and is now back in Armley Mills Museum.


The depression of the thirties hit locomotive building like other industries and Hudswell may well have collapsed but they survived by diversifying. One unusual product line was the building of third scale replica steam outline diesels. The most famous pair still running today on the Scarborough North Bay Railway, but others were built including a classy looking Baltic tank for the Golden Acre Park Railway, Leeds.

The advent of the Second World War brought Hudswell’s into the supply of munitions, and an aircraft section was developed. Here parts for many aircraft were produced including Lancaster tail sections and Spitfire and Swordfish wing components. Alongside this new technology Hudswells produced the famous Hunslet designed Austerity locomotives with fifty being made by end of hostilities. Post war, the aircraft section’s skill was used to produce nose cones and tail fins for the British Space Project with over two hundred assemblies produced.

In 1946 an agreement was signed with mining engineering giant Hugh Wood of Gateshead to produce flame-proofed mines locomotives. These locomotives were fitted with Gardner engines driving a three speed gear box via a fluid coupling with a variable scoop to give smooth power take up. The gearbox, a self-shifting synchronised unit, gave the efficiency of mechanical drive but step-less and self changing gear shifts. This pattern of drive became a Hudswell trade mark for many years until the advent of hydraulic drives and high engine horsepowers.

The end of the war and the need for munitions left the Aircraft department with spare capacity. Hudswell  saw a market for hurricane lanterns. Presses were installed to produce the lantern components and a tinning department to assemble them. Eventually lower cost abroad affect sales and production ceased in 1961 after two and half million lanterns were produced.

By 1947 Billy Clayton became Chairman and oversaw the change-over from steam to diesel orders. Hudswell forged ahead with mining locomotives and produced some classic designs including the introduction of tandem types in 1951. In steam’s swansong locomotives were produced for the Coal Board at home and some impressive locomotives were produced for the Middle East and India. Development of diesel power continued and in 1954 a constant horsepower locomotive was built. This used a de-rated engine, pressure charged and coupled to the wheels with two fluid couplings. This gave a step-less constant tractive effort resulting in better traction power delivery to the rails. The design was produced in several forms of which perhaps the 1-D-1 locomotives for the Sierra Leone Railway were the most iconic. 1959 saw the first diesel-electric transmission fitted locomotives produced in the form of Alnwick and Arundel Castle for mainline duties on the Manchester Ship Canal Railway.


Billy Clayton retired in 1961 and his place was taken by W. Lindley of the Industrial Commercial and Finance Corporation who had been shareholders in Hudswell’s since 1948. The same year saw the last steam locomotives built for the Coal Board Yorkshire Area. With the decline of railways in the 1960s and the locomotive order book drop-off, true to Hudswell’s inventiveness other avenues were explored. The rapid expansion of high-rise flat saw Hudswell’s design and manufacture steel moulds for the production of the concrete sections which were pre-cast in factories. These moulds were far superior to the wood types previously in use. In 1968 I.C.F.C. transferred their Hudswell shares to their subsidiary Trind Group who had numerous engineering interests. This had a profound affect on Hudswell the remaining locomotive production was banished to the old boiler shop. New products were introduced. Notable amongst these was the Badger pipe layers which laid a pipe in virgin ground using a trenchless system. The early success with this system was short-lived and the product was relocated. The end came in 1972 when the works closed down. This wasn’t quite the end, due to the regard with which the Coal Board held Hudswell’s mines locomotives. Production of these was transferred to Hunslet and finally ceased in 1981. The old works were demolished in 1975 and modern multi-occupancy units now occupy the site, where only the name, Hudswell Road, is left to act as a reminder.



Products of 16mm interest.

It came as a great surprise to me researching this piece the almost dearth of 16mm products out there. I fact I only found a Worsley Works ‘scratch-aid’ etching for a rail tractor and Clay Cellars produced some colonial locomotives. Hudswell may not have produced the volume of neighbours Hunslet, but they certainly produced some remarkable and charismatic locomotives.


If your preference is for the 45mm gauge there are some super steam prototypes. The Londonderry and Lough Swilly mighty tanks and tender locomotives are almost legendary. If the colonies are your thing then there again some fine prototypes to model. The 2-8-4 built to Calthrop’s light railway ethos for India give a colonial size with an English flavour. If you like tenders then the ZB class locomotives for the Dehri Rhotas railway fit the bill.


Back on the 16mm again there are some super machines, from the utilitarian Hudson well and side tank machines. Many small locomotives were produced for around the world, particularly side tank designs, or perhaps the massive 2-8-2 complete with bogie tender for Brazil, yes its two foot gauge, is for you.


For diesel lovers there are again some super examples. The Worsley Works etch makes a good start of producing the mundane rail tractors. A simple machine to make as most were chain drive – no side rods to model! Or how about the quirky rail tractor and single coach for the Ooma and Tabewa Railway on one of the Gilbert Islands, plans are readily available for it. At the other extreme is the mighty ‘Junin’ now resident in Armley Mill Museum so available to get some dimension from. The Sierra Leone constant horsepower 1-D-1’s are also a super subject; one of these was tested on the surface system at Ledston Luck Colliery, a plausible excuse for one on your line. How about my personal favourite, the super looking P262 of 1928 which set the design style of Hudswell’s diesel well into the late 1950’s.


  18 in. gauge railway at Woolwich Arsenal.

Arquebus 1889 Chatham Dockyard


Hudswell Clarke & CO – A pictorial Album of Narrow Gauge Locomotive, R.N.Redman, Trent Valley Publications. (A great source of photos to inspire).

Industrial Railway Society – Various Handbooks.

J&H McLaren

Midland Engine Works, Jack Lane, Hunslet Leeds

John McLaren was born in 1850 at Hylton Castle near Sunderland.  His parents farmed the Hylton Estate and after its sale moved to nearby Offerton hall.  In 1869 David Fisken of the Fisken Company, Balm Road, Leeds, exhibited his patent steam ploughing tackle at the Royal Agricultural Show in Manchester.  McLaren senior purchased one such set of tackle.  This association led to John becoming employed by Raventhorpe Engineering who had taken over the manufacture of Fisken's tackle.  John's younger brother, Henry, found employment at Cardwell's Dewsbury foundry.  In 1876 John and Henry founded their traction engine works in Leeds.  They produced a range of traction engines for ploughing, agricultural and road haulage, and road rollers.  They also manufactured the implements, trailers and vans to go with them.  The development of the oil or Diesel engine was embraced by McLaren who pioneered the use of the oil engine in tractors of the early 1900s.  They were suppliers of engines to other locomotive manufacturers who produced early diesel powered locomotives, such as Fowler, Hudswell, Clarke and the Hunslet Engine Company.  In 1943 the business was amalgamated with the Associated British Oil Engine Company which led to an expansion of the works and production was centred on diesel engine manufacture.  In 1957 Hawker Siddeley took over and moved production away from Leeds, closing Mclaren's Midland Engine Works in 1957.

Products of 16mm interest

Two standard gauge locomotives are known to have been made.  The first was a conventional traction engine with the smaller front wheels and the larger rear wheels replaced by similar sized disc rail wheels.  The second was a traction engine boiler and cylinder mounted on a four wheeled chassis, similar to a standard wagon chassis, with drive to both axles by chains.  There is a rumour that a two foot gauge type was also built.

Anyone fancy a "might have been" project??

Armley Mills Industrial Museum


Fowler BB Ploughing engine with McLaren diesel engine conversion 1930's original condition


McLaren single Agricultural engine - unrestored and working!!

Great Dorset Steam Fair 2010 photos Chris Cooper


Reprint of catalogue 32, J&H McLaren published by Michael Dunkley

The History of J&H McLaren by John Pease published by Landmark

Leeds Forge Company

Castleton Fields, Armley, Leeds.          


Potted history.

When the great Round Foundry which had been set up by Matthew Murray in 1843 foundered many of the out of work engineers went on to other companies eager for their skills. However, the works left behind were in their time a world leading facility, a point not missed by some. A partnership was formed becoming Smith, Beacock and Tannett, who renamed the works the Victoria Foundry and commenced the production of machine tools. In 1838 Samson Fox was born in Bradford and by the age of eight was employed in the woollen mills. In and effort to improve himself he was apprenticed at Smith, Beacock and Tannett in 1852. During his time here he learned about forging of steel. The newly invented Bessemer process was making large scale steel production possible. The forging of steel was undertaken by the use of drop hammers shaping the red-hot billet; this was and still is a highly skilled job. The size and shape of the finished forging was dependent on the forger's skill and simple gauges to size the blank, a process not conducive to mass-production.

Fox during his time at the Victoria Foundry worked as a representative and one of his clients was ship builder Scott, Sinclair in Glasgow. What deal Fox struck with Scotts is not clear but they provided the bulk of the finance which enabled him to set up the Leeds Forge. The site at Castleton Fields was bounded on the south by the Leeds and Bradford Railway and the east by the Leeds and Thirsk line. The first products were hammer-forged crank and plain axles for locomotives, many supplied to the growing works in Leeds. Having experience in forging Fox developed a rolling process to make round hollow forgings. He registered a patent in 1877 for corrugated furnaces for steam boilers.  Becauise of the corrugations these furnaces were stronger and more efficient than plain fire-welded types, and perhaps, by his links with Scott’s, quickly became standard in ships boilers. These furnaces made Fox extremely wealthy in a short time and allowed a rapid expansion of the Leeds Forge. Fox turned his talents to the use of hydraulic pressing of forgings.  With this process red-hot steel plate is pressed between dies in a press. The process required the making of the dies which was expensive, but the pressings were quickly produced in mass and with less skilled labour. In 1877 Fox exhibited a flanged plate railway wagon frame which was considerably lighter but stronger than the wood frame commonly used at that time. Little interest was shown in this country so Fox set up a company near Chicago which was soon producing eighty wagons a day for the U.S market.

In 1897 Everard Calthrop produced a paper on light railway construction; Calthrop advocated the use of narrower gauges to build lines which would not be viable if of standard gauge. He decreed two foot six inch gauge gave the greatest tonnage carried for the lowest cost to which this was demonstrated on the extensive Barsi Railway in India. Calthrop designed all aspects of the system including the rolling stock, He embraced Fox’s methods, using a common chassis fitted with low sides, high side or box bodies all made from steel pressings. These produced strong, light wagons which importantly could be exported flat-packed and assembled with unskilled labour. In order to publicise the benefits of the system, Calthrop built a demonstration line at Newlay in 1897. The line was substantial with 1 in 57 gradients and 200ft reverse curves and was designed show off the capabilities of the system. Kitsons supplied 0-8-4 and 4-8-4 locomotives for the line to haul the Leeds Forge rolling stock. Calthrop went on to act a consultant for many other lines but only the Leek and Manifold in this country followed his ideas slavish: the English Barsi.

In 1923 the business was sold to shipbuilder Cammell Laird who closed the works down in 1929. Fox retired to Harrogate where he continued to experiment. He invented ‘water gas’ as a substitute for coal gas but the collapse of the company and the losses by shareholders mired him in a scandal he never rcovered from. He was recently featured in BBC’s "Who do you think you are" as an ancestor of the actor Emilia Fox.


Products of 16mm interest

The distinctive pressed steel section wagons for the Barsi and Leek and Manifold railways would make distinctive models. The Fox system was used by other manufactures and appears in South African and the Americas on narrow gauge. Perhaps the most distinctive items were the transporter wagons used on the Leek and Manifold.



Narrow Gauge and Industrial Railway Modelling Review No 69 – Includes a comprehensive article on Calthrop and the Newlay Exhibition and includes rolling stock details and drawings.

The Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway – Robert Gratton – RCL Publishing. A super book giving all aspects of the lines construction including drawing of infrastructure as well as the rolling stock.

Light Railway Construction – E R Calthrop – Plateway Press. Reprint of Calthrop treatise on his ideas.

Manning, Wardle

Boyne Engine Works, Jack Lane, Leeds.    


 Alexander Campbell had been the works manager at Scott, Sinclair in Glasgow but had left this post in 1856 to administer the works and affairs of E.B. Wilson and Co following on from the death of Wilson. Campbell with local vicar C.W. Wardle set up a works on the North side of Jack lane opposite the old works of E.B. Wilson. Drawing and patterns of the old Wilson’s locomotives were obtained and Manning’s first locomotives were to these earlier designs. The new venture required capital and John Manning joined the business as a partner. Manning, Wardle production centred on the smaller industrial type of locomotives and between 1859 and 1875 built up a range of standardised four and six coupled locomotives, each design given a class letter. This approach was novel at this time and gave Manning’s a considerable advantage over their competitors as standard designs could be made more quickly and economically. Manning’s even built stock locomotives on the back of an ordered standard type. The use of the standard designs were made adaptable to narrow gauges, classes B, C, D, E and K were used for many early such types. With the expanding business and Manning’s growing reputation orders for non-standard types were taken and were known not surprisingly as specials. Many specials were built for narrow gauge concerns both for use in this country as well as for export around the globe. Like other builders at this time Manning’s took on novel orders and interesting types were built during this period. Three locomotives using the Fell patent third adhesion rail system were built for use in Brazil, tram locomotives were also built as were as the power units for rail motors. With most other engineering businesses Manning’s turned to munitions during the First World War but also supplied locomotives needed by factories’ for the war effort. After the war the depression in world trade hit them hard. The novel standard designs which had been successful in the mid 1800’s were now outdated, their competitors haven taken full advantage of modern production techniques. This left Manning’s with a dwindling order book, the end came in 1927 with liquidation, the last locomotive No 2047 (now persevered) left in 1926. The goodwill and drawings passed to Kitson and Co, who also failed passing them on to Robert Stephenson and Hawthorn, who in turn passed them to Andrew Barclay and Son and then finally to Hunslet Engine Company. Hunslet’s took over part of the Boyne Engine Works, to this day the office block and the 1858 cast iron gateposts remain on Jack Lane, although as I write this (Jan 2010) they are under threat of demolition. Thankfully despite the eighty three years since closure a number of Manning Wardle locomotives remain. 


Sir Berkeley built 1890 and owned by VCT Ingrow Keighley  : Cedric Binns January 2015

Products of 16mm interest

Manning’s produced some classic locomotives of many differing designs but all with superb looks. An early offering were the unfeasibly thin 0-4-2’s for the Festiniog and Blaenau Railway, these had the Manning hallmark design feature of the crank boss in the wheel being the same shape as the balance weight. Manning’s built a couple of bizarre looking locomotives for the St Austell and Pentewan Railway; these were long wheel based low slung boilered 0-6-0’s. For same line they also built a super looking 0-6-2 called Canopus in 1901. The most famous Manning’s were the quartet built for the Lynton and Barnstaple, The first three had a curious cab extension over the safety valves, but I prefer the later ‘Lew’ built in 1925 built with the extension removed. Roundhouse many years ago produced a version of these locomotives; perhaps with the news of Accucraft producing bogie coaches from this line then may be Roundhouse will re-launch it at Stoneleigh 2010? ‘Sunbeam’ was a corker of a 0-4-0 saddle tank build for the Chatham Dockyard; many other interesting locomotives were also built for use in the dockyard. Many early two foot gauge locomotives bear an uncanny resemblance to early quarry Hunslet’s. Campbell’s son, James, became work manager at Hunslet’s maybe he took designs with him? I can imagine with so many works close together things were incestuous. ‘Chevalier’ which was on the Whipsnade zoo line until recently is a classic from Manning’s. If colonial types are your thing, then there are many types to choose from, among my favourites are No’s 1826/7, a pair of 0-4-2’s side tanks supplied to India, or No’s 1919/21 three super 0-6-2 side tanks. There are many more I could bore you with, but I will let you discover the delights of this builder. 


The Locomotives build by Manning Wardle and Co Volume 1 Narrow Gauge – Fred Harman – Century Locoprints. (This is a superb book.  Get it.   You will be inspired to build a Manning).

British Steam Locomotive Builders – James Lowe – Guild Publishing.

Matthew Murray;   Fenton, Murray and Wood

Mill Green, Later Round Foundry, Water Lane, Holbeck, Leeds.              

Murray was born in 1765 in Newcastle-upon–Tyne; little is know of his family or background but as he was schooled and served an apprenticeship in blacksmithing his family must have been well to do. In 1786 the newly married Murray moved to Darlington to work in a flax mill as a journeyman mechanic. During the doldrums in the flax trade he moved to Leeds in 1789 to work for John Marshall’s flax mill in Adel where he maintained the machinery. Murray’s training came to the fore and he modified and improved the machinery. Marshall opened a new mill in Holbeck in 1791 placing Murray in charge of the project where Murray designed and patented flax spinning machinery was installed. By the late 1700’s the Industrial revolution was beginning to take hold in Leeds and Murray saw potential in a business of general engineering. With his partner David Wood they set up a works at Mill Green, by 1797 the business’s success was so great bigger premises on Water Lane were built. Two new partners were taken on; James Fenton had been a partner of John Marshall and accountant William Lister, the firm now becoming Fenton, Murray and Wood.

The new business principally designed and made machinery for the textile industry, one such item was the steam engine being used to replace water power for turning the machinery. Murray, the technical brain of the firm wanted to improve the steam engine making them lighter, more powerful and more significantly making them easy to assemble on site. Engines at this time were made individually with no commonalty of parts or design standard, many suffered from poor and incorrect installation. In modern terms this would be like having to take your Ford Focus back to the factory to have a spark plug made to fit the hole in the engine. The number of improvements in manufacturing introduced by Murray helped to make the firm successful and brought to Murray the respect of his peers as a great Engineer. This notoriety came to the attention of John Blenkinsop of the Middleton Colliery.

The colliery had a problem in supplying the burgeoning demand for coal needed by the new mills and houses springing up in the city. A horse tramway had been built in 1758 but horse shortages caused by the Napoleonic wars was preventing increase in carrying. By 1805 Richard Trevithick had built several locomotives but they suffered from breaking the cast iron plate rails and he abandoned them. Newer iron edge rails were laid on the Middleton line in 1808 which would support a locomotives weight. Blenkinsop was unsure of the adhesive capabilities of the conventional system and patented a rack and pinion system. Murray built the locomotive to be used on the system in 1812, called ‘Salamanca’; the locomotive was a success being capable of pulling up to three times the load of a straight adhesion locomotive. Three more to the same design were built as well as locomotives for collieries in Wigan and Newcastle-upon-Tyne which was inspected by George Stephenson. Features seen in this locomotive appeared in Stephenson’s ‘Blucher’ and even appeared in the design of ‘Rocket’.

Murray went on to design and build many other steam engines, but it was the textile industry which was his main pre-occupation. In 1809 he won a gold medal from the Royal Society for a flax carding machine, which dramatically cut the cost of linen production. This gave the firm huge orders for machines which went round the globe.

Murray died in 1826; he lies in St Matthew’s graveyard in Holbeck where a cast iron obelisk made at the Round Foundry marks his place. The firm failed in 1843, no doubt missing the ingenuity Murray brought to it.

Today much of the Round Foundry remains being recently refurbished into multi occupancy use but retaining the external fabric of the buildings. The building on the corner of Water Lane and David Street has a large plaque commemorating the building of ‘Salamanca’. Part of the Middleton Railway is run on by the new Middleton Railway and parts of the track bed near to Pottery fields can be traced.


Products of 16mm interest.

Sadly none, but as a pioneer in the field of steam power his contribution cannot be underestimated. Perhaps not as well known as Trevithick or Stephenson who was influenced by Murray, his great leaps in manufacturing processes greatly advanced the developed of the steam locomotive and we should acknowledge that.


Matthew Murray: Pioneer Engineer – Kilburn Scott.

Leeds City Archives.

Middleton Railway material.

Shepherd and Todd

The Railway Foundry, Pearson Street, Leeds.                      


Little is know of Charles Todd’s early life, he was apprenticed to Matthew Murray at the Round Foundry in Holbeck where he will almost certainly have been in contact with the locomotive building taking place there. He left Murray in 1837 and entered into a partnership with James Kitson (see Kitson’s entry) and started a small works in Hunslet, after two years a third partner jointed the business. For what ever reason Todd left the business and with another partner John Shepherd founded the new enterprise of Shepherd and Todd. The works was set up on the South side of Pearson Street opposite to Kitson’s and was rail connected via Kitson’s works to the North Midland Railway. (The line ran between the back-to-backs of Mill Street – I guess this was a sight for locals on locomotive delivery day). By 1840 the first order for two locomotives for the Hull and Selby Railway was dispatched. These were 6ft singles to John Grey’s design; Grey patented the first valve gear to use steam expansively. Other locomotive were built with Grey’s gear, two further singles for the York and North Midland where also built in 1840. These successes lead to further orders being fulfilled for the North Midland, Hull and Selby and the Manchester and Leeds Railway. In 1844 Todd left the partnership, he seems to have been unable to work with others and settle into a business. Todd set up a new business by himself on nearby Dewsbury Road known as the Sun Foundry where he built twenty locomotives; in 1858 he sold this business and left Leeds. In the mean time Shepherd had found a new partner and the old business was revitalised and renamed E.B. Wilson (see E.B. Wilson’s entry).


Products of 16mm interest

None known, all production was for the local standard gauge lines which were burgeoning at this time.


A Hunslet Hundred – L.T.C. Rolt – David and Charles.

British Steam Locomotive Builders – James Lowe – Guild Publishing.

E.B. Wilson and Company, (Formerly Fenton, Craven and Company).

The Railway Foundry, Pearson Street Leeds.                       


The partnership of Shepherd and Todd (see their entry) had dissolved in 1844 with Todd’s departure, the following year Edward Brown Wilson joined Shepherd. Wilson is described by contemporaries as a showman and uncompromising who would later be seen as impossible to work alongside his peers. Wilson’s charisma attracted James Fenton to the business; Fenton was the son of James Fenton, founder of Fenton, Murray and Jackson, (see Matthew Murray entry). Fenton would certainly have been apprenticed there and would be an accomplished engineer. Also coming from the failed Round Foundry with Fenton was John Chester Craven and David Joy. Wilson’s abrasiveness lead to a row with Shepherd and Wilson departed within a year, leaving Fenton to take over the company forming Fenton, Craven and Company in 1846. Shortly after this Shepherd left the business and Fenton made his peace with Wilson paving the way for Wilson to take over and form E.B. Wilson and Company in the same year. Craven who was as indomitable as Wilson and was unable to settle his differences left to become the Locomotive Superintendent for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. James Fenton was retained and became Works Manager, whilst the nineteen year old Joy became Drawing Office Manager.

Now Wilson was in sole charge he set about radically rebuilding the Railway Foundry which in Fenton and Cravens day employed barely one hundred and fifty people. Land adjacent to the old works was acquired and new forges and machine shops built, soon over five hundred people worked at Wilson’s, many being sucked up from the failed Round Foundry. Wilson’s showmanship and the reputation of the workforce gave Wilson notoriety within the railway world and his name was assured. In 1847 the LBSC railway gave an order to Wilson for a new express engine to be solely designed by Wilson’s, such was his reputation. The young David Joy following disagreement between Wilson and Fenton on how the design should proceed sketched out a 2-2-2 tender locomotive. The design was accepted and the ‘Jenny Lind’ was born. The design, with its high for the time boiler pressure of 120 lb/sq. in. made possible with new boiler manufacture methods, was a huge success. Over seventy were built for many different railway companies, and the design was developed into a range of locomotives with different wheel arrangements. The ‘Jenny Lind’ was a highly finished locomotive with mahogany strip lagging to the boiler and distinctive fluted casings to the dome and safety valves. The 2-2-2 and the 2-4-0 types of the ‘Jenny Lind’ became the express engine of choice for railway companies during the 1850’s and 1860’s. Other types were made including Crampton’s and tank engines for contractor works and rebuilds for railway companies who lacked their own capacity. A 0-6-0 tender freight locomotive was developed and over 160 of these were built.

Wilson was always keen to exploit business but he came into conflict with his shareholders by supplying locomotives to smaller railway companies. These had previously contracted bigger companies to provide motive power thus increasing the profitability of these companies who had the same shareholders. The influence of the shareholders restricted Wilson’s activities and severely damaged the businesses finances. Wilson’s death in 1856 resolved the issue but left the business in dire straights.  Alexander Campbell was brought in by the shareholders to run the affairs off the business bringing with him his apprentice son, James. Campbell came from the shipbuilders Scott Sinclair of Greenock who had built seventeen locomotives for several Scottish railways. The dispute with Wilson and the shareholders led to action in the Chancery and following his death the shareholders were forced to close the business in 1858 despite a profit that year of £12,000. Wilson had created a modern, large and profitable centre of engineering excellence in the Railway Foundry. Many of the products made by Wilson’s were innovative and greatly advanced the progress of the rail industry; these were aided by modern manufacturing techniques. Fortunately the pool of works and machinery released by Wilson’s demise was soon absorbed by other locomotive builders. Campbell and son went on to be involved with Manning, Wardle and Hunslet Engine Company (see their entries).  David Joy left in 1850 to run the Nottingham and Grantham Railway, and was later appointed Locomotive Superintendent of the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway. He will be best known for his patent valve gear of 1879. Parts of the foundry site were taken over by Hudswell, Clarke and Rogers who would keep the name Railway Foundry alive.


Products of 16mm interest

None that I know of.  All products were of standard gauge for the many railway companies that were burgeoning at this time.


A Hunslet Hundred – L.T.C. Rolt – David and Charles.

British Steam Locomotive Builders – James Lowe – Guild Publishing.









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