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Locomotive Manufacturers




Adamson Motor Co., Birmingham, Alabama, USA

This company was probably established in 1917 or 1918.
In 1924 it was listed in Polk's Birmingham City Directory as selling Ford and Lincoln Locomotives, Fordson Tractors and Farm Implements. It was located at 18th Street North and its manager was Reese Adamson.
In 1924, the company built a rail tractor that was trailed by NZR and did some work at their sawmill at Erua. The design also provided an example for A & G Price Ltd. To copy for their rail tractors.
The company is still in existence today and operating in the same area of Birmingham. It is now called Adamson-Ford and sells automobiles exclusively.



American Locomotive Works, Schenectady, New York, USA




Alco Products got its start in Schenectady, NY in 1848 when John Ellis and Platt Potter and others of that city invited the Norris brothers of Philadelphia to establish a locomotive factory there. The needed $50,000 was raised by subscription, and the Schenectady Locomotive Engine Manufactury was built on land near the Erie Canal and the Mohawk River.

Somewhat more than a year after the company's founding, its first locomotive, "Lightning", was out shopped for delivery to the Utica and Schenectady Railroad. The "Lightning", though powerful and fast, had insufficient steaming capacity and was too heavy for the rails of the time. It was pronounced a failure. With no more orders forthcoming, the Norrises withdrew from the venture, and the enterprise was sold for taxes in February 1851.
However, the company's principals felt that the manufacture of locomotives in the early and important railroad centre bounded by the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers could flourish, and in May 1851, the Schenectady Locomotive Works was formed and significant production soon began. More than two hundred locomotives were manufactured over the next six years,

During the Civil War, Schenectady supplied at least eighty-four locomotives for the U.S. Military Railroad. Between the War and 1870 fire and flood ravaged the facility, resulting in much reconstruction and modernization. During this period Schenectady produced the famous 4-4-0, "Jupiter", which figured in the Promontory Point celebration of the first transcontinental railroad. Most of the Schenectady locomotives were, like the "Jupiter", of a conventional design marketed to satisfy growing domestic needs.

As railroads multiplied throughout the seventies and eighties, so did the Schenectady Works expand yearly in both manpower and manufacturing capacity. Another notable locomotive designer, A.J. Pitkin, joined the firm during this period. He was to earn particular fame as the creator of the high speed 4-4-0's of the NYC&HR RR. Also he was later destined to head the firm of consolidated companies that became American Locomotive.

On June 24, 1901, Schenectady's "Big Shop" was merged with seven other locomotive manufactures in other cities, forming the American Locomotive Company. Its composition, in addition to Schenectady, included the Brooks Locomotive works in Dunkirk, NY, Cooke Locomotive & Machine Co. in Paterson NJ, Dickson Mfg. Co. in Scranton, PA. and the Manchester, Pittsburgh, Rhode Island and Richmond Locomotive Works. In 1905 the Rogers Locomotive Works, also in Paterson, was acquired. Through Rogers the new consolidation could trace its locomotive building activities back to 1837. However, it was customary to regard the Schenectady Works as the senior component due to its role as headquarters. At this time American Locomotive first looked into the possibilities of product diversification, and for a short time manufactured a line of trucks and automobiles in Rhode Island.

The "satellite" plants, many of which had produces distinctive steam locomotives for decades, were gradually phased out as whole locomotive erectors. Cooke and Dickson, for instance had been relegated largely to producing light locomotives, while Richmond catered generally to Southern markets. In 1905 the Montreal Works was acquired. It continues to produce locomotives primarily for Canadian Markets, now as a part of Bombardier, but the last domestic subsidiary, Brooks, ceased finished locomotive production in 1931.

During the first decades of this century, the American Locomotive Co. contributed significantly to the rapidly developing state of the steam locomotive builder's art. 1904 saw Alco produce the first (true) Mallet in America, Baltimore & Ohio's 0-6-6-06 #2400. 1927 witnessed the first Hudsons produced for the NY Central, and the first streamlined engine, the "Hiawatha", was turned out in 1935.

By the 1920's, Alco had a long history of cooperation with the General Electric Co. in producing many types of electric locomotives. In 1924 the company's first little 300-horsepower diesel-electric locomotive scored its almost undetected triumph on the Central of New Jersey. In 1929 this was followed by the first diesel-electric passenger locomotive, the NY Central's #1550, which was also the first successful road locomotive using this type of propulsion. In 1929 McIntosh & Seymour's Diesel engine plant at Auburn, NY, was purchased, with over 25 percent of its production in the thirties devoted to internal combustion locomotives. Clearly, American Locomotive had established itself as one of the two or three recognized world leaders in the railroad power field during its decades of greatest prosperity.

During World War II, Alco not only produced such aesthetically and mechanically impressive machines as the 4-8-8-4 Union Pacific "Big Boy" and the several styles of 4-8-4 dual-service steam locomotives, but it also turned out great quantities of tanks, tank destroyers, marine boilers, and minesweeper propulsion engines as well as its burgeoning line of diesel switchers. The war Production Board forbade American Locomotive to produce potentially lucrative road locomotives during the conflict, in competition with rival EMD at LaGrange. Returning to civilian business, Alco's 1946 production showed a 75% involvement with diesels. Its traditional partner, General Electric, was also represented in the electrical gear of every locomotive. Though the dual-service 4-8-4 steam locomotive had shown great promise, 1948 saw the last steam locomotives erected in Schenectady. Alco had much to look forward to, as by then it possessed 40 percent of the diesel locomotive market. PA and FA road units, as well as the ubiquitous S class 660 and 1000 horse power switchers and RS-1, 2 and 3 road switchers, represented Alco very well in those years of motive power transition.

The complete conversion to diesels, however, did not mean that Alco was to maintain his production standing. Despite its many durable and well-received designs, Alco gradually succumbed to its competition, among which its former ally, GE, was becoming an important element. In an attempt to survive in the fifties and the sixties, Alco expanded to include many fields of civilian and heavy military manufacturing, including large steel pipe, pressure vessels, missile parts and nuclear power generation equipment. But this, together with a new line of superpower locomotives, the "Century" C628, C430 and C636, failed to keep the enterprise going.

In 1955 the firm changed its name officially to Alco Products Inc., and in 1965 most of its assets were purchased by the Worthington Corp., later Studebaker-Worthington. By 1969 the Schenectady plant was closed and subsequently leased to the General Electric Co. for turbine generator-production. However, the Alco name still lives. Its former plant in Auburn still manufactures diesel power plants and parts to support Alco locomotives still in service, and while now a subsidiary of a British concern is still known as Alco Power.

Over all of its time (prior to merger and after), ALCO produced about 75,000 locomotives with more than 63% of them built in Schenectady, NY. In fact, all of the locomotive manufacturing (except in Canada) was consolidated in Schenectady by 1931 and continued until 1968.

ALCO has had a lot of firsts throughout its history including:
* First Steam locomotive produced in the United States - the wood burning "Sandusky" built by Rogers in 1837
* First commercially successful diesel electric locomotive (Central Railroad of New Jersey)
* First diesel-electric passenger locomotive in the USA (NYC)
* First streamlined locomotive produced in America (CM&StP - "Hiawatha")
* ALCO acquired exclusive rights to Sir Nigel Gresley's "conjugated lever" invention, which was used on 3-cylinder steam locomotives. ALCO became much more successful at building 3-cylinder steam locomotives than any other builder.




Anchor Foundry Ltd. Nelson, NZ




It was in 1866 that the partners of Nathaniel Edwards and Company, Nelson, decided to open a workshop intended to effect the repairs and alterations required by their small fleet of coastal steamers. The first workshop - once described as a "portable forge under a few sheets of corrugated iron" - was situated near Auckland Point at more or less the location where the Nelson Gasworks later stood.

Shortly after John Symons became sole owner of the Company it was decided to purchase a site nearer the Port on which a new workshop, to be known as the Anchor Foundry, would be built. A steep freehold section with a frontage of 264 feet facing Haven Road was bought in 1873 and, after substantial excavations were made, a substantial building was constructed entirely of corrugated iron and well equipped with modern plant.

By 1876, the foundry's work had extended far beyond the requirements of the Anchor fleet and staff rapidly increased to a total of between fifty and sixty employees.

A new partnership was formed in 1180 and known as the Anchor Shipping Company and the foundry assets were included in deal although it continued to trade under the name Anchor Foundry. The Anchor Shipping and Foundry Company was formed as a limited liability company in 1901. The foundry was getting plenty of business from industrial firms in many parts of the country.

The main foundry was replaced in 1907 by a modern steel framed building in which a five-ton travelling crane capable of moving the entire length of the workshop was also installed. In 1923 the foundry was further extended to include patternmakers and electricians workshops. Further additions took effect in 1929 and in 1953 a moulding shop was built on an adjacent site. As late as 1959, a diesel department was added.

Only one railway locomotive was ever built in 1881 by Anchor Foundry, this being the little 0-4-0 tank engine named "Pioneer' for the Takaka Railway Company's 2 feet 6 inch gauge tramway.




Aveling & Porter Ltd., Rochester, England




Thomas Aveling was one of the pioneers of traction engine design. His first attempts to produce a self-moving engine were made converting portables of other firm's manufacture. He designed his first engines in what became the 'conventional' form, and his work on road rolling made Aveling & Porter Limited, based at Rochester in Kent, leaders in roller production.

The company, though, was saved form extinction by the Barford brothers, forming Aveling-Barford Ltd. Becoming well-known road roller manufacturers, located at Grantham, Lincolnshire.

Thomas Aveling built his first steamroller in 1865, the company making more steam rollers than all other maker's combined output during their production period.

Aveling & Porter built forty-eight 0-4-0 chain driven traction engine locomotives from 1862 until 1878. One of these survives in the London Transport museum. In 1876, the first 2-2-0 gear driven locomotive appeared and of this type, 27 were built up until 1926.

By 1893, Aveling & Porter produced the first of their 0-4-0 gear driven traction engine locomotives and from that date to 1925, fifty-five of these were constructed. One of these, No.3592, was built in May of 1895 and ordered by one John Anderson to be shipped to New Zealand where it operated for Tom Price at his sawmill at Newman, north of Ekatahuna.

Aveling & Porter combined 1934/5 with Barford & Perkins to form Aveling-Barford and continued to make steam and motor rollers. After WW2, they then made construction equipment and still make dump trucks, etc on the same site at Grantham. Now USA owned, trading as Wordsworth Holdings




Avonside Engine Works, Bristol, England




When the partnership of Stothert & Slaughter was formed in 1839 for the purpose of building main line locomotives, for the use of industrial locomotives on private railways and for shunting in works sidings was rare, and there was little large-scale industry in the vicinity of Bristol; while the few locomotives on the tramroads of the South Wales coalfields were made locally, or supplied by the established North Country builders. However, the continued expansion of the railway system itself created a greatly increased demand for iron and coal, and in what seems to have been a nationwide period of expansion in the early 1860s, several engineering firms were set up to supply the smaller types of locomotives, including those suitable for contractors and industrial firms. Bristol had become an important centre of commerce largely as a result of its trading connections with America and the West Indies, and was one of the leading ports in the country, even though its facilities were in need of improvement, with plans in train for new docks at Avonmouth to cater for the increasing size of ships.

In 1864 a public company, The Avonside Engine Co. Ltd., was formed to take over the locomotive and marine engine part of the business of Slaughter, Gruning & Co. (as Stothert & Slaughter had then become), and in the same year we find the first advertisement placed in the 'Colliery Guardian' by Fox, Walker of the Atlas Iron Works, who offered to supply pumping and winding engines, mineral locomotives and general castings. Slaughter Gruning & Co. had built at least one industrial locomotive - named Bristol - for the Grays Chalk quarries in Essex - and probably built others, but Fox & Walker evidently intended to specialise in the supply of mining plant, including locomotives, and were successful in capturing markets for their products among contractors and iron and coalmasters. They did not restrict themselves to industrial locomotives, however, and were soon accepting contracts for narrow gauge tender locomotives for overseas, as well as products such as steam cranes and even supplied railway wagons from a works at Bridgwater in Somerset. Unfortunately full records of their output have not survived.

The late 1870s would appear to have been a period of severe trade depression after a boom, for several locomotive firms suffered financial crises. Among these were both of the Bristol firms, as well as the Yorkshire Engine Co. of Sheffield, who cited severe price competition from Northern locomotive manufacturers as a major cause. No doubt the larger size of the firms in the North enabled them to p[produce main line locomotives in quantity cheaper than those in Bristol, while Glasgow firms are reputed to have enjoyed cheaper labour and material costs.

When Fox, Walker & Co. became bankrupt in December of 1878, their Trustees advertised the business for sale and the Managing Partner, Edwin walker, moved to the Avonside Engine Works which, after various financial traumas, was reorganised to build smaller types of locomotives.

Closed between 1927-39, Avonside built 79 locomotives for NZR of which five ended their days as bush locomotives. Four of these were ex-NZR 'F' class 0-6-0 saddle tank engines and the majority of these worked for Stuart & Chapman at Ross. A single Fairlie, No.1218 that became R 29 for the NZR, found its way into the bush at Mamaku where the NZR Stores Branch had their tramway. While it was a heavy locomotive for bush work, its wheel loading was the same as that of the 'F' class and it remained in service there for nine years.




W.G. Bagnall Ltd., Stafford, England


W. G. Bagnall Ltd. was originally formed in 1887 when William Gordon Bagnall registered his business as a limited company. Bagnall's regarded themselves as railway engineers, not just builders of locomotives. In addition to the well-known range of locomotives, Bagnall's provided a wide range of rolling stock and trackwork. The stock ranged from mine tubs to sugar cane wagons, right up to tramcar type coaches. A feature shared with both Kerr Stuart and John Fowler & Co., was the willingness to provide complete railway systems.

Bagnall's built a vast range of locomotives for many diverse customers during its 100 years of uninterrupted locomotive production. Customers included; Indian State Railways, Egyptian Delta Railway Co., Sudan Railways, London Midland & Scottish Railway and British Railways

The firm was originally located at Castle Engine Works, Stafford, England. This was to remain the case right up until take over by the English Electric Company in the early 1960's. Soon after this change of ownership, locomotive construction ceased in Stafford.

The company was re-formed in 1998 to protect the now well-known name from any possible future misuse.

A number of Bagnall locomotives were used on New Zealand's industrial railways, while five found their way onto bush tramways.




Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co., Kilmarnock, Scotland




Andrew Barclay 1814-1900, born Kilbirnie (North Ayrshire) became a leading builder of railway locomotives. He pioneered a safety fireless locomotive that did not produce sparks and therefore could be used in areas where fire was a risk.

Established in 1840, by 1855 the Caledonia Works of Andrew Barclay was already producing industrial locomotives. The financial fortunes of Barclay survived many vicissitudes but by the end of the 1890s, profits began to be realised. Typical low prices for this time were around £800 for a 12" cylinder locomotive and £1,000 for a 14" model.

In all this time, there was no direct rail connection to the works and finished locomotives were hauled by traction engine through the streets top the railway. A rail siding was eventually laid in 1903.

By 1907, the order book was well filled with locomotives and the fireless locomotive was developed. Between 1912 and 1961 a total of 114 of this type were produced. An average of 28 locomotives per year was turned out in 1908 to 1910 and a total of 247 steam locomotives were constructed during World War 1.

The post-war depression resulted in orders falling away rapidly and the company struggled until the late 1930s when the country again started to gear itself up for war.

During World War 2, Andrew Barclay, Sons * Co. turned out both steam and diesel locomotives as well as armaments and military equipment. At the end of hostilities, the company was well placed to take advantage of the increasing market for diesel-powered locomotives. The last steam locomotive was built in 1959.

In 1963, Barclay took over the goodwill of the North British Locomotive Company, the purchase including drawings and patterns. This left Barclay's as the remaining locomotive manufacturer in Scotland. In 1968, Barclay's took over the goodwill, patterns and drawings of John Fowler & Co. (Leeds).

Talks had been held in 1967 with the Hunslet Engine Co. Ltd. of Leeds with a view to the merger of the two businesses, but at that time the Barclay order book was full and nothing came of the act. However the two companies kept in touch and in December 1970 Hunslet Holdings Ltd. acquired a batch of unissued Barclay preference shares and following lengthy negotiations, the Directors of Barclay decided to accept the Hunslet offer for the remainder of the share capital. In August 1972, Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. lost their independence and became a member of the Hunslet Group of Companies, although continuing under their own name.

Since this time, Barclay has continued to produce diesel and mining locomotives and have produced a considerable number of locomotives and rail vehicles for British Rail.

In 1987, Hunslet Holdings were acquired by the industrial group Telfos Holdings PLC and with the reorganisation of trading activities, it was decided that all surface locomotive production would be concentrated at Kilmarnock with the underground locomotives being retained at the Hunslet works in Leeds.

To reflect the new position the name of the company was changed to Hunslet-Barclay Ltd. in January 1989. In 1990 they celebrated 150 years of locomotive manufacture and will continue to produce in the foreseeable future.

Barclay only built one locomotive for New Zealand railways, that being builder's Number 120 in 1872 for Otago Provincial Railways.

However they built quite a number for industrial and logging railways.


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Black, Hawthorn & Co. Ltd., Gateshead-on-Tyne, England


Established in 1865, Black, Hawthorn & Co. have identified their name with the manufacture of all kinds of locomotives, winding and hauling machinery, gas engines and mine ventilating equipment. Marine screw and paddle engines were also constructed.

The works at Gateshead covered nine acres of ground and employed around 1,000 people.

Black, Hawthorn built five locomotives for the NZR of which the 4-4-0 side tank engine, class G 58, was used on Gamman's bush tramways at Ohakune and Mamaku, after 43 years with the NZR.

In 1887 they also built a small 0-4-0 tank engine that was purchased new for Henry Brown's bush tramway at Inglewood.




Brookville Locomotive Co., Brookville, Pennsylvania, USA



From the Company's founding in 1918 by a Ford dealer installing flanged railroad wheels on gasoline powered trucks, the Company went into full-scale production of gasoline and diesel powered locomotives following World War I. During that time period they also produced a variety of specialty rail equipment including: school buses, speeder cars, refrigerated cargo haulers, flat cars, workman's cars, bullet-proof pay cars, and ambulances. The majority of the locomotives at the time were manufactured for logging, plantation, and industrial above ground applications.

Throughout the years, Brookville's machines had to be constantly redesigned and adapted with new technology to keep pace withindustry needs. The old style pressed-on wheels have been changed to bolt-on wheels, and the inefficient shoe type brakes have been replaced by liquid cooled wet disc brakes, which result in longerlife and reduced maintenance costs. Also, Brookville was the first Company to introduce planetary drive axles on rail-mounted equipment, which was quite a significant modification from traditional chain and worm gearing. Other improvements such asV spring rubber bonded suspension and power shift transmissions were made to the machines.

Currently, at their state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, which is located on 15+ acres in Brookville, Pennsylvania, they produce rail mounted and also rubber tired haulage equipment. Their machines are used in underground mining, tunnel construction, industrial and switching applications worldwide.

Now called Brookville Mining equipment Corp., their product line of diesel and electric powered machines include: locomotives, personnel carriers, utility and specialty vehicles, and 4-wheel drive haulage tractors.

In New Zealand, there was one known rail tractor, used up until 1968, at Clifton Lands Co., Waitaanga




Charles Burrell & Sons, Thetford, Norfolk.


Charles Burrell & Sons Ltd. operated out of St. Nicholas Works in Thetford England from their establishment as a foundry and agricultural machinery works by Joseph Burrell in 1803. Joseph's nephew Charles I built the companies first steam engine.

It was a family firm noted for retaining traditional methods of production and for producing engines to meet each customer's requirements. It has been said that no two Burrell's were ever the same. Over the next 125 years Charles Burrell & Sons were to become one of the world's premier manufacturers of traction engines employing over 300 people and exporting to all corners of the world. The company also produced some other interesting engineering devices form bacon slicers to brush-making machines. During the first world war the company produced munitions for the war effort.

However, their retention of hand building led to difficulties in the recession of the early 1920s, and Burrell's were forced to join with Richard Garrett & Sons Ltd. and others in forming an amalgamated company of agricultural and general engineers. Sadly even this group could not be saved and the company had to finally close its doors on June 4th 1928. All machinery held by the company was auctioned off in December of 1930. Today, the Burrell name lives on in the hundreds of preserved examples throughout the world where the engines are still regarded as the 'Rolls Royces' of the steam movement.

Their single crank compound design was unique in the U.K. but was copied by Ruthermeyer in Germany.

Only one engine has been identified as being used on New Zealand's bush tramways, it being a conversion of a 1904 model, being turned into a 4-4-0 and being used by Manson & Co. at Tikokino and Lake Brunner.




A & T Burt Ltd. Dunedin, NZ


Brothers Alexander (1840-1920) and Thomas (1842-1884) Burt were born in Scotland and in 1859 moved to Australia, later New Zealand. In 1862 they commenced a plumbing and gas fitting business in Dunedin and expanded to include copper smithing, brass moulding and metal finishing. By 1900 they were employing 200 workers and produced gold dredgers and boilers. The company was registered for limited liability in 1897 and opened a London office in 1908. By 1912, 850 people were on their staff.

A. & T. Burt obtained manufacturing rights, from Frank Trail, to produce the unique Trail rail tractors. By 1925 they were heavily engaged in producing these tractors and in total 37 of them were built over an eleven year period.

Four sons of Alexander and Thomas held executive positions in the company which became one of the largest engineering companies in New Zealand. There were branches in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Timaru and Invercargill, with head office in Dunedin..




Alexander Chaplin & Co. Cranstonhill Engine Works, Glasgow, Scotland

A vertical boilered 0-4-0 steam lokey worked on Brownlee's Havelock 3-mile tramway, and is thought to be a Chaplin while its boiler may have been constructed by Davey, Paxman of Colchester, England. William Brownlee came from Glasgow so it is likely, but not certain, that he placed an order back to his home town.

A second-hand Chaplin locomotive, No. 1182 of 1870 was first used by the Kawa Kawa Coal Company, but discarded by them as having insufficient power fro the traffic offering. It was a standard gauge (4 ft 8½ inch) locomotive and ended up on the Grahamstown and Tararu Tramway Company of Thames, for which it was converted to 3 ft 6 inch gauge by Fraser & Tinne, Auckland.



John Clark, Hobart, Tasmania



Not much is known about this builder, at present.

An advertisement appeared in the Tasmanian Mail 1 Sept 1877 :-

John Clark. Engineer, Boiler Maker, Shipsmith and Iron Ship Builder.
Manufacturer of steam engines, boilers, mining and mill machinery, vats, pans, bridges, iron tanks and brass works of any kind.
Bell founder and coppersmith. Excelsior engine works. New Wharf, Hobart Town.


The 0-4-0 tank locomotive that came to New Zealand was Number 9, built in 1879.



Climax Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Corry, Pennsylvania, USA


The company traces its history from January 21, 1868 when G.W.N. Yost organised the Corry Machine Company to build the Climax mower and the Climax reaper, wagons, castings, and shafting. Its office and plant were in Corry, Pennsylvania, between West Main Street and the Atlantic & Great Western Railway (later to become the Erie). A capital stock of $500,000 was authorised, but was shortly thereafter increased to $1,000,000.

On March 18, 1870, the Corry machine Company was reorganised as the Climax Mower and reaper Company. Its business was the manufacturing, selling, and repairing of mowers, reapers, wagons, castings, car wheels, shafting, and agricultural implements. The company was sold to its President Andrews on June 27, 1873, and he, in turn, on the same date, sold it to the Titusville Novelty Iron Works of Titusville, Pennsylvania. This company had been organised the previous year and operated a plant at Titusville.

Shortly thereafter, on July 8, 1873, the name of the company was changed to The Novelty Iron Works, but only operated under this name for a short time when it was changed to Gibbs and Sterrett manufacturing Company on December 16, 1873.

The new company rapidly expanded the plant and its operations both in Corry and Titusville, adding to its line of products: steam engines, boilers, tanks, stills, and rigs for oil and artesian wells. The success of the company was short-lived; and after several years of marginal operation, it passed into bankruptcy on October 23, 1882. A sheriff's sale followed on June 6, 1883, at which time Rush S. Battles, a banker and businessman, purchased the plants in the two towns for $25,000. Mr. Battles reorganised the company as the Climax manufacturing company in December 1884, and operated it as a private, un-incorporated concern until his death in 1904.

Under Mr. Battles' ownership, Climax continued to manufacture a line of stationary steam engines and equipment for the oil industry. However, this business was highly competitive with many companies operating in the area. Following a decision to concentrate all manufacturing at one plant, he sold the smaller Titusville factory. He also felt that to continue the product lines of his predecessors would lead him into their unfortunate fate and so he started to look around for some other line to manufacture. At one time or another, several different items were tried, and when the opportunity to build a logging locomotive presented itself, he took advantage of it.

In conjunction with lumbermen and George D. Gilbert, the locomotive was developed and the first recorded one shipped in March 1888.

At the same time the company entered the electrical field, and for several years built dynamos and other electrical equipment. The plant also generated electricity to light the streets of Corry. It became apparent to Mr. Battles that the electrical business was a specialised industry that had little in common with mechanical products and so it was dropped.

Under his leadership, Climax grew in the locomotive field. Logging cars were also introduced; and gradually, as the locomotive business took up more and more of the plant's manufacturing capacity, the former product lines were discontinued until, shortly after 1900, the locomotive and logging car business required the entire shop capacity.

For many years, Climax was the leading industry in Corry, with a payroll that gradually grew from 120 in 1891 to several hundred after the turn of the century.

Following President Battles' death on March 27, 1904, Lewis W. Olds became president and general manager. He had begun his career with Climax in 1885 as an office clerk after graduation form high school. Under the tutelage of Mr. Battles, he rose rapidly to a prominent position in the company.

At this time, the company was reorganised as a limited partnership. This partnership was composed of people who had been clearly associated with Mr. Battles, at Climax, or in the bank. The partnership remained unchanged until Olds, a son of President Olds, became a partner in 1920.

From the early nineties, the design of the horizontal locomotive took effect and the first three-truck engines were built. Locomotives up to ninety tons were successfully completed and in 1915, the locomotives were fitted with piston valves, super-heating and Walschaert valve gear.

The first major expansion in plant capacity came in 1904 when cranes and pneumatic machine tools replaced hand-operated equipment in the erecting shop. By 1907 the output rose to fifty locomotives per year, although almost all were relatively small compared with those constructed in later years. Business prospered until the locomotive market collapsed temporarily in 1914. In order to keep shop personnel busy - and having faith in the future - management again authorised expansion. In that year the shop roof was raised to provide headroom for two twenty-ton travelling cranes.

The 60 x 262-foot erecting floor was sufficient to enable ten or twelve locomotives of all sizes to be under construction at one time. When business was good they were moving out too fast to keep the floor full of locomotives under construction. When business was slow, the floor would fill up with partly completed locomotives. A few engines would be completed and held in stock.

There was also a large machine shop, carpentry building, foundry and blacksmith, a central power plant and a large stock room.

Boilers were usually built at the Union Iron Works in Erie, Pennsylvania, and shipped to Corry as needed. The Mead Boiler Works in Corry manufactured cabs, water-tanks, coalbunkers, and other heavy sheet metal components.

During a period of over forty years, Climax built between 1,030 and 1,060 locomotives. They were widely distributed and popular in the lumbering regions throughout the United States and Canada. Many were also exported to Cuba, the Bahamas, Mexico, South America, Hawaii, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. They were also much used on mining, industrial switching, plantations, brick yards, short lines and many other specialised railroad uses.

It is difficult to accurately determine the total number of locomotives constructed by Climax due to the assignment of construction numbers and the lack of complete shop records.

Sometime after 1900 the use of numerical order was discontinued. A batch of builder's plates would be cast at one time and placed in a bin. When a locomotive was ready for the builder's plates, or a plate in the case of the Class A, the first single or matching pair found would be placed on the locomotive. Sometimes, plates would be placed on a locomotive boiler on which production was delayed for an extended time or which was built for stock and not sold immediately. This would result in locomotives that appear to be "early" production models often being delivered after "later" production models.

During the latter half of the 1920s, the demand for new logging locomotives had shrunk to a small portion of what had been in former years. At this time, the owners of the Climax plant were well advanced in years. This and the limited sale of new locomotives induced to sell the business on September 15, 1928, to the General Parts Corporation for the sum of $100,000. The buildings, machinery, and real estate were retained by Climax.

During the early thirties, the Climax partners disposed of the machinery and property; and on December 15, 1934, with all assets sold, the partnership was dissolved.

General Parts Corporation had been engaged in purchasing defunct automobile companies and providing a spare parts service. This was also their reason for acquiring the Climax business and they had no intention of continuing to manufacture the locomotive. The only new locomotives they sold after acquiring the plant, were two engines completed for stock and four others under construction, which they completed and sold. Others under construction, which were partially completed, were dismantled for their parts.

General Parts Corporation continued the repair parts service for several years. Later, the plant, buildings and machinery were sold to others and part of the plant was taken down to make way for a new building to manufacture war materials during the Second World War.

In all, seven Climax locomotives came to New Zealand, from 1884 until 1930, these being, one Class A and the remainder, Class B. Of these, it is remarkable that no less than five still remain, of which one, No.1203, built in 1913, is still in steam service at Shantytown.



Conyers & Davidson, Otago Foundry, Dunedin, NZ

Refer James Davidson & Co., Otago Foundry.



Davenport Locomotive Works, Davenport, Iowa, USA

Davenport Locomotive Works of Davenport, IA, built locomotives from 1902 to 1956. It soon became a thriving builder of small steam tank locomotives. From 1950 to 1956, Davenport produced Porter designs as well as it's own. They built their first gasoline locomotive in 1924 and their first diesel, a 30-ton for Northern Illinois Coal Co. of Boonville, IN, in 1927. The line included 4ton gas to 112ton diesels, with mechanical torque converter (hydraulic) or electric transmission. (1) The firm incorporated in January 1901 as the W.W. Whitehead Co., occupied the same Rockingham Road site from beginning to end.

The plant got its start rebuilding the Corliss engines widely sed to run generators for small towns that produced their own electricity. The first locomotive was completed in 1902, the same year the firm became Davenport Machine Works. Two years later it was renamed the Davenport Locomotive Works.

Its first steam "dinkie" was a small but doubty locomotive used extensively by builders of railroads and in mining operations. Production in 1906 totalled 202 dinkies, and worldwide demand for them remained steady for years.

During World War I, Davenport Locomotive Works produced 80 light engines used to haul ammunition to American troops in France. In 1919, eight were shipped to Hong Kong to be used on Chinese railways. In later years, engines were sent to such places as Shanghai, Central America and Canada, as well as to American rail lines.

In the early 1930s, the firm, by then known as Davenport Locomotive and Manufacturing Corp., helped pioneer development of the small diesel-electric locomotive. It would not be many years later that diesels would revolutionise railroading.

In 1950, the Davenport Besler Corp., as it was last known, purchased the inventory of the H.K. Porter Co., Pittsburgh, one of the oldest and most respected locomotive works. All of the equipment was moved to Davenport, along with certain key personnel of the Porter Company.

It looked like an era of even more expansion. Yet, just five years later, Besler itself would be sold, with president Glenn Seydel explaining that the existing facilities should support more employment than his firm could manage, and that the facilities were too big for the volume of industrial locomotive business it was doing.

He also cited difficulties in obtaining specialised equipment needed for locomotive manufacture.

With scant notice then, the city lost the firm that had made the letters "Davenport" familiar to such diverse people as the Chinese coolie and the South African mine worker.

As the company closed down in 1955, locomotive designs, patterns, tools, fixtures and trade names of its complete line of industrial locomotives went first. They were sold to the Canadian Locomotive Co. of Kingston, Ontario.

A year later, Alter Co., a major manufacturer of secondary nickel alloys, acquired the property as the initial move in a $3 million expansion project.

The Public Works Department purchased four Davenports in 1921 and of these one still lies derelict at the south end of Bruce Bay, South Westland and was the last bush loco still lying in the bush.



Davey, Paxman & Co. Ltd., Colchester, England

Manufacturers of traction engines, road locomotives, gas engines and portable engines.

Davey Paxman, in 1871, supplied a vertical locomotive boiler, but it is not certain who, though it may have been Chaplin, built the locomotive that was introduced on the Brownlee operation at Kaituna, Pelorus.

The locomotive has a similarity to a Chaplin machine. William Brownlee, a Scotsman, had a horse-drawn tramway into the bush from his sawmill at Havelock and during 1871 he imported this locomotive for the 3-mile line. It was reported in the Nelson Evening mail that the locomotive had its wheels encased in India rubber, no doubt to improve traction on the slippery wood rails.

The locomotive proved too heavy for the 7" x 3"" rimu rails so these were replaced with iron rails from October of 1872. The locomotive worked on the Kaituna tramway until 1885 and was noted as idle in the following year.



James Davidson & Co., Otago Foundry, Dunedin, NZ



William Wilson established the Otago Foundry in 1859 and it began operating in January of 1860, with David Mason as partner. This partnership was dissolved by mutual consent in December 1860; Mason continuing on business, nearly opposite the foundry, as a millwright and engineer.

By 1867 Wilson's Otago Foundry constructed a new iron steamer 'Wallace', and went on to manufacture machinery for the Otago gold rush. From 1860 onwards, the foundry employed about 200 men.

Early in 1875, Wilson hurt his knee on an anvil in the foundry, this refusing to heal and the doctor advised amputation. William, and his wife, was not in favour of this so he sought other remedies and he slowly regained his health. Wilson found, however. That it was impossible to carry on at the foundry so he subsequently sold it to Messrs. Davidson & Conyers.

The following year, the company was listed as James Davidson & Co. When the firm went into liquidation in 1882, it was again known as Conyers & Davidson, apparently having changed again in March 1881.

It is not surprising that the firm entered into the locomotive business as Mr. W. Conyers had served his apprenticeship in England with Messrs. Mersey, Kitson, Thompson and Hewitson, Engineers of Leeds. In 1859 he went to India as a mechanical engineer for the East Indian Railway. In 1863 he was back in England working as a draughtsman for Hudswell and Clarke, of Leeds, who at that time were constructing the locomotives for the Bluff Harbour and Invercargill Railway. The firm recommended him, for taking charge of the erection of the locomotives and other machinery. When the railway went into operation, he was appointed its general manager, and later became general manager of Otago Railways.

In 1878, Mr. Conyers was appointed South Island Railway Commissioner, a position he held until 1880, when his services were dispensed with because of the appointment of one general manager for the whole system. After his loss of office, he entered into partnership with James Davidson. It is presumed he was earlier connected with the firm, and that he severed his connection about 1876 when the provincial governments were abolished and he became an employee of the General Government. It is noted that the firm's locomotive No.1 bore a plate inscribed James Davidson & Co., Otago Foundry, Dunedin.

Very little is known of the early career of James Davidson, but his occupation was listed as an engineer amongst the shareholders of the Kaitangata Railway and Coal company, of which he was also a director. In May 1878, he suggested to the Minister of Railways that a New Zealand Railway Wagon Company be formed. This company seems to have commenced operations in February 1879 with the construction of 25 wagons, which were on continuous loan to the Kaitangata Railway and Coal Company. It would appear that Davidson & Co. built the wagons. Ai one stage it was suggested that the Wagon Company take over the Otago Foundry. James Davidson was not listed as an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers as was Mr. Conyers.

In 1876, the Otago Foundry entered the locomotive manufacturing business. What parts the company actually made is not known but, when answering questions before a Committee on Railway Management in 1877, Mr. Conyers said that the wheels and axles, cylinders, springs, firebox, framework, and tubes were imported; the rest being manufactured in the foundry. The imported parts were obtained from the Hunslet Engine Co. Leeds. Three of these locomotives, with 0-6-0ST wheel arrangement, were erected, and in addition, an 0-4-0ST was built in 1878 with a 12-wheeler constructed in 1879. All five worked on bush trams at some stage of their careers.

The firm went bankrupt in 1882, an advertisement appearing in the newspapers in August calling tenders, closing on 31 August, for the stock, plant, and tools of the Otago Foundry carried on by Messrs. Conyers & Davidson. In 1894 the firm was ultimately taken over by John McGregor & Co. Ltd.



Dispatch Foundry Co. Greymouth, NZ

Founded 1873 by William Rae and John Sewell serving the sawmilling industry.

The foundry got its name from a small but powerful paddle wheel tug Dispatch that arrived in Greymouth to the order of a local company in 1869. The engineer who brought the newly built tug out from England was John Sewell, a native of Scotland, and an engineer of considerable ability. Sewell decided he liked the town and accepted the position as permanent engineer to the tug. His job on the Dispatch, however, did not always involve long hours and it was not long before Sewell was working at his trade in a shed in the backyard of his home in Mount Street.

Hughes arrived in Greymouth the following year and with the assistance of William Rae, who held the leasehold of the land chosen as the site for the foundry, the venture began.

Quartz mining booms in the Reefton area gave the little foundry great impetus and by 1875, Rae and Sewell found the necessary expansion was beyond their means. The result was the founding of the Dispatch Foundry Company Ltd., with a capital of 10,000 pounds. One of the founders of the company, William Rae, in 1875, when Rae and his partner John Sewell realised that their own capital was insufficient to carry out necessary expansion to cope with an ever increasing demand. The company was duly formed with all the capital being called up within 12 months. The final call of 5s a share was made on June 1, 1876.

The company operated the major West Coast engineering workshops and built a solid reputation. They had a dominant presence in meeting the engineering requirements of the West Coast sawmilling industry, building log haulers, bush tram equipment, and sawmill machinery. In particular, their steam haulers were well-designed robust machines with a sound reputation. As recently as the 1980s the company remained the foremost manufacturer of log haulers.

From the turn of the century a large market for geared bush lokeys developed on the West Coast. Dispatch failed to meet this challenge. The geared bogie designs they sold to the market were mechanical disasters, with short service lives. Competitors from Hokitika, Invercargill, Thames and overseas, were able to eat into this market. Not only did competitors beat Dispatch to new sales, but they also sold lokeys to replace unsatisfactory Dispatch products. This experience must have been a great embarrassment to the company and damaged its reputation. Subsequently Dispatch recovered from this debacle and developed a rail tractor design of such excellence that other manufacturers were unable to compete on the West Coast.

Just which was the first lokey Dispatch were involved in is the subject of some debate; it was more likely a process of evolution. One claimant is the Ngahere Sawmilling Company, as reported in the Grey River Argus in March 1907.

"An important innovation has been introduced which gives promise of effecting a great revolution in sawmilling operations on the West Coast - "the innovation referred to is due to the realisation of certain ideas conceived by Mr. Chas Uddstrom of the company mentioned and consists of the conversion of a Dispatch Foundry Company's log hauler into a locomotive capable of running on wooden rails"

The new lokey made a demonstration run on a wet Saturday but hauled a disappointing load of only 4000 feet (1.2 km) in the slippery conditions. Uddstrom tried to rescue the situation by telling the press he estimated it would haul 10,000 feet on dry rails. We have no further report, but the lokey did work for at least another four years. Dispatch seems to have adopted and developed the Uddstrom concept in subsequent lokeys they built.

It is likely Dispatch were involved in building earlier bush lokeys for Stratford & Blair at Kaimata in 1904 and Patara in 1905. The Patara lokey was a very unusual looking beast fitted with a Dispatch boiler and a winch, which it wound itself along a very steep tram with a cable laid between the tracks. The cable was gripped with a few turns around the winch drum and was then laid down again. The annual operating costs of this lokey peaked as a result of two expensive misfortunes. In 1912 the driver allowed the water level in the boiler to sink too low, damaging the firebox, which had to be replaced. Then just a year later in 1913 it fell through a tram bridge and landed upside down in the Arnold River in a well-publicised accident that provided good photo opportunities. Such a major mid-life crisis failed to curtail the successful career of this oddity, which saw 20 years of service.

The first Dispatch rail tractor, powered by a Ford engine, was a four-wheel motor jigger to transport workers to the bush, around 1915. In 1925, a Trails tractor was sold to Watson at kumara and demonstrated to local sawmillers. It was such a success that five more were immediately ordered, much to the alarm of Dispatch. As a counter, Dispatch produced its first rail tractor to a design that was a derivative of their unpopular geared steam lokeys. It was conceived by their draftsman Gordon Webb and referred to by the company as "G.Webb's Fordson loco".

The Webb design had significant transmission weaknesses and Dispatch soon developed and improved rail tractor to a design of their own. Production of these rail tractors ran right through into the 1950s, the total output, including the Webb type, may be as high as 60. Some of these tractors remained in service into the 1960s with the very last Dispatch tractor shunting NZR wagons in a sawmill yard at Ruatapu until 1980.

Dispatch Foundry still operates at Greymouth as Dispatch & Garlick Ltd. still at the original site in Lord Street.



Dorset Ironfoundry Co. Ltd., West Quay Road, Poole, Dorset, England


The Dorset Ironfoundry, on West Quay Road in Poole, was established by 1859; in 1878 William James Tarrant, who had been Works Manager for another firm in Poole (owned by Stephen Lewin and known as Poole Foundry) left and took over the management of the Dorset Ironfoundry. Whilst with Lewin, Tarrant had been the driving force behind the manufacture of a series of small steam locos, the first of which appears to have been built in 1873.

The Dorset Ironfoundry changed hands a couple of times but Tarrant remained as Manager. It was formed into a limited company in 1881, Tarrant becoming a shareholder. The firm continued to advertise as manufacturers of small locomotives, but the only two they are known to have built are the two which went to New Zealand.

The local newspaper (The Poole Herald) recorded in December 1882 : "A quantity of machinery, manufactured by the Dorset Ironfoundry Co., was on Saturday last (16th December 1882) shipped from Poole Quay on board the Rosa Alba and consisted of a locomotive, with 12 sets of wheels and iron work for tram wagons. A similar order was executed last year and sent to New Zealand, the machinery giving great satisfaction, and a testimony stating this fact was sent to the company, with an order for similar machinery to that which had been supplied. The engines are, we understand, for the timber trade of the colony and are so arranged that they may be used for pumping, sawing and other purposes, as well as drawing the heavy timber along the tram lines. They are provided with treble and single steam gearing, easily transposed according to the work required".

The locos were 0-4-0 ST and had flangeless wheels. The gauge is not known it may not have been the usual 3ft 6in).



Drewry Car Co., Birmingham, England



Drewry & Sons ran a motor and cycle repair business in Herne Hill, London, and started building BSA engined inspection railcars. A ready market was found in South America, Africa, and India. Drewry Car Co Ltd was registered on 27 November 1906. The firm never built locomotives, and were basically agents. Although they had a works number series, all of their orders were sent to other builders. They used such firms as Hibberd, Baugley of Burton-on-Trent, Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn, and Vulcan Foundry.

In later years Drewry offered a fairly standard range of industrial shunting locos, and from 1936 a number of shunting locomotives NZR TR class were supplied to the New Zealand Railways; the 1936-41 locos were originally powered by Parsons or Leyland petrol engines.

In 1962 Drewry acquired a controlling interest in what had become E E Baguley Ltd, and formed Baguley-Drewry Ltd in 1987, thus once again building its own locomotives, in Burton-on-Trent. The company closed in 1984.

While Drewry supplied quite a number of diesel locomotives to NZR, they only had three that worked on bush tramways. This includes the two that worked for Whakatane Board Mills Ltd.



Dübs & Co., Glasgow, Scotland



Henry Dubs was born at Darmstadt, Germany, in 1816 and did his training in Mainz and Aix-le-Chapelle. He visited England in 1836 and returned there to work in 1842, going to work for the Vulcan Foundry near Warrington. Later he worked for Beyer, Peacock until his dismissal from that firm in 1857. He then took up a partnership with Neilson & Co. and laid out the Hyde Park Locomotive Works at Springton where he remained until a disagreement between he and Walter Neilson (1819-1889) saw him leave and 'go it alone'.

Dubs chose a site on the south side of Glasgow at Queens Park for his new works which was started in 1864. Within a year the first locomotive was produced from the new works that was well equipped with about 100 machine tools costing £16,467 and purchased from Whitworth & Co. of Manchester. Dubs had taken a number of key workers with him when he left Neilsons, including the Chief Draughtsman, who later became a partner in the firm. The unusual shape of Dubs makers' plate was derived from the mark on the bricks from which the new works was constructed.

Henry Dubs died in 1876. At the time of his death, his company was already building engines for New Zealand, having started in 1873. Dubs & Co., Neilson & Co. and Sharp Stewart & Co. combined in 1903 to form the North British Locomotive Company and by that time Dubs employed 2,423 men and was the second largest locomotive manufacturer in Britain. The new company was the largest locomotive building business outside of America and in the years to come built many more engines for New Zealand Railways.

In total 48 Locomotives were built for NZR and 15 of these eventually worked on bush tramways.



John Fowler & Co., Leeds, England

John Fowler began business in 1850, but in Bristol not in Leeds, by forming a partnership with a fellow Quaker, Albert Fry, as agricultural implement manufacturers and traders. On the dissolution of the partnership in 1856, Fowler moved to London to concentrate on his consuming interest in steam cultivation machinery. Here he was a sole trader with no manufacturing works of his own, using variously the firms of Kitson, Thompson & Hewitson (of Leeds), Robert Stephenson & Co., (of Newcastle), Ransomes & Sims (of Ipswich) and Clayton, Shuttleworth & Co., (of Lincoln) to supply him with goods. In 1860, Kitsons, now restyled as Kitson & Hewitson, became sole suppliers and Fowler simultaneously began construction of his own works, the Steam Plough Works alongside Leathly Road, Leeds on land adjacent to and purchased from Kitsons.

The link between the two firms grew when William Watson Hewitson joined Fowler in partnership, as Fowler & Hewitson in 1861. Next year with the Steam Plough Works completed, all production was moved there from Kitsons. Hewitson, however, died in May 1863 leaving Fowler to continue alone, now trading as John Fowler & Co., though assisted by his brother, Robert Fowler, who ran the London office in Cornhill. John Fowler suffered a nervous breakdown in mid 1864 and to help ease his load entered into a partnership with Robert Fowler on August 2nd of that year. Unfortunately while still recuperating he sustained a fall on a foxhunt from which he died on December 4th, 1864.

John Fowler & Co., was then continued by Robert Fowler and Robert Eddison, under the careful terms of Fowler's will, being subsequently joined by David Greig, Reginald Wigram and Barnard Fowler as fellow partners. In 1886 the limited company of John Fowler & Co., (Leeds) Ltd., was formed, merging with Marshall, Sons & Co. Ltd., of Gainsborough in 1947 to form Marshall-Fowler Ltd. Production finally ceased at the John Fowler Works, as the Steam Plough Works had been re-christened, in early 1975 but John Fowler & Co. (Leeds) Ltd., still remains a registered company, although now very much in abeyance.

John Fowler & Company (Leeds) Limited was one of the best-known manufacturers of traction engines in the UK. Fowlers were especially noted for the development of ploughing by steam. They developed the two-engine system and sold sets of equipment all over the world. In addition, some very large engines were built and exported for use in sugar-cane production, while their well-known heavy-haulage engines were used by a number of firms for transporting exceptional loads. In many instances, engines would be used in concert to move loads of up to 100 tons.

Steamrollers were introduced in 1887, oil engined rollers in 1920. The company were the second largest producers of steamrollers. A traction engine locomotive, No. 3630 built in 1880 is reported to have been purchased by J.W. Martin of Auckland. It was a 2-2-0 single-cylinder engine of 3'6" gauge and was originally built as a traction engine with large diameter wheels, subsequently being converted into a traction engine locomotive. It is not known if this particular locomotive was used on a bush tram or within the timber industry.

Fowler built 16 locomotives that were supplied to the New Zealand PWD and of these, three went on to be used on bush tramways. One of these, Fowler 16246, built in 1924, now resides at the Canterbury Steam Preservation Society's track at McLean's Island, Christchurch.

Purchased by Hunslet in 1968.??



Fraser, Wischart & Buchanan, Dunedin, NZ

This company built at least three locomotives, the first two having vertical boilers and one of these apparently worked on a West Coast bush tramway. The third locomotive sported an 8hp horizontal boiler, the first of such constructed in the province. This was to the order of Messrs McCallum and Company of Seaward Bush, Southland and was delivered in 1874. The Seaward Bush operation extended 4-miles into the bush and the locomotive worked until 1904.

Three locomotives were used on bush tramways

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Heisler Locomotive Works, Erie, Pennsylvania, USA



The history of the Stearns and Heisler locomotives actually starts with the Climax. Charles Scott had his design built by the Climax Manufacturing Company at Corry, Pennsylvania and George Gilbert, the engineer for Climax, patented his design. Gilbert also patented the drive train using skew bevel gears on all axles, incorporating a unique differential arrangement. Gilbert left Climax, taking his two patents and went to the Dunkirk Engineering CO., a firm with previous successful experience with geared locomotives of its own design. Several Class A and a few Class B engines were constructed to Gilbert's design patent, the Class B having a standard horizontal boiler with a two-cylinder V engine mounted on the back of the boiler.

Charles L. Heisler studied mechanical engineering at Cornell University and as a student there, worked for the Brooks Locomotive Works while completing his degree requirements, continuing his employment on a full time basis after graduation.

The president of Brooks at this time was Edward Nichols, who was also coincidentally the president of the Dunkirk Engineering Company. Since Heisler worked for Nichols, he probably had some exposure to the Class B Gilbert engines being built at Dunkirk. When a North Carolina lumberman came to Brooks for a locomotive, Heisler was given the job of designing the engine. Improving considerably on the Class B Gilbert, Heisler came up with a locomotive design that was built at Dunkirk and shipped in 1891.

The first Heisler engine was also the last built at Dunkirk, for Charles Heisler left Brooks shortly after the engine was completed. He moved to Philadelphia and searched for a company to manufacture his locomotive, which he patented in 1892 after making some design improvements.

An agreement was soon reached with Stearns Manufacturing Company of Erie, Pennsylvania, and the first Stearns-built Heisler was shipped in 1894. Large-scale production of engines ranging from fourteen to sixty-five tons soon followed. In 1897, Charles Heisler patented a three-truck locomotive that included an optional four-cylinder engine. Although a number of three-truck Heislers were built, there are no indications that the four-cylinder design was ever constructed.

In 1905 the business was reorganised as the Stearns Company and in 1907 the name was changed to the Heisler Locomotive Works. Although Stearns originally made stationary steam engines and boilers and many types of sawmill machinery, the 1907 name change reflected the decision of the owners to concentrate on locomotive production. But contrary to appearances given by the name, Charles Heisler was no longer associated with the firm.

By 1920 Heislers were available in sizes ranging from twenty-four to ninety tons and design improvements continued to reflect the engineering heritage of the locomotive. All but the earliest engines had wagon top boilers and steel cabs. Larger engines had piston valves and superheaters. The culmination of the Heisler design was the "West Coast Special", an improved ninety-ton class locomotive design to compete with Lima's Pacific Coast Shay and the Willamette locomotives.

Just as the beginnings of the Heisler locomotive were different than those of the Shay and Climax, the final days were also different. As the Great Depression approached, Shay production decreased to a mere shadow of output during the peak years at Lima. By 1928, Climax was completely out of the locomotive business. Heisler, on the other hand, was manufacturing at capacity right up to 1929. Part of this success was due to the company's ability to replace lost lumber company business with sales to the strip mining industry, something Lima was never able to do.

But the stock market crash in 1929 was hard for every company to survive and the depression years were very difficult for Heisler. The company fought hard to stay in business by introducing new products such as a fireless conventional rod locomotive and a diesel-powered Heisler geared locomotive. They managed to sell about thirty fireless engines and thirty Heislers during the depression years (compared to only nine Shays shipped by Lima after 1929).

But the end of an age was in sight and, in 1941; the company liquidated its assets. After Heisler Locomotive Works of Erie, Pa., built its last geared engine in 1941, the Heisler patterns were acquired by H.K. Porter Co. Definite construction numbers are not available but over the forty-seven year history of the company, some 600 to 700 locomotives were built. Compare this with 2,770 Shays built by the Lima Company and between 1000 and 1100 Climax locomotives.

Charles Heisler, who started it all, ended up in New York where he went right on inventing everything from treeing machines to pumping engines.

The three Stearns and four Heisler engines that came to New Zealand varied in weight from 20 to 32 tons and had wheel diameters from 685 mm to 838 mm. Cylinders dimensions ranged from 203 mm to 317 mm with a stroke of 305 mm. Boiler working pressure was usually 1103 kPa. Four of these locos still exist in New Zealand - two at the Bush Tramway Club at Pukemiro; one at Ferrymead Railway, Christchurch and one at Shantytown, Greymouth.



F. C. Hibberd & Co. Ltd., Park Royal Works, London, England




This firm originally traded as Kent Construction & Engineering Co. Ltd., which had their works in Victoria Road, Ashford, Kent, rented from the South Eastern & Chatham Railway (and later from the Southern Railway). It went under this name from 1922 to 1927.

Kent Construction's first excursion into the light railway locomotive market was after the 1914-1918 War, when they purchased from the Government a large number of petrol locomotives and associated spares. During the next four or five years Kent Construction brought out a range of locomotives to their own designs which were based almost entirely on the Motor Rail "Simplex" but which were sold as "Planet" locomotives. There were both narrow and standard gauge designs with either petrol, paraffin or alcohol engines which may have incorporated some of the ex-Government Motor Bail "Simplex" spares, and indeed some appear to have been rebuilds on Motor Bail underframes.

The year 1926 saw the demise of Kent Construction and the works were re-let to firms manufacturing bicycles and repairing agricultural equipment.

From Ashford the manufacture of "Planet" locomotives was transferred to the wagon building firm of Stableford & Company, of Coalville, Leicestershire. until they went out of business in 1928, from which time "Planet" locomotives were built by the Bedford crane making firm of Bedford Engineering Ltd., but in 1932 they too failed! "Planet" locomotives were then built by F. C. Hibberd & Co. Ltd., which was formed in the 1928-1932 period. The manufacture of "Planet" locomotives was moved again during 1963, when Hibberd became part of the Butterley Group, and is now carried out at the works of the Butterley Co. Ltd., at Ripley in Derbyshire.

Their last locomotive was built in the mid 1960s. Their products have always been known under the "Planet" name. The firm mainly dealt in locomotives, but they also produced small road tractors, that could be found on various railway stations, used for moving parcels and mail around.

It is thought that only two "Planet" locomotives were used on a bush tram in New Zealand.



R. W. Holmes, Wellington, NZ

Born Hackney, London 1856, Robert West Holmes came to New Zealand in 1871. In 1872 he joined the PWD and between 1879 and 1887 was Resident Engineer at New Plymouth. In 1890 he was in charge of the Wellington District and in 1891 was appointed in charge of the North Island Main Trunk railway. Holmes surveyed the Raurimu Spiral. He became Inspecting Engineer in 1901 and Engineer-in-Chief in 1907 until his retirement in 1920. He was involved in the formation of the NZ Society of Civil Engineers in 1914. In his retirement he continued an active involvement with professional engineering in association with his son John Dudley Holmes. In 1924, the company designed two rail tractor units for the Bay of Plenty Timber Co. utilising old Hudson motorcars as the prime mover. He died in Hamilton 8 February 1936.



Robert Holt & Sons Ltd., Napier, NZ

Robert Holt & Sons Ltd. was formed around 1900. Later, Robert Holt merged with Francis Carter and Alexander Harvey and the company became known as Carter, Holt, Harvey which still exists today as a very large New Zealand company under the title CHH Consolidated. The diesel rail tractor locomotive was undoubtedly built in the local Robert Holt workshop at Napier to provide shunting duties at their Tawa Timber Co. sawmill.



J & F Howard Ltd., Bedford, England

This firm were based at Britannia Ironworks, Bedford and built light railway equipment and locomotives between 1926 and 1931, but this activity was only a small part of their business. After the company was liquidated in 1931, the locomotive side was taken over by F.C. Hibberd & Co. Ltd.

Two locomotives came to New Zealand, both apparently purchased by the Public Works Department for construction work. One locomotive then went to the NZ Refrigerating Comapny at Smithfield and is still in existence at Plains Railway, Tinwald. The other ended up as a rail tractor used in the New Zealand bush in the National Park area.



Hudswell, Clarke & Co., Leeds, England



In the period early 1850s, a company was instituted at Leeds called the Railway Foundry, and was carried on by Messrs. E.B. Wilson. They had no lack of success on the mechanical side, and some of their engines became celebrated for their long life. But there were dissensions regarding policy and in 1858, the railway Foundry was shut down.

In 1860, a firm for making locomotives was established upon part of the ground of the Railway Foundry under the style of Hudswell Clarke & Company. Mr. Clarke had been for some time the works manager and chief designer for Mr. Kitson.

The last steam loco built by Hudswell Clarke was in 1961.

Otago Provincial Railways used two of their locomotives and another one was used in the bush.



Henry Hughes & Co., Loughborough, England
Hughes Locomotive & Tramway Engine Works
Falcon Engine & Car Works



One locomotive for NZR - S52 built in 1875 Henry Hughes was an engineer and timber merchant and founded the Falcon Works. He built engines for places such as Swanson, Bristol, Paris and Lille, but except for one that continued to run until 1920 on the Wantage Tramway, none achieved much success.

In the 1880s the firm was reorganised as the Falcon Engine and Car Works and in 1889 was taken over by the Brush Electrical Engineering Co., builders of Auckland's first tramcars and more recently the powerful Class 30 electric locomotives for Tranz Rail Ltd.

When the Falcon Works was reorganised in the 80s, Henry Hughes could not stand the financial outlay and lost control of his company. He emigrated in poor circumstances to New Zealand, later founding a most respected patent agency business, for many years the leading organisation of its kind in Australasia.

The Dunedin Tramways opened on July 7 1879 as a private venture by David Proudfoot, a civil engineering contractor. Early in 1879, Mr. Hugh A. Macneil, a representative of the local importing firm of Arthur Briscoe & Co., travelled overseas empowered to order rail, plant, locomotives and rolling stock. His instructions were to procure the best equipment that was available in Europe and America. Macneil visited the 1878 Paris Exhibition where the winner of the tramway locomotive section was the English firm of Henry Hughes & Co. As a result, Macneil placed an order on the Hughes Falcon Works for four 3ft 6inch gauge versions of the winning locomotive destined for the Southern Tramways of Paris.

The Dunedin City Tramways started first with four Hughes locomotives (Nos. 326-329) and in 1879, a fatal accident created animosity towards the steam trams and after the tram sheds were burnt down in 1880 all engines were withdrawn from service, sold and the locomotives distributed elsewhere, one ending up in the logging industry.



Hunslet Engine Co. Leeds, England.
Hunslet Barclay Ltd. 1988.
Now Hunslet Engine Co. part of LH Group Services



In 1864, Mr. John Towlerton Leather, a contractor, started the Hunslet Engine Company for one of his sons. But the son did not find it congenial and Mr. James Campbell, who had been in India, became manager of the firm and ultimately purchased it. He carried on with his brother George, while he lived, and continued with it after his death. Eventually, in 1902, the concern became a limited liability company.

Neighbours of Hunslet were John Fowler & Co., Hudswell Clarke & Co., Kitson & Co., Kerr Stewart & Co. and Manning Wardle & Co.

During the history of the company, the Hunslet engineers extended their enterprise in many directions - machine tools, steam hammers, cranes, rolling mills, blowing engines. A pier, pontoons, a hoist, and even a cast iron lighthouse have come form these works.

Hunslet acquired Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd., Kilmarnock, in 1972 but allowed Barclay to continue trading under their own name. Hunslet were in turn absorbed into Telfos Holdings PLC in 1987 and then traded under the name Hunslet-Barclay Ltd.

The company of Kerr Stuart, and its goodwill, was acquired by the Hunslet Engine Co. Ltd. in 1930. Official records show that this second company was not wound up until the 1960's. Several Kerr, Stuart designed locomotives were subsequently produced, although not under the Kerr, Stuart name. Indeed the last 'Hunslet' steam engine built in Leeds was a Kerr, Stuart design, being of the 'Brazil' class for a sugar plantation in Java.

The company was re-formed in 1998 to protect this well-known name from any possible future misuse. Currently Kerr, Stuart & Company Ltd and W. G. Bagnall Ltd. are both held as dormant companies. It is possible that once suitable workshops are available locomotive construction may again be seen under the Kerr, Stuart & Company name.

In January of 2004, Hunslet Engine Co. was purchased by LH Group Services and are now exporting new locomotives.

Hunslet hold the intellectual property and design rights for the following well-known british companies - Andrew Barclay, Avonside, North British, Greenwood & Bartley, Hudswell Clark, John Fowler, Kerr Stuart, Kitson, and Manning Wardle.

The Otago Provincial Government purchased four Hunslet locomotives, these later becoming the NZR 'M' class)

Three locomotives were purchased by PWD (later NZR 'Y' class). Whakatane Board Mills used one of the Y class.



Hunt & Opie, Victoria Foundry, Ballarat, Australia

Messrs. Oakley established this foundry prior to 1856, but from that date was known as Victoria Foundry and was located in Armstrong Street South, Ballarat. James Hunt and James Michael Opie took over the business in October 1961. The foundry built its first stationary steam engine in 1858, an 11-inch cylindered machine for a mine at Smythesdale. By 1861 they employed 100 hands

Hunt & Opie built the locomotive "Lady Barkly" in November 1861, for James R. Davies, a civil engineer on the Geelong-Ballarat railway construction. It was constructed under the supervision of William Errington. The locomotive remained unsold until 1853

James Hunt bought out Opie about 1869 and in 1871 built his next locomotive, a 3ft 6inch gauge 0-4-0 well tank engine named "Ballaarat" for the Western Australian Timber Company

Victoria Foundry closed in 1873 following the illness of James Hunt, selling his interest to Phoenix Foundry, established in 1855, but did not enter into locomotive manufacturing until 1871.

By 1873, the Phoenix Foundry had received its first contract for Government engines and would go on to dominate the foundry business in Ballarat, eventually building 361 locomotives until closure in 1906.

The "Lady Barkly" was brought to New Zealand and used initially on the unsuccessful Invercargill Railway. The locomotive did not suit the wooden rails, but was later used on a bush tramway after being converted to an 0-4-0 and regauged.



J. Johnston & Sons Ltd., Invercargill, NZ


In 1873 Joseph F. Johnston established an extensive engineering workshop and foundry at 72 Leet Street in Invercargill. His sons Bill, Jack and Joe eventually joined him. The company serviced the timber industry and built at least 26 bush locomotives in the period between 1896 and 1930. They were major suppliers of steam log haulers and supplied boilers, steam engines and other machinery to Southland sawmills.

The company is immortalised in bush tramway history as the originators and main builders of '16-wheeler' geared lokeys. They were arguably the most distinctive and fascinating of all NZ bush lokeys. More than that they are a unique group in world locomotive history. Just how brilliant the concept was or how successful they were in service is extremely debatable.

As well as building geared locomotives, Johnston's were the major constructor of steam log haulers in Southland, and supplied boilers, steam engines, and other machinery for sawmills.

Their two locomotive designs were the Johnston 'A', a geared 4-wheeler and the Johnston 'D' having four bogies and sixteen driving wheels.

In all, Johnston's built twenty-six geared steam locomotives and of these, only two are known to still exist.



Kerr Stuart & Co. Ltd. California Works, Stoke-on-Trent, England

Company No. 3689833 Registered in England and Wales

Originally registered as a limited company in 1894, Kerr, Stuart & Company had actually been dealing in railway equipment since 1883. It was in 1894 that a decision was made to acquire the works premises of one of their major sub-contractors, Hartley, Arnoux & Flemming. These premises were known as California Works, located in Stoke-on-Trent (England).

Kerr, Stuart & Co. has now been re-formed twice. In 1910 it was decided to reform the original company, evidently to attract more capital, and the old one went into liquidation on the 23rd March of that year. A new company with the same name was registered on the 16th April 1910. During 1930, in the face of mounting debts an official receiver was appointed, resulting in the works being sold to George Cohen & Co. Ltd. A skeleton staff was retained to complete the orders in hand.

The goodwill (and the company) was acquired by the Hunslet Engine Co. Ltd. of Leeds in 1930. Official records show that this second company was not wound up until the 1960's. Several Kerr, Stuart designed locomotives were subsequently produced, although not under the Kerr, Stuart name. Indeed the last 'Hunslet' steam engine built in Leeds was a Kerr, Stuart design, being of the 'Brazil' class for a sugar plantation in Java.

The company was re-formed in 1998 to protect this well-known name from any possible future misuse. Currently Kerr, Stuart & Company Ltd and W. G. Bagnall Ltd. are both held as dormant companies. It is possible that once suitable workshops are available locomotive construction may again be seen under the Kerr, Stuart & Company name. The main concern is that anything that may carry the Kerr, Stuart & Company works plate must be of at least the same quality and standard as the previous products.

A large proportion of the company's output consisted of a standard range of small industrial steam locomotives. Such machines often were expected to operate in conditions where skilled labour and maintenance facilities were considered a luxury. Consequently simplicity of design and ease of maintenance were paramount. Marine type motion was used with outside Stephenson's valve gear. From about 1915 the valve gear was replaced with a simple 'modified Hackworth' gear. One notable exception was the 'Joffre' or 'Haig' class locomotives that employed conventional motion with Walschaert valve gear.

Two Kerr Stuarts were used on bush tramways, although one of these was only used as a hauler.



Kincaid & McQueen, Vulcan Foundry, Dunedin, NZ

The firm was founded in 1862 by partners Charles McQueen (1836-1906) and James Kincaid (?-1880). Greenock, Scotland, born McQueen had served his time with a boiler maker prior to emigrating c1860 to Victoria, Australia. There he met Kincaid, and the two moved on to Dunedin in 1862 where they set up the Dunedin Boiler Works and later the Vulcan Foundry.

The firm was engaged in building a range of iron work - farm machinery, mining and gold-dredging equipment (the partners were involved with the Dunedin Gold Dredging Co.), and ship building. The firm is known to have several railway connections. A 0-4-0 vertical boilered locomotive was built for Findlay & Howarth of Hokitika in 1874. The locomotive was written off after only two months service, having suffered a runaway crash. The boiler was then used in a Kumara mill, but blew up on Oct 27, 1876.

The company built the steamer "Mountaineer" for the Wakatipu Steam Shipping Co., launched on lake Wakatipu in 1879 and taken over by NZR in 1903. "Mountaineer" remained in service until 1932.

After Kincaid died in 1880, McQueen continued as the sole proprietor. In 1889 the company was reorganised as Kincaid McQueen & Co. Ltd which consolidated the assets of a number of companies McQueen was involved in. The company appears to have suffered in the collapse of the dredging boom post 1890, and in June 1891 the company petitioned to be wound up. The dissolution was completed in 1893, after which McQueen travelled to Tasmania and later Victoria where he died in May of 1906.

One, vertical boiler locomotive, built 1874, known.



Kitson & Co., Airedale Foundry, Leeds, England

A new start ion the development of the Leeds locomotive trade was made in 1837, when James Kitson founded a works for making locomotives in Hunslet.

Mr Kitson was not a born mechanic, but by his courage, his skill and his foresight he established his name among the pioneers of locomotive engineering. His first venture was a failure, and the partnership was dissolved. In 1839 he began afresh, and soon associated with Mr. Thompson, an iron merchant, and Mr. Hewitson, an apprentice and draughtsman of Messrs Stephenson's.

It won its first locomotive order in 1840 for the North Midland Railway and for nearly a century went on to build quality locomotives for operations in many parts of the world, many of which survive. The oldest working example is the 2-2-2 well tank Fairy Queen (1856) at the Delhi Museum. Her twin sister is also preserved as a non-runner at Jamalpur.

Ten years after its formation the company employed 500 workers and in later years, more than 2,00 men were employed, and the output for one year would be at least 100 of the largest locomotives for main line services.

For the period 1880-1887, R.C. Parsons, elder brother of Charles Parsons, was a Kitson partner and did much to encourage non-locomotive work. It was in this period that the young Charles worked at Airedale on two projects, his rocket torpedo engines and his high-speed steam engines, both steps in his thinking on the way to developing his first steam turbine.

Shortly after this, steam tramway locomotives were introduced - vest pocket locomotives they were termed - and Kitson built more than 300 in twenty years. Just one working model survives at the Ferrymead Tramway in Christchurch.

Kitson steam-tram locomotives were regarded as the pre-eminent British engines in their field over the final two decades of the nineteenth century before the electric tram chased steam off the streets.

In 1876-1878 James Kitson built three experimental vertical boiler tram engines with vertical cylinders mounted each side of the boiler, the whole being enclosed in a "house" with an air-cooled condenser mounted on the roof.

From these the Kitson Standard steam-tram engine evolved but with a horizontal boiler in lieu of the vertical. All engines were tested before delivery on the Leeds Tramway Co. lines, a track connection being specially laid from the Kitson works.

Kitson, as a locomotive builder, just failed to achieve its century and the Airedale Foundry was finally sold to neighbours McClaren's in 1945.

Two of their street locomotives found their way onto bush tramways in New Zealand.



Manning, Wardle & Co., Boyne Engine Works, Leeds, England


Ten locomotives came to NZ - five for Wellington & Manawatu Railway Co. - three for NZR and two for the timber industry.

In the period before 1850, a company was instituted at Leeds called the Railway Foundry, and was carried on by Messrs. E.B. Wilson. They had no lack of success on the mechanical side, and some of their engines became celebrated for their long life. Bu there was dissensions regarding policy and in 1858, the railway Foundry was shut down.

Mr. Alexander Chapman, who had been works manager for the locomotive department at Scott's, Greenock, went to Leeds in 1851, and in 1858, he with others bought land from Lord Boyne and started the Boyne Engine works. After eighteen months, this firm became manning Wardle & Co. Mr Wardle was the son of the Vicar of Beeston, and had been chief engineer and outdoor representative for Messrs. E.B. Wilson.

Hunslet, Kitson & Co. and E.B. Wilson's Railway Foundry were both started at Leeds by Charles Todd. When the latter enterprise closed, several well-known firms stemmed from it. These were Manning Wardle, Hudswell Clarke (1860) and the Hunslet Engine Co. (1864) Closed between 1927-39.



Marshall, Sons & Co., Britannia Iron Works, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, England.


Commenced as blacksmiths in 1848: in early 1850s manufactured portable engines. Best known for their road rollers, Marshall's also produced large numbers of steam traction engines and agricultural machinery of all types. Later production included the distinctive single-cylinder diesel tractor called the "Field Marshall".

It has been reported that this manufacturer converted the following portable engines for use in New Zealand. Nos. 9384, 26803, and 40112. One of these is believed to have been used at New Forest Sawmilling Co., Ngahere.



H.E. Melhop & Co. Invercargill, NZ

Harold Eugene Melhop was born of German parents in Invercargill and served an engineering apprenticeship with Southland Engineering Co. At the time this company was a huge concern employing 300 men working two shifts, involved in building heavy engineering plant for sawmills, gold mining and dredging companies, and harbour boards. He developed an interest in internal combustion machinery and so moved on to A. Russell & Co., then T.R. Taylor before going out on his own in 1930, forming H.E. Melhop & Co. in partnership with his brother-in-law William King. The Kelvin Street premises were opened as a motorcar repair and machine shop.

The H.E. was often said to stand for his "highly explosive" temperament: he was a dedicated engineer and any employee who didn't measure up would be "blown up". He obtained the agency for Leyland diesel engines at a time when there was a good market for rail tractors. Melhop would have been well aware of this from the steady stream of tractors being produced at Wilson Brothers Ltd., directly opposite.

Melhop could see a potential market here for his big industrial diesel engines and he believed he could improve on Wilson's design. The Melhop tractor was typical of the 'extended drive shaft' type and looked very similar to those constructed by Wilson's.

In all seven Melhop tractors were constructed with the last being built in 1950 for More & Sons tram at Pourakino.

Another popular market for the Leyland diesel engines was as sawmill power units as the era of steam power gradually faded, and were installed in log haulers by Melhop.

When Melhop retired in the 1960s, the business was taken over by his four sons; Alan, Graham, Ray and Harold. Ray was the last in the engines side and retired in 1980. Today the firm still continues to flourish in the engineering field and still on the original Kelvin Street site.



Merryweather & Sons Ltd., Greenwich, England

Merryweather and Sons was originally established around 1690 by a Nathaniel Hadley whose factory on Cross Street in London manufactured - among other things - pumps and fire-fighting apparatus. The first fire engine factory was built in 1738 at the corner of Bow Street and Long Acre and was used for the manufacture of hand engines and leather hose, and later for steam engines.

For a time the company was called "Hadley - Simpkin" (after a master plumber who invented a kind of fire pump). In 1791 Henry Lott joined the firm and it became "Hadley, Simpkin and Lott". At some point Lott took over full control of the company and when he retired handed it over to his nephew by marriage, Moses Merryweather, who had apprenticed there in 1807.

Merryweather had three sons who joined the company in the latter half of the 19th century including James, who was responsible for promoting its products internationally.

In 1862 a new factory was built in York Street, Lambeth, for the manufacture of steam engines. In 1873 the Long Acre factory was destroyed by fire and a new building constructed to be used for offices and as a show room. In 1876 another factory was built in Greenwich Road and three years later the Lambeth factory was closed.

They began building tramway engines in 1875. In Britain, because of very restrictive tramway legislation obtaining until 1879-1880, horse traction was the only practical method of operation. Consequently, all Merryweather's production went to tramways on the Continent of Europe and a little later to Empire destinations.

Wellington Tramway Co. received eight Merryweather engines, Nos 60 to 64 and 85 to 87 in 1877-1878 all of which bore names. While the locomotives worked well they were too hard on the light track and it was not long before there were frequent derailments. Although the track was re-laid, the locomotives were set aside in favour of horse traction. Being practically new, the locomotives were quickly taken up by light railway and bush tramway interests. The Kauri Timber Co. ended up with three of them. Most had a long life on rails a long way from Wellington.

As "Fire Engine Makers by Appointment to His Majesty the King", Merryweather and Sons sold fire-fighting apparatus to cities around the world. By 1913 its machines were being used across the UK, in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Burma, Egypt, India and Singapore and China. No Merryweathers appear to have been sold in Canada, however.

The standard Merryweather Petrol Motor Fire Engine in the years leading up to the First World War came with the choice of either a 50 or 60 horsepower, 4-cylinder water-cooled Aster motor, 3-speed transmission and a chain drive supplying power to the rear wheels. The whole unit could attain a speed of 30 mph "and upwards" on level ground, "with corresponding hill climbing capabilities". Merryweather fire engines were generally equipped with their patented "Hatfield" three-cylinder reciprocating water pumps driven off the engine through a clutch and drive-shaft.

In the 1960s Merryweathers built a range of fire vehicles based upon the AEC bus chassis but by the mid 1970s seemed to have left the business. It may have been that they had a problem when the AEC buses went out of production; they had very low centres of gravity and so where ideal. The newer buses used Leyland Chassis but Leyland also made so fire trucks so..........

The recent history of the firm is a little murky. At some point the company moved to Wales, but its stock ceased being traded sometime in the early 1980's and reports suggest that the company's papers were destroyed at that time.

A search of Companies House in the UK shows that the company still survives although it changed its name in 1996 to Siebeco Three Ltd. based in London, and listed as a non-trading company.



E. W. Mills, Lion Foundry, Wellington, NZ

Edward William Mills was an ironmonger and general merchant in Wellington.

Three of his foundry's lokeys were used on bush trams, and one remains today stored at Shantytown, Greymouth.



Motor Rail & Tramcar Co. Ltd., Bedford, England

For 77 years The Motor Rail and Tramcar Company Ltd. and its successors produced a highly innovative and successful range of tramcars and small internal combustion locomotives, thousands of which were sold in the United Kingdom and in many other parts of the world.

The company founder, John Abbott, had interests in the East India Tramways Company, who were operating horse trams. In 1907 experimental work began on a scheme to motorise these trams using petrol engines combined with mechanical and later electrical transmission.

The Motor Rail & Tramcar Co. Ltd. was formed in 1911. The intention of the new company was to manufacture and sell railcars and tramcars utilising petrol engines and the Simplex gearbox. The first vehicles were built at the Phoenix Ironworks at Lewes, Sussex. The arrangements for the use of these works cannot have been ideal because by 1914 the company was looking for new premises and several enquiries were made and sites visited. However, at a board meeting of October 1914 it was agreed that in view of the uncertainty of matters generally created by the war, the idea of a new works was to be abandoned for the present. However, the matter became urgent in 1916 after a meeting with the consulting engineers of the War Office. The War Office required "Petrol Trench Tractors" of 600-mm gauge that were capable of drawing 10 to 15 Tons at 5 miles per hour and the MRTC tendered for and was successful in gaining a contract to build the Tractors.

Early in 1916 the MRTC entered into an agreement with the Bedford Engineering Company to use its premises at Houghton Road, Bedford. At the start of 1918, a new site was purchased in Bedford, this being a former laundry in Elstow Road, a site they operated from all their life.

In 1931, the name was changed to Motor Rail Ltd., although their locomotives have always, and still are, known under the name of "Simplex". In 1972, the name was changed again to Simplex Mechanical Handling ltd. Their main product has always been locomotives, although they have built, as the original name implies, tramcars and have also dealt in quarry dumpers. In later life, a major part of their business was in forklift attachments. They ceased building locomotives in 1987, but Alan Keef Ltd, now deals with their products and spares for all the MR locomotives.

Three ( possibly five ) "Simplex" rail tractors were used on bush trams in New Zealand.



Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. Ltd., Manchester, England



James Nasmyth was born in Edinburgh on 19 August 1808; he invented the steam hammer and became an established locomotive builder. Died in London on 5 May 1890..

Nasmyth Gaskell & Co. was originally established and that name changed to James Nasmyth. & Co. in 1850 and to Patricroft Iron Works in 1857. In 1867 the firm became Nasmyth Wilson & Co. when Robert Wilson joined the firm and became Ltd in 1882. The firm was wound up in 1939

1531 locomotives were produced between 1839 (when manufacture began with nine locomotives) and 1939. Between 1873 and 1938 out of a total output of 1307 locomotives, 1188 were for export: India was an important market.

Of the 28 locomotives that came to New Zealand, only one was used by the timber industry, that being Builder's Number 312 supplied to WMRC as their #5 which later became NZR La314 and ended at New Forest Sawmilling Co.



Neilson & Co., Glasgow, Scotland



William Neilson and James Mitchell first established the company as Mitchell & Neilson in 1836, financed, in large part, by William Neilson's brother, James Beaumont Neilson. In 1937, engineering works were founded in Hydepark Street, Glasgow, but, in about 1840, William Neilson and James Mitchell both left the company. James B. Neilson then formed a new company with Stewart Kerr, called Kerr, Neilson & Co., but it ran into financial difficulties. In 1943, James Neilson's son, Walter Montgomerie Neilson, aged only 24, took over the running of the firm. At this point, James Mitchell returned from Liverpool in order to manage the financial side of the business, becoming a partner. The new partnership was known as Neilson & Mitchell until 1855.

In 1845, the company had recovered enough to be able to expand, purchasing land in Finneston Street for a new foundry. The first locomotive built by the company for use in Britain was delivered to the Glasgow, Garnkirk & Coatbridge Railway Co., but well into the 1850s, the firm continued to be engaged in a variety of general engineering projects as well as locomotive building.

Eventually this work became its specialty, and, by 1862, demand for locomotive engines had increased to such an extent that the firm, now known as Neilson & Co., was able to lay out new especially adapted works on a site in Springburn, Glasgow, which was known as the Hyde Park Locomotive Works. The name of the firm was changed, yet again, to Neilson, Reid & Co., when, on the retirement of Walter Montgomerie Neilson in 1876, James Reid became sole partner.

James Reid had a long association with the company. During the 1850s, he had been Neilson's works manager, but he had been replaced by the German born, Henry Dübs (1816-1876), who had the experience with locomotives that Reid lacked at that time. Reid went to Manchester to work for Sharp, Stewart & Co., locomotive builders, but returned to Glasgow, to be Neilson's managing partner after the departure of Henry Dübs from the firm to set up his own company in 1864. There was a final breach in the relationship between Reid and Neilson, however, when Neilson gave Reid the opportunity to buy him out of the firm. Neilson was aggrieved at the treatment he received from Reid, which deprived him, as he saw it, of his rightful share in the business. Since only Neilson's account of events survives, it is difficult to make a final judgement on the situation.

In 1893, James Reid's four sons became partners, the eldest son, Hugh Reid, became senior partner on his father's death.

Although the demand for locomotive engines continued, Neilson, Reid & Co. had some strong local competitors in the shape of Dübs & Co. and Sharp, Stewart & Co., a firm that had moved its Atlas Works to Glasgow, from Manchester, in 1888. Hugh Reid became convinced of the advantages of industrial concentration and helped to negotiate the amalgamation of Neilson, Reid & Co. with its major Glasgow competitors, Sharp, Stewart & Co. and Dübs amp; Co. in 1903.

The resulting limited company was known as the North British Locomotive Co. Ltd., and was the biggest locomotive builder in Europe at the time, with 60 acres of works and up to 7,570 employees. Although its first chairman was William Lorimer, from Dübs & Co., Hugh Reid became deputy chairman and chief managing director with overall responsibility for the organisation and management of the new company.

The North British Locomotive Co. Ltd. was liquidated in 1969

Neilson built 45 locos for NZR and of these 14 were used in the bush. Of the ex-NZR locomotives, four D-class engines survive today and one F-class. Of the bush lokeys, only one exists today, No. 2565/1880, a D-class engine on display at Centennial Park, Kaitaia.

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New Zealand Railways, Addington, Christchurch, NZ



The essential industrial support for the rail network envisaged by Julius Vogel in 1870 took some time to develop. Five state workshops were eventually set up to build and maintain locomotives and rolling stock. These workshops provided New Zealand with an important national heavy engineering capacity. The five railway workshops that were established in the mid to late 1870s were Addington, Petone, Hillside, Newmarket and Hutt.

Addington Railway workshops grew from repair sheds at the Christchurch railway station in the mid 1860s and relocated to Addington in 1879. The workshops went on to build 123 locomotives for the NZR employing, at one time, 1200 staff. The shops manufactured and maintained rolling stock (including locomotives, carriages and wagons) and permanent way equipment, miscellaneous Government work (e.g. furniture, 3ZB radio mast), gold dredges, World War 2 work, apprentice training and community work.

To provide the engineering facility with a pressurised water supply, a water tower was constructed which was one of the world's first large Ferro concrete structures. It was built near the Addington Railway Workshops in 1883 and was built on a clay base over a layer of quicksand, and designed to sink during construction. The tank is still in place even though the workshops closed in 1991.

Of the Addington built locomotives, three of Class Fa were used by Whakatane Board Mills to haul timber from Awakeri on their private line to Whakatane.



J.J. Niven & Co. Wellington, NZ

Built a rail tractor in 1924. Of similar design to the Adamson, it was a rugged, sturdy four-wheel machine with Fordson engine, but no power bogie option. The Niven tractor made its much publicised demonstration on the Ngaharakoe bush tram of the Rangataua Timber Company in November 1924. This was apparently a dismal failure. Embarrassed Niven representatives claimed the discredited tractor was designed for "normal grades and curves", but not grades of 1 in 5!



Bill Oates, Okarito, Westland, NZ

Bill Oates and his son, constructed a 400 metre bush tram at Saltwater Forest near Okarito on the West Coast. He built a home-made rail tractor powered by a Ford Prefect car engine and, with wide tread wheels, ran this on rimu wood rails with kakahi sleepers simply laid on the soft ground. This may well have been the last wooden tramway in New Zealand, operating from 1981 to 1982.



Peckett & Sons Ltd., Atlas Works, Bristol, England



Commencing in 1864, Fox, Walker & Co., Atlas Works, Bristol, dabbled in the construction of steam railway locomotives and seemed to have lost money on these ventures. After building a number of them, they were left with several of them on their hands and being unable to meet its debts, Fox, Walker & Co. became bankrupt in December 1878. Their trustees advertised the business for sale in November 1879 but it was not until February 1860 that the Atlas Works were auctioned and acquired by Thomas Peckett, who decided to concentrate on the production of industrial locomotives.

With the opening of the Severn Tunnel, the expanding coalfields and ironworks of South Wales had become more accessible to Bristol, and became the firm's principle market. Few special designs were built, and as far as possible orders were kept to a limited number of standard types, or modifications of these using as many standard parts as possible. This obviously helped to keep costs competitive, as well as facilitating the supply of spares, and the firm's products obtained a reputation for sound workmanship among colliery owners and steelworks throughout the country.

Fox, Walker & Co., had started a system of class types designated by letters and this was taken over and continued by Peckett, with periodic upgrading and improvement of the designs to suit changing technology and requirements. The firm was conservative in its designs - not an unsatisfactory feature in many ways, in view of the long life span of a locomotive, and customers' general desire for standardisation of their fleet of locomotives - but traditional methods, such as the use of riveting, were retained after competitors had changed to improved technology, such as welding, and Peckett's spurned the development of the diesel locomotive until too late. As a small manufacturer it is probable that diesel production would have merely postpones the inevitable closure for a few years, since they had never seriously cultivated the export market.

They did undertake some diesel locomotive work for Ruston & Hornsby Ltd. and Lister Blackstone Ltd. as sub-contractors, but their own designs were far too late to enter a competitive market against larger and longer established competitors, and the firm ceased trading, the goodwill being acquired - for the production of spares - by the Reed Crane & Hoist Co. Ltd. of Brighouse, Yorkshire. The Peckett & Sons Ltd. plant at Fishponds closed its workshops at the beginning of 1962 having built their last steam locomotive in 1958.

No locomotives were buit for NZR but quite a few for industry. Number 1217, built in 1910 came to New Zealand and worked the bush. It saw service at Butler Brothers, Ruatapu from 1912 until 1916 when it went to Ogilvie & Co. at Gladstone where it worked until 1945. For a few years it lay idle, then in 1955 Ogilvie's converted it into a diesel powered engine until finally scrapping it.



H.K. Porter Company, Inc., Pittsburgh, USA.



Henry Kirke Porter went into business with partner, Englishman John Y. Smith, in 1886, under the name of Smith & Porter.

This was the beginning of an industrial giant responsible for manufacturing about eight thousand locomotives over the next eighty-five years, dominating the field of industrial locomotives and still producing equipment.

Smith & Porter began by building portable boilers and steam traction engines; American industry had started to use small, captive railroads to move raw materials from mine to smelter, quarry to crusher, forest to sawmill.

They received their first locomotive order on March 4, 1867 and shipped it in November of that year as construction number 1. Its largest locomotive was a 2-8-0 built for the Monongahela Railroad. Most of Porter's steam locomotives were small 0-4-0s and 0-6-0s, designed for switching duties inside factories and large industrial enterprises.

In 1911, Porter built its first gasoline-powered locomotive, and in 1930, its first diesel-electric. Porter used Westinghouse electrical motors and controls, but bought diesel engines from a variety of vendors. Between 1911 and 1950, H.K. Porter built 287 internal combustion locomotives, 197 of them were diesel-electrics, and 47 were diesel-mechanicals, (the engine was geared directly to the axles).

By 1943, H.K. Porter Company Inc. occupied four large industrial plants at Pittsburgh and Blairsville, Pennsylvania; Newark and New Brunswick, New Jersey.

After Heisler Locomotive Works of Erie, Pa., built its last geared engine in 1941, the Heisler patterns were acquired by Porter.

Henry Porter, still running the company at age 81, passed away on April 10th, 1921. In 1939, after a long decline, the H. K. Porter Co. declared bankruptcy. Thomas Mellon Evans purchased the company, determined to turn it around. He began buying other manufacturing companies and adding them to his collection. Locomotive porduction increased again during World War II, and the company was recognized for its service to the country in 1942, but soon after the end of the war, demand for steam locomotives dwindled, and H. K. Porter became primarily a holding company for the many subsidiaries Evans had acquired.

In 1950, the company built it's last locomotive for an industry in Brazil. In October of the same year, the parts business and all the required patterns were sold to the Davenport Locomotive Works in Iowa. All of the equipment was moved to Davenport, along with certain key personnel of the Porter Co. Davenport later conveyed its locomotive interests to Canadian Locomotive Co. of Kingston, Ont.

The Porter building still stands in downtown Pittsburgh.

Only one Porter locomotive apparently came to New Zealand, being first used in gold mining, then finally used by a sawmiller before being destroyed by fire in 1908.



A & G Price Ltd., Thames, NZ



Alfred and George Price set up business as engineers at Onehunga, Auckland in 1868. Their first efforts were directed toward flax stripping machinery and soon built up a good business. The Thames goldfields provided a demand for boilers crushers and steam engines so the price brothers decided to set up an ironworks at Thames. By 1871 the foundry was established, while the Onehunga works continued for another three years.

Prices first railway contract was to build rolling stock for the Public Works Department and the Onehunga plant turned out 10 carriages and 12 wagons before closing at the end of the contract. The new works at Thames produced boilers for the Thames and Waihi goldfields and soon a range of products for the Coromandel timber industry. Steam haulers, winches, timber jacks, saw-benches and eventually logging locomotives.

1885 saw the works build their first small steam locomotive, a four-wheel type with horizontal cylinders driving the axles through a gear train. This was constructed for a gold mining company at Mt. Te Aroha and after the mining venture collapsed, the lokey went off to a timber operation at Kennedy Bay, Coromandel. This was the first locomotive in what was to be a long history of manufacture for railways. Between 1904 and 1929 a total of 123 steam locomotives were constructed for the New Zealand Railways and a further 22 for the timber industry. The last steam locomotive, however, was the Type V built in 1943 for Ogilvies at Gladstone on the West Coast.

From 1924 to 1972 Price's also constructed miscellaneous petrol, diesel and battery-electric locomotives totalling 37 of which 8 went initially to timber tramways. Then followed the second generation diesels from 1956 to 1969, 54 in all, most of which went to the NZR as shunting locomotives while only four went into the timber scene. The last new locomotive left the Thames works in 1969.

The total of 236 railway locomotives was a very commendable effort for a New Zealand company. In addition they overhauled both steam and diesel locomotives and also built five rail vehicles for bush tramways, often called 'jiggers' and primarily designed to convey workmen to and from the bush.

For their bush tramway locomotives, Price's were no doubt influenced by American practice where the Climax 'A' provided the inspiration for Price's Class 'C' series and the Climax 'B' formed the basis for the Price 'E'. Finally the Price 'V' may have been prompted by the vee-cylinder Heisler.

Of the 22 steam locomotives built for the logging scene, seven still survive in various states of decay or preservation and an additional two - Cb 113 at Ferrymead and V 149 at Canterbury Steam Preservation Society - are still operating with a full head of steam.

In 1949 Prices merged with William Cable & Co. of Wellington, but retained their identity and in 1954 Cable-Price merged with the civil engineering company of Downer & Co. forming the Cable, Price, Downer Group.

Prices are still in Thames, although no longer having a rail connection to the works. Recently they refurbished the old stainless steel carriages ex-NZR Silver Star express, these being exported to Malaysia where they became the luxurious Eastern Oriental Express.



Rail Tractors Ltd. Wellington, NZ

Following a patent issue to Howard Nattrass of Wellington for an improved self-propelled hauling unit, Rail Tractors Ltd was registered 9 November 1925 at 8 Holland Street, Wellington with a capital of £20,000. Shareholders were Messrs C.D. Wilson of Napier and W.H. Martindale of Lyall Bay. The tractors were built by Julian Grove at 8 Holland Street.

A prototype tractor was tested at G. Campbell's mill at Akatarawa in late 1924. It was a Fordson type, but another fitted with an eight-cylinder Cadillac engine of 36 hp was tested in the Wellington railway goods yard on 25 September 1925.

Nattrass tractors worked at least nine New Zealand sawmills. In 1926, an innovative attempt was made to market Nattrass rail tractors in Australia. L. Bannister & Sons of Melbourne were the Victorian sales agents and in Sydney, the Rail Tractor Company were agents for both New South Wales and Queensland. Early in 1926 a 3 ft (914 mm) gauge demonstration tractor was shipped to Melbourne from Wellington. The first Australian demonstration in front of sawmillers occurred on 13 March 1926. The tractor pulled a load of seven sets of sawn timber weighing 50 tonnes on Herman's steel tramway at Warburton, and followed by hauling 5½ tonnes of sawn timber up a grade of 1 in 5½.

There followed a series of Australian demonstrations as far north as Brisbane on 14 August. The Warburton haulage feats led to at least three Victorian sales, one being recorded as £700. Of the three, two lasted only a few years, and were regarded as not up to the job, but the third was popular with its owner. At least three other Nattrass tractors saw service in Australia: two at Mount George, NSW and one at Salmon River, Tasmania.

The Nattrass was a success in terms of the large number sold and the wide range of places it worked, and represented value for money. It eventually became outmoded, as the service advantages of the heavier, but more expensive rail tractors, became more apparent.

Exactly which was the last Nattrass tractor in service has not yet been unearthed. At least one complete Nattrass tractor 'survives' in abject neglect at Shantytown on the West Coast.

Twenty-seven Nattrass rail tractors are known to have been used in New Zealand while a further six went to Australia.



Robey & Co. Ltd., Globe Works, Lincoln, England

Robey & Company Limited was founded by Robert Robey in 1854 and are best remembered for the production of some unusual designs of road rollers and for their high-speed road-haulage tractor. Together with their steam wagons, these engines incorporated an unusual design of boiler and a small high-speed engine unit.

The two locomotives that came to New Zealand were, in fact, quite rare, as Robey's built very few locomotives. The company was noted as a builder of high quality stationary steam equipment as well as their traction engines



Thomas Robinson & Co. Soho Foundry, Ballarat, Australia

The Soho Foundry was on the corner of Eyre and Errard Streets in Ballarat. It opened in October 1860. It was also known as Robinson, Thomas & Co.

In October 1863 William Errington left the Victoria Foundry and joined the Soho Iron Works, who had 90 employees at that time. Two more Davies patent engines were subsequently built under his supervision. All castings were done by Soho, apart from such specialist items as injectors, etc. These two engines were dispatched to New Zealand. These two locomotives, used on the ill-fated Oreti Railway, were eventually used in the bush.

By 1867 Errington controlled Soho, but in that year it was taken over by the Victoria Foundry. Victoria completed a small 0-4-0T for West Australia Timber Co. in March 1871. This locomotive survives at Busselton.

Victoria Foundry closed in 1873 following the illness of James Hunt. By that time the Phoenix Foundry had received its first contract for Government engines and would go on to dominate the foundry business in Ballarat, eventually building 361 locomotives until closure in 1906.



Thomas Robinson & Son Ltd., Railway Works, Rochdale, Lancashire, England

Robinson was well known and respected as the major supplier of woodworking machinery, like planers, to the New Zealand timber industry.

Records show that at least two, and possibly three, locomotives were built. The first, "Mary" was a four-coupled vertical-boiler locomotive built for the firm's own use: it was a two-cylinder compound. A four-coupled, outside frame tender locomotive was built for the Southland area of New Zealand in 1884, and a possible locomotive for Brazil.



Ruston & Hornsby Ltd., Lincoln, England

Originally Procter & Burton established in 1840 as millrights and engineers. Joseph Ruston joined the company in 1857 which became known as Ruston, Procter and Company. In 1918 they amalgamated with Richard Hornsby and Sons, of Grantham, to become Ruston & Hornsby Ltd.

Originally oil and gas engines were manufactured, later diversifying into petrol engines from 1.5hp upwards. They became builders of steam engines and portable steam engines for many years, mainly for the agricultual market. Many steam traction engines were made under the Ruston & Procter emblem.

During World War 1 Ruston & Procter was the largest builder of aero engines and also built the largest bomb of the war. After WW1, they expanded into motor cars and built about 1500 between 1919 and 1924. The cars were heavy and very expensive.

In 1931 the company started building diesel locomotives, building a large number for the UK market as well as overseas buyers, until 1967.

English Electric took over the company in November 1966 and progressively became part of the General Electric Co. of UK. Later GEC became GEC-Alstom and evetually absorbed by the Siemens Group in 2003.



Alexander Shanks & Sons Ltd., Arbroath, Scotland

The firm of Alexander Shanks & Sons Ltd. of Arbroath, engineers, founders and boilermakers, was incorporated in the year 1893. At the Dens Iron Works, purchased by the firm in the same year, a wide variety of products were manufactured which included cranes, hoists, pumps and lawnmowers.

The firm of Shanks & Co. specialised in the manufacture of small locomotives for contracting work and dock shunting. The Port of London Authority and the Southampton Docks have both used Shanks locomotives and here in NZ the New Plymouth Harbour Board at one time owned two locomotives built by this firm.

Shanks locomotives were notable for some rather unusual features, including solid cast-iron wheels with spokes cast in relief, and connecting rods of circular section. Usually the engines were of the 0-4-0 type, with kidney-shaped saddle tanks, although some, like the New Plymouth engines, were side tank locomotives with cabs of the 'Stroudley' pattern.

Alexander Shanks built two locomotives, in 1875 and 1876, for the New Zealand scene, both being 0-4-0 tank engines and named "Kangaroo" and "Mouse". These engines were used initially by NZR before being sold into the timber industry. Both locomotives lasted into the 1930s.

In the 1960s the firm was taken over by Giddings & Lewis Fraser Ltd., Engineers, Arbroath.

In 1968 Giddings & Lewis-Fraser became a public company. Also in 1968 it set up its own sales company, which included four subsidiaries: Hotel Seaforth (Arbroath) Ltd., Giddings & Lewis Sales Ltd., Douglas Fraser & Sons (Jute) Ltd., and Andrew Shanks & Son Ltd. The sales company also dealt with machine tool products from associated companies in Holland and Germany.



Geo. Smith, Tikipunga, Northland, NZ

In 1947, George Smith set up a sawmill at Tikipunga, now a suburb of Whangarei. He constructed a tramway to transport sawn timber from his mill to the main road. His locomotive looked like a steam engine but was really a four-wheel chain-driven tractor loco, powered by a Dort 4-cylinder car engine. A dummy funnel was added and it really gave it a semblance of steam power, especially when some waste oil was allowed to trickle onto the hot exhaust pipe. The track utilised wooden rails on the straights and steel rails on the curves. The wagon wheels were obtained from old skips and hopper wagons previously used on a drainage project. The mill burned down in 1954 and was not rebuilt, a portable sawmill being used. When Smith died in 1973, the loco was rescued and placed in a children's playground at Hikurangi where it remained for ten years, before being shifted to another site next to the War Memorial Hall. Eventually it became unsafe due to extensive rust and was scrapped in the late 1980s.



O. W. Smith, Mamaku, NZ

Oliver Wallace Smith was born in Motu in 1907 and left school aged 12 to work at a variety of rural jobs. It was while working as a truck driver for the road cartage firm of Goodsons at Rotorua that he first made contact with the Mamaku sawmills. Seeing potential, Olly bought his own truck and began carting timber from Gamman's sawmill at mamaku to Waikato destinations. At that time a 30-mile (50 km) limit applied to the distance a road transport operator could carry goods in competition with NZ Railways. In collusion with Gammon's manager, Alex Simmonds, Olly got around this restriction by painting Gamman's name on his truck and so began a very profitable venture. However with the outbreak of war, restrictions on motor vehicle operations were increased by the introduction of petrol rationing, and in September 1939, Olly fund himself with his 1937 Chevy truck and nowhere to go.

About that time, Gamman's ex-NZR 'D' lokey broke down. It took the men out to the bush in a van, and Olly persuaded Alex that instead of repairing the lokey, the Chevy should become a Jigger. As converted it carried 22 men in the back and two in the cab. He also used the jigger when Gamman's big Price Ar lokey broke down, his jigger being able to pull two sets of logs from the bush.

The steam locomotive continued to give trouble so Olly constructed his first rail tractor. Using an old Chev truck, it was relatively crude with a bogie in front and railway wheels fitted to the rear axle, called 4-A configuration. Logs rested on a bolster over the driving axle, improving adhesion. Later another rail tractor was built with a lead bogie and two driven rear wheels to improve the adhesion and wheel bearing problems.

This formed the basis of his designs from there on with some tractors being built to the 4-C combination where there were six driving wheels at the rear.

In all, from 1939 to 1954, Olly Smith built 19 tractors, including tankers and crane trucks, and rebuilt six of these into more powerful units.

By the 1960s, the milling operations at Mamaku were all but over and most of Olly's handiwork was lying under blackberry bushes. Gamman's closed in 1964, while the NZR tram remained in service until closing in 1974.

Olly Smith died in 1993. One of his creations is on display by the roadside at Mamaku while a few others reside, in various states, at odd museums.



R.S. Sparrow & Co. Dunedin, NZ

Robert Spiers Sparrow, born in Scotland, learned his trade at Denny & Co., Glasgow, then emigrated to Dunedin in the mid 1860's. Just when he established his foundry is unknown. His first locomotive, built in 1872, may actually have been the first steam locomotive made in New Zealand. One 0-4-0 tank engine, built in 1874, was used in the Southland bush

Among the works under taken by Robert was the building of the Wingatui Viaduct, many bridges and the building of many vessels including the Jane Williams, later the Ben Lomond that was operated by NZ Railways on Lake Wakatipu.



Robert Stephenson & Co. Ltd., Newcastle-on-Tyne, England

The company was formed in August 1823 with shareholding held by Edward Pease £1600, Michael Longridge £800, George Stephenson £800 and Robert Stephenson £800 with Robert, at only 19 years of age, as controlling head at the works opened at Forth Street. It was the world's first specialist locomotive manufacturing works and in 1824 they built two locomotives for the Stockton & Darlington Railway. No.1 was later named 'Locomotion' and No.2 as 'Hope'. These locomotives were used at the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway on 27 June 1925.

To determine the practicality of steam locomotion a trial was organised on the Stockton and Darlington at a place called Rainhill. Engineers were invited to build and submit their locomotives to a test and of the three finalists; Stephenson's "Rocket" emerged as the winner. The basic design of this locomotive formed the foundation of steam railway traction for all time.

Robert Stephenson & Company, at Forth Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, became the world's first locomotive builder. To gain further experience, Robert went to Columbia in South America in 1824 where he worked at gold and silver mines After three years in South America, Stephenson was recalled to England and began work on the Rocket locomotive. Robert's abilities as an engineer were illustrated by the success of the Rocket at the Rainhill Trials in October 1829. During this period Robert and George Stephenson were kept busy producing locomotives for the Bolton & Leigh Railway and the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. This included locomotives such as the Northumbrian and the Lancashire Witch.

In 1833 Robert Stephenson was appointed chief engineer of the London & Birmingham line. This was the first railway into London and involved solving difficult engineering problems such as the Blisworth Cutting and the Kilsby Tunnel.

The London & Birmingham line was completed in 1838. For the next few years Stephenson was involved in constructing railways all over the world. He also built bridges, including those that crossed the Tyne at Newcastle and the Menai Straits. The Britannia Bridge at Conway was made up of two huge, rectangular, wrought iron tubes. Stephenson constructed a similar bridge over the St. Lawrence at Montreal, Canada (1854-59). For many years, this was the longest bridge in the world.

Stephenson never enjoyed good health and early in 1859 he was advised to retire from business and politics. He took a yachting cruise but when he arrived in Norway his condition deteriorated and he was rushed back to England. Robert Stephenson died on 12th October 1859.

Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns Ltd. was taken over by the English Electric Group.

George Stephenson died 12 August 1848 aged 67 years and Robert died 12 October 1859 aged 55 years.

Stephenson's built 17 locos for New Zealand Railways and three of these were used in the bush.



Union Foundry, Stratford, NZ

The business was founded in 1922 with a merger between Stratford Foundries and the Eltham Engineering Works. Within seven years of establishment, in 1929, the firm's payroll had grown from 6 to 37 and a takeover of Hawera Foundries was accomplished. A core business was servicing the Taranaki dairy industry and the Foundries specialised in producing welded stainless steel tanks that were then coming into vogue. In addition to rail tractor construction, another specialised product line in a growth industry was road construction machinery: motor graders, motor rollers, and tar boilers.

At least 29 Union Foundries tractors were constructed for bush tram service over a 40-year period. The last of these emerged form the Foundries in 1955.



Vulcan Foundry Ltd., Newton-le-Willows, England

Charles Tayleur, a Liverpool engineer, founded the Vulcan Foundry at Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, in 1830. Two years later, Robert Stephenson, the well known railway engineer and manager of locomotive works in Newcastle upon Tyne, went into partnership with Tayleur. In 1833 the first two locomotives built at Vulcan, 'Tayleur' and 'Stephenson', were delivered to their American customers and by 1935 locomotives were being delivered to Russia. Locomotives have since been sent off to all parts of the world, with large orders going to India, Australia and South America.

In 1847 Tayleur and Stephenson took over Bank Quay Foundry in Warrington, which built in 1852 its first iron sea-going vessel - a clipper called 'Tayleur', which was tragically wrecked off Dublin in 1854 en route to Australia. The partnership was itself incorporated as a private company with limited liability in 1864 as Vulcan Foundry Company Limited - Company being dropped from the name in 1898.

Locomotives continued to be successfully produced for the world market, although the First World War changed the emphasis of production for the duration of the war to gun shells and mountings, mine sweeping devices, caterpillar tractors and other war items. After the war, there were further developments in production, culminating in the building of the first non-steam locomotive in 1929 - an electric locomotive for India - and in the 1933 agreement with A/S Frichs of Aarhus, Denmark, to build diesel locomotives.

During the Second World War, 'Waltzing Matilda' tanks and torpedo parts were mainly built at Vulcan. In 1944, however, the company acquired another locomotive business, Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns limited - a reversal of history. Two years later the Vulcan Foundry Ltd. started building mechanical parts for electric and diesel locomotives in conjunction with English Electric Company Limited and became full members of that group of companies in 1955.

In 1962 production of diesel engines for traction, marine and industrial use was started at Vulcan and continues to the present day as their main activity, the last main line locomotives being built for Ghana Railways and Ports in 1970. The English Electric Company Limited became part of the G.E.C. group of companies in 1968 and in 1970, Ruston Paxton Diesels Limited, who changed their name to Ruston Diesels Limited in 1975, became the management company of G.E.C. Diesels Ltd., and today occupies the Vulcan Works of the Group.

19 locos were supplied to the NZR and of these, two Vulcan's were used on bush tramways. Both of these were saddle tank F-class 0-6-0 locomotives, neither of which exist today. Vulcan built their last steam loco in 1956



R.T. Watson, Charming Creek, Westland, NZ

Mr. Robert Watson had a sawmill sited about halfway along the Charming Creek Coal Co. tramway running up the Ngakawau River and Charming Creek. It would appear that Watson used a Fordson rail tractor to run his sawn timber from the mill down to the NZR railhead at Ngakawau. The tractor was of 4-2-0 wheel arrangement but later this was converted to 0-4-0. Earlier, Watson had built three steam lokeys from portable boilers, but the first one, built 1909, was not successful so he went on to two 8-wheeler models that were in service from 1913 until 1921. Refer to New Zealand Geared Locomotives website ( see Links ).
Watson went on to use rail tractors from Union and Ruston & Hornsby.



Wilson Bros. Invercargill, NZ

The Wilson brothers, two short Scotsmen, Bill and Alf, emigrated to Invercargill from Glasgow just before the First World War. Both were tradesmen: Bill an engineer and Alf a patter maker. Both initially worked in a local foundry. In 1919 the opportunity arose to take over a foundry and pattern shop in Leet Street and start their own business. In those early years, besides providing castings for agricultural machinery, they manufactured cast iron baths and enamelled them in stoves fired with coke. The brothers did well and within a few years a machine shop and blacksmith shop were added to their business, the Empire Foundry.

Their first rail tractor was built in 1926, and the last sometime around 1952. At least eight were built, but as it is hard to distinguish between Wilson and Melhop, there are a further 12 tractors that were made by either of these builders.

Wilson Brothers also diversified successfully into the log hauler market, exploiting contacts made through the rail tractor business.



Yorkshire Engine Co. Ltd., Sheffield, England

The Yorkshire Engine Co. was founded at Meadowhall, Sheffield in 1865 and lasted exactly one hundred years before closure came in 1965. In its earliest days the company took an important part in the development of overseas railways, never building many locomotives for the main-line British companies. Orders came from as far afield as India, Turkey, New Zealand and Russia.

Form 1900 to 1914 the output of the works was considerable and divided between main line and industrial locomotives. In 1912 twenty engines were made for the North British Railway.

After the First World War, the company tended to concentrate on the construction of industrial locomotives, although in the 1920s they were still designing modern steam locomotives for main line use abroad, often undertaking the work to produce a prototype and then arranging a license for mass production to take place in the country from where the order originated. A large class of 2-8-0 tender locomotives for Spain was developed in this way.

As with other industrial concerns the recession of the 1930s hit the company hard. The firm kept going by repairing and refurbishing existing locomotives, there being few orders for new machines.

During World War Two the Company's machine shop was employed in essential war work, there being little construction of new locomotives anywhere in Britain and what there was, was confined to the larger manufacturers who could produce the 'Austerity' types in large numbers, something which Yorkshire Engine Company was never able to do.

After the war, the Company's standard designs for industrial steam locos were dug out of the drawing office and brought up to date by adoption of more modern front ends, welded steel fireboxes, in place of the traditional riveted copper, and roller bearing axle boxes.

In 1948 the company was taken over by United Steel, which guaranteed the Company orders for industrial locomotives to be used in its steel works.

By 1950 it was obvious that the market for new steam locomotives was in decline, British Railways already had more than 2,000 diesel shunting locos in use and more and more industrial users were 'deiselising'. Yorkshire Engine Company completed its first diesel-electric locomotives in 1951, but the company never figured in the plans of British Railway's modernisation plan, which was implemented in 1955.

By 1964 the writing was on the wall for the Yorkshire Engine Company. There were still around a dozen locomotive manufacturers in Britain and all were facing an uncertain future. For a company like Yorkshire Engine, which had a niche market making shunting locomotives, the problem was even greater. British Railways had entered the Beeching era and whole areas of the railway network were being axed. B.R. found it had a surplus of shunting engines and so were unlikely to place orders for new locos. In March 1965, United Steels announced the closure of the Meadowhall works and at the end of May it was announced that Rolls Royce was to take over the locomotive business of Yorkshire Engine Company and continue to produce their designs and provide servicing and spare parts at the Sentinal factory in Shrewsbury. So in the second half of July 1965 the works closed and Sheffield's history of locomotive building ended after a century.

Yorkshire Engine Company built thirteen locomotives for New Zealand Railways and of these two found their way to bush tramways.

It is reported that, in the 1920s, the Nelson Creek Sawmilling Co converted a Yorkshire steam wagon for use on rails in New Zealand. No further details.

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