The Hunslet Engine Company was founded in Leeds in 1864 by John Towlerton Leather who was a civil engineering contractor. James Campbell was appointed as the Works Manager.
In 1871 James Campbell and his brother George Campbell bought the company for £25,000.
Between 1865 and 1870, production had averaged less than ten engines per year but in 1871 this had risen to seventeen and was set to rise over the next thirty years to a modest maximum of thirty-four.
1865 The first engine built in 1865 was Linden a standard gauge 0-6-0 saddle tank delivered to Brassey and Ballard a railway civil engineering contractor as were several of the firm’s early customers. Other customers included collieries. This basic standard gauge shunting and short haul engine was the standard locomotive that the firm built for industrial use for many years.
From the start, Hunslet regularly sent fitters to carry out repairs to its engines on customer’s premises and this is a service that the Hunslet Engine Company were still offering in 2006, over 140 years after their establishment.
In 1870, Hunslet constructed their first narrow gauge engine (1ft 10¾in) which was a 0-4-0 saddle tank for the Dinorwic Slate Quarry at Llanberis. This was the first of twenty similar engines built for this quarry and did much to establish Hunslet as a major builder of quarry engines. Two of these still operate on the Ffestiniog Railway whilst a third is preserved in the Penrhyn Castle Railway Museum.
The first Hunslet engine built for export was their No. 10, an 0-4-0ST shipped via Hull and Rotterdam to Java. Remarkably, the last industrial steam engine built in Britain was also built at Hunslet in 1971 and also for export to Java. This engine later returned to Britain and is preserved in working order.
A large number of short wheelbase 0-6-0 tank locomotives were supplied to the Manchester Ship Canal Company and one of these (Works No.686 The Lady Armaghdale of 1898) still survives in the Engine House at Highley on the Severn Valley Railway.
By 1901, James Campbell was still in charge as proprietor and James’s four sons were, by then all working for the company including the eldest son Alexander III who had taken over as Works Manager on the death of his Uncle George in 1890.
In 1902, the company was reorganised as a private limited company with the name Hunslet Engine Company Ltd but still a family business. By this time the company had supplied engines to over thirty countries world-wide, often opening-up new markets. In Ireland, Hunslet supplied engines to several of the newly opened narrow gauge lines and also in 1887 built the three remarkably unorthodox engines for the Lartigue Monorail system used by the Listowel & Ballybunion Railway.
1905 Following the death of James Campbell, the chairmanship passed to Alexander III and brother Robert became works manager, whilst brother Will retained the role of secretary and traveller with a seat on the board.
Around 1905 this time Hunslet built a series of 2-6-2 tank locomotives for the Sierra Leone Government Railway and the famous narrow gauge version (Russell) for the Portmadoc, Beddgelert and South Snowdon Railway, which later became a constituent company of the Welsh Highland Railway.
The 1,000th locomotive was completed in 1909.
The post of works manager was advertised and Edgar Alcock, then assistant works manager at the Gorton works of Beyer, Peacock and Co was appointed in 1912. Alcock came to Hunslet at a time of change when the industry was being asked for far larger and more powerful locomotives than had ever been required in the past. This was true at Hunslet which found its overseas customers asking for very large engines. However by 1914, Britain was at war and overseas orders had dried up.
After the war, trading conditions were very difficult but Hunslet were once more able to attract overseas orders and they also received a series of repeat orders from the London, Midland and Scottish Railway for a total of 90 (47295-309, 47427-51 & 47542-91) LMS Fowler Class 3F ‘Jinty’ 0-6-0T shunting engines.These were supplied in the period 1925 – 1929. Two of the Hunslet built Jinty locomotives have been preserved – 47445 and 47564
In 1927 the company took over Boyne Engine Works after Manning, Wardle closed it and went into liquidation.
It was during the 1930s that Hunslet built their largest locomotives. They were two 0-8-0 tank engines, built for a special train-ferry loading job in China (which they fulfilled for many years). At that time they were the largest and most powerful tank engines builtt. A year or so later the same design formed the basis for an 0-8-0 tender engine for India. Many other orders for larger locomotives were received in these inter-war years.
In 1930 Kerr, Stuart and Co went in to liquidation and Hunslet purchased the goodwill of this company.
1935 Purchased the goodwill of the Avonside Engine Co.
John Alcock, who, following in his father’s footsteps, became Managing Director of Hunslet in 1958, recalled his father telling him circa 1920, when he was still a schoolboy, that his main endeavour for the company would be in the application of the internal combustion engine to railway locomotion. Throughout the 1930’s Hunslet worked on the perfecting of the diesel locomotive.
During the Second World War the company manufactured munitions as they had done during the First World War. During this period they continued to build steam and diesel locomotives for the war effort. The most notable locomotive design that Hunslet produced around this time was the 0-6-0ST Austerity of which 485 were built including 377 for the War Department. (Full details are included in the section on the LNER J94 class). Many of these have been preserved.
In the 1954-56 Hunslet built twenty (9490-99 & 3400-9) class 9400 0-6-0PT locomotives for the Western Region as a subcontractor to the Yorkshire Engine Company. None of these have been preserved.
In 1972 Hunslet purchased Andrew Barclay, Sons and Co.
The Jack Lane, Hunslet, Leeds works was closed in 1995, the last order being a batch of narrow gauge diesel locomotives for tunnelling on the Jubilee Line Extension of the London Underground.
The Hunslet Engine Company is now part of the LH Group of Companies and continues to trade from an address in Leeds and also claims ownership of “the intellectual property and design rights to the following British locomotive names, including the ability to service, repair and supply genuine replacement components:
- Andrew Barclay, Sons and Co
- Avonside Engine Co
- North British Locomotive Co
- Greenwood and Batley
- Hudswell, Clarke and Co
- John Fowler
- Kerr, Stuart and Co
- Kitson and Co
- Manning, Wardle and Co
Hunslet-Barclay Ltd, a subsidiary of Jenbacher Holdings (UK) plc, chiefly undertakes maintenance and refurbishment of diesel multiple unit passenger trains at the Andrew Barclay Caledonia Works in Kilmarnock.
In 2004 the Hunslet Engine Company was acquired by the LH Group and production was moved to Barton under Needwood in Staffordshire. The company trades in the UK as Wabtec Faiveley UK.
By 2017 the Hunslet Engine Company and its associated companies have produced over 19,000 steam, diesel and electric locomotives for destinations around the world and the company has always been at the forefront of technical development, a position it is proud to maintain now and into the future. The number of steam locomotives built by Hunslet is 2,236.
I have only included standard gauge locomotives which are preserved in Britain.
|287||1883||89-94 Trym/Vigilant||0-4-0ST||Hunsbury Hill Industrial Museum|
|299||1884||Hodbarrow||0-4-0ST||Leeds Industrial Museum|
|469||1888||No 15 Hastings||0-6-0ST||Mangapps Farm Railway Museum|
|686||1898||The Lady Armaghdale||0-6-0T||Severn Valley Railway|
|1440||1923||Airedale No3||0-6-0ST||Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway|
|1589||1929||Newstead||0-6-0ST||Nene Valley Railway|
|1684||1931||Mendip Collier||0-4-0T||Middleton Railway|
|1690||1931||47160 Cunarder||0-6-0ST||Somerset & Dorset Steam|
|1953||1939||Jacks Green||0-6-0ST||Nene Valley Railway|
|1954||1939||Kinsley||0-6-0ST||Ribble Steam Railway|
|1982||1940||Ring Haw||0-6-0ST||North Norfolk Railway|
|2387||1941||Brookes No 1||0-6-0ST||Middleton Railway|
|2409||1942||King George||0-6-0ST||Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway|
|2411||1941||0-6-0ST||Swindon & Cricklade Railway|
|2413||1941||Gunby||0-6-0ST||Swindon & Cricklade Railway|
|2414||1941||1943||0-6-0ST||Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway|
|2705||1945||No 7 Beatrice||0-6-0ST||Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway|
Preserved Austerity Locomotives built by Hunslet Engine Company
|2855||1943||WD75006 68081||Nene Valley Railway|
|2857||1943||WD75008 Swiftsure||Nene Valley Railway|
|2864||1943||WD75015 48||Strathspey Railway|
|2868 & 3883||1943||WD75019 WD 168 RRM 9 Coal Products No 6 Lord Phil||Peak Rail|
|2880||1943||WD75031 WD 101 17||Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway|
|2890 & 3882||1943||WD75041 WD 107 10 Douglas||Ribble Steam Railway|
|3155||1944||WD75105 Walkden||Ribble Steam Railway|
|3163 & 3885||1944||WD75113 WD132 Sapper||East Lancs Railway / Avon Valley Railway|
|3168||1944||WD75118 S134 Wheldale||Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway|
|3180||1944||WD75130 No 3180 Antwerp||North Yorkshire Moors Railway|
|3192 & 3888||1944||WD75141 WD139 68006||Barrow Hill Roundhouse|
|3193 & 3887||1944||WD75142 WD 140 68012 Norfolk Regiment||Lavender Line|
|3686||1948||NCB No 60||Strathspey Railway|
|3694||1950||NCB Whiston||Foxfield Steam Railway|
|3696||1950||NCB Respite||Ribble Steam Railway|
|3698||1950||NCB 11 Repulse||Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway|
|3715||1952||S121 Primrose No 2||Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway|
|3770||1952||Norma||Oswestry Cycle & Railway Museum|
|3776||1952||NCB 8 Sir Robert Peel Warspite||Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway|
|3777||1952||NCB 68030 Josiah Wedgwood||Churnet Valley Railway|
|3781||1952||NCB 1 Thomas||Mid Hants Railway|
|3782||1953||Arthur||Buckinghamshire Railway Centre|
|3783||1953||Darfield No 1 Holly Bank No 3||Chasewater Railway|
|3785||1953||NCB 69||Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway|
|3788||1953||NCB Monckton No 1||Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway|
|3790||1952||WD190||Colne Valley Railway|
|3791||1952||WD191 Black Knight No23 Holman F Stephens||Kent & East Sussex Railway|
|3792||1953||WD192 Waggoner||Isle of Wight Steam Railway|
|3793||1953||WD193 Shropshire||Ribble Steam Railway|
|3794||1953||WD194 No10 Cumbria||Ribble Steam Railway|
|3796||1953||WD196 68011 Errol Lonsdale||In 2017 was in Belgium|
|3797||1953||WD197 Sapper No 25 Northiam||Kent & East Sussex Railway|
|3798||1953||WD 198 Royal Engineer||Isle of Wight Steam Railway|
|3800||1953||WD200 No 24 Rolvenden||Colne Valley Railway|
|3806||1953||Wilbert G B Keeling Rev W Awdry||Dean Forest Railway|
|3809||1954||3809 NCB||Great Central Railway|
|3810||1954||Glendower||South Devon Railway|
|3818||1954||NCB East Fife Area No 19 68019||Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway|
|3823||1954||63.000.432 Fred Warrior||Dean Forest Railway|
|3825||1955||NCB No 9 68009||Stainmore Railway Company|
|3837||1955||NCB No 5||Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway|
|3839||1956||Wimblebury||Foxfield Steam Railway|
|3840||1956||NCB Pamela 68070||Garw Valley Railway|
|3844 & 3846||1957||Unitel Steel Company No 22||Appleby Frodingham Railway|
|3850||1958||Juno||Isle of Wight Steam Railway – Locomotion Shildon|
|3851||1962||Cadley Hill No1|
|3855||1954||Glasshoughton No 4||Foxfield Steam Railway|
|3889||1964||NCB 65||Dean Forest Railway|
|3890||1964||NCB 66||Buckinghamshire Railway Centre|