North British Locomotive Company

The North British Locomotive Company (NBL, NB Loco or North British) was created in 1903 through the merger of three Glasgow locomotive manufacturing companies; Sharp, Stewart and Company (Atlas Works), Neilson, Reid and Company (Hyde Park Works) and Dübs and Company (Queens Park Works), creating the largest locomotive manufacturing company in Europe.

Its main factories were located at the neighbouring Atlas and Hyde Park Works in central Springburn, as well as the Queens Park Works in Polmadie. A new central Administration and Drawing Office for the combined company was completed across the road from the Hyde Park Works on Flemington Street by James Miller in 1909, later sold to Glasgow Corporation in 1961 to become the main campus of North Glasgow College (later Glasgow Kelvin College).

NBL built steam locomotives for countries all over the world. This included North America (Canada, Newfoundland), South America (Argentina, Paraguay), Europe (France, Spain), Sub-Saharan Africa (Angola, Gold Coast (now Ghana), Kenya/Uganda/Tanzania, Malawi, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), South Africa); Middle East (Egypt, Palestine), Asia (India, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), China, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines); and Australasia (Australia, New Zealand).

Locomotives made for railways in Britain and Ireland included-

  • Barry Railway (Class F)
  • Caledonian Railway (72, 113, 944, and Oban classes)
  • Furness Railway (1, 3, 98, and 130 classes)
  • Glasgow and South Western Railway (128 and 403 classes)
  • Great Central Railway (Class 8B/8J)
  • Great North of Scotland Railway (Class F/D40) – 62277 Gordon Highlander built by NBL has been preserved.
  • Great Northern Railway (Classes H3 and O2
  • Great Southern and Western Railway (211 class)
  • Highland Railway (Loch, Ben, New Ben, Castle, K, and X classes)
  • London and North Western Railway (Prince of Wales class)
  • London, Tilbury and Southend Railway (51 and 69 classes)
  • Maryport and Carlisle Railway
  • Midland Great Western Railway (Class B)
  • Midland and South Western Junction Railway
  • North British Railway (B, H, J, and L Classes)
  • North Eastern Railway (Class Z)
  • Taff Vale Railway (A class)
  • War Department (ROD 2-8-0). ROD 1984 has been preserved by Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum Limited.

After Grouping in 1923, customers included

  • Great Western Railway
  • London, Midland and Scottish Railway
    • Fowler 3F 0-6-0T – NBL built 75 (47280-94 & 47317-76) of which two have been preserved – 47324 & 47327
    • Fowler 4F 0-6-0 – NBL built 80 (44057-81, 44382-406 & 44477-506). The three preserved members of the class were not built by NBL.
    • 4P Fowler Compound 4-4-0. NBL built 24 (41135-58). The Compound preserved 41000 is a Deeley engine built at Derby.
    • Stanier 2-cylinder 2-6-4T – NBL built 73 (42545-617). None of the two cylinder locomotives were preserved but one three cylinder Stanier 2-6-4T engine (42500) built at Derby has been preserved
    • Stanier Jubilee 4-6-0 – NBL built 50 (45557-606) of which two have been preserved – 45593 Kolhapur & 45596 Bahamas.
    • Fowler Royal Scot 4-6-0 – NBL built 50 (46101-49 & 46152) of which 46115 Scots Gaurdsman has been preserved. NBL also built the experimental locomotive Fury (later 46170 British Legion).
    • Stanier 8F 2-8-0 – 50 were built for the LMS by NBL (48176-225) plus 158 for the War Department of which 40 (48246-85) were later taken into LMS stock. None of these have been preserved although a number of locomotives of the class have.  One NBL built locomotive (48773) was taken into BR stock in 1957. Two locomotives built by NBL which were for the War Department have been preserved after being used in Turkey (TCCD 45160 & TCCD 45170).
  • London and North Eastern Railway
    • Gresley A3 4-6-2 – NBL built 20 (60064-83) of what were initially classed as A1 locomotives. The only member of the class preserved is 60103 Flying Scotsman.
    • Gresley B17 4-6-0 – 10 were built by NBL (61600-9). None of the class have been preserved but there are projects to build new locomotives (61662 Manchester United61673 Spirit of Sandringham) to the B17 design.
    • Gresley K3 2-6-0 – NBL built 20 (61939-61958) of this class of nearly 200 locomotives. None have been preserved.
    • Thompson B1 4-6-0 – NBL built 310 (61040-139 & 61190-399) of these locomotives. Both of the locomotives preserved were built by NBL – 61264 & 61306.
    • Thompson L1 2-6-4T – NBL built 35 (67731-65) of locomotives. No members of the class have been preserved.
  • Southern Railway
    • Maunsell L1 4-4-0 – All 15 locomotives (31753-59 & 31782-9) of this class were built by NBL. The last one was withdrawn from service in February 1962 and all have been scrapped.
    • N15 King Arthur 4-6-0 – The NBL built 30 (30763-92) locomotives which became known as the Scotch Arthurs. The only one of the class preserved (30777 Sir Lamiel) was built by NBL.
  • War Department
    • Stanier 8F 2-8-0 – NBL built 158 for the War Department of which 40 (48246-85) were later taken into LMS stock. None of these have been preserved although a number of locomotives of the class have.  One NBL locomotive built for the War Department (48773) was taken into BR stock in 1957. Two locomotives built by NBL which were for the War Department have been preserved after being used in Turkey (TCCD 45160 & TCCD 45170).
    • WD Austerity 2-8-0 – 545 (251 at Queens Park & 294 at Hyde Park) of the 935 locomotives built for the War Department were built by NBL. One (90733) member of the class built by Vulcan Foundry has been preserved but it never ran in Britain until preserved.
    • WD Austerity 2-10-0 – 150 of these locomotives were built by NBL. 25 locomotives (90750-74) built by NBL were taken into BR stock. Three locomotives built by NBL have been preserved. 600 Gordon, 90775 although it never operated under BR & WD 73672 Dame Vera Lynn.

Whilst highly successful as designers and builders of steam locomotives for both its domestic market and abroad, North British failed to successfully manage the transition to diesel and electric locomotive production in the wake of the British Railways 1955 Modernisation Plan.

BR returned many North British diesel locomotives to their builder for repair under warranty and they also insisted on a three-month guarantee on all repairs.

In 1959 GEC, Clydesdale Bank and HM Treasury invested in a restructuring programme at North British to enable the transition of the company from steam to diesel-electric and electric locomotive manufacture. North British supplied many of its diesel and electric locomotives to BR at a loss. This and the continuing stream of warranty claims to cure design and workmanship faults proved fatal – North British declared that it was entering voluntary liquidation in April 1962. Because of the unreliability of its UK diesel and electric locomotives, all were withdrawn after comparatively short lifespans.

Preserved Industrial Locomotives

I have only included standard gauge locomotives which are preserved in Britain. I have not included fireless locomotives although I may add them later.

Works No Built Name Type Location
18386 1908 Gartsherrie No 20 0-4-0ST Scottish Industrial Railway Centre
21521 1917 9 0-6-0T Riverside Museum, Glasgow
24564 1939 Coventry No 1 0-6-0T Buckinghamshire Railway Centre


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