R & W Hawthorn, Leslie & Company

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In 1817 Robert Hawthorn at the age of 21 began business as a general engineer and repairer of colliery machinery. With the assistance of his brother William and four workmen, his enterprise prospered and in 1820 under the trading name of R and W Hawthorn their first marine engine was built.

In 1831 they produced their first steam locomotive for the Stockton and Darlington Railway and as the country’s railway system rapidly expanded their locomotive construction soon became second only to that of their near neighbour, Robert Stephenson. By 1870 over 1,000 locomotives had been built. When R and W Hawthorn received their first order for Naval machinery for HMS Shearwater the firm had already built about 100 sets of marine engines.

Robert Hawthorn died in 1866 and in 1870 his brother William retired. The firm was then sold for £60,000 to a group of four men. These were Benjamin Chapman Browne, Francis Carr Marshall, William Hawthorn Junior and Joseph Scott. As senior partner Benjamin Browne had wanted the business to manufacture only marine engines. However, orders were buoyant for locomotives and so in 1870, the shipyard of Messrs T and W Smith at St Peter’s was acquired for the marine engine site. All marine engineering was then moved from the original works at Forth Banks to the new St Peter’s site. The marine engine side of the business prospered under the direction of Francis Carr Marshall.

In 1884 it was decided to separate the business activities of the Forth Banks and St Peter’s sites and thereafter they were run virtually as two separate businesses.

Hawthorn Leslie and Company was formed by the merger of the shipbuilder A. Leslie and Company in Hebburn with the locomotive works of R. and W. Hawthorn at St.Peter’s in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1886.

In 1888 the company built a crane locomotive for Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Co.

In 1893 they made a 4-2-2-0 with four cylinders – two inside and two outside – connected separately to the two pairs of driving wheels. It was produced for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 but could not produce sufficient steam to compete effectively with the American products.

The company manufactured locomotives to order for main line companies. Four 0-4-4 locomotives were supplied to the Metropolitan Railway between 1896 and 1901.

Two 2-4-0 were supplied to the Kent and East Sussex Railway in 1899.

In 1915 F.G.Smith of the Highland Railway ordered six 4-6-0s to his own designs. However they were rejected by that railway as being too heavy, they were taken over by the Caledonian Railway. The London and North Eastern Railway ordered a batch of Great Central designed locomotives from the Company in 1925/6.

The company later had a number of standard designs including 0-4-0 saddle tanks and fireless locomotives.

In 1937 Robert Stephenson of Darlington amalgamated with the locomotive works at Forth Banks to form Robert Stephenson and Hawthorn Ltd. By this time Hawthorn Leslie had built 2,783 locomotives.

The newly formed Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns became a subsidiary of the Vulcan Foundry in 1943 and Hawthorn’s 137-year connection with Forth Banks ended.

Preserved 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.

Hawthorn Leslie supplied a locomotive to Powlesland and Mason who provided steam locomotives and crews for shunting within Swansea Docks. One member of a fleet of nine 0-4-0ST locomotives which came under Great Western Region ownership remains – 921 which was built in 1906 by Brush.

Hawthorn Leslie supplied four E class locomotives for the Metropolitan Railway. The only surviving member of the class (L44) was built at Neasden.

Hawthorn Leslie built twenty N2 class locomotives for the Great Norther Railway. They became BR numbers 69568-87. 69523 built by the North British Locomotive Co Ltd is the sole survivor of the class.

Hawthorn Leslie rebuilt Avonside Engine Company Work No 1772 Askham Hall in 1935 has survived into preservation.

Hawthorn Leslie rebuilt four Stockton & Darlington Railway class 1001 locomotives in the period 1936-38. One locomotive (number 1275) built by Dübs survived into preservation and is now part of the National Railway Museum Collection.

Works No Built Name Type Location
2450 1899 50  Newcastle    Commander B 0-4-0ST Hollycombe Steam Sollection
2491 1901 Henry 0-4-0ST Barrow Hill Roundhouse
2711 1907 Cyclops 0-4-0ST Tanfield Railway
2780 1909 Asbestos 0-4-0ST Chasewater Railway
2800 1909 Met 0-4-0ST
2859 1911 No 2 0-4-0ST Tanfield Railway
2918 1912 Pony   Achilles 0-4-0ST
3056 1914 NCB No 14 0-4-0ST Tanfield Railway
3135 1915 37  Invincible 0-4-0ST Isle of Wight Steam Railway
3138 1915 Holwell 0-6-0ST Rutland Railway Museum
3240 1917 139 Beatty 0-4-0ST Telford Steam Railway
3437 1919 Isabel 0-6-0ST Epping Ongar Railway
3513 1927 NCB  Stagshaw 0-6-0ST Tanfield Railway
3575 1923 Coal Products No 3  Glasshoughton No 3 0-6-0ST Tanfield Railway
3581 1924 Marston, Thompson & Evershed No 3 0-4-0ST Foxfield Railway
3597 1926 Falmouth Docks & Engineering Company    No 3 0-4-0ST Plym Valley Railway
3640 1926 Lord King    Percy 0-4-0ST Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway
3715 1928 Associated Portland Cement at Swanscombe No 1 0-4-0ST Colne Valley Railway
3717 1928 Associated Portland Cement at Swanscombe No 3 0-4-0ST Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
3718 1928 Associated Portland Cement at Swanscombe No 4 0-4-0ST Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
3732 1928 No 13   Barra 0-4-0ST Tanfield Railway
3799 1935 Penicuik 0-4-0ST Aln Valley Railway
3827 1934 Corby Iron & Steel Works No 14 0-6-0ST East Carlton Countryside Park & Steel Heritage Centre
3837 1934 Corby Iron & Steel Works No 16     Biwater Express 0-6-0ST Epping Ongar Railway
3860 1935 Associated Portland Cement at Swanscombe No 6 0-4-0ST Middleton Railway
3865 1936 Singapore 0-4-0ST Rutland Railway Museum
3931 1938 21  Linda 0-6-0ST Ribble Steam Railway

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