Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

R. B. Longridge and Co

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1910. Prince Albert 7-ft Gauge Locomotive.

R. B. Longridge and Co of Bedlington.

1782 Messrs Hawks and Thomas Longridge took over the Bedlington Ironworks about two miles from Blyth.

1809 Messrs Gordon and Biddulph, a London based company, took over the works. Michael Longridge, nephew of the previous co-owner, came to Bedlington.

From about 1814, Bedlington was making parts for locomotives

About 1816 Michael Longridge was made a partner in the works

They were well known for the production of railway tyres in competition with Lowmoor Ironworks. Its proprietor was Michael Longridge, Senior who also managed Robert Stephenson's works during the latter's absence abroad. He was also proprietor of the Bedlington Ironworks which pioneered the rolling of long malleable iron rails.

c.1827 locomotive factory at Bedlington

1828 Michael Longridge, Senior wrote to Joseph Pease acknowledging receipt of cast iron part of the wheels for the locomotive engine "per Newcastle" (sic). Asked that Timothy Hackworth should be present to see that everything is done as he wishes and requests that he is given 3 days leave for the purpose[1]

1829 Biddulph and Gordon, of Bedlington Ironworks, took a lease on land between the bridge and the Rose and Crown Inn, on the opposite side of the river from the works. Longridge seems to have been considering building a locomotive factory at Bedlington for some time.

c.1836 Michael Longridge, Senior announced plans to build an up-to-date locomotive factory on the Bebside site. The news caused consternation amongst the members of the Robert Stephenson Co in Newcastle, of which Michael Longridge was an original partner, as the new company would be a direct competitor to the Newcastle works.

1836 Robert Stephenson wrote to Joseph Pease about Longridge's plans and suggested considering offering the Forth Street works to the Bedlington Company.

1838 Michael Longridge, Senior built an up-to-date locomotive factory on the site. The engine builders styled themselves R. B. Longridge and Co., under the direction of Robert Bewick Longridge, Michael’s fourth son. Bedlington had built a few engines previous to this but now the company built them in large numbers[2]

At their peak they employed 1,500 workers.

The first locomotive was an 0-6-0 called Michael Longridge for the Stanhope and Tyne Railway. This was followed by a number of 2-2-2 locomotives for several European railways.

An 0-4-2 locomotive Bedlington was built by Messrs Longridge and Co [3]

1838-39 At least twenty locomotives built

1841 Some broad gauge singles were also built for Daniel Gooch of the Great Western Railway.

1846-7 Sixty locomotives built. Business increased in 1846 with about sixty engines for the London and Birmingham Railway, the Midland Railway and the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. While the export trade experienced a lull, orders continued to be fulfilled for the home railways, including ten 4-2-0 Crampton locomotives for the Great Northern, which were later converted to 2-2-2 by Archibald Sturrock.

Strong competition developed in locomotive building; Bedlington was ill placed to compete. Its proximity to the coal mines and advantages in use of river-bourne freight became less significant considering the problems of dragging their locomotives up on to the high road and the advantages that other ironworks had in access to the main railways to achieve economies in transport[4]

1852 The last locomotives were made

By the time the locomotive works closed in 1853 it had produced some two hundred engines.

1914 Robert Bewick Longridge died at the age of 93.

1965 Records of the company 1948-1965 are held in the National Railway Museum[5]

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. NRM [1]
  2. History of Bedlington Ironworks by Christopher Bergen [2]
  3. Picture on Bedlington Ironworks site [3]
  4. History of Bedlington Ironworks by Christopher Bergen [4]
  5. NRM [5]
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816