From Graces Guide
of Great Marlborough Street, Manchester, and later moving to Openshaw, Manchester. A pioneering company in the production of internal combustion engines. In 1988 it became part of the Rolls-Royce Power Engineering group.
More than 100,000 Crossley oil and gas engines have been built.
1867 Francis William Crossley (1839-97), with help from his uncle, bought the engineering business of John M. Dunlop and Co at Great Marlborough Street in Manchester city centre, including manufacturing pumps, presses, and small steam engines.
His brother William (1844-1911) (Sir William from 1910) joined shortly after the purchase. The company was initially Crossley Brothers and Dunlop.
1867 Partnership between John M Dunlop and Francis William Crossley, under the firm of John M. Dunlop and Co, dissolved by mutual consent. Also:-
'NOTICE is hereby given, that by indenture lease dated this eighth day August, 1867, and made between the undersigned JOHN MACMILLAN DUNLOP, of Hole Hird, of the county of Westmoreland. Esquire, of the one part, and the undersigned FRANCIS WILLIAM CROSSLEY and WILLIAM JOHN CROSSLEY, both of the city of Manchester, engineers and machine makers, of the other part, the said John Macmillan Dunlop demised to the said Francis William Crossley and William John Crossley, for the term of 10 years, and under the yearly rents therein mentioned, the Machine Making Works, Buildings, and Land of him, the said John Macmillan Dunlop, situate In Great Marlborough street, aforesaid, ; and all and every the Steam Engine, Steam Boiler, Main Gearing, Gas, and other apparatus, fixed machinery, fixed tools, and other the natures now being upon, about, ….'
Each of the brothers had served engineering apprenticeships: Francis, known as Frank, at Robert Stephenson and Co and William at Armstrong, Mitchell and Co, both in Newcastle upon Tyne. William concentrated on the business side, Frank provided the engineering expertise.
The brothers were committed Christians and strictly teetotal, refusing to supply their products to companies such as breweries, whom they did not approve of. They adopted the early Christian symbol of the Coptic Cross as the emblem to use on their road vehicles.
1869 They acquired the UK and world (except German) rights to the patents of Otto and Langen (sometimes Langden) of Cologne for the new gas fuelled atmospheric internal combustion engine
1876 These rights were extended to the famous Otto four-stroke cycle engine. The change over to four stroke engines was remarkably rapid with the last atmospheric engines being made in 1877.
1881 Crossley Brothers became a private limited company
1882 They moved to larger premises in Pottery Lane, Openshaw, in eastern Manchester. 8,000 engines sold.
1888 Further technical improvements also followed, including the introduction of poppet valves and the hot-tube ignitor in 1888 and the introduction of the carburettor, allowing volatile liquid fuels to be used.
1891 By adopting the heavier fuelled "oil" engine, the first one being demonstrated in 1891, the company's future was assured.
1894 Trials of a Crossley Gas Engine. Report. 
1894 June. Took part in the Royal Agricultural Society’s Competitive Trial of Oil Engines. 6.5 bhp fixed engine and a portable engine. Article in ‘The Engineer’. 
1896 They obtained rights to the diesel system.
1897 Public company. The company was registered on 5 April, to take over the business of gas and oil engine makers of a private company of the same name. 
1898 First diesel engines made, followed by petrol engines, which were used on buses, including Leyland buses.
1900 Illustrated catalogue of gas and oil engines ranging up to 180 hp.
1900 June. Royal Agricultural Show at York. Showed ten engines. Details in 'The Engineer'. 
1900 July. Illustration and article on the 350 hp Gas Engine - 'the largest engine yet turned out by Crossley'. 
1900 Paris Exhibition. Description of the five engines (1, 8, 12, 17 & 32 hp) shown. 
1901 By the turn of the century, there was also some production of petrol engines, and from 1901 these engines were finding their way into road vehicles, including, in 1905, Leyland buses.
A major contribution to manufacturing was the introduction of the assembly line. Some claim that the Crossley system influenced Henry Ford, who visited Pottery Lane at the turn of the century.
1906 The company decided a separate company was required for production of vehicles and a new company, Crossley Motors, was registered on the 11th April 1906. Vehicle production continued until 1958.
Originally based in the main factory, in 1907 Crossley Motors moved to a nearby site they owned in Napier Street, Gorton, Manchester. (Napier Street was later renamed as Crossley Street).
1911 Death of Sir William J. Crossley. Obituary in the Engineer of 20th October 1911. 
1911 Section 8 catalogue devoted to suction gas plants for anthracite, coke, bituminous coal, sawdust, peat etc.
1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices of Paraffin Commercial and Agricultural Motors, Tractors, Ploughs, Sprayers, etc. see the 1917 Red Book. See under 'New Crossley'.
1914 Listed as engineers. Specialities: gas engines, oil engines, petrol, benzine and alcohol engines, gas producer plants, the "Otto" patent gas engine, motor car and omnibus engines. 
1919 Crossley Brothers bought Premier Gas Engine Co of Sandiacre, Nottingham, who built very large engines.
1920 November. Exhibited at the Motor Car Show with a 25-30 RFC model and a 19.6 hp models. The latter was of 3,705 cc. There is a detailed description in 'The Engineer'. 
1924 Took over H. P. Saunderson and Co
1935 Changed the name of Premier Gas Engine to Crossley-Premier Engines with a public offering of shares. Their Nottingham factory was expanded, and production continued there until 1966.
1937 Internal-combustion-engine manufacturers. 
1955 Engine. Type GE112. 16 hp. Exhibit at Anson Engine Museum
1955 Engine. Type HD6. Diesel. Exhibit at Anson Engine Museum
1960s Although sales remained reasonable, the company was not profitable. The design of the engines then being made was essentially 40 years old, so in 1962 agreement was reached to use the French Pielstick design. Production of these engines, intended for ships, railway locomotives and electricity generation, was initially carried out at Nottingham. But, before the engines could become established, in 1965, the money ran out and the company had to call in the receivers.
1961 Diesel and gas engineers, manufacturing locomotive, marine and stationary diesel and gas engines, also general engineering, foundry and fabrication work. 2,000 employees. 
1966 The receivers of Crossley Brothers reorganised the company and sold the business and assets to some of its subsidiaries. Subsequently Belliss and Morcom acquired Crossley-Premier Engines and Furnival and Co . The name Crossley-Premier was retained.
1968 The market for engines was continuing to shrink, and the new company joined the Amalgamated Power Engineering (APE) group and the name became APE-Crossley. For the first time the new company used the Coptic Cross logo on the engines. Previously, this had only appeared on Crossley Motors products — the rights to use it had to be bought from British Leyland. APE became part of NEI, and the company name became NEI-Allen Ltd-Crossley Engines.
1988 NEI were taken over by Rolls-Royce and the company became part of the Allen Power Engineering-Crossley Engines division of the Rolls-Royce Industrial Power Group. This, in turn, became Crossley Engines division of Rolls-Royce Power Engineering, continuing to produce the Crossley-Pielstick range until 1995.
Until 2009, engines were still being made (assembled from parts made elsewhere in the group) at the Pottery Lane factory, known as Crossley Works. Crossley latterly employed 80 people for assembly. Rolls-Royce still markets the Crossley-Pielstick range.
Crossley Brothers built diesel engines for marine and locomotive use. Examples include the HST-Vee 8, used in the British Rail Class 28 and the Western Australian Government Railways "X" class, the EST-Vee 8 used in the CIE "60 Class" and the ESNT 6 used in British Railways shunting locomotives D3117-D3126. Both were two stroke engines equipped with Crossley's system of exhaust pulse pressure charging whereby surplus air in the exhaust manifold was forced back into the cylinder by the exhaust pulse from a neighbouring cylinder.
Original Works in Manchester
1867 The brothers took over the works of J. M. Dunlop (see above).
1871 'Fatal Accident at an Iron Foundry.— At the City Coroner's Court, to-day, an inquest was held by Mr. J. Makinson, deputy coroner, respecting the death of Robert Booth, aged 52, and late of 27, Lancaster-street, Hulme. The deceased was in the service of Crossley Brothers, engineers and ironfounders, Marlborough-street, Hulme. A witness named Charles Booth stated that on Monday the 10th of March he and deceased were engaged hoisting, by a chain, a large iron casting, when one of the links of the chain broke, and the casting fell on one of the deceased's feet, literally smashing it in pieces. He was removed to the Royal Infirmary, where he died yesterday.—The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.'
List of Models
- Crossley Brothers: ZA (c1896- )
- A number of engines exhibited at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry
- A number of engines exhibited at Bradford Industrial Museum
- A number of engines exhibited dating from 1883 at Anson Engine Museum
Sources of Information
- Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 10th August 1867
- The Engineer of 8th June 1894 p493
- The Engineer of 22nd June 1894 p540
- The Engineer of 6th July 1894 p9
- The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
- The Engineer of 22nd June 1900 p650
- The Engineer of 6th July 1900 p17
- The Engineer of 20th July 1900 p68
- The Engineer of 16th November 1900 p487
- The Engineer of 20th October 1911 p401
- The Engineer 1911/04/21 p 422.
- 1914 Whitakers Red Book
- The Engineer of 5th November 1920 p450
- 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
- 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
- The Times, 7 November 1966;
- Manchester Evening News - Wednesday 12 April 1871