Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,199 pages of information and 245,645 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Dick, Kerr and Co

From Graces Guide
6-stroke gas engine made to the patent of S. Griffin and Co on display at the Museum of Bath at Work
January 1888.
June 1888.
1889 Griffin vertical 'High Speed' gas engine at the Anson Engine Museum
Griffin 'High Speed' gas engine at the Anson Engine Museum


December 1889.


August 1899.
1902. Horndean light railways motor generator.
1903. 1500 KW three-phase alternator.
1903. 3750 KW two-phase alternator.
1904. Wakefield and district light railways.
1904. Leicester 76. Exhibit at Crich Tramway Museum.
1905. Hastings electric tramways.


1910. Bergmann steam turbine.
1910. Experimental tank at Teddington.
Dick, Kerr generator coupled to Belliss and Morcom steam engine at Crich Tramway Museum.
Generator. Exhibit at Crich Tramway Museum.
Lamp Post. Exhibit at the Summerlee Museum of Industrial Life.
Lamp Post (detail). Exhibit at the Summerlee Museum of Industrial Life.

Dick, Kerr and Company of Kilmarnock, Scotland with head office at Leadenhall St, London (1885); later at Preston, England, was a locomotive manufacturer and manufacturer of electrical equipment. Previously part of W. B. Dick and Co, the company also built all kinds of tramway equipment and rolling stock, and undertook civil engineering contracts.

1883 The company was formed by spinning out the rail and tramway activities from W. B. Dick and Co with John Kerr and was given the name of Dick, Kerr and Co; the company built around fifty locomotives up to 1919.

1885 Won an award for a portable railway at the 1885 International Inventions Exhibition[1]

1885 Already known as locomotive builders and with extensive shipping interests, Dick, Kerr and Co started construction of 6 steam launches at its Britannia Works, Kilmarnock[2].

1888 Produced 'Griffin' 6-stroke gas engines, designed by Samuel Griffin. Description and illustration in The Engineer. [3]. Some of the engines were double-acting, i.e. combustion at each end of the cylinder, alternately, after 3 revolutions of the flywheel[4]. Single-acting twin cylinder engines and single cylinder verticals were also produced.

1889 Worked on the Northfleet tramway. [5]

Involved in various tramway schems, particularly construction of several cable tramways

1890 Showed four sizes of the 'Griffin' gas engine at the Engineers, Electricians, Builders and Ironmongers Exhibition. [6]

1890 Incorporated as limited company, as railway and tramway appliance makers and as iron and steel founders and electricians[7]. Public offer of shares to acquire the engineering and contracting company of the same name - reasons given were the advancing years of the senior partner and the need for investment to expand the works at Kilmarnock including a modern iron and steel foundry[8].

1890 Dissolution of the Partnership between Frederick Manuelle and John Kerr, carrying on business as Engineers and Contractors, at 101, Leadenhall-street, London, and Kilmarnock, under the style or firm of Dick, Kerr, and Co[9]

1891 Mechanical engineers, railway contractors, locomotive makers, railway wagon builders, tramway constructors, etc: offices at 101 Leadenhall Street, and 76 Queen Victoria St, EC, London[10].

1892 Crystal Palace Electrical Exhibition. Griffin gas engines driving dynamos. [11]

1893 The company acquired the railway and tramway plant activities of Hartley, Arnoux and Fanning, which company had recently been purchased by Kerr, Stuart and Co.

On Thursday afternoon, in connection with Swan Field Shed Company, Limited, Colne, a gas engine was christened in the presence of numerous ladies and gentlemen. The gas engine has been erected by Messrs. Dick, Kerr, and Company, of Kilmarnock, and Mr. J. W. Hartley, manager of that company, stated that the engine had been built at a cost of about £1,700, and it had a maximum of 280 horse-power. The fuel to be used would be coke, it being expected that the engine would consume about 1.5 pounds of coke per indicated horse power per hour. This was lower than any steam engine was at the present time, and in a short time he thought it would be still further reduced. He said this engine was the largest single cylinder gas engine in this country, and he believed until within tho last few months it might be said to be the largest in the world.'[12]

1899 The company was registered on 24 August, and is a reconstruction of a company of the same name, to take over a business of engineers and contractors.

1899 The English Electric Manufacturing Co was incorporated as a public company, for purpose of manufacturing, at its own new works at Preston, every variety of electrical machinery, particularly for use by railways and tramways[13].

1900 June. Tramways and Light Railways Exhibition at Islington in conjunction with the English Electric Manufacturing Co and the Electric Railway and Tramway Carriage Works [14]

1902 Joint exhibit by Dick, Kerr and Co, the English Electrical Manufacturing Company, and the Electric Railway and Tramway Carriage Works, Limited at the International Tramways and Light Railway Exhibition[15]

1902 The bulk of the capital of the English Electric Manufacturing Co was acquired[16], and the capital of that company largely increased, which gave Dick, Kerr and Co a factory at Preston.

1903 3750 kW two-phase alternator for Shawinigan Falls Water and Power Co, Canada, to be driven by Escher, Wyss and Co turbine. 189 rpm, 2200 V, 30 Hz.[17]

1904 Contractors for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway's electrification of the Liverpool and Southport Railway using direct current (dc) electricity [18].

1907 Alternator at Islington Electricity Works, driven by a Willans and Robinson steam turbine. Illustrated in The Engineer [19]

1907 2 MW alternator for Sydney, driven by a Willans and Robinson steam turbine. Illustrated in The Engineer [20]

1910 Decided to begin construction of steam turbines under the Bergmann patents, under licence from Bergmann Elektricitats Werke [21]. Turbines described in detail in The Engineer [22]

1911 Construction of a lamp factory at Preston, to make metal filament lamps.

1912 Supplied alternators to Japan.

1914 Listed as electrical and mechanical engineers and contractors. [23]

WWI During the First World War the company converted a factory to munitions work. The company also made aircraft, to designs from the Seaplane Experimental Station at Felixstowe and acquired the A. E. G. Electric Co, one of 3 subsidiaries in the U.K. of the German company A. E. G.

1916 Acquired Willans and Robinson; full control achieved in 1917 when plans were made for consolidation of the 2 businesses.

1917 The Strand Road works in Preston were known for making electrical appliances (English Electric Works), lamps (Britannia Works) and electric railway engineering (English Electric Works)[24].

1917 Dick, Kerr and Co acquired the United Electric Car Co, also in Strand Road, Preston, who made trams.

1918 Alliance with Siemens Brothers and Co for amalgamation of sales organisations and coordination of designs. Seeking to prepare for expansion of electrical manufacturing, entered option agreement with Coventry Ordnance Works Ltd whose modern factory could be converted to electrical manufacturing[25].

1918 Order for two 5 MW turbine-alternator sets for the Union Miniere du Haut Katanga. The turbines were of the Willans-Zoelly type, driving Siemens alternators [26]

1919 the Kilmarnock works were sold to the Kilmarnock Engineering Co, and the company Dick, Kerr and Co was concentrated at Preston.

1919 The Dick, Kerr and United Electric Car Works at Preston and Willans and Robinson at Rugby were acquired by the English Electric Co.

1919 English Electric Co arranged the amalgamation of the contracts department of Dick, Kerr and Co with that of J. G. White and Co in the form of the Consolidated Construction Co, which eliminated one of the main competitors in the field[27]

1922 Manufacturer of rail and tramway appliances.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The London Gazette 12 August 1885
  2. Glasgow Herald, 23 July 1885
  3. The Engineer of 18th May 1888 p403
  4. Glasgow Herald, 28 August 1888
  5. The Engineer of 15th March 1889 p22
  6. The Engineer of 21st March 1890 p246
  7. The Engineer of 13th June 1890 p489
  8. Pall Mall Gazette, 2 June 1890
  9. The London Gazette 9 June 1891
  10. Post Office London Trades Directory, 1891
  11. 1892 The Practical Engineer
  12. Blackburn Standard - Saturday 16 March 1895
  13. The Times, 5 December 1899
  14. The Engineer of 29th June 1900 p667
  15. The Engineer 1902/07/04
  16. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  17. Engineering, 30 October 1903
  18. The Times, 14 March 1904
  19. [1] The Engineer, 7 June 1907, p.583
  20. [2] The Engineer, 7 June 1907, p.583
  21. The Times, 30 September 1910
  22. [3] The Engineer 18 Dec 1910
  23. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  24. General and Commercial Directory of Preston, 1917
  25. The Times, 15 November 1918
  26. Engineering, 6 Dec 1918, p.646
  27. The Times, Apr 29, 1920
  • [4] Wikipedia
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816