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British Industrial History

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E. B. Wilson and Co

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E. B. Wilson and Company (1847-1858), of the Railway Foundry in Leeds, a locomotive manufacturing company.

1844 Charles Todd left the partnership of Shepherd and Todd to be replaced by Edward Brown Wilson.[1]

c1845 Edward Brown Wilson left after a year

1846 Shepherd and Todd were taken over by James Fenton who had previously been in charge of building the Leeds and Thirsk railway line; the foundry become Fenton, Craven and Co.

1847 Edward Brown Wilson took over Fenton, Craven and Co , renamed the company as E. B. Wilson and Company, retaining James Fenton as the Works Manager. Many of the maker's plates, however, retained the name "The Railway Foundry, Leeds."

The works was expanded with the intention of producing up to fifty engines a year. Fenton's boiler designs were particularly successful, and the company's products acquired a reputation for workmanship and reliability.

1847 David Joy was the Chief Draughtsman and was tasked with designing a new engine for the London and Brighton Railway. Dissatisfied by the engines then current in Yorkshire, and having spent three weeks studying John Gray's at Brighton, he produced a similar design. The first of these, in 1847, was named Jenny Lind and was an immediate success.

1847 The first Jenny Lind was an immediate success. There is some controversy whether Fenton, Joy or even Wilson was responsible. Joy would appear to have produced the drawings, but Fenton would have had to approve them, and the success of the engine undoubtedly owed much to the boilers, which were working at the unprecedented pressure of 120psi. Over seventy were built, with twenty four going to the Midland Railway.

Beside the "Jennies", E. B. Wilson also produced 2-4-0 and 0-6-0 and set out to standardise their designs. They charged a premium for any variations, although the size of the engines gradually became larger. The company also produced pumping engines, carriages and wagons. They also carried out maintenance work for the Midland Railway, whose Derby Works were then short of capacity, and built a few to customer's own designs, including one or two Crampton locomotives.

1851 Award at the 1851 Great Exhibition. See details at 1851 Great Exhibition: Reports of the Juries: Class V.

1852-4 John Jamieson ran the marine engine department of the foundry.

1856 Trouble with leading shareholders caused Edward Wilson to leave the Railway Foundry and Alexander Campbell (later a founder of Manning, Wardle and Co) was appointed manager. The feuding between the leading shareholders continued with high court action.

1858 The company closed, having produced over 600 engines.

1859 June. Auction of all the equipment of the factory recently used by E. B. Wilson. Detailed list given. Mentions High Court orders re Pollard v. Wilson, Roberts v. Pollard and Turne v. Wilson. (Some of these had been listed since 1856 onward) [2]

Further Reading

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Bradford Observer; and Halifax, Huddersfield, and Keighley Reporter, Thursday, June 13, 1844
  2. The Leeds Mercury, Saturday, June 18, 1859
  • The Engineer 1920/10/08 p369
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816
  • Glasgow men [1]