Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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GEC Traction

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1930. Oil electric locomotive, made in association with William Beardmore and Co.

Note: This is a sub-section of GEC

of Westinghouse Road, Trafford Park, Manchester. (1982)

After being a minor player in tram equipment, the company entered the heavy rail electric traction market in the 1920s and 30s.

By 1927 GEC was one of the UK's major electrical-machinery and plant manufacturers

1930 GEC received contracts for the Manchester-Altrincham electrification and other railway projects[1].

1939 Engaged in Railway electrification business at home and abroad[2].

Post-WWII Collaborated with English Electric Co on railway electrification projects.

1960-7 Over this period GEC and English Electric won overseas orders worth £30M for railway locomotives[3]

GEC closed its rail traction operations[4]

Then GEC acquired AEI and English Electric Co, which both had their own traction activities. which were combined as English Electric-AEI Traction

1972 GEC Traction Ltd was formed as part of the GEC Power Engineering Group, bringing together the traction activities of English Electric and AEI

The company had offices and works at Trafford Park in Manchester, at Strand Road in Preston, and at Attercliffe Common, Sheffield.

1972 Order to GEC Traction from Malaysia for locomotives worth £4M[5]

GEC Traction designed and manufactured a full range of traction machines and control equipment for electric vehicles, including electric locomotives and multiple unit trains for main-line and mass-transit railway systems (dc up to 3,000 volts, and ac up to 50,000 volts), diesel-electric locomotives and trains, mining and industrial locomotives, tramcars and trolleybuses.

GEC Traction was the leading supplier of traction equipment in the UK and had a wide market around the world, particularly in South Africa, Australasia, Hong Kong, South Korea, South America and Pakistan.

1979 the Industrial Locomotive Division of the former English Electric Co at Vulcan Works, Newton-le-Willows was merged into GEC Traction, which later became a separate company, GEC Industrial Locomotives Ltd.

1982 Employers: Associated Electrical Industrial Ltd. so part of GEC

1985 GEC Transportation Projects was responsible for the electrical and mechanical work on the Docklands Light Railway; the vehicle propulsion equipment was manufactured by GEC Traction [6]

1989 GEC Alsthom was formed as a 50/50 joint venture by the merger of the power and transport divisions of Compagnie Générale d'Electricité (CGE) and GEC.

1989 Became GEC Alsthom Traction Ltd

The firm underwent major rationalisation, involving closure of several sites including Attercliffe Common in Sheffield in 1985 and the company’s headquarters at Trafford Park in 1998.

1998 Became Alstom Traction Ltd, of Rugby

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 26 June 1930
  2. The Times, 30 June 1939
  3. The Times Saturday, Sept. 7, 1968
  4. Science Museum [1]
  5. The Times Wednesday, Feb. 9, 1972
  6. The Times Friday, Apr. 19, 1985
  • Companies House filings
  • [2] Science Museum