Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Greenwood and Batley

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1858. Flax heckling machinery.
1873. Machinery for Treating Silk Waste.
1873. Machinery for treating silk waste.
1875. Keats' silk-thread twisting machine.
1878. Loftus Perkins High Pressure Tram Locomotive.
January 1888.
June 1888.
May 1896.
June 1898.
August 1899.
August 1899.
February 1901.
January 1902.
September 1902.


1906. 12 inch spiral gear cutter.
1906. 24 inch spiral gear cutter.
1906. 4 inch machine front.
1906. 24 inch machine back.
1906. 46 inch machine front.
1906. 46 inch machine back.
8 inch Lathe. 1907.
8.5 inch Lathe. 1907.
1915. Hexagon Lathe.
1930. Electric Battery Locomotive. No 1210. Exhibit at Armley Mill Museum.
May 1950.
Exhibit formerly at Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre
Shaping machine. Exhibit at Armley Mill Museum.
Exhibit at Armley Mill Museum.
Exhibit at Armley Mill Museum.
Planing machine. Exhibit at Armley Mill Museum.
Greenwood & Batley de Laval-type steam turbine and gearbox at Armley Mill Museum.
Greenwood & Batley machine tools for producing turbine blades, at Armley Mill Museum.
2' 6" Gauge Petrol Locomotive. Located at Almond Valley Heritage Centre, Livingstone, Scotland.
2' 6" Gauge Petrol Locomotive Detail.

Greenwood and Batley, a large engineering manufacturer with a wide range of products, including armaments, electrical engineering, printing, of Albion Works, Armley Road, Leeds. Telephone: 20011. Telegraphic Address: "Greenwood, Leeds". (1937)

1856 May. The partnership of Fairbairn, Greenwood and Batley was dissolved. [1]

1856 Thomas Greenwood and John Batley first set up their business, both having previously worked at Peter Fairbairn and Co in Leeds.

1856 Their first premises, the Albion Foundry, was taken over from T. W. Lord formerly Lord and Brooke. The foundry was located on East Street by the River Aire (Aire and Calder Navigation), however this quickly became too small for their needs.

1856 September. Mention as Greenwood and Batley of Leeds. [2]

1859 They constructed the Albion Works, Leeds.

1861 Employing 270 men and 112 boys [3]

1873 Thomas Greenwood died and the running of the company was taken over by his sons George Greenwood and Arthur Greenwood, his nephew Henry Greenwood and John Henry Wurtzburg their brother-in-law. [4]

1876 Members of the Iron and Steel Institute visited their machine and tool making works. [5]

1878 Built a tramway locomotive for Brussels tramways.

1881 Employing 670 hands [6]

Early 1880s Supplied nearly 900 machine tools to the Terni Arsenal in Italy.[7]

1885 The company branched out into Flour and Oil Milling Machinery as a result of the acquisition of the business of Joseph Whitham and Son of the Perseverance Iron Works, Kirkstall Road, Leeds.

1888 July. Public company. The company was registered on 7 July, to take over the business of the firm of the same name, engineers and machine makers of Leeds. The four family members remain as managing Directors. Mentions John Batley but not in an active role. [8] [9]

1888 The works covered eleven acres and employed around 1,600 men.

1888 May. The 'Leeds' dynamo with 100 volts at 180 amps for electric lighting. [10]

Late 1880s: Invited to the manufacture the torpedo that had been developed by Robert Whitehead, so as to supplement the resources of Woolwich Arsenal.

1889 'Immense' concrete boring machine for Creusot Works. [11]

1890 A rail connection with the Great Northern Railway was installed to bring in raw materials and to deliver finished products.

1891 Exhibited 14 in. torpedoes[12]

1894 An early innovation was the installation of their own electricity generating station, completed in 1894. This allowed machine tools to be electrically driven rather than the traditional common shafts driven by steam. This development was to prove profitable in other ways, as the company was able to provide similar generator stations for both public supplies and industrial applications e.g. tramways, as one of its range of products.

1894 Royal Agricultural Show. Exhibitor of the 'Excel' pneumatic hammer. [13]

1896 A further acquisition saw Greenwood and Batley take over Smith, Beacock and Tannett, Victoria Foundry, Water Lane, Leeds. This company were the successors to the Round Foundry and were principally involved in the manufacture of Machine Tools.

Greenwood and Batley rapidly became a giant of a company, manufacturing an incredible range of products. Their primary business was military equipment both in terms of machinery to make armaments and the production of components such as bullets and shell cases.

By the turn of the century Greenwood and Batley offered the following products:-

  • Machine Tool Department: every description of General and Special machine tolls for Railway, Marine and General Engineers, including Hydraulic and other Forging and Stamping Machinery, Lathes, Punching, Shearing, Planing, Milling, Shaping, Drilling and Boring Machines. Bolt, Nut and Screw Machinery. Testing Machines for strength of Material. Wood Working Machinery.
  • Special Plants and Machinery for making Armour Plates, Ordnance, Gun Mountings and Ammunition: also for Small Arms Cartridges, Gunpowder, etc., and every description of War Material. Rolling Mills for Metal Coining, Presses and Minting Machinery.
  • Oil Mill Machinery Department: The “Albion,” “Leeds, “ and Anglo-American systems for Extraction of every kind of Vegetable Oil including Machinery for Preparing and Decorticating Seeds, Nuts etc. Presses for making Cattle Feeding Cakes, Seed and Grain Elevators and Warehousing machinery. Oil Refineries. Cotton and other Baling Presses.
  • Textile Machinery Department: Improved Patented Machines for Preparing and Spinning Waste Silk, China Grass, Rhea, Ramie, and other fibres. Whyte’s patent Cop Winding Machine.
  • Engineering Department: Frickart’s Improved Corliss Steam Engines, single compound and triple expansion of the largest powers, for driving Factories, Mills, Electrical Installations, etc. Sole Manufacturers of The Brayton Patent Oil Engine.
  • Electrical Department: all kinds of Dynamos and Motors for Lighting or Transmission of Power. Speciality: Motors for electrically driven Machine Tools etc. De Laval’s Patent Steam Turbine Motors, Turbine Dynamos, Turbine Pumps and Fans (for Great Britain and Colonies, China and Japan).
  • Ordnance Department: Manufacturers of all kinds of Military Small Arms Ammunition. Self-propelling Torpedoes (Whiteheads’s) for the Navy, and Horse Shoes for the British Government.
  • Printing and Sewing Machine Department: Patent Platen Printing Machines. Patent Boot Sewing Machines. Cloth Cutting Machines. Patent Boot Sewing Machines. Cloth Cutting Machines for Wholesale Clothiers, etc.

Greenwood and Batley also manufactured a shaving machine and a splitting machine with fixed oscillating knife for the leather machinery trade.[14]

1901 Moved the Explosives loading work to Abbey Wood, Woolwich, from Greenwich. The company held the UK rights for sale of the De Laval patent steam turbine, dynamos and pumps, for which demand was steadily increasing[15]

1902 The English De Laval Steam Turbine Co was said "to be practically part of Greenwood and Batley's business" but because of the interest of the Swedish parent the accounts were kept separate[16]

1905 Advert for machine tools, oil mill machinery, dynamos and motors. [17]

1914 Manufacturers of Special and General Machinery for Arsenals, Mints, Bolt Factories, Oil Mills, Silk Mills; Electrical Machinery, Steam Turbines, Centrifugal Pumps, Torpedoes, Cartridges etc. Employees 1,500 to 2,000. [18]

WWI Produced some of the first tanks in the First World War.

1919 Advert for Shapers. [19]

1927 See Aberconway for information on the company and its history.

1937 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. "Greenbat" 1½in. Hot Forging Machine. "Greenbat" 220 tons High-speed Screw Percussion Press. "Greenbat" ⅜in. Open Die Double Stroke Cold Header. "Greenbat" Screw Nicker. "Greenbat" ¼in. Solid Die Header. (Stand Nos. D.413 and D.314) [20]

1961 General engineers and tool and machine makers. [21]

1960s The company became part of the Fairbairn-Lawson Group in the late 1960s, however trading conditions were not favourable and in April 1980 the receivers were called in and 480 employees made redundant. The company was bought by Hunslet Holdings for £1.65M who continued to use the Greenbat name for their battery locomotives.

By 1984 the work had been transferred to Jack Lane and the Albion Works were mothballed.

In 1987 the site was sold and the works demolished.

Locomotive Building

1876 The company built an experimental compressed air tramcar. The vehicle was supplied by a 100 cubic foot reservoir filled at 1000psi. The outcome of this work is not known but lack of evidence would indicate it was not a success.

1878 Similarly, a Loftus Perkins tramway locomotive built. This was fed by a water tube boiler nominally rated at 500psi. Again there is no evidence of its success.

1896 Leeds Corporation placed an order for 25 electric tramcars.

1897 The vehicles entered service, however this work was not repeated.

1901 Listed as Railway Plant Contractors of Albion Works, Leeds. [22]

1920 September. Exhibited at the Machine Tool and Engineering Exhibition at Olympia with 20 kW turbo-generator suitable for lighting ships. Also showed an electric truck to carry 2 tons. [23]

1927 Greenwood and Batley’s first successful venture into locomotive building occurred in July 1927 when five 4hp battery-electric narrow gauge locomotives were completed for Edmund Nuttall’s Mersey Tunnel contract. These locomotives proved very reliable and a total of 31 G and B locomotives were used on the Mersey Tunnel construction. Other work developed rapidly.

1928 Flameproof locomotive were built for the Royal Navy.

1929 The first export order was for seven, pantograph fitted locomotives for the Chinese Engineering and Mining Co Ltd.

1930 The first standard gauge locomotive was built for Luton Power Station. This was a 15hp design and was capable of hauling one hundred tons at 4 mph on the level. This locomotive is preserved at the Armley Mills Industrial Museum, Leeds. A standard gauge passenger-carrying vehicle was constructed in 1933 for use by the Royal Navy at Gosport. This locomotive used two 10hp motors and could run at 20mph up a 1 in 137 gradient. Other products for which they were well known was coke car locomotive for Gas Works and Coking Plants.

1960 Advert for electric mining locomotives. [24]

In their short period of production, Greenwood and Batley built 1,367 electric locomotives which were exported around the world. This company deserves much better recognition for its achievements.

1988 Ceased trading after joining the Hunslet Group.

Engines are exhibited at Armley Mill Museum.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Leeds Mercury, Thursday, May 15, 1856
  2. The Leeds Mercury, Saturday, September 27, 1856
  3. 1861 Census
  4. The British Machine Tool Industry, 1850-1914 By Roderick Floud
  5. The Engineer of 15th August 1876 p180
  6. 1881 Census
  7. [1] US Special Agents' Series, Issues 33-40: Machine Tool Trade in Austria-Hungary, Denmark, Russia and Netherlands, 1910. p.169
  8. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  9. The Times, Saturday, Jul 07, 1888
  10. The Engineer of 25th May 1888 p430
  11. The Engineer of 10th May 1889 p396
  12. The Engineer 1891/05/22
  13. The Engineer of 6th July 1894 p16
  14. Leather World, 1911,3,342.
  15. The Times, Jun 18, 1901
  16. The Times, Jul 07, 1902
  17. Mechanical World Year Book 1905. Published by Emmott and Co of Manchester. Advert p377
  18. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  19. Mechanical World Year Book 1919. Published by Emmott and Co of Manchester. Advert p71
  20. 1937 British Industries Fair Page 370
  21. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  22. White's Directory of Sheffield and Rotherham, 1901 p979
  23. The Engineer of 10th September 1920 p244
  24. Mining Year Book 1960. Published by Walter E. Skinner. Advert p357
  • [2] Wikipedia
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816
  • Stationary Steam Engines of Great Britain by George Watkins. Vol 10