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British Industrial History

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Greenwood and Batley

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1858. Flax heckling machinery.
1862. Materials testing machine for Charles Cammell and Co
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.


De Laval mixed pressure turbine at Griff Colliery, Nuneaton[1]
Mixed pressure blades on de Laval mixed pressure turbine at Griff Colliery[2]
300 HP De Laval turbine-generator for a super-dreadnought. Condenser in background.[3]
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.
Lathe, formerly exhibited at Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre
Shaping machine. Exhibit at Armley Mill Museum.
Exhibit at Armley Mill Museum.
Unusual type of De Laval turbine 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)

Development of the Business

1856 May. The partnership of Fairbairn, Greenwood and Batley was dissolved. [4]

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. [5]

1859 They constructed the Albion Works, Leeds.

1861 Employing 270 men and 112 boys [6]

1862 Machine for tensile, compression and torsional testing of materials made for Charles Cammell and Co of Cyclops Works, Sheffield. See illustration.

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. [7]

1876 Members of the Iron and Steel Institute visited their machine and tool making works. [8]

1878 Built a tramway locomotive for Brussels tramways.

1881 Employing 670 hands [9]

Early 1880s Supplied nearly 900 machine tools to the Terni Arsenal in Italy.[10]

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. [11] [12]

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. [13]

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

1889 'Immense' boring machine for Creusot Works. [14]. See 'Large Lathes' below.

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[15]

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. [16]

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.[17]

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[18]

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[19]

1905 Advert for machine tools, oil mill machinery, dynamos and motors. [20]

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. [21]

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

1919 Advert for Shapers. [22]

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) [23]

1961 General engineers and tool and machine makers. [24]

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.

Large Lathes

Entering from the east by the central avenue, the first striking object that attracts attention, and at which Mr Trueman Wood, the British Commissioner-Delegate who, with MM. Berger and Alphund and other officials, accompanied the President - made a dead stop, was the colossal lathe constructed by Messrs Greenwood & Batley, of Leeds, for the great French engineering establishment Messrs Schneider & Co. at Creusot, which is at last installed after many delays and misfortunes. This machine tool, with the engine to drive and dynamo to accompany it, occupies more than 1000 square feet of floor space, and it weighs upwards of 300 tons. It is quite sui generis, and an outcome of the enormous advance which has been made in the manufacture of ordnance of large calibres. When this lathe gets work at Creusot the great French firm will be able to put the Armstrong 100-ton gun into the shade, and will greatly surpass the power of the great Essen establishment of Krupp. The lathe will turn an ingot of steel more than 60 feet long and more than seven feet in diameter, and will simultaneously bore it out to a 40 inch calibre, if necessary, the energy developed when both processes are going on being absolutely inconceivable. Some idea of this, though an imperfect one, may be gathered from the fact that the steel shavings produced when the two operations are proceeding amount to about 40 lbs. per minute. M. Carnot, himself an engineer, seemed lost in admiration of this wonderful tool, and the profound silence amid which the operation was watched as the huge bits crunched into the steel was strangely impressive. M. Carnot cordially shook hands with Mr. Greenwood, warmly congratulating him on his triumph of constructive skill, and accepting from him an album containing photographs of some of the firm's famous tools for the manufacture of munitions of war — tools well known in France and every country of Europe as they are in England itself.'[25]

1890 Britsh Association Meeting: 'HEAVY LATHES. Mr. ARTHUR GREENWOOD (Leeds) read a paper on this subject. He said that since the general adoption of hydraulic machinery for forging heavy masses of steel, the use of powerful lathes as an adjunct to this system of forging has become a necessity, and it is to this class of lathes in contradistinction to lathes used tor finish turning work that this paper is devoted.

'For the production of tubes, jackets, and hoops for heavy guns, for cranks, marine, and other shafts, ingots of steel are now cast weighing upwards of 100 tons. These lathes are used to prepare such ingots for the forging press. In many cases it is thought desirable to rough turn the entire outside of the ingots to ascertain if the castings are absolutely and sound and free from fissures previous to the operations being commenced upon them. .....

'....As illustrating two types of lathe that have been specially designed for this purpose the diagrams exhibited may be found to be of some interest. The sectional elevation of a fast or driving headstock will give an idea of the power and strength of a big lathe recently constructed by the author's firm for the steel works of Messrs. Schneider, Creusot, France, which was exhibited on its way to the last Paris Exhibition.

'The height of centres is 60 inches. It will admit between the centres of the lathe a steel frging 52ft. 6in. length and 90in. in diameter over the saddles, and is capable of dealing with ingots of upwards of 120 tons in weight. The diameter of the front bearing of the spindle is 20in. by 30in. long. The back bearing of the spindle is diameter, and has four collars for resisting the end pressure, similar to the thrust bearings of marine propellor shafts. The face plate is 10ft. in diameter, and is provided with massive gripping jaws for holding the steel ingots. There are four speed cones and four proportions of gearing, giving 16 powers, varying from a proportion of 6 to 1 to 383 to 1,..... The actual weight of this headstock, including gearing, is 40 1/2 tons, the spindle alone weighing 6 tons. The bed of the lathe is made double, and is a little over 14ft. wide, each bed carrying four saddles - two in front of the lathe and two behind. These saddles are provided with two slides, so that in tuning an ingot eight or even sixteen cutting tools would be at work. The heaviest cut that it is found practical to work in this type of lathe is a depth ot 1 3/4in., i.e., at one cut a forging would be reduced in diameter by 3 1/2in. With that depth of cut an advance of about 1.10th of an inch is used. If the depth of cut is decreased quicker advances are made even as coarse as 2 to 3 per inch. The surface speed found most economical for these heavy cuts is about 6ft. per minute, but that, course, largely depends on the hardness of the steel. When eight cutting tools work at this rate, it will not surprising to hear that a ton of cuttings may easily be removed in an hour. The lips on tool slides are all cast solid with the slides and the wear is is taken up with steel slips, made taper end-wise, so that the slide may kept very rigid to stand the jar of heavy cuts. Massive steel tools have generally been found more useful than tool holders carrying loose steel cutting tools. The advance or feed of these four saddles is given by two steel screws, one running near the centre of each of the beds. These screws are driven by gearing direct from the spindle of the lathe. For the quick moving of the saddles longitudinally aiong the beds, and also for the traversing of the tool slides transversely on the saddles, a quick running gear is provided which will move the saddles at a rate of ten feet per minute. The shaft working this quick turning gear is driven by pulleys and friction clutches, so that the saddles may be moved along the bed of the lathe independently when the headstock is at rest. Each of the four saddles is entirely independent and may be sliding transversely in either direction for taper turning. This lathe for the purpose of boring ingots would be provided with a boring bed mounted upon the double bed, this boring bed having a traverse of about 16 feet, and capable of carrying a boring bar with a diameter of 40 inches. Each of the saddles weighs about 23 tons complete, and the weight of the lathe, including the boring bed, is about 350 tons. The third diagram shown represents a cross-section of a similar type lathe to the one just but of more ordinary dimensions, .....'[26]

1889 From the Reports of the United States Commissioners to the Universal Exposition of 1889 at Paris[27]:-

'Not the least remarkable thing in connection with this tool is the shortness of the time taken in its design and construction. A consideration of the following statement conveys some idea of the facilities possessed by this house for turning out large work.

'The lathe was ordered by Messrs. Schneider & Co. July 31, 1888. The design occupied nearly four months, and the actual construction was not begun until the last days of November. At the end of April, 1889, it was shipped to Paris, the whole construction having taken less than six months.

'This lathe is to be used at the Creusot Works in turning and boring large ingots for heavy guns and similar purposes.

'Greenwood & Batley have built during the past five or six years many large lathes, ranging in weight from 50 to over 300 tons, supplying such establishments as, the Woolwich Arsenal; W. G. Armstrong, Mitchell & Co., Newcastle-on-Tyne; John Brown & Co., Sheffield; Thomas Firth & Sons, Sheffield; Taylor Bros. & Co., Leeds; Schneider & Co., Creusot, France; Societe de Forges et Chantiers de la Mediteranee; F. Krupp, Essen; Arsenal of Alexandrowsky, near St. Petersburg; Arsenal of Caeraca, near Cadiz; Arsenal of Keaiuaeg, China, and also many others.'

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. [28]

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. [29]

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. [30]

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.

Steam Turbines

Greenwood & Batley built steam turbines under licence from De Laval of Sweden. See also De Laval Steam Turbine Co.

1902 From 14th annual meeting of Greenwood and Batley: 'Steady progress continues to be made with the De Laval steam turbines for electrical generation, pumping, and other purposes. The works of the English De Laval Steam Turbine Company, adjoining Albion Works, in which company Greenwood and Limited are large shareholders, are completed, the plant is installed, and the manufacture of turbines sa now being carried on there. The directors look forward to a steady increase in the sales in this important branch of the engineering business.'[31]

In 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[32]

1911 From annual meeting of Greenwood & Batley: 'In view of the practical monopoly in the British Empire which the company had of the manufacture of the De Laval Steam Turbine, it had been thought desirable in the interest of their business to acquire the complete control of the English De Laval Steam Turbine Co, and to extinguish the interest which the Swedish De Laval Steam Turbine Company had hitherto held in the English company; also to acquire at par, viz., £180, the price paid for them, eighteen shares, which were originally taken by Greenwood and Batley’s nominees, among whom were some of the present directors, to facilitate the formation of the company. He mentioned this fact, and asked the shareholders’ approval, because those of the directors who owned some of these shares (he, for instance, owned one), were in the position of being both buyers and sellers, but it was to the interest of Greenwood and Batley to obtain the shares, and become the sole owner of the concern. When this transaction had been completed, the whole of the 6,627 issued shares of the English De Laval Steam Turbine Company would be held by Greenwood and Batley, and would represent an integral part of their business.'[33]

De Laval steam turbines were small and simple, having a single row of blades. They ran at very high speeds, and were provided with double-helical rduction gearboxes. Every aspect of the design was carefully thought out.

An example rated at 450 HP and driving a DC generator, was supplied to Griff Colliery, Nuneaton. It was very unusual, each blade having two distinct profiles, one above the other. See illustration. The taller inboard portion was for low pressure steam at about 1 psia, while the smaller outboard portion took live steam at about 80 psi from a boiler, suitable nozzles being provided.[34]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Modern Power Engineering, Vol 1, by A Regnauld, Caxton Publishing, 1924
  2. Modern Power Engineering, Vol 1, by A Regnauld, Caxton Publishing, 1924
  3. Modern Power Engineering, Vol 1 by A Regnauld, Caxton Publishing, 1924
  4. The Leeds Mercury, Thursday, May 15, 1856
  5. The Leeds Mercury, Saturday, September 27, 1856
  6. 1861 Census
  7. The British Machine Tool Industry, 1850-1914 By Roderick Floud
  8. The Engineer of 15th August 1876 p180
  9. 1881 Census
  10. [1] US Special Agents' Series, Issues 33-40: Machine Tool Trade in Austria-Hungary, Denmark, Russia and Netherlands, 1910. p.169
  11. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  12. The Times, Saturday, Jul 07, 1888
  13. The Engineer of 25th May 1888 p430
  14. The Engineer of 10th May 1889 p396. Brief mention, in reference to Paris Exhibition
  15. The Engineer 1891/05/22
  16. The Engineer of 6th July 1894 p16
  17. Leather World, 1911,3,342.
  18. The Times, Jun 18, 1901
  19. The Times, Jul 07, 1902
  20. Mechanical World Year Book 1905. Published by Emmott and Co of Manchester. Advert p377
  21. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  22. Mechanical World Year Book 1919. Published by Emmott and Co of Manchester. Advert p71
  23. 1937 British Industries Fair Page 370
  24. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  25. Aberdeen Press and Journal - Wednesday 31 July 1889
  26. Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 10 September 1890
  27. [2] Reports of the United States Commissioners to the Universal Exposition of 1889 at Paris by United States Commission to the Paris Exposition, 1889; United States. Congress. (51st, 1st session : 1889-190) House; Exposition universelle de 1889
  28. White's Directory of Sheffield and Rotherham, 1901 p979
  29. The Engineer of 10th September 1920 p244
  30. Mining Year Book 1960. Published by Walter E. Skinner. Advert p357
  31. Leeds Mercury - Saturday 21 June 1902
  32. The Times, Jul 7, 1902
  33. Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 10 July 1911
  34. Modern Power Engineering, Vol 1, by A Regnauld, Caxton Publishing, 1924
  • [3] 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