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 163,160 pages of information and 245,627 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.

John Fowler and Co

From Graces Guide
c 1856.
1869. Cable towing boat.
1869. Eight-Horse Traction Engine.
April 1870.
1871. Engine at the Wolverhampton Show.
1872 beam engine at Anson Engine Museum
1872. Implements for Beetroot Cultivation at The 1872 Royal Agricultural Show.
January 1872.
June 1872.
1873. Steam locomotive with Head and Schemioth's straw burning apparatus.
1876. Four-Furrow Plough at the 1876 Smithfield Show.
1877. Vertical compound engine with Allison's boiler.
1878. Underground hauling engine exhibited at the 1878 Paris Exhibition.


1882. Compound engine at the 1885 Agricultural Show.
January 1888.
February 1888.
1889. Kensington house to house light installation.
May 1896.
August 1899.
August 1899.
August 1899. Lowrie-Hall Transformers.
January 1902.
April 1903.
1903. 220 KW combined engine and dynamo.
June 1911.
June 1911.
Advert from the magazine “Deutschland", No. 14, February 1911.
1915. Sleeping Van and Water Cart.
1921. convertible Steam Roller and Traction Engine.
1921. Convertible steam roller and traction engine.
1921. Road-sweeping, grouting and tar spraying machine.
1923. Motor Road Roller.
1926. Motor Ploughing Engine. No 17621. Exhibit at Armley Mill Museum.
May 1929.
1931. 6 Ton Crude Oil Lorry.
1932. Oil Engine Driven Roller.
1933. Motor Gully Emptier.
September 1936.
1939. Portable generating sets for the Metropolitan Water Board.
1939. 150 kW Portable Oil-Engines Generating Set.
Roller. Reg No: VN 2811. Exhibit at Armley Mill Museum.

John Fowler and Co, agricultural engineers of the Steam Plough Works, Leeds.

See sub-sections on -

1850 John Fowler, Junior started work on application of steam-power to agricultural uses, in the first instance for drainage.

1860 Fowler entered into an agreement with Kitson and Hewitson of Hunslet, Leeds, for them to manufacture his steam ploughs. Fowler's Steam Plough Works were built on neighbouring land at Hunslet [1]

c1860 Robert William Eddison is a partner with John Fowler in the business at the Steam Plough Works on a site previously occupied by Wilson, Walker and Co in Letherley Lane, Hunslett.

1861 John Fowler, junior, of 28 Cornhill, London, exhibited at the Royal Agricultural Society of England meeting in Leeds[2]

1861 July. Leed's trial of steam ploughing. Fowlers steam cultivator of 12 hp ploughed and scarified four acres in four hours. It is made by Kitson and Hewitson [3] Fowler's apparatus which he manufactures in his own factory at Leeds in connection with Kitson and Hewitson [4]

1862 January. Mention of the Steam Plough Works [5]

1862 The works were expanded. Around 100 employed.

1862 May. Refers to a locomotive at the Airedale works of Kitson, Hewitson and Fowler [6]

1862 June. Refers to the steam plough business at Kitson, Hewitson and Fowler [7]

1862 August. Refers to the cultivator of Fowler powered by a 14 hp engine of Kitson and Hewitson. [8]

1862 November. Refers to Kitson and Hewitson's steam plough works [9]

1863 Established John Fowler and Co[10].

1863 August. Steam Ploughing trials at Linton-on-Ouse mentions Fowler's plough and a 14 hp engine by Kiton and Hewitson. [11]

1864 400 employees

1864 John Fowler was killed in a hunting accident aged 38 years. His brother Robert Fowler became a partner in the company. William Fowler (1828-1905) became a junior partner with his younger, unmarried brother Barnard Fowler (1833–1882) in the business. Their elder brother Robert Fowler (1825–1888) was senior partner.

1865 The Steam Plough Works enters the locomotive building trade [12]

1865 Patent by David Greig and Robert Burton of the Steam Plough Works for improvements in travelling cranes [13]

1867 Patent by D. Greig of the Steam Plough Works, Leeds for improvements in railways and railway engines [14]

1870 Patent by Max Eyth of the Steam Plough Works for improvements in steam engines [15]

1870 November. 800 men employed [16]

1871 Making agricultural machinery for Germany, locomotives for Brazil and winding engines for Cleveland [17]

1871 Employing 950 hands and Robert W. Eddison is in charge [18]

1871 December. Patent by David Greig, Robert Burton and Bernard Fowler of the Steam Plough Works re Steam Cultivating Machinery. [19]

1872 Beam engine. Exhibit at Anson Engine Museum. (See photo).

1872 Patent by David Greig and George Greig for improvements in ploughs etc. [20]

1876 Exhibitor at the Royal Agricultural Show at Birmingham with engines of 6, 8 and 14 hp in a new very dark green colour. [21]

1876 Members of the Iron and Steel Institute visited their works. [22]

1877 Exhibitor at the 1877 Royal Agricultural Show.[23].

1881 Employing 1,100 hands and Robert W. Eddison is in charge [24]

1881 December. The works are badly damaged by fire. 1,500 men affected. David Greig is a partner in the company. Premises are on a nine acre site and border those of Kitson and Co and close to Shepherd and Hill [25]

1882 Patent to David Greig and Max Eyth for improvements in governors. [26]

1886 The name John Fowler and Co (Leeds) Ltd was registered and listed as a manufacturer of steam traction engines. The company, John Fowler and Co (Leeds) Ltd was registered on 13 August, to acquire the business of engineers of the firm of the same name. [27] The three Fowler brothers, together with their nephew Robert Henry Fowler (1851–1919), son of Henry Fowler (1823–1880), the eldest of the Fowler brothers, became directors.

1887 Started manufacturing lead-covered electric cables under the patents of Eddison and Tatham[28].

1888 Robert Fowler died

William Fowler was chairman of the company from 1888 until his death. He took little part in the day-to-day management of the company, but regularly attended board meetings and social events such as the foreman's annual dinner. His last appearance was at the company's 70th annual general meeting, held in Lombard Street in December 1903

1888 Building locomotives for an American railway company [29]

1889 Engines of the House-to-House Electric Lighting installation in Kensington. [30] and other electricity works.

1889 Showed a compound horizontal engine at the RASE at Windsor. [31]

1889 Formed the Fowler-Waring Cables Co [32] [33] [34]

c.1890 Supplied four 375 HP vertical engines to drive Edison-Hopkinson dynamos at Stockwell Generating Station, City and South London Railway, here.

1891 Supplied horizontal twin-cylinder, Cornish and drop valve winding engine for Abercynon Colliery. Works number 6029.

1891 David Greig J.P. of the Steam Plough Works dies at Headingley Hill age 63. [35]

1894 Burton-on-Trent Electric light Works. Article and illustration in 'The Engineer'. [36]

1894 Eight-furrow turnover steam plough. Article in 'The Engineer'. [37]

1894 June. Royal Agricultural Society's Show. Turnwrest Plough for Steam Cultivation. [38]

1900 Robert W. Eddison a director of the company died. [39]

1900 Article and illustration on armoured train made. [40]

1900 June. Royal Agricultural Show at York. Showed 'Several fine engines'. [41]

1903 death of William Fowler, chairman of the company

1908 June 24th. Made a Private company [42]

1910 Produced agricultural tractors and machinery.

1911 Smithfield Club Show. Exhibited steam cultivating tackle, road locomotives etc. [43]

1913 'The manufacture of Road Locomotives, Traction Engines, Tractors, Steam Ploughing Engines, and Road Rollers was commenced at the Steam Plough Works about the year 1850, and our modern engines are the outcome of accumulated experience gained since then. Our works cover an area of over fourteen acres and about 2,800 to 3,000 men and boys are now employed almost exclusively in the manufacture of various types of Steam and Oil Engine and Implements, an obvious proof of the constantly increasing demand for our engines.'[44]

1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices of Steam Motor Wagons, Tractors and Ploughs etc. see the 1917 Red Book including the Tiger range.

1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices of Petrol Motor Commercial Vehicles see the 1917 Red Book

1920 Royal Agricultural Show at Darlington. 8-Furrow Turning Plough. [45]

1920 October. New steam ploughing engine rated at 70 hp and 6,000lb on the rope. [46]

1924 Built steam powered lorries until 1935 and built 117 in this period.

1924 William Alexander McLaren of the Steam Plough Works, Leeds dies. [47]

1924 Description of Rein-drive plough, which originated in Australia and was manufactured by Fowler in Leeds. Two-wheeled tractor with V-twin paraffin engine. 'The driver, as will be seen, sits at the rear of the plough and controls the tractor by means of a pair of leather reins only. An appropriate movement of his wrist or arm is quite sufficient for starting, stopping, reversing or steering the vehicle, his right hand being completely free all the time for any desired manipulation of the plough.' [48]

In 1927 the Gyrotiller was produced, having been designed to work on sugar cane plantations. Its rotary tines could penetrate the soil to a depth of 500 mm. It was successful not only at the sugar estates but also gained interest from contractors. The last Gyrotiller was produced in 1937.

1927 See Aberconway for information on the company and its history

1931 Produced the Marathon 6, their first diesel powered lorry for 6/7ton payloads.

1935 Ceased production of lorries and railway locomotives. It is estimated that they made between 150-300 of the latter.

1937 The last steam engine, a road roller, was produced.

1939 Announce diesel engine. 'Mr. P. R. Hasson, managing director, said felt that this last change was going to put back the firm in the position where it once stood, because the new Diesel engine, designed by Mr. A. Freeman Sanders, they had something that was pre-eminent, while in bringing this new engine to them, Mr. Sanders had also brought a number of other new ideas...'[49]

WWII Made Churchill tanks; invented the gyro tiller.

1944 Producing the 2DY diesel marine engine.

1945 May. The Ministry of Supply who are the owners of the company, sell it to Rotary Hoes [50]

1945 June 9th. Made a public company [51]

1947 Acquired by Marshall, Sons and Co including Fowler's mechanised factory at Sprotborough, Doncaster; the 2 companies had major interests in diesel tractors[52].

1947 June 24th. The petrol and diesel industrial engine part of the business was sold to Associated British Engineering

1948 November. Share prospectus [53]

1949 As part of the Marshalls group, Fowlers were making tractors at Leeds coordinated with the production at Gainsborough; continued to make diesel-engined rail locomotives up to 300hp[54]

1961 Manufacturers of diesel crawler tractors and diesel locomotives. 1,100 employees. [55]

1964 & 1966 Chairman is Arnold Carr [56]

1974 Company ceased trading.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Leeds Mercury, Tuesday, December 6, 1864
  2. The Farmer's Magazine, 1861
  3. The Lancaster Gazette, and General Advertiser for Lancashire, Westmorland, Yorkshire, &c., Saturday, July 06, 1861
  4. The Times, Thursday, Jul 11, 1861
  5. The Leeds Mercury, Friday, January 24, 1862
  6. Manchester Times, Saturday, May 10, 1862
  7. The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, Tuesday, June 24, 1862
  8. The Leeds Mercury, Wednesday, August 6, 1862
  9. The Leeds Mercury, Saturday, November 1, 1862
  10. Biography of John Fowler, ODNB [1]
  11. The York Herald, Saturday, August 08, 1863
  12. The Leeds Mercury, Saturday, November 25, 1865
  13. The Bradford Observer, Thursday, March 01, 1866
  14. The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, Saturday, October 05, 1867
  15. The Leeds Mercury, Tuesday, September 6, 1870
  16. The Leeds Mercury, Saturday, November 12, 1870
  17. The Bradford Observer, Saturday, February 04, 1871
  18. 1871 Census
  19. The Leeds Mercury, Tuesday, December 12, 1871
  20. The Leeds Mercury, Tuesday, December 17, 1872
  21. The Engineer of 21st July 1876 p40
  22. The Engineer of 15th August 1876 p180
  23. The Engineer 1877/07/13
  24. 1881 Census
  25. The Leeds Mercury, Saturday, December 17, 1881
  26. The Blackburn Standard: Darwen Observer, and North-East Lancashire Advertiser, Saturday, July 15, 1882
  27. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  28. The Morning Post, Wednesday, August 14, 1889
  29. Glasgow Herald, Saturday, May 12, 1888
  30. The Engineer of 24th May 1889 p435
  31. The Engineer of 28th June 1889 p544
  32. The Leeds Mercury, Wednesday, August 14, 1889
  33. The Morning Post, Wednesday, August 14, 1889
  34. The Times, Wednesday, Aug 14, 1889
  35. The Times, Monday, Mar 23, 1891
  36. The Engineer 1894/06/08 p508
  37. The Engineer 1894/06/29 p563
  38. The Engineer 1894/06/29 p562
  39. The Engineer 1900/05/25 p536
  40. The Engineer 1900/05/25 p562 & 564
  41. The Engineer 1900/06/22 p650
  42. The Times, Wednesday, Nov 10, 1948
  43. The Engineer of 8th December 1911 p593
  44. John Fowler and Co. Catalogue No. 62 Part II. Page 8.
  45. The Engineer 1920/06/25 p650
  46. The Engineer 1920/10/29 p434
  47. The Times, Monday, May 05, 1924
  48. Engineering 1924/07/11
  49. Leeds Mercury - Monday 03 April 1939
  50. The Times, Tuesday, May 08, 1945
  51. The Times, Nov 10, 1948
  52. The Times, Jan 02, 1947
  53. The Times, Wednesday, Nov 10, 1948
  54. The Times, Feb 04, 1949
  55. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  56. The Times, Friday, Jan 17, 1964
  • British Lorries 1900-1992 by S. W. Stevens-Stratten. Pub. Ian Allen Publishing
  • Traction Engine Album by Malcolm Ranieri. Pub 2005
  • From 1890 to the Present Day Farm Tractors by Michael Williams published in 2005 by Silverdale Books ISBN 978-1-84509-251-1
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816
  • The Modern Diesel edited by Geoffrey Smith. Published by Iliffe & Sons 1944
  • The Steam Engine in Industry by George Watkins in two volumes. Moorland Publishing. 1978/9. ISBN 0-903485-65-6