Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,411 pages of information and 245,908 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.

Nasmyth, Wilson and Co

From Graces Guide
1856. Hydraulic pumps and presses.
1869.Blowing Engines at the Wigan Coal and Iron Company Works.
1869.Blowing Engines at the Wigan Coal and Iron Company Works.
February 1888.


Engine Of Motor Coach For East Indian Railway. 1907.


Engine Of Motor Coach For East Indian Railway. 1907.






Steam Railway Motor Coach-East Indian Railway. 1907.
September 1913.
1917 steam hammer on display at Telford motorway services
1921. Locomotives.
February 1929.
May 1929.
1933. Chinese Government Railways - Freight Locomotive.

Bridgewater Foundry, Patricroft, Manchester.

formerly Nasmyth, Gaskell and Co

1867 Robert Wilson and Henry Garnett became the principal partners and the company's name was changed again, from J. Nasmyth and Co to Nasmyth, Wilson and Co.

1868 Brief report on a visit to the works by The Engineer. Mention of new shops, and shortage of work. Work in hand included a massive blowing engine for Kirkless Hall iron works. Three HP cylinders of 45" bore, three LP of 66" bore, three blowing cylinders of 100" bore, 12 ft stroke. 40 ft cast iron beam. 8 strokes per min. The engineer responsible for the works extension and the design of the blowing engine was stated to be Mr. Nuttall (see below). He had also designed a new type of lathe tool which had a circular detachable tip. The shape resembled that of a 'diminutive flower pot', and was easily sharpened using a conical grinding tool. It was economical in the use of steel. Three of the Kirkless Hall engine piston rods, each 6" diameter and 17 ft long were turned by one tool without sharpening. All the main forgings of the engine were 'made on Mr. Nuttall's plan of cross and diagonal piling by scrap bars till the desired weight is obtained, so that the forging is formed of one pile in each case, and a perfect homogeneity of substance is attained.'
Also in hand were some hydraulic cotton presses for India. The iron castings included a very large proportion of scrap wrought iron in the melt.[1]
J. Nuttall wrote to The Engineer on 19 May to correct errors in the article. He stated that Mr. Wilson, not himself, was responsible for the new workshops and for the 'modification in the arrangement of the valve motion for the blowing engines'. He also ponted out that the cross and diagonal piling for forgings was patented by Nuttall and Wilson.[2]

From about 1873, the demand for locomotives from overseas increased and up to 1938, over a 1,650 locomotives were produced; over one thousand of which were exported. One buyer was the New Zealand Railways Department, and a misunderstanding with the firm regarding the weight limitations imposed on the NZR P class that delayed the delivery of the urgently needed locomotives precipitated a shift in New Zealand away from English manufacturers.

1878 Partnership change. Henry Garnett leaves.[3]

1881 Robert Wilson Junior became managing director

1882 Company took limited liability status.

c1884 Robert Wilson became a consulting engineer, presumably retiring from the company.

1891 Supplied horizontal twin-cylinder, slide valve, winding engine for Cwm Colliery

1894 Pair of blowing engines for a Russian ironworks. HP steam cylinder 34½" dia, LP 53", air cylinder 75" dia, stroke 4 ft 11", Corliss valve gear [4]

1908 Article about the works in 'The Engineer', 25th September 1908 [5]. The main building of the new boiler shop was 250 ft long, 90 ft wide, having two bays, served by three 15-ton overhead electric cranes made by Vaughan Crane Co. The works' main power station had a 150-kW Belliss and Morcom steam engine and a 70 kW Browett, Lindley and Co steam engine. Steam came from two dry-back marine-type boilers. The wheel and press shop had a new crane gantry to allow the erection of tall hydraulic presses for cotton, up to 70 ft high, 48 ft being above floor level. The main bay of the foundry was 240 ft by 40 ft. There was one 10-ton and one 20-ton crane, by Vaughan & Co. A deep pit was provided for casting long columns. A point of interest in the forge was a 5-ton steam hammer made 55 years earlier. It was used mainly for forging press columns.

1911 Superheater locomotive for Great Northern Railway of Ireland

WWI The factory was mainly engaged in munitions work but it built twenty 2-8-0 locomotives for the Chemin de Fer de l'État in France and thirty two for India along with a hundred small petrol driven locomotives.

1919 It became a Public limited company.

1927 See Aberconway for information on the company and its history

1930s In the early 1930s orders began to dry up after the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The last locomotive order dispatched was two 2-6-4T metre gauge tank locomotives, Works No. 1649 and 1650, dispatched in 1938 to the South Indian Railways. Only two other locomotives, Works No. 1651 and 1652, were produced in 1938; both were 0-6-0 standard gauge locomotives for the Palestine Railway.

As part of a planned reorganisation of the industry, the company ceased manufacture of locomotives and handed over all its drawings and patterns to the British Locomotive Manufacturers Association. The company however continued to make steam hammers and machine tools.

1940 On 1 June 1940 the Ministry of Supply took over the factory; and it became a Royal Ordnance Factory, ROF Patricroft. The company was wound up on 7 November 1940, having made a loss of £2,663 in 1939 having built 1,531 locomotives.

The Royal Ordnance Factory, too, has now closed and the works is now part of a business and technology centre.

A large Nasmyth, Wilson & Co radial arm drill is on display at the Odisha State Maritime Museum [6]

A History of The Firm

From 'Short Histories of Famous Firms' by Ernest Leopold Ahrons The Engineer - 1920/03/19.

Nasmyth, Wilson and Co

The Bridgewater Foundry at Patricroft, near Manchester, had its origin in an old mill in Dale-street, Manchester, in the year 1834, when James Nasmyth, who was then twenty-six years of age, started in business on his own account as a machine tool maker and mechanical engineer. Readers of Smiles’ “Lives of the Engineers” will remember that James Nasmyth was the son of a talented Scottish landscape painter, and that the artistic tastes of the latter were inherited by the son to a very marked degree; so much so that had the latter not adopted engineering as a profession he would probably have made a considerable reputation in the world of art.

James Nasmyth’s skill in draughtsmanship was of a high order and proved of much service to him in applying to paper the numerous original mechanical ideas which came from his fertile brain.

Read More Here

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] The Engineer 15 May 1868
  2. [2] The Engineer, 22 May 1868
  3. Lloyd's List - Saturday 26 January 1878
  4. 'The Engineer' 29th June 1894
  5. [3] 'The Engineer', 25th September 1908 (pdf)
  6. [4] Indian Vagabond website: Odisha State Maritime Museum, Cuttack, by Subhadip Mukherjee, February 22, 2019: ODISHA MARITIME MUSEUM – Jobra Workshop Gallery
  • The Steam Engine in Industry by George Watkins in two volumes. Moorland Publishing. 1978/9. ISBN 0-903485-65-6