Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 129,283 pages of information and 204,290 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

North British Locomotive Co

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1903.
1905. Eight coupled locomotive.
1907.
‎‎
1907. Atlantic Type Locomotive for the Great Indian Peninsula Railway.
1908.
1909. Super heated steam locomotive for the Sao Paulo railway.
1911.
1913.
1913.
1913.
1913.
1914.
1916.
1916.
1916.
1917. Locomotive No 21591. Exhibit at the Cite du Train, Mulhouse.
1917. Locomotive No 21591. Exhibit at the Cite du Train, Mulhouse.
1917. Locomotive No 21591. Exhibit at the Cite du Train, Mulhouse.
1917.
1917.
1920.
1921. Locomotive in the River Kwai Museum in Thailand
1921. Locomotive in the River Kwai Museum in Thailand
1922.
1925.
1927.
1929. Bengal-Nagpur Railway - Four Cylinder Express Locomotive.
May 1929.
1929.
1934. 0-8-0 4inc 8 half inc gauge built at Hyde Park Works.
1938. No: 24418. Exhibit at West Coast Wilderness Railway, Queenstown.
1938. No: 24418. Exhibit at West Coast Wilderness Railway, Queenstown.
1938. No: 24418. Exhibit at West Coast Wilderness Railway, Queenstown.
1948 Locomotive used by Crowsnest Pass Coal Co for underground haulage, displayed at Crowsnest Museum (Canada), Alberta. Powered by Crossley Brothers engine
1948 mine locomotive nameplate at Crowsnest Museum (Canada), Alberta
1948. Locomotive for Malayan Railways.
1951.
1951. North British Miner. Diesel Locomotive.
1952.
January 1953.
1956.
1956. No 4112. Exhibit at the Summerlee Museum of Industrial Life.
1959.
KC 520 of Kalka-Shimla Railway still in use today.
KC 520 of Kalka-Shimla Railway still in use today.
KC 520 of Kalka-Shimla Railway still in use today.
Mining Locomotive, located at Mining Museum, Glace Bay, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada.

110 Flemington Street, Springburn, Glasgow. London Office: 17 Victoria Street, Westminster, SW

of Atlas and Hyde Park Works in Springburn and Queens Park Works in Polmadie.

A steel foundry was at Renfrew.

The Company

1903 Public company. The company was registered on 12 February, to acquire the business of engineers and locomotive builders of Neilson, Reid and Co, Dubs and Co and Sharp, Stewart and Co all of Glasgow. [1] Hugh Reid became Deputy-Chairman and Chief Managing Director.

1906 Produced 582 locomotives this year at the three works.

1909 The 3,000th locomotive produced by this company.

1911 Mixed traffic engine for Soudan Government Railways. [2]

1914 The 5,000th locomotive produced.

1914 Specialities: all types of locomotive engines; contractors to home railways, government railways of India, South Africa, Australia etc., state railways of France, Norway, Chile, Argentina, Japan, China, Egypt etc., also to railways and docks companies, steelworks, mines etc. Employees, 7,000. [3]

WWI Made 1,400 locomotives.

1918 The factory produced the first prototype of the Anglo-American Mark VIII battlefield tank for the Allied armies, but with the Armistice it did not go into production.

1927 See Aberconway Chapter XV for information on the company and its history

WWII at the start of WWII 8,850 locomotives had been completed.

1951 North British Locomotive Co acquired a controlling interest in Henry Pels and Co. (Great Britain), Ltd. Thereafter machine tools were made at the Queens Park works.

1961 Engineers and locomotive builders. [4]

1962 The company ceased trading. North British had supplied many of its diesel and electric locomotives to BR at a loss. This, with a continuing stream of warranty claims to cure design and workmanship faults, proved fatal - North British declared bankruptcy on April 19, 1962. Andrew Barclay, Sons and Co acquired the goodwill. They had built 11,318 locomotives since 1903.

Steam Locomotives

NBL built steam locomotives for countries as far afield as Malaysia and New Zealand. The Colony of New South Wales purchased numerous North British locomotives, as did the State of Victoria as late as 1951 (Oberg, Locomotives of Australia), and in 1939 it supplied the NZR J class (1939) to New Zealand Railways, some of which were later converted to JB class and some to JA class. In 1949, South Africa purchased over 100 engines from the company in the 2-8-4 layout and these became the Class 24; some still operate tourist trains on the George-Kynsa line. Additionally South Africa also purchased some of its Class 25, 4-8-4 engines from the company between 1953-55. These successful engines with various in-service modifications survived until the end of steam in South Africa in 1990. NBL also introduced the Modified Fairlie locomotive in 1924.

Two steam locomotives, NZR Classes J & JB, are preserved by Mainline Steam, New Zealand. A number of steam locomotives still exist in Australia, including, some operational Victorian 4-6-4 R Class engines, several Dübs engines and Pmr Class 4-6-2 locomotives of Western Australia, an Rx Class engine in South Australia

Diesel Locomotives

Whilst highly successful as designers and builders of steam locomotives for both its domestic market and abroad, North British failed to make the jump to diesel locomotive production. In the 1950s it signed a deal with the German company MAN to construct diesel engines under licence. These power units appeared in the late 1950s British Railways (BR) designs later designated Class 21, Class 22, Class 41, Class 43 (Warship) and Class 251 (Blue Pullman) None of these were particularly successful: constructional shortcomings with the MAN engines made them far less reliable than German-built examples. A typical example of this was the grade of steel used for exhaust manifolds in the Class 43s - frequent manifold failures led to loss of turbocharger drive gas pressure and hence loss of power. More importantly, the driving cabs of the locomotives would fill with poisonous exhaust fumes. BR returned many North British diesel locomotives to their builder for repair under warranty and they also insisted on a three-month guarantee on all repairs (a requirement not levied on its own workshops).

Several industrial shunters have been preserved, including number 27654 by the Llanelly and Mynydd Mawr Railway.

Electric Locomotives

1905 Hugh Reid was the joint inventor with David MacNab Ramsay of the "Reid-Ramsay" steam-turbine electric-locomotive[5], which underwent some trials but was not placed in service[6].

1924 A second turbine locomotive (a rebuild of the earlier one) was exhibited at the British Empire Exhibition; this used mechanical transmission in an attempt to overcome the problems with electrical transmission encountered in the first version; the turbine expert James MacLeod was involved in the design and the engine was known as "Reid-McLeod" but had little success and was not used in service[7]

North British was involved in the construction of early 25 kV AC electric locomotives for the West Coast Main Line (WCML) electrification project of the early 1960s. The General Electric Company won a contract for ten locomotives and sub-contracted the mechanical design and construction to North British: Class AL4 E3036-E3045 (later Class 84 84001-84010) entered traffic in 1960-61. As with its diesel locomotives, the class suffered poor reliability and spent long periods out of service. A partial reprieve came when money was made available to extend the electrification of the WCML north to Glasgow but no immediate funds were available for more electric locomotives. The Class 84s were refurbished in 1972 and pressed back into service, being finally withdrawn between 1978 to 1980 following delivery of Class 87 locomotives.

North British supplied many of its diesel and electric locomotives to BR at a loss, hoping to make up for this on massive future orders that never came. This and the continuing stream of warranty claims to cure design and workmanship faults proved fatal - North British declared bankruptcy on April 19, 1962. Because of the unreliability of its UK diesel and electric locomotives, all were withdrawn after comparatively short lifespans.

The only surviving North British main-line diesel or electric locomotive is Class 84 84001.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  2. The Engineer of 28th July 1911 p100
  3. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  4. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  5. The Engineer 1909/11/05
  6. Reid Ramsay loco[1]
  7. Reid-McLeod loco [2]