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British Industrial History

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R. Brotherhood

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Rowland Brotherhood of the Railway Works, Chippenham

1842 Alongside Chippenham station the engineering works of Rowland Brotherhood sprang up. Brotherhood had worked for Isambard Kingdom Brunel as a Civil Engineer, on the cuttings and embankments of the railway. He started his works in Chippenham in 1842 to repair and build equipment used in his earth moving. He quickly diversified into manufacturing signals and points for the railway. Then came iron bridges and eventually waggons and locomotives. However after thirty years in the town he ran into money difficulties, was forced to sell up and moved away to Bristol.

1842 The works were established for making of railway fittings, points and crossings, wagons, bridges and signal equipment

c.1859 At some point he built a workshop for his son Peter who had returned to his father’s works to superintend the designing and construction of locomotives and other railway plant and material.

1857-67 Some locomotives built

1868 Built a lattice girder road bridge to cross the River Quoina, at Kurar, on the Bombay and Madras Trunk Road. The bridge was 54 miles from the nearest sea port, and the bridge components were transported at great expense in carts capable of carrying 800 lbs. One complete span was test at the Chippenham works, initially with a dead weight of 75 tons, and then with a rolling load of 108 tons, made up of eleven broad gauge trucks.[1]

1869 The works closed

1872 Due to financial complication the contents of the works were auctioned and the buildings sold. His works stood empty for a short time, then they were used by Evans, O'Donnell and Co followed by Saxby and Farmer, signal manufacturers, which was eventually to become part of Westinghouse Brake and Signal Co


1872 'Chippenham Railway Works.— The engineering tools and machinery formed by Mr Rowland Brotherhood, the eminent engineer and contractor, were offered for sale by auction by Messrs Fuller. Horsey, Son, and Co. yesterday. There was a large attendance of buyers from nearly all the manufacturing districts. The following are the prices realised for some of the principal lots:—Seller's patent screwing machine, by Sharp, Stewart and Co., £75 ; slot drilling and recessing machine, by the same makers, £105; a vertical drilling machine, same makers, £100; a ten-inch self-acting screwlathe, by Whitworth, £l65 ; a self-acting slotting machine, by Sharp, Stewart, and Co., £165 ; a locomotive cylinder boring machine, same makers, £90; bench-shaping machine, by Fairbairn and Co., £80; a new six-wheel inside cylinder locomotive, 4 feet 8½ inch gauge, £710: a nearly - new double - wheel turning lathe. £100; self-acting planing machine, by Butterworth, Manchester, £61; powerful treble-geared surfacing lathe, £100; ditto, £90; shaping machine, £48; vertical boring and drilling machine, £120; ditto, £135; powerful self-acting slotting machine, by Collier, £80; hydraulic railway wheel press, with pump, £62; self-acting axle grooving machine, by Buckton, £50 ; self-acting double-axle turning-lathe, by Brotherhood, £90; a nearly new 10-inch screw cutting lathe, £90; 30-inch centre double-geared slide lathe, £140; longitudinal travelling crane, by Smith and Willey, Liverpool, ditto, by Brotherhood, £70; 14-inch centre self acting slide and screw cutting lathe, 102 guineas; ditto, £115- The proceeds of yesterday's sale amounted to above £5,000, and the prices obtained were highly satisfactory—a cause, no doubt, arising from the advanced price of iron, and the general activity of the engineering trade throughout the country. It is now more than three years since these works have been closed. The premises, which stand on nearly five acres of land, were offered for sale a few months since, but no offer was made. The small tools, iron, and numerous other articles were sold by the same auctioneers some twelve months ago, and now that the whole of the valuable machinery is to be sold all hopes of the works being opened again may be considered to have vanished.'[2]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 'Engineering', 13 March 1868
  2. Western Daily Press, 10th July 1872
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816
  • [1]Chippenham Web Site