Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Birley and Thompson

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At some point before 1857 Birley and Thompson took over the lease of Haigh Foundry Co.

1857 Engines and boilers supplied to the 'Pope Iron' waterworks in Worcester[1]. A new cylinder ('of a more simple construction') was ordered for the No. 1 engine in 1874[2]

1862 Made a large Cornish pumping engine for Talacre Lead Mine, near Rhyl, with a 100" diameter steam cylinder [3]

1865 Serious fire at Birley & Thompson's Haigh Foundry[4]

1865 Death of two employees, Alexander Pearson (27) and Thomas Smith (15), killed by escaping steam when attempting to tighten a bolt on a leaking boiler mud-hole[5]

From Wikipedia:-

Birley & Thompson concentrated on heavy engineering but made at least two locomotives and quoted unsuccessfully for the Festiniog Railway's 'Prince' class. The company produced stationary engines including a 100" x 14 ft stroke beam engine for the Talargoch Lead Mine (the engine house survives) and a 1000 h.p. McNaught compound beam engine for a cotton spinning mill. Other examples were supplied to many Lancashire collieries.

Until 1860, everything that Haigh Foundry made had to be hauled up the steep and twisting Leyland Mill Lane. Teams of up to 48 horses were needed, many hired from local farmers. However a railway line was built from the Earl of Crawford & Balcarres' colliery network at Aspull in 1860 and was replaced in 1869 by a link from the Lancashire Union Railway's 'Whelley' loop.

The foundry designed and built large winding, pumping and mill engines, heavy engineering and architectural castings until early 1885. The firm's assets were sold in September of that year. Many of the foundry buildings survive along with two cast iron bridges used by the works railway line. Part of the premises is still an iron foundry, though on a somewhat smaller scale.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Worcestershire Chronicle - Wednesday 18 March 1857
  2. Worcestershire Chronicle - Saturday 21 February 1874
  3. 'The Engineer' 4th April 1862, p.207
  4. Leeds Mercury - Saturday 11 February 1865
  5. Wells Journal - Saturday 23 December 1865