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 146,077 pages of information and 231,598 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Davey, Paxman and Co

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1871. Portable engine.
1872. Vertical engine.
1882. Semi portable engine at the 1882 Royal Agricultural Show at the Crystal Palace.
1886. Compound engine.
1886. Electric light shed at the 1885 Colonial and Indian Exhibition.
1886. Compound semi fixed engine.
1887. Prize compound engine.
1887. Electric light engines on the SS Olympia.
February 1888.
March 1888.
April 1888.
June 1888. Lancashire boiler.
1888. The Centrifugal Roller Mill.
1892. Triple expansion engine as shown at the Crystal Palace Exhibition.
1892. The Boiler house at the 1892 Crystal Palace Electrical Exhibition.
1892. Horizontal compound steam engine. 16 nhp. Exhibit at the Museum of Power.
1895. High speed electric light engine - India Exhibition.
1897. Works. The Boiler Shop.
June 1898.
August 1899.
February 1901. Compound Vertical Engine.
February 1901.
1901. Cross compound tramway traction engine.
January 1902.
1903. Portable Air Compressor.
January 1906.


1914. 10 hp compound portable engine.
Large portable engine at the Kauri Museum in New Zealand
1929. Heavy fuel oil engine type VK. Exhibit at the Museum of Power.
1929. Low-Pressure Boiler.
1929. Cold-Starting 250 H.P. Oil Engine.
1929. Three cylinder heavy oil engine.
December 1929.
February 1931.
1933. 300 B.H.P. Six Cylinder Engine.
1933. 100 B.H.P. Four Cylinder Marine Oil Engine.
1939. 1000 BHP sixteen-cylinder oil engine.
1945. Transporter for Complete Engines.
1945. B. H. P. Pressure-Charged Oil Engine.
1950. A small horizontal engine.
1950. Cross-coupled steam driven tandem compressor.
1950. A 7 nhp traction engine.
1950. Showmans portable engine with embellishments.
1950. Paxman-Lentz steam engine.
1950. An early Paxman over type engine.
1950. The horizontal 'Colchester' engine.
October 1952.
1960. Paxman engine sectioned. 12-cylinder RPH for locomotives. Exhibit at the Museum of Power.
1960. "CoalPak".
Vega SETCM V12 engine. Exhibit at Museum of East Anglian Life.
Vega SETCM V12 engine. Exhibit at Museum of East Anglian Life.
2003. Located at old salt mine in Cerro de Pasco Perú.
2003. Located at old salt mine in Cerro de Pasco Perú.
2003. Located at old salt mine in Cerro de Pasco Perú.

Davey, Paxman and Co were an engine building company of Colchester.

Note: A comprehensive and highly reliable history of the company, from its origins to its current incarnation, is available online, in Richard Carr's Paxman History Pages [1]


1865 The company of Davey, Paxman and Davey was founded by Charles M. Davey, John N. Paxman and Henry Davey, at Standard Works in Colchester.[2]

1871 October Thomas John Balls joined the partnership of Davey, Paxman and Davey and the business becomes Davey, Paxman and Co.

1871 Employing 49 men and 21 boys [3]

1876 The business had grown so rapidly that it was found necessary to move to a more extensive site, also called the Standard Iron Works.

1876 Showed a portable engine at the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia. The only British exhibitor of these engines.

1876 Exhibitor at the Royal Agricultural Show at Birmingham with engines.[4]

1879 Henry and Charles Davey withdrew from the partnership and retired. [5]

1880s Installed an engine at Park Gate Iron and Steel Co for the cogging mill.

1881 Employing 167 men and 26 boys [6]

1885 Provided the electric light at the Inventors Exhibition at South Kensington. Mentions the partners as James Paxman and Thomas J. Balls [7]

1886 Thomas Balls, now in poor health, leaves the partnership and retires. [8]

1887 Employing 300 persons. Referred to as J. N. Paxman at the Jubilee dinner. [9]

1889 Paris Exhibition. Supplied nine 100 hp steel boilers and four engines for the electric lighting. [10]

1890 James Paxman's eldest son, William Paxman, joins his father in the business.

1892 Crystal Palace Electrical Exhibition. Eight Locomotive boilers. [11]

1894 William Paxman becomes a partner in the firm.

1894 photo of horizontal engine at Harris Street Power Station, Wellington (NZ) here.

1898 The concern becomes a limited company. The company was registered on 26 April, to take over the business of engineers and boilermakers of the firm of the same name. The directors are James N. Paxman, William Paxman and Wilson Marriage [12] [13]

1905 Installed an engine at the English Steel Corporation for the 48in plate mill.

1911 Smithfield Club Show. Exhibited a traction engine, a gas engine, a gas producer and a horizontal steam engine. [14]

1914 Specialities; Steam Engines and Boilers for electric light power and traction purposes and for driving the machinery of mills, factories etc. and a variety of general machinery. Employees 900. [15]

1915 Jubilee, founder of the Company James Paxman still taking an active interest in the Company, now entrusted to his son Captain William Paxman, P.A.Sanders, R. Franklin and W. H. King.[16]

1920 Became part of Agricultural and General Engineers.

1920 Showed locomotive type and Essex type boiler, a steam wagon and an engine fitted with a high-pressure gear of the Paxman-Lentz type at the Darlington Agricultural Show. [17]

1924 Also see Davey, Paxman and Electric Construction Co

1925/6 Death of Richard Franklin, the Managing Director [18]

1927 July. Purchased the West Hydraulic Engineering Co of Luton which was subsequently transferred to Colchester where the manufacture of hydraulic specialties was continued.[19]

1932 Following the collapse of AGE, Davey, Paxman and Co Ltd was refinanced and reconstituted as Davey, Paxman and Company (Colchester) Limited, incorporated on 2nd August, with share capital of £50,000.

1940 Sir Bernard Greenwell died; his son, Sir Peter, disposed of his shares to Ruston and Hornsby of Lincoln. As a result Ruston and Hornsby gained a controlling interest in the company. The two companies formed an association, later known as the Ruston-Paxman Group, each being responsible for the development of complementary ranges of diesel engines and other products.

1941 (January) The name of the Company reverted to Davey, Paxman and Co Ltd.

1941 The Ministry of Supply leased the Britannia Works to provide Paxmans with space to build its TP diesel engines. The Company was appointed to manage it.

WWII Britannia Works was the main production facility and the control centre for all Davey Paxman TPM engines which powered virtually all British Tank Landing Craft.

1944 Producing diesel engines for marine use.

1947 Paxman-Ricardo engine (sectioned for demonstration). Exhibit at Anson Engine Museum.

1951-52 The Development Department was moved to Britannia Works to release more space for production at Standard Works on Hythe Hill.

1954 (January) The engine governor and control side of Paxman's business was separated into its own company, Ardleigh Engineering.

1960 Advert for filters for collieries. 'More than sixty collieries in GB use the Paxman rotary vacuum filters...' [20]

1961 Manufacturing engineers. Specialists in diesel engines, boilers, rotary vacuum filters and chemical plant. 2,250 employees. [21]

1962 (September) Following Paxman's purchase of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation's European governor operation, based in the Netherlands, Ardleigh Engineering and the newly acquired business start to trade under the name of Regulateurs Europa.

1962-3 One development project was to establish a method for re-engining some British Rail Scottish Region Type 2 locomotives. These had originally been equipped with a competitor's engines which had proved unsatisfactory in service. Paxman won the contract to supply Ventura 12YJXLs to replace them.

1966 The businesses of Ruston and Hornsby and Davey, Paxman and Co are acquired by English Electric Co. The diesel interests of the enlarged group become English Electric Diesel Engines Ltd subsequently renamed English Electric Diesels Ltd in 1968. Paxman thus becomes associated with Dorman (Stafford), Napier, Kelvin (Glasgow), and English Electric. Paxman becomes English Electric Diesels, Paxman Engine Division.

1968 English Electric Co is acquired by GEC.

1968 Queen's Award to Industry for Export Achievement. [22]

1970 The Paxman and Ruston diesel businesses become Ruston Paxman Diesels Limited, a Management Company of English Electric Diesels Limited, with their headquarters at Vulcan Works, Newton-le-Willows.

1972 - English Electric Diesels Limited changes its name to GEC Diesels Limited.

Note: Made engines for the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

An excellent account by Richard Carr of the company's history and products is available online [23]

List of Models

Built Reg No. Works No. Name
1911. AF 3373 16849 Little Audrey

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Traction Engine Album by Malcolm Ranieri. Pub 2005
  • [3] Richard Carr's Paxman History Pages
  • The Modern Diesel edited by Geoffrey Smith. Published by Iliffe and Sons 1944
  • Steam Engine Builders of Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire by Ronald H. Clark. Published 1950 by The Augustine Steward Press
  • The Steam Engine in Industry by George Watkins in two volumes. Moorland Publishing. 1978/9. ISBN 0-903485-65-6
  1. [1]Richard Carr's Paxman History Pages
  2. The Engineer 1915/11/26
  3. 1871 Census
  4. The Engineer of 7th July 1876 p5 and p41
  5. The Essex Standard, West Suffolk Gazette, and Eastern Counties' Advertiser, Saturday, October 09, 1886
  6. 1881 Census
  7. The Essex Standard, West Suffolk Gazette, and Eastern Counties' Advertiser, Saturday, October 10, 1885
  8. The Essex Standard, West Suffolk Gazette, and Eastern Counties' Advertiser, Saturday, October 09, 1886
  9. The Essex Standard, West Suffolk Gazette, and Eastern Counties' Advertiser, Saturday, June 18, 1887;
  10. The Engineer of 3rd May 1889 p365 and p374
  11. 1892 The Practical Engineer
  12. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  13. Daily News, Saturday, June 18, 1898
  14. The Engineer of 8th December 1911 p594
  15. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  16. The Engineer 1915/11/26
  17. The Engineer of 9th July 1920
  18. The Times, Jul 30, 1926
  19. The Engineer 1927/07/29
  20. Mining Year Book 1960. Published by Walter E. Skinner. Advert p41
  21. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  22. The Engineer of 26th April 1968 p650
  23. [2] Richard Carr’s Paxman History Pages