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
1851 'RAILWAY AND OTHER BRIDGES. In looking through the Exhibition the general distinctive portions of railways have been amongst the foremost of the works attracting our attention. .... The girder bridge, of which the Britannia tube is an example, does not require abutments, because the underneath portion, being composed of tensile material, furnishes the resistance, in lieu of abutments, to the compressible portion above. It does not follow that the material must necessarily be continuous, as in the Britannia Bridge; it may be open lattice-work, or it may be composed of chains below, or of tensile bars and of compressive materials above. A specimen of this class of bridge may be seen in the eastern end of the nave, where it fills up a good portion of the space which our Transatlantic cousins have not beenable to occupy. It is constructed by Mr. Brotherhood, of Chippenham, on, we believe, an American patent. We are at a loss to know what peculiar purpose is to be served by this bridge, seeing that the roadway forms a gradient of considerable steepness, and that the timbers are laid down as if the structure were intended for a railway bridge. The lower portion is composed of two plain bars on each side - insufficient, we conceive, in amount of strength — and is connected to the upper or compressile portions, composed of double angle iron, by vertical pieces of cast iron, which again are intersected by diagonal bars forming a girder of open work. One good feature in the bridge is, that the roadway is placed a considerable distance above the tension bars, and thus serves to stiffen the structure laterally, and prevent its collapsing. The principle involved in it is sound enough, but the details of execution are anything but satisfactory. The workmanship is extremely good. ....'
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.
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.'
In 1965 Peter Brotherhood Ltd published an 84-page account of the history of the firms established by Rowland and Peter Brotherhood, entitled 'Brotherhoods, Engineers', written by Sydney A. Leleux.
Sources of Information
- Morning Herald (London) - Saturday 24 May 1851
- 'Engineering', 13 March 1868
- Western Daily Press, 10th July 1872
- British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816
- Chippenham Web Site