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Quainton Virtual Stockbook - Industrial Locomotives

Hunslet Engine Company
Hunslet, Leeds

The Hunslet Engine Company is one of the very few locomotive builders to have stood the time, and still exists as part of the Hunslet Barclay Group. Its origins go back to 1864 when Mr J T Leather, a railway contractor and civil engineer, built up the firm in the hope of interesting his son, Arthur. The manager he appointed was James Campbell, son of the works manager of nearby Manning Wardle. Although competitors in the same field, the two firms were good neighbours and assisted each other as the occasion demanded.

The young Leather was not interested in locomotive matters, however, and his holding in the company was sold out to Mr Campbell in 1873. The premises were gradually extended and Hunslet became famous for its range of four and six-coupled tank engines. 1902 saw the firm reconstituted as The Hunslet Engine Co. Ltd. Edgar Alcock, formerly assistant works manager at Beyer Peacock, was taken on in 1912 as works manager and by 1917 he had won a seat on the board. At about this time Hunslets began to build larger types of locomotive, among them being a series of 4-6-0Ts for the War Department. These were intended for use near the front line during the Great War. The factory was also engaged in producing munitions of all descriptions.

The Hunslet Engine Company has always endeavoured to keep pace with technology and it now entered a period when this began to pay off. In 1927 Manning Wardle went into liquidation as they could not keep pace with modern methods and Hunslet purchased about five acres of their redundant works. This allowed expansion at a time when space was badly needed. In the same year Edgar Alcock's son, John, joined the firm and he began the diesel section of the business.

1930 saw the demise of Kerr Stuart & Co. Ltd. of Stoke-on-Trent who has also just begun work on diesel traction. Hunslet purchased the ailing company and the first diesel to be turned out of the Leeds works was an 0-4-0DM laid down by Kerr Stuart. This locomotive, K4428, is now at Quainton Railway Centre.

Another casualty of the depression was the Avonside Engine Company of Bristol. Avonside closed in 1934 and in the following year their business was purchased by Hunslet, complete with drawings, patterns and copyrights etc. However the buildings at Fishponds, Bristol were acquired by another company.

During the Second World War, Hunslets were engaged on a great deal of work for the Ministry of Supply and produced parts for artillery, aircraft and so on. Among the railway work was an order for a class of powerful six-coupled tank locomotives. Eventually a design based on their 18 inch 0-6-0ST was decided upon and these were to become the famous Austerity saddle tanks.

When Manning Wardle had collapsed in 1927 their trade had been purchased by Kitson & Co. Kitson themselves failed in 1938 and their business was purchased by Robert Stephenson and Hawthorn (RSH). In 1960 RSH streamlined their organisation and sold the trade from these sources to Hunslet, thereby bringing still more work to the Leeds based firm. The Hunslet Engine Company's last major acquisition was in 1972 when the equity of Andrew Barclay & Co. Ltd of Kilmarnock was purchased, bringing Scotland's sole remaining loco builder under the wing of the Hunslet group. Hunslet's main manufacturing facility is now at Andrew Barclay's former Caledonia Works. Other acquisitions over the years included the locomotive business of Hudswell Clarke.

Examples at Quainton

EssoL.jpg (59,105 bytes) Hunslet 0-4-0DM No. 2067
arthurL.jpg (136,362 bytes) Hunslet 0-6-0ST No. 3782 Arthur
ncb66L.jpg (156,373 bytes) Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST No. 3890 (NCB66)

Examples Previously at Quainton

genericloco.bmp (35,654 bytes) Hunslet 0-4-0ST No. 287 Trym
holywar.jpg (104,346 bytes) Hunslet 0-4-0 ST No. 779 Holy War
Cunarder01.jpg (61,855 bytes) Hunslet 0-6-0 ST No. 47160 Cunarder
Juno_m.jpg (87,197 bytes) Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST No. 3850 Juno
genericloco.bmp (35,654 bytes) Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST No. 3889
genericloco.bmp (35,654 bytes) Hunslet 7016

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page first published in QRS publication "A Century on Rails" 1985.
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Page Updated: 16 September 2017