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Industrial Lincolnshire

From the middle of the 19th century industrial production in Lincolnshire, mainly of agricultural machinery, grew.  One of the first Lincolnshire companies was formed when Nathanial Clayton and Joseph Shuttleworth went into partnership in 1842, creating Clayton and Shuttleworth.  At this time Lincolnshire, as an agricultural county, needed to increase its produce to meet the demands of a growing population.  This in turn led to a need to develop machinery and the power to drive it.  

The water transport system in Lincolnshire was efficient at carrying raw materials and finished goods and the county also had a ready made market for its engineering products.  Already there were many small millwrights and blacksmiths shops serving the local economy, manufacturing and repairing agricultural tools.  Several of these small businesses developed into the large and world famous Lincolnshire companies of the later 19th and 20th centuries.

Lincolnshire’s engineering industry continued to flourished through the 20th century, their products being exported around the world.  During the First and Second World Wars the industry turned to manufacturing military vehicles and munitions, the most notable being the development of the tank by William Fosters Ltd. of Lincoln in 1915.  However, reflecting a trend across the nation, Lincolnshire’s industrial output began to decline in the 1970s and 1980s due to cheaper foreign imports and the rise of the service industries.

Highlights from the Industrial Collection

Marshalls of Gainsborough Portable Steam Engine ‘Harriet’ (T1209)

Harriet is a 7 horse power ‘OK’ portable steam engine, number 30169.  She was built by Marshall’s of Gainsborough in 1898 and was owned by a building firm, F. Perks & Sons of Long Eaton, Derbyshire.  She was named Harriet, after the daughter of the donor, on her arrival at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life in 1984.  Marshalls was founded in 1848 by William Marshall, a millwright, and by the late 19th century the foundry site, Marshall-Britannia Iron Works, was one of the largest ironworks in Europe, exporting portable steam engines and agricultural machinery all over the world.  The company manufactured munitions during the First World War and midget submarines during the Second World War, but business declined during the 1970s and the company closed in the 1980s.

Aveling-Barford RoadRoller ‘Violet’

Thomas Aveling and Richard Thomas Porter established their company in Rochester, Kent, in 1862.  The firm developed a steam engine in 1865 and became one of Britain’s largest producers of steam engines.  ‘George’ the road roller in the Thomas the Tanks Engine children’s books, by the Rev.W. Awdry, is based on an Aveling & Porter steam roller.  In 1933 Aveling & Porter combined with Barford & Perkins to form Aveling-Barford and the firm moved, with financial backing from Ruston & Hornsby of Lincoln, to an empty Ruston factory in Grantham, where they became one of the largest manufacturers of road rollers in the world.  Violet was purchased for the Museum of Lincolnshire Life with assistance from the PRISM fund and a member of staff; Violet was named after his mother.  Violet was previously owned by William F. Rees Ltd. of London in 1939 and then by Glendining (Roads) Ltd. in 1964.

Robey Horizontal Winding Engine (LCNLL : 1973/632)

Dated 1887 the Robey horizontal winding engine was used to bring up barrels of spa water at Woodhall Spa Rheumatism Clinic.  The engine is displayed at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life alongside one of these barrels.  A spring of medicinal water was first discovered at Woodhall in the early 19th century, during a search for coal.  In the 1830s local landowner, Thomas Hotchkin, spent £30,000 sinking a well and building the Spa Baths and Victoria Hotel after it was discovered the water contained a large quantity of iodine and bromine.  With the coming of the railways in the 1850s Woodhall developed into an elegant spa town.  The spa declined in popularity after the First World War and the Robey engine ceased running in 1960 when it was found that leakage of the spa water had undermined the engine and boiler house foundations.

Robert Robey started his engineering business in Lincoln in 1854, manufacturing portable steam engines and threshing drums.  He rapidly expanded his range of products and by the 1860s was selling a wide range of agricultural equipment and also mining equipment, including winding and pumping engines, locomotives and cages; many products were exported overseas.  His Globe Works was said to be the first factory in the UK to be lit by electricity.  In the First World War Robey manufactured Sopwith aircraft and Seaplanes and in the later years the company produced oil, gas and solid fuel boilers.  Robey & Co. closed in 1988.

Hornsby Traction Engine ‘Bob’ (T1300)

Hornsbys was founded in 1815 when Richard Hornsby and Richard Seaman opened a blacksmithy in Grantham.  In 1828 Hornsby bought out his partner and formed Richard Hornsby & Sons.  The company developed an early track system for vehicles, the patent for which was sold to an American firm, Holt & Co., which later became the Caterpillar Inc.  In 1918 Hornsbys was merged with Ruston & Proctor of Lincoln.  Bob the traction engine was built in 1892.  He was exported to Tasmania, along with seven other Hornsby traction engines, in February 1892.  Bob had three owners in Tasmania, before he retired to a children’s playground.  He was purchased for the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, with assistance from the Friends of Lincoln Museums and Art Gallery, and arrived back in England in 1988.  His restoration was financed by the PRISM fund and Lincolnshire County Council and he is currently on display at Church Farm Museum, Skegness, paired with a Hornsby threshing drum thought to be the only pairing of its kind in the UK.

Buckler Stationary Oil Engine (LCNGR : 1995.1)

Charles Henry Buckler ran a small engineering company on Wharf Road, Grantham, from the early 20th century until c.1937.  The firm manufactured engines and parts to personal requirements.  The Buckler stationary oil engine is a horizontal open crank case, water cooled, miniature engine with only a 3.5 inch bore, dated c. 1910.  It was used to power machinery in the Buckler workshop.  It was purchased in 1994 for Grantham Museum with assistance from the PRISM fund.

Ruston and Proctor Petrol Locomotive (T1277)

This 20hp petrol locomotive was built by Ruston and Proctor in 1917 and was used at Waltham Abbey Gunpowder Mill and The Royal Navy Cordite Factory in Holton Heath, Dorset, where explosives were manufactured for naval and military use.  Because of the risk of explosions from sparks, steam engines were not used at the mills.  Ruston Proctor and Co. Ltd. produced their first internal combustion locomotives in 1915 and 28 were built for use in First World War gunpowder factories.  This locomotive is one of only two survivors and is believed to be the second oldest internal combustion locomotive in the world.  The locomotive was powered by Ruston’s 10hp ZRH single cylinder engine which was started on petrol and once warmed up was switched to paraffin.

Burton and Proctor started trading as millwrights in Lincoln in 1840.  In 1857 Joseph Ruston became a partner and the company changed its name to Ruston Proctor, developing into a major agricultural engineering firm.  In 1918 Ruston Proctor merged with Richard Hornsby & Sons from Grantham and became Ruston & Hornsby and began to also manufacture steam boilers and diesel locomotives, diesel engines and mining machinery.

In the mid-1960s Ruston Proctor were bought by English Electric, who themselves were bought out by GEC, and all manufacturing was discontinued other than a new range of industrial gas turbines which had been developed by Rutons in the mid-1950s.  Further developments saw the company name change to Ruston Gas Turbines, then European Gas Turbines, before being sold to the Alstrom Group and is now part of the Siemens conglomerate.

Ruston Bucyrus Face Shovel Excavator 17RB (1980/324)

Built in 1937 by Ruston Bucyrus, the 17RB tracked excavator was owned by The Lincoln Brickwork Company Ltd., Waddington, Lincoln, until 1976.  The excavator was restored by Ruston Bucyrus apprentices prior to being donated to the Museum of Lincolnshire Life in 1976.  Ruston Bucyrus Ltd. was formed in 1930 and was jointly owned by Ruston Hornsby of Lincoln and Bucyrus-Erie in Bucyrus, Ohio, USA.  Ruston Bucyrus was bought by its management in 1985 and severed all links with Bucyrus-Erie, forming R-B Lincoln, which later became R-B International.  In 2000 R-B International was sold to Langley Holdings plc and a new company RB Cranes Ltd. was created before being sold again in 2010 to Delden Machinery of Nottinghamshire.

Tuxford Portable Steam Engine ‘Maud’

Maud was built in 1883 by William Tuxford & Sons, a company formed in Boston in 1841.  The factory closed in 1885, but Collitt & Co. bought the ironworks and continued the manufacture of Tuxford products until 1891.  Maud was purchased by the Museum of Lincolnshire Life in 1993.  Examples of Tuxford portable engines are rare and only six others are believed to be in existence in the UK.

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Last updated: 22 December 2011

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