Bowesfield Works

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Bowesfield Works was a railway locomotive manufacturing plant in Stockton-on-Tees. The works was operated by a joint venture company called Metropolitan Vickers-Beyer Peacock from 1949 until 1960.

Coordinates: 54°32′57″N 1°19′43″W / 54.5493°N 1.3286°W / 54.5493; -1.3286

Works history[edit]

Metropolitan-Vickers and Beyer, Peacock & Co. formed a joint venture company in November 1949 to design and manufacture diesel, electric and gas turbine locomotives. Because Beyer, Peacock’s Gorton works was still busy producing steam locomotives, an alternative site for the new locomotives to be built had to be found. A factory at Yarm Road, Stockton-on-Tees, on which Metrovicks had acquired a lease in 1947, was chosen as the location. The factory which had been built in 1946 for the American construction machinery company LeTourneau, was almost brand new, and covered an area of around 95,000 square feet (8,800 m2), later extended to over 125,000 square feet (11,600 m2) by Metrovicks. The works had its own railway siding running from Bowesfield Junction to the north east of the works. Initially the factory was used by Metrovicks for steel fabrication work before locomotive manufacture began in 1949.

Locomotives built[edit]

Brazil[edit]

The first locomotives built at the works were fourteen electric locomotives for the Rede Mineira de Viação railway company of Brazil. They were 1,072 horsepower (799 kW), Bo-Bo, 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge gauge locomotives. This was followed by another order for ten similar locomotives for Rede de Viação Paraná-Santa Catarina, Brazil.

Australia[edit]

In 1954–55, the works built forty New South Wales 46 class electric locomotives for New South Wales Railways in Australia, along with the forty-eight WAGR X class diesel electric locomotives built for Western Australian Government Railways, during 1953–56.

British Railways[edit]

The only locomotives built for British Railways at the works, were the twenty BR Class 28 diesel electrics during 1958-59, and the experimental 25kV AC locomotive E1000 which was built by converting the gas turbine locomotive E18100. Work commenced in January 1958 when E18100 was brought to Bowesfield Works from storage at Dukinfield Works. The conversion of E18100 involved the removal of the gas turbine unit, generator and the middle traction motor from each bogie, which changed the locomotive from a Co-Co to an A1A-A1A wheel arrangement. The necessary electrical equipment such as the transformer, mercury arc rectifiers and pantograph etc. was installed, with the work completed by October 1958.

National Coal Board[edit]

In addition to building mainline locomotives, the works also constructed twelve Metropolitan-Vickers DBF type, 3 ft (914 mm) gauge, battery powered under ground mining locomotives for the National Coal Board during 1959.

Metrovick built SAR Class 5E1, Series 1, number E445

South Africa[edit]

The last locomotives built at the works was a batch of one hundred SAR Class 5E1, Series 1 electric, 2,280 horsepower (1,700 kW), Bo-Bo, 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge locomotives for South African Railways and Harbours during 1958–60.

Closure[edit]

In December 1960, it was announced that the works was facing closure due to a lack of orders, and in February 1961, the Metropolitan-Vickers-Beyer Peacock joint company was placed into voluntary liquidation. The works was closed shortly afterwards and the workforce made redundant.

The site today[edit]

The factory building was taken over by the Visqueen company, a manufacturer of polythene films, which is now part of the British Polythene Industries group. The factory has since closed and in 2011 the site is being redeveloped for housing.

Reference sources[edit]