Neilson and Company
The company was started in 1836 at McAlpine Street by Walter Neilson and James Mitchell to manufacture marine and stationary engines. In 1837 the firm moved to Hyde Park Street and was known as Kerr, Mitchell and Neilson and, in 1840, Kerr, Neilson and Company, becoming Neilson and Mitchell in 1843.
Locomotive building began in 1843 for the local railways. In 1855 production of marine and stationary engines discontinued and the company changed its name again to Neilson and Company. Among those who later became notable in the field were Henry Dübs and Patrick Stirling.
By 1861, business had increased to such an extent, that a new works was built at Springburn, also named "Hyde Park Works." In 1864, Henry Dübs set up in business on his own at Queens Park Works, as Dübs and Company, taking a number of key staff with him. James Reid, who had previously worked for Neilson, however, returned and became a partner.
When the Edinburgh and Glasgow railway was opened in 1842, it used a pair of Neilson & Mitchell beam engines to work the rope incline from Glasgow to Cowlairs station. The engines were covered by an article illustrated with drawings in The Practical Mechanic and Engineer's Magazine in Jan 1844. They were beam engines mounted on an entablature supported on fluted columns. The engines had 28 inch cylinders, and 6 foot stroke. They were supplied with steam at 50psi by 8 boilers, each 30 foot long and 5 foot diameter.
Through the 1870s considerable numbers of 0-4-4 tank engines were built for the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, the Midland and the Great Eastern. Many other types were built for railways at home and abroad, including fifty 0-4-2s for India. The company's first eight-coupled locos were built in 1872, also for India.
In 1879 the first 2-6-0s to run on British rails were built for William Adams of the Great Eastern. One of these was named "Mogul" and this became the name applied to all locomotives of this wheel arrangement. (However, the name had already been employed in the USA about ten years earlier.)
More overseas orders followed, with engines for South Africa and South America.
Turn of the 20th century
In 1884, Neilson left to form a new company, the Clyde Locomotive Company; although Reid became the sole owner of Neilson & Co., it was not until 1898 that the company changed its name to Neilson, Reid and Company.
However, by this time, intense competition from America meant that small companies were unable to survive. There was a need for amalgamation, and in 1903 Neilson Reid combined with Dübs and Company and Sharp Stewart and Company to form the North British Locomotive Company, the largest locomotive company in the world, outside of the United States.
Preserved Neilson engines
- The Workshops, Ipswich 0-4-2 No 1170 of 1865 Queensland A10 Neilson class locomotive
- The Workshops, Ipswich 0-4-2 No 1214 of 1866 Queensland A10 Neilson class locomotive
- Rail Heritage WA 0-6-0T No 3631 of 1888 WAGR H class
- Ferrymead Railway – "Peveril" No. 1692 of 1872 (F13)
- Silverstream Railway – No. 1847 of 1874 (D143)
- Pleasant Point Railway – No. 2306 of 1878 (D16)
- Helensville Railway Station – No. 2563 of 1880 (D170)
- Ocean Beach Railway – No. 2564 of 1880 (D6)
- Kaitaia Township – No. 2565 of 1880 (D221)
- Bush Tramway Club – No. 3751 of 1888 (F216)
It is interesting to note that Neilson and Company supplied the first (F13 of 1872) and last (F216 of 1888) members of the 88-strong New Zealand Railways F class. 6 builders supplied F class engines between the arrivals of F13 and F216.
- Museum of Science and Industry (Manchester) 0-4-0ST No 386 of 1869 (oldest known surviving Neilson locomotive)
- North Woolwich Old Station Museum – 0-4-0ST No. 2119 of 1876
- Scottish Railway Preservation Society, Bo'ness – 0-4-0ST No. 2203 of 1876
- Chasewater Railway, Brownhills, Staffordshire – 0-4-0ST No. 2937 of 1882
- Bressingham Steam and Gardens 0-4-0WT No 4444 of 1892 Beckton Gas Works No. 1
- Bressingham Steam and Gardens 0-4-0ST No 5087 of 1896 Beckton Gas Works No. 25
- "Stationary Engines and Geering at Cowlairs, on the Incline of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway", The Practical Mechanic and Engineer's Magazine, January 1844, p129-130 and plates IV-VI
- Lowe, J.W., (1989) British Steam Locomotive Builders, Guild Publishing
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