Andrew Barclay Sons & Co.

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Andrew Barclay Sons & Co.
Industry Engineering
Predecessor Barclays & Co.
Successor Hunslet-Barclay (1972)
Brush-Barclay (2007)
Wabtec Rail Scotland (2011)
Founded 1892
Headquarters Kilmarnock, Scotland
Products Locomotives
Owner Wabtec

Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. are a builder of steam and later fireless and diesel locomotives. The company's history dates to foundation of an engineering workshop in 1840 in Kilmarnock, Scotland.

After a long period of operation the company was acquired by the Hunslet group in 1972 and renamed Hunslet-Barclay; in 2007 the company changed hands after bankruptcy becoming Brush-Barclay as part of the FKI Group. In 2011 Brush Traction and Brush-Barclay were acquired from FKI by Wabtec - as of 2012 the company still operates in Kilmarnock providing rail engineering services as Wabtec Rail Scotland.


Born in 1814, Andrew Barclay was only 25 years of age when he set up a partnership with Thomas McCulloch to manufacture mill shafts in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, Scotland. It was only a couple of years later that he branched out on his own to manufacture his patented gas lamps. In 1847 he set up workshops specializing in the manufacture of winding engines for the local coal mining industry. However, the money from the gas lamp patent sale was never paid and sequestration of the company came the following year.

By 1859 Barclay had recovered from this setback and his newly formed company produced its first locomotive. Sometime around 1871 Andrew Barclay set up a second locomotive building business known as Barclays & Co. He had set up this company for his younger brother, John, and his four sons. This business remaining closely associated with Andrew Barclay. Again not all went well and the companies were declared bankrupt in 1874 and 1882 respectively. Four years after this latest collapse, Andrew Barclay’s business was relaunched as Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. Later Barclays & Co was also revived. Further difficulties arose. In 1892 the firm became a limited liability company as Andrew Barclay Sons & Co., Ltd. Just two years later Andrew was removed from control of the company which bore his name by its shareholders. Barclay sued the company for unpaid wages, a matter which was settled out of court 5 years later.

In 1930 the company bought the business of John Cochrane (Barrhead) Ltd, engine makers and in 1963 it acquired the goodwill of the North British Locomotive Company, Glasgow.[clarification needed]


In 1972 the company was acquired by the Leeds-based Hunslet Group of companies and its name was changed in 1989 to Hunslet-Barclay Ltd. As such, it operated six ex-British Rail Class 20 diesels to provide motive power for weed-killing trains used on the national rail network. The locomotive interests of Hunslet-Barclay were bought by LH Group, Staffordshire on 31 December 2003, with Hunslet-Barclay at Kilmarnock continuing in the business of design, manufacture and refurbishment of multiple units, rolling stock, bogies and wheel-sets.

Some Barclay locomotives were supplied through Lennox Lange, who acted as an agent for Barclay.[when?][citation needed]


After going into financial administration in 2007 the company was acquired by the locomotive builder Brush Traction of Loughborough through its parent, the FKI Group.[1] It was renamed Brush-Barclay.[2]

Wabtec Rail Scotland[edit]

On 28 February 2011, Wabtec announced that it had acquired Brush Traction for US$31 million. The Kilmarnock works became Wabtec Rail Scotland.[3][4]


A brass makers plate from an 0-4-0 Andrew Barclay locomotive of 1925 which worked at a Mauchline colliery in Scotland

Saddle tanks[edit]

The company was noted for constructing simple robust locomotives, chiefly for industrial use, and many of its products survive in use on heritage railways, over 100 in Britain. A typical product would be an 0-4-0 with squared-off saddle tank.

Fireless locomotives[edit]

Barclay was the largest builder of fireless locomotives in Britain, building 114 of them between 1913 and 1961. Few fireless locomotives are seen in action today. This is due to the low power of the locomotives, the long time needed to charge a locomotive from cold and the low steam pressures available for charging. Perhaps the only exception was "Lord Ashfield" (Andrew Barclay works no. 1989 of 1930) at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester that ran for a while in the 1990s sharing a steam supply with the stationary exhibits in their exhibition hall.

Diesel locomotives[edit]

The company built diesel shunting locomotives for industry and for British Rail. Classes included British Rail Class D2/5, British Rail Class 01 and British Rail Class 06.


Over 80 Andrew Barclay locomotives were supplied to railways in Ireland (Irish Turf Board/Bord na Móna), Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka Port Authority).[5]


A large number of various ABS&Co locomotives have been preserved, proving popular on many Heritage Railways and Railway Centres, as listed below.

Standard Gauge[edit]

'Steam Locomotives'

'Diesel Locomotives'

Narrow Gauge[edit]

'Steam Locomotives'

'Diesel Locomotives'


"Doll" built 1919 at the Leighton buzzard narrow gauge railway 
"Nora No.5" built 1912 at the Big Pit, Wales 
Ex-military Barclay diesel locomotive at the West Somerset Railway 
No.446 "Kingswood" at Bitton railway station 
Sri Lanka Port Authority - Engine No17. 
1949 Bord na Móna locomotive at the Stradbally Woodland Railway 
"Victory" built 1945 at Whitwell & Reepham railway station 
"Little Barford" built 1939 at the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway 
Fireless locomotive "South of Scotland Electricity Board, No.1" 

See also[edit]

  • Grant, Ritchie and Company - In 1876, there was a disastrous fire at Andrew Barclay’s Caledonia works in Kilmarnock. At this point, two employees Thomas Grant and William Ritchie, set up Grant, Ritchie and Company at Townholme Engine Works, Kilmarnock to manufacture steam locomotives.[6][7]


  1. ^ "£2.1m deal puts Hunslet -Barclay back on the rails", Herald Scotland, 13 November 2007 
  2. ^ "Brush buys Hunslet-Barclay". Railway Gazette International. 25 November 2007. 
  3. ^ "Wabtec buys Brush Traction". Railway Gazette International. 28 February 2011. 
  4. ^ Samuel, A. (28 February 2011), "Wabtec Rail announces acquisition of Brush Traction Group", 
  5. ^ Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, June 1984, pp.121-136
  6. ^ 272 Grant Ritchie 272/1894 Check |url= value (help), Ribble Steam Railway, retrieved 14 January 2012 
  7. ^ "British locomotive manufacturers",, Grant Ritchie & Co., Townholme Engine Works, Kilmarnock, retrieved 12 January 2012 

Further reading[edit]

  • Wear, Russell (1990). Barclay 150: a brief history of Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. and Hunslet-Barclay Ltd., Kilmarnock from 1840 to 1990. Kilmarnock: Hunslet-Barclay. 
  • Wear, Russell (1977). The Locomotive Builders of Kilmarnock. Industrial Railway Society. 

External links[edit]