The Company was founded by Charles Algernon Parsons in 1889 to produce steam turbines, his own invention. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the company was producing up to 50 turbines a year at its factory in Heaton in Newcastle upon Tyne. The company's heyday was in the 1960s, when the factory employed more than 7,000 people at its 100 acre split site.
The company survives today as part of the power generation division of the industrial conglomerate, Siemens, who acquired the business from Rolls-Royce in 1997. Siemens announced in late 2002 that they would be cutting 400 of the 700 jobs at the Heaton works by 2004, shifting the operation to focussing on the servicing side of the business, blaming a downturn in world markets following the 11 September attacks and Enron scandal, creating a downturn in orders in 2003. They also announced they would be focusing their manufacturing operations at their factory in Budapest, where labour was cheaper.
Parsons turbines are now on display in several museums in the UK, and across the world. These include the Discovery Museum in Newcastle, the Science Museum in London, and the Electric Power and Historical Museum, in Yokohama, Japan.