Drewry Car Co.

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The Drewry Car Co was a railway locomotive and railcar manufacturer and sales organisation from 1906 to 1984. At the start and the end of its life it built its own products, for the rest of the time it sold vehicles manufactured by sub-contractors. It was separate from the lorry-builder, Shelvoke and Drewry, but it is believed that James Sidney Drewry was involved with both companies.


Charles Stewart Drewry (c1843 - 1929) ran a motor and cycle repair business called Drewry & Sons at 'Herne Hill Motor Works', Railway Arches, Herne Hill, London. His son, James Sidney Drewry (1882-1952), formed the Drewry Car Co Ltd on 27 November 1906 and opened a small works in Teddington where he started building BSA engined rail trolleys and inspection railcars. The products of this works were sold by A.G. Evans & Co of London.[1] A ready market was found in South America, Africa, and India.

In 1908 BSA (of motor-cycle fame) took over building the railcars in Small Heath, Birmingham. The person in charge of this was Ernest E. Baguley who had joined BSA from Ryknield Motor Company in 1907. In 1911 Ryknield went into administration and Ernest Baguley left BSA and bought the Ryknield Shobnall Road works from the liquidator, forming Baguley Cars Ltd. In 1912 Baguley Cars took over the sub-contract manufacture of the Drewry railcars from BSA. The Drewry locomotives were soon fitted with Baguley's own 'R'-type engine.[1]

In 1923 Baguley changed its name from Baguley Cars Ltd to Baguley (Engineers) Ltd, but in the late 1920s Drewry had ambitions for standard gauge railcars, which were on a scale not readily accommodated in the Baguley works and from 1930 a lot of Drewry locomotives were built instead by the English Electric company.[1] Baguley (Engineers) Ltd failed in 1931.

Drewry railcar in Argentina

In 1931 Drewry had a very successful demonstration of its new petrol engined railcar (made by English Electric) on the 7 mile line from Preston to Longridge. This comprised one powered carriage, and one trailed carriage. The powered car had two 155hp Parsons M8 engines, and the transmission was 5-speed self-changing. The powered coach had 16 first class seats and 26 second class, the trailed coach was all first class. The demonstration train was one built for service on the Bermuda Railway, and the passengers were VIPs of the railway world from many countries and companies.[2] In Bermuda they gave good service until the railway closed in 1948, and then the railway locomotives and rolling stock were shipped to British Guiana - where they were used until that line closed in 1972. Drewry went on to export its railcars to many countries, including 35 to New Zealand.

In 1933 the LMS Railway announced that it was to hold a extensive trial of heavy oil locomotives for shunting duties, and among the contenders was a Drewry shunter built by the English Electric company. This was a 26 ton 0-4-0 and had a 176hp Allen 8RS18 eight cylinder diesel engine. It was delivered in spring 1934, and after operating in Salford goods yard it was sent on loan to the War Department in 1940, and they purchased it in 1943.[1] The shunting locomotive appeared successful, and in 1938 it was reported that Drewry Car Co had received an order for 15 from the New Zealand government, to be built for Drewry at the Dick Kerr Works, Preston.[3] It says a lot for the robustness of the Drewry design that two of these pre-war locos are still in use - see New Zealand TR class locomotive. In the post war period Drewry shunters were adopted as the British Rail Class 04 shunters, of which 142 were built.

While Baguley (Engineers) Ltd had failed in 1931, E E Baguley Ltd rose from the ashes to maintain existing Baguley locomotives, and their business grew so that in 1934 they opened their new works in Uxbridge Street, Burton-on-Trent and started producing their own Baguley diesel locomtives, and rail inspection vehicles for Drewry.[1]

Drewry continued as a successful locomotive and railcar company in the post-war years, though it had no production facilities. It continued to rely on contracting out the manufacture, using companies such as Vulcan Foundry and Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns.

In 1962 Drewry acquired a controlling interest in E E Baguley Ltd, and formed Baguley-Drewry Ltd, thus once again building its own locomotives, in Burton-on-Trent. The company closed in 1984.


Shunting locomotives[edit]

A Baguley-Drewry inspection car (right) on the 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway in Wales


The railcar supplied to the Southern Railway (UK) in 1928 and later used on the Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Railway
Drewry railcar used in Argentine Comodoro Rivadavia Railway in the 1940s.
NZR RM class (88 seater) under restoration


  1. ^ a b c d e Webb, Brian (1973). The British Internal Combustion Locomotive 1894-1940. David & Charles. ISBN 0715361155.
  2. ^ Petrol Trains - Demonstration Run at Preston, Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 16 Sept 1931, p4
  3. ^ £45,000 Contracts - Lancashire Firm to Share in Work, Liverpool Echo, 13 May 1938, p7
  4. ^ Here & There Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin issue 307 May 1963 page 4
  5. ^ WAGR Takes Delivery of First Diesels for Shunting: Road Engines to Come Railway Transportation January 1954 page 16
  6. ^ Here & There Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin issue 701 March 1996 page 96
  7. ^ a b Redwood, Christopher (1981). The Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Railway. Weston-super-Mare: Avon-Anglia. pp. 121–124. ISBN 0-905466-42-X.
  8. ^ Locomotives of the Southern Railway. Part 1, Railway Corresponce and Travel Society, 1975.
  9. ^ Clark, P.R. (1976). "Southern Railway petrol railcar No. 5". Model Railway Constructor. Vol. 43, no. 505. pp. 176–177.
  10. ^ Christmas Island Light Railways issue 29 Spring 1969 pages 6
  11. ^ Tasmanian Government Railways 75HP Bogie Rail Motor Locomotive, Railway Carriage & Wagon Review issue 410 October 1926 page 326
  12. ^ Tasmania's New Diesel Railcars Port Pirie Recorder 26 September 1939 page 2


  • "The Drewry Car Company:1906-1970". Industrial Railway Record. Industrial Railway Society (40). 1972.
  • Marsden, Colin J., (2003) The Diesel Shunter, Oxford Publishing, ISBN 0-86093-579-5
  • The Railway Products of Baguley-Drewry Ltd and Its Predecessors, Civil, A, and Etherington, R, (2008), The Industrial Railway Society, ISBN 978-1-901556-44-5

External links[edit]