William Foster & Co.

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Tank logo used on a threshing machine casting

William Foster & Co Ltd was an agricultural machinery company based in Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England and usually just called "Fosters of Lincoln." The company can be traced back to 1846, when William Foster purchased a flour mill in Lincoln. William Foster then proceeded to start small scale manufacturing of mill machinery and threshing machinery. The mill was converted to an iron foundry by 1856, thus becoming the original Wellington Foundry. During the First World War they built some of the first tanks for the British Army.

Agricultural machinery[edit]

Foster showman's road locomotive "Robin Hood"
Daimler-Foster 105 hp tractor towing artillery on a trailer built by Fosters, Flanders 1917. Photo by Ernest Brooks.

The company was known for producing threshing machines, regarded as among the best available.[citation needed] They also made traction engines, steam tractors such as the Foster Wellington and Showman's road locomotives.

Foster were briefly involved in a deal to market tractors built by Daimler in Britain but this was dropped after the war. (Little is known about the Daimler tractors which mainly were exported).[1]

The tank[edit]

Mark IV tank in the Museum at Lincoln
(a "Water carrier for Mesopotamia")

Foster's, as builders of agricultural machinery, were involved in the production and design of the prototype tanks.

After the First World War, The Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors decided that the principal inventors of the tank were Sir William Tritton, managing director of Fosters, and Major Walter Wilson.

An example of one of the first tanks that were used in the First World War is preserved and on display in the Museum of Lincolnshire Life. This is a Mark IV. The tanks were described as "Water carriers for Mesopotamia" during production for security.

The firm used the symbol of the tank after the war on other machinery they built as a trade mark.

Gwynnes Invincible Pumps[edit]

Gwynnes Limited manufactured centrifugal pumps from the mid 19th century in Hammersmith until acquired by Foster & Co. in 1927. Pump production was moved to Lincoln in 1930 and the company renamed Foster Gwynnes. Pump production ended in Lincoln in 1968.[2]

In 1964 vertical pumps were supplied to the Deeping fen IDB for the pumping station at Pode Hole, where they remain in use.


The company was acquired by W.H. Allen, Sons and Co in 1960, and subsequently by Amalgamated Power Engineering.

See also[edit]

In fiction[edit]

There is a traction engine in both Rev W Awdry's Railway Series and The Thomas & Friends TV Series based on one of these named Trevor.


  1. ^ Classic farm tractors, by Micheal Williams, ISBN 978-0753714461
  2. ^ 'The Story of the Wellington Foundry, Lincoln' M R Lane

External links[edit]