Records of Dubs & Co, locomotive builders, Polmadie, Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Salaries books 1864-1879
  • Inventory books 1865-1902
  • Inventory of great tools 1868
  • Locomotive cost books 1872-1902 - locomotive numbers 547 to 4117
  • Order books 1870-1891
  • Cost books 1870-1875

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Dubs ( 1816-1876  ) was born to a farming family in Guntersblum near Darmstadt, Germany . He was apprenticed to a machine tooling business and by the age of 21, having gained further experience in Mainz and Aachen, Germany, he was working as a machine shop manager. He moved to England and was appointed as works manager of the Vulcan Locomotive Co Foundry near Warrington, Lancashire , in 1842  . Here, he was increasingly involved in locomotive building. Between 1842 and 1858  he appears also to have worked for another Lancashire locomotive builders, Beyer, Peacock in Manchester. It seems that he lost his job as works manager in 1857  , for reasons that may have had more to do with his managerial style than his technical abilities. Dubs was not, however, without energy or friends, and in 1858  he was appointed as works manager to the Clydeside, Scotland, engineers and locomotive builders, Neilson & Co , replacing the existing works manager, James Reid. Dubs seems to have got the job on the strength of his knowledge of locomotive building, since Walter Neilson was, at that time, developing away from a more general engineering concern into a specialist locomotive builders, and on the basis of his commercial connections. Moreover, Dubs was made a partner in the company.

Very shortly after Dubs joined Neilson & Co , new premises were opened at Springburn, Glasgow, Scotland, and Dubs, as managing director, co-ordinated final building work and organised production at the new site. However, it soon became clear that Dubs and Neilson did not have a good working relationship. In 1863  , Dubs gave up his partnership and established his own locomotive building company, which Neilson stipulated should not be any closer than three miles to his new Hyde Park Works in Springburn. The site Dubs chose was in Aitkenhead Road, Queen's Park in Polmadie, on the south side of Glasgow, which opened as the Glasgow Locomotive Works in 1864  . Dubs's new company, Dubs & Co , proved very successful. Although Neilson had found Dubs 'pig-headed' and had not rated him highly as an engineer, Dubs had inspired sufficient loyalty and respect to enable him to take a number of workers with him when he left Neilson & Co, including Sampson George Goodall-Copestake, Neilson's chief draughtsman, who eventually became a partner. In addition, a number of Neilson's customers started to place orders with Dubs.

By 1866  Dubs was receiving orders from abroad and Dubs & Co continued to provide the renamed locomotive builders, Neilson, Reid & Co , with plenty of competition. It appears that Dubs' areas of particular interest and expertise lay in engineering layout, in the refinement of equipment and in the finer points of steel making. It also seems as if he had the edge when it came to organising ability. Although making locomotives was its main business at this time, Dubs & Co also manufactured traction engines and steam cranes. His company was notable too, in that, in January 1866  , it was the first to employ women in its drawing office as tracers. Henry Dubs died of cancer in 1876  , at the age of 60. He was succeeded as managing partner by William Lorimer, who had joined the company in 1864  . Lorimer held this position until 1903  . During the years after Dubs' death, the company expanded its export business and together with Neilson, Reid & Co , made Glasgow the largest centre of locomotive building in Britain. In 1888  , Manchester locomotive builders, Sharp, Stewart & Co , moved its premises to Springburn, Glasgow, and eventually, the three companies amalgamated as the North British Locomotive Co in 1903  . At that time, Dubs & Co was valued at £313,000 and was the second largest locomotive works in Britain, employing 2,423 people.


This material is arranged into six series as described in the scope and content note

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Gift : North British Locomotive Co Ltd, Glasgow : prior to 1966

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom.

Manual file level list available at the National Register of Archives in London (NRA10858)

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with normal procedures

Custodial History

Records deposited with Economic History Department, Glasgow University, prior to 1966. Management of the collection was transferred to Glasgow University Archives in 1975.


None expected

Related Material

GB 248 GD 329 Records of Andrew Barclay Sons & Co Ltd

GB 0248 UGD 010 Records of Neilson, Reid & Co

GB 0248 UGD 011 Records of North British Locomotive Co Ltd

GB 248 UGD 109 Records of Deloitte & Co.

Material in other repositories:

GB 246 Photographs and miscellaneous papers 1865-1903 (City of Glasgow, Mitchell Library)

GB 756 Order books, drawings c1864-1903 (National Railway Museum Library and Archives)

GB 1541 Specification books c1864-1903 Southern Methodist University: DeGolyer Library


Nicolson, Murdoch and O'Neill, Mark,Glasgow: Locomotive Builder to the World(Glasgow: Polygon Books/Glasgow District Libraries, 1987)

Additional Information

This material is original

Updated by Jenny Cooknell , Assistant Archivist, 25 October 1999

Updated by Lesley Richmond , Acting Director, 3 March 2000

Updated by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 14 February 2002