Records of North British Locomotive Co Ltd, locomotive builders, Springburn, Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Financial records 1903-1962
  • Administration records 1903-1966
  • Production records 1909-1948
  • Staff records 1946-1968
  • Plans c1949
  • Liquidators' papers 1959-65

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1894, Hugh Reid became senior partner of Neilson, Reid & Co, locomotive builders, (founded 1876) Springburn, Glasgow, Scotland. He was convinced of the advantages of industrial concentration and in 1903 helped to negotiate the amalgamation of Neilson Reid & Co with its major Glasgow competitors, Sharp, Stewart & Co Ltd , (founded in 1828  in Manchester, England, but moved to the works of Clyde Locomotive Co , Springburn, Glasgow, in 1888  ) and Dubs & Co , founded in 1864  . The resulting limited company was known as the North British Locomotive Co Ltd . The first chairman of the company was William Lorimer, chief partner of Dubs & Co while Hugh Reid became deputy chairman and managing director with overall responsibility for the organisation and management of the new company. Amongst the first directors of the new company were sons of William Lorimer and Henry Dubs. The valuations of the constituent companies were £466,000 for Neilson, Reid & Co , £313,000 for Dubs & Co and £240,000 for Sharp, Stewart & Co Ltd .

North British Locomotive Co Ltd retained the premises of each of the amalgamated companies, maintaining the Hyde Park works established by Neilson, Reid & Co , and the Atlas works of Sharp, Stewart & Co , both in Springburn, and the Queen's Park works at Polmadie, Glasgow, established by Dubs & Co . It was the biggest locomotive builder in Europe at the time, with 60 acres of works and nearly 8,000 employees. At its peak, production was averaging 447 completed locomotives per year. During the First World War (1914-1918), the company produced shells of all sizes, shell forgings, portable pill boxes and sea mines, a large part of this work being undertaken by women, who according to the company, maintained a high productivity, standard of work and good labour relations throughout the years of the war. It also manufactured aeroplanes, trench Howitzer carriages, tanks, military bridges, artificial limbs and machine tools as well as continuing to produce locomotive engines, some for specialised military use such as the movement of guns and ammunition. The total invoice value of the output during the war was approximately £16,000,000. During these war years, the company gave over a portion of their administration building to the Scottish branch of the British Red Cross Society. The resulting Springburn Hospital, offering 400 beds, was opened for the reception of patients on 24 December 1914  and remained open until 21 May 1918  .

Competition from road transport and overseas firms reduced demand for the company's locomotives between the two wars. Nevertheless, in the mid-1950s  , it was still one of the world's greatest centres of locomotive building, employing directly, about 5,000 people, its Head Office situated at 110 Flemington Street, Springburn, across the street from the Hyde Park Works and close to the Atlas Works. However, by 1958  , a number of foreign companies could quote prices, which were 70 per cent of those being asked by the company. In conditions of increased competition, it continued to make efforts to keep up to date, experimenting with diesel. Unfortunately, this proved something of a futile move in relation to the home market, since British Railways, nationalised in 1948  , eventually rejected diesel in favour of trains powered by electricity. The company finally ceased production in 1963  and its goodwill was later gained by Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co Ltd , Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, Scotland.


This material is arranged into series, which consist of numbers of items related by function and/or format. Within series, the items are generally arranged chronologically

Access Information


Acquisition Information

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

Additional deposit : Thomas McLintock & Co : March 1983

Other Finding Aids

Manual file level list available in the searchroom and at the National Registers of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S)1633) and 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 not been appraised professionally

Custodial History

A collection of the pre 1946 material was deposited with the Economic History Department, Glasgow University, prior to 1966.

The liquidation committee had agreed, in 1969, to make over all records of historical interest to the Mitchell Library, on the basis that they would give Glasgow University access to such books and papers as might be of research interest. The proviso was made that all records dated later than 1 September 1939 should be sealed and no use of any kind be made of them until after 1 September 1999 or until after the death of the last surviving director of the company whichever was the later.

By November 1976, train models had been transferred to the Glasgow Transport Museum and plates and engravings had been transferred to the Mitchell Library, but other records were still in the hands of Thomas McLintock & Co on behalf of the liquidators. The majority of these records were finally transferred directly to the Glasgow University Archives in March 1983, under the same terms as originally stipulated by the liquidation committee. Minute books 1903-1957 (Vols 1-7) were not transferred with the other records and may have been lost or destroyed.


None expected

Related Material

GB 0248 GD 329 Records of Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co Ltd

GB 0248 UGD 009 Records of Dubs & Co

GB 0248 UGD 010 Records of Neilson, Reid & Co

GB 0248 UGD 109 Records of Deloitte & Co

Material in other repositories:

GB 756 Order books 1903-1947 (National Railway Museum Library and Archives)

GB 246 Records including order book, weight diagram books and photographs 1903-1962 (City of Glasgow, Mitchell Library)

For contact details of all repositories with a GB code, see the Archon repository search page

Additional Information

This material is original

Updated by Jenny Cooknell, Assistant Archivist, 29 October 1999.

Updated by Lesley Richmond, Acting Director, 3 March 2000