Scope and Content

Consists of publicity, for Priestman motor excavators, cranes and grabs and individual photographic prints of Priestman products 1878-1969

Administrative / Biographical History

William Dent Priestman, an engineer and quaker, founded Priestman Bros Ltd in 1870 at the age of 23 with Robert Sizer. The premises were at Holderness Foundry, James Street, Drypool, Hull and at 9 Castle Street, Hull. The company repaired and manufactured replacement parts for flour, oil, paint and sugar mills.

The partnership ended in 1872 and the company was renamed William Dent Priestman and Company. William's brother Samuel joined not long after and the company became Priestman Brothers. The range of products included printing machinery, fire bars, dampers and paddle steamers. In the mid 1870's the firm specialised in grab dredgers, for use in water, expanding into grab excavators for use on land. The company were the first to produce an oil engine in 1887, winning them the Royal Agricultural Society's silver medal. Oil engines became another speciality of the firm. The Castle Street premises were let go and the company opened offices in London.

Sydney Herbert Priestman joined the company in 1897, patenting many grab designs and Philip Priestman joined the company in the 1909. During the early twentieth century the demand for grabs increased, by 1939 the company employed 650 people and 800 people by 1948. The company moved to a new works in Hedon Road, Marfleet, Hull in 1951. Demand was so great in the 1950's order books were filled four years ahead. Subsidiary companies were set up in Canada (1956), Australia (1961), Sweden (1965) and United States of America (1960's), with products exported all over the world.


  • TR PRI/P2/A1-28 Individual Advertising Items. Priestman Bros. Ltd. Motor Products
  • TR PRI/P2/A1 Holderness Foundry, Hull
  • TR PRI/P2/A2-10 Holderness Engineering Works, Hull
  • TR PRI/P2/A11-28 Hedon Road, Hull
  • TR PRI/PH3/A1-21 Individual Photographic Prints
  • TR PRI/PH3/A1-2 Priestman Bros., Hull. Steam Products
  • TR PRI/PH3/3-21 Priestman Bros. Ltd., Hull. Motor Products

Conditions Governing Access

Available for consultation

Acquisition Information

Material deposited as a gift August, 1969 T69/23


Compiled by Zoe Watson, March 2004

Other Finding Aids

A detailed catalogue is available at the Museum of English Rural Life

Conditions Governing Use

Please contact the Archivist

Related Material

Records are also held by Hull City Archives reference number DBPM

Geographical Names