Nasmyth, Wilson and Co. Locomotive Specification Book

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 1514
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      340 x 230 mm. 1 volume. Binding: Leather bound volume
  • Location
      Collection available at The John Rylands Library, Deansgate.

Scope and Content

A volume recording locomotives manufactured by the firm of Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. between 1922 and 1937. The volume contains records of 74 locomotives. Each entry includes standard information about the specifications of the engine and the client. There is also a photograph of the engine for most entries. Individual entries are signed off by the relevant draughtsman (mainly W G McDonald, D Derbishire and E Skidmore).

Companies purchasing the locomotives include Astley and Tyldesley Collieries Co., Bengal NW Railway, Burma Railway, Barsi Light Railway, Bombay, Baroda, and Central India Railway, Bengal Dooars Railway, Bengal Nagpur Railway, Castle Cliff Railway, Chinese Government Purchasing Commission, Great Northern, Jodhpur Railway, Jamaica Government Railways, Kiao-Tsi Railway. London and Midland, Madras And South Mahratta Railway, Mysore Railway, Nigerian Railways, Palestine Railways, South Indian Railways, and the Western Oasis Railway.

Administrative / Biographical History

The firm was founded in 1836 by James Nasmyth (1808-1890) and Holbrook Gaskell (1813-1909). It was originally concerned with the manufacture of machine tools, and Nasmyth is probably best-known for inventing a steam hammer, which was an important source of revenue for the company. The firm was based at the Bridgewater Foundry, Patricroft, Lancashire, west of Manchester.

In 1850 the name of the firm was changed to James Nasmyth and Company, then in 1857 to Patricroft Ironworks. By this time, Nasmyth had made his fortune, and was able to retire. In 1867 Robert Wilson and Henry Garnett became the principal partners and the company's name changed again to Nasmyth, Wilson and Company.

Although the firm's main business had been machine tools, it had built a number of railway engines from the 1840s. By the latter decades of the 19th century, this became the firm's principal business, as it exploited a growing export market. By the time the firm was wound up in 1940, it had constructed over 1600 locomotives. Colonial markets proved particularly important, and the firm sent its engines to India, Malaya, Africa and the West Indies. In the 1930s, the firm's business declined, with nearly all its new locomotives being sold to colonial rather than domestic customers.

By the end of the decade the company had ceased to make locomotives and transferred its interests to the British Locomotive Manufacturers Association. In 1940 the Ministry of Supply took over the Patricroft works and it became the Royal Ordnance Factory, Patricroft. The company was formally wound up on 7 November 1940.

Conditions Governing Access

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The item was donated to the University Library in 1978 (R147023).

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the manuscript can be supplied for private research and study purposes only, depending on the condition of the manuscript.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the manuscript. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, The John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The custodial history of the item before its transfer to the Library is unknown.

Related Material

The library has custody of several railway-related collections (printed and manuscript material including the collections of Kenneth Brown, Graham Moss, George Miller and Eric Dyckoff)

The main business archive of Nasmyth, Wilson & Co is held by Salford City Archives (ref U268-9). Some of the firm's locomotive drawings are held by the National Railway Museum, York.


John Cantrell, Nasmyth, Wilson & Co.: Patricroft, Locomotive Builders (Stroud: The History Press, 2005).

Geographical Names