Monday, 6 June 2011

Avonside Engine Co - the beginning

This piece is the first of six parts delving into the history of the narrow gauge railway at the Royal Arsenal.  Subscribe by email to this blog (on the right of this page) to read the further installments.    

The sturdy, reliable and much liked Avonside Locomotives of the ‘Charlton’ Class were introduced first to the Arsenal in 1915.  WOOLWICH Wks. No.1748 of 1916, is the only remaining example of her class and is now on long term loan to us from the Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills, Essex.

The Woolwich was a product of the Avonside Engine Co. Ltd. at Fishponds, Bristol, specialists in strong and dependable Industrial and Shunting Locomotives. The first company was founded in 1838 by Henry Stothert to supply the ever-expanding market caused by the expansion of the Great Western Railway; the original Avonside Ironworks factory was in the St. Philips district of the city.

In 1841 the company’s technical expertise was boosted when Edwin Slaughter – one of Brunel’s Assistant Engineers from the Great Western Railway - joined as a partner, the new firm of Stothert and Slaughter became well known at home and abroad. It was re-named The Avonside Engine Company in 1864 and prospered, only to become bankrupt by the end of the decade, due to a failure to adapt to the changes in industry.

Text (c) by Robin Parkinson and Mark Smithers.


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