- Date1913 - 1984
- CreatorGEC Traction LimitedGEC Traction (GECT) was formed in 1972 as part of the GEC Power Engineering Group following earlier amalgamations of the traction divisions of the General Electric Company (GEC), the English Electric Company (EE) and Associated Electrical Industries (AEI). A wholly owned subsidiary company of GEC, the company had offices and works, located at Trafford Park in Manchester, at Strand Road in Preston, and at Attercliffe Common, Sheffield. The headquarters of GEC Traction was Trafford Park, Manchester (previously the headquarters of English Electric-AEI Traction) with design of rotating machines at Preston and Sheffield, and manufacturing activities for control equipment at Manchester and Preston. GEC Traction designed and manufactured a full range of traction machines and control equipment for electric vehicles, including electric locomotives and multiple unit trains for main-line and mass-transit railway systems (dc up to 3,000 volts, and ac up to 50,000 volts), diesel-electric locomotives and trains, mining and industrial locomotives, tramcars and trolleybuses. GEC Traction was the leading supplier of traction equipment in the UK and had a wide market around the world, particularly in South Africa, Australasia, Hong Kong, South Korea, South America and Pakistan. In 1979 the Industrial Locomotive Division of the former English Electric which was based at Vulcan Works, Newton-le-Willows was merged into GEC Traction, which later became a separate company, GEC Industrial Locomotives Ltd. During the late 1980s and 1990s the firm underwent major rationalisation, involving closure of several sites including Attercliffe Common in Sheffield in 1985 and the company’s headquarters at Trafford Park in Manchester in 1998. The company name GEC Traction endured until a merger with the French Alsthom group in 1989, which created GEC Alsthom Traction, which was still a branch of the main company GEC Alsthom.
Rolls-Royce Ltd1904-1973, car manufacturer, aero engine manufacturer, England, British Founded in 1906 by CS Rolls and Henry Royce. The company went bankrupt in 1971 and was subsequently nationalised. It was divided into two - Rolls-Royce Ltd (legally Rolls-Royce (1971) Ltd) which was government owned, and Rolls-Royce Motor Holdings Ltd (created 1973) which returned to private ownership. In 1987 Rolls-Royce Ltd was privatised and subsequently became Rolls-Royce plc. The Rolls-Royce Motors brand was bought by BMW in 1998
Ruston & Hornsby Ltd, agricultural and general engineers, engine builders and boilermakersIn 1918, two prominent firms R Hornsby & Sons Ltd of Grantham (1828) and Ruston, Proctor & Co Ltd of Lincoln (1889) merged to form Ruston & Hornsby Ltd. The company made a wide range of agricultural machinery and steam, oil and gas engines. The company diversified into excavating machines, cranes, and steam locomotives, but still had substantial agricultural engineering interests in 1918. Ruston largely moved out of the agricultural machinery market in 1919, when it transferred its agricultural interests to have a controlling interest in Ransomes, Sims & Jeffries Ltd. However, it still produced agricultural machinery at its Grantham works and attempted post-war diversification in the form of the motor car, furniture, and petrol-driven tractors. In 1940, Ruston & Hornsby purchased Davey Paxman & Co (Colchester) to form the Ruston – Paxman Group. In 1962 Ruston & Hornsby purchased the Birmingham firm of Alfred Wiseman & Co Ltd., gear specialists and maker of industrial locomotive and marine gear boxes. Some of the Wiseman design and production was transferred to R&H’s Grantham factory. However the Grantham factory was closed shortly afterwards, in 1963. In November 1966, the English Electric Co Ltd acquired Ruston & Hornsby Ltd which formed part of English Electric Diesels Ltd in January 1968 which headed the production of Dorman, Kelvin, Ruston, Paxman, Napier and English Electric diesels.
English Electric Company LimitedThe English Electric Company was formed on 14th December 1918 and over the following year acquired Dick, Kerr & Company of Preston, Willans & Robinson of Rugby, the Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Company of Bradford, and Coventry Ordnance Works. After the war the various German owned Siemens works were distributed to different UK companies and in November 1919 English Electric acquired the Siemens Brothers Dynamo Works at Stafford, which became the company headquarters in 1931. Coventry Ordnance, primary output naval guns, did not feature in the gradual product rationalisation which took place between the wars. Willans, Rugby specialised in prime movers, steam, hydro and internal combustion, Stafford on power station and distribution electrics, including transformers and large electric machines for applications such as mining and steel works. Preston continued building equipment and vehicles for bus, tram and railway applications with Phoenix Bradford concentrating on medium and small electrical machines. Involvement with aircraft continued on a small scale. By 1929 the company was in financial trouble and an American syndicate fronted by Lazard Bros. put in new capital. In 1930 Westinghouse, Pittsburgh entered into an agreement with the company for the exchange of technical information related to steam turbines and electrical apparatus, this cooperation continued into the 1950’s. 1930 also saw the closure of Preston West works and the transfer of traction electrical design and manufacture to Phoenix Bradford. Westinghouse influence included top management changes with Sir H Mensforth becoming chairman and George Nelson managing director, both had been with British Westinghouse at Trafford Park. The early thirties saw a remarkable improvement in the company’s finances and domestic appliance manufacture was started at Bradford and Stafford. In 1936 they began production of diesel locomotives at Preston and were later involved in the production of the Deltic locomotive for British Rail, presaging the end of steam traction in the UK. Extensive shadow factory building for war production commenced in the late 1930’s, including at Preston East works and Salmesbury for aircraft production and at East Lancashire Road, Liverpool for D. Napier aero engines. A large variety of military equipment built during the war included thousands of Cromwell tanks from Stafford and over 3000 Handley Page Hampden and Halifax bombers from Preston/ Salmesbury. After the war the new factories were put to good use with many smaller products from Bradford and Stafford moved to the large Liverpool works. This included electrical distribution transformers, switchgear, fuse gear, fractional horsepower motors and domestic appliances. Napier’s continued engine manufacture there with the development of the ’Deltic’ diesel engine, mainly for marine applications. The nearby Netherton works took over the manufacture of large hydro-electric turbines and generators from Willans and Stafford. In 1942 English Electric acquired D. Napier & Son Ltd and Marconi in 1946. The company went on to extend their railway interests with the acquisition of Vulcan Foundry and Robert Stephenson and Hawthorn Ltd in 1955. The company tried to take over The General Electric Company (GEC) in 1960, but failed. Traction manufacture, (but not the offices) moved back to East works at Preston and ‘K’, ‘RK’ and ‘V’ engine design and manufacture moved from Willans to West works which was now also used for locomotive building. Kidsgrove works, Stafford made industrial controls and for a while was a major player in the UK computer industry, merging with Leo Computers and then into ICL. Train performance calculations were an early user of the mid-fifties ‘Deuce’ computer. Preston also became a major player in the aircraft industry taking over the wartime RAF/USAF base at Warton aerodrome - major design and manufacture contracts included Canberra bombers and Lightning fighters. Rationalisation in the 1960’s resulted in English Electric Aviation becoming 40% of the new British Aircraft Corporation. In 1961 English Electric took over Dorman Diesels Ltd which in turn had acquired W. G. Bagnall Ltd. In 1966 English Electric Diesels merged with Ruston and Hornsby which already included Paxmans. This company eventually became GEC Diesels. Elliott Automation was acquired in 1967. The following year GEC took over English Electric, ending its independent existence.
General Electric Company plc, manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipmentThe General Electric Company (GEC) was created as the General Electric Apparatus Company in 1886 by Hugo Hirst and Gustav Byng from a small electrical business established in London by Byng (Gustav Binswanger and Company, using Byng's original name). In 1887 GEC published the first electrical catalogue of its kind. The following year the company acquired its first factory in Manchester where telephones, electric bells, ceiling roses and switches were manufactured. In 1889, the General Electric Co. Ltd. was formed as a private limited company and moved to larger premises at 71, Queen Victoria Street. Now known also as G.E.C., the company was expanding rapidly, opening new branches and factories. Initially manufacture was focussed on electric bells and light fittings, but this expanded to a wide range of electrical equipment - resulting in the firm's slogan 'Everything Electrical'. In 1893, GEC decided to invest in lamp manufacture. The resulting company, (to become Osram in 1909), was to lead the way in lamp design and the burgeoning demand for electric lighting was to make GEC's fortune. In 1900, GEC was incorporated as a public limited company, The General Electric Company (1900) Ltd, (the '1900' was dropped three years later). In 1902, GEC's first purpose-built factory, the Witton Engineering Works was opened near Birmingham which designed and manufactured electrical equipment and machines. Rapidly growing private and commercial use of electricity ensured buoyant demand and the company expanded both at home and overseas, with the establishment of agencies in Europe, Japan, Australia, South Africa and India and a substantial export trade to South America. The outbreak of the First World War transformed GEC into a major player in the electrical industry with profits to match. The company was heavily involved in the war effort, with products such as radios, signalling lamps and arc-lamp carbons. Between the wars, GEC expanded to become an international corporation and a national institution. The take-over of Fraser and Chalmers in 1918 took GEC into heavy engineering and consolidated their claim to supply 'Everything Electrical'. Other major factories included Osram Lamps at Hammersmith and the telephone works in Coventry. During the 1920s, the company was heavily involved in the creation of the UK national grid. In addition, the opening of the new purpose built company headquarters in Kingsway, London in 1921, and the pioneering industrial research laboratories at Wembley in 1923, were symbolic of the continuing expansion of both GEC and the electrical industry. The company took over several companies in the Birmingham area and elsewhere. After being a minor player in tram equipment, the company entered the heavy rail electric traction market in the 1920’s and 30’s. During the Second World War, GEC was a major supplier to the military of electrical and engineering products. Significant contributions to the war effort included the development of the cavity magnetron for radar, advances in communications technology and the on-going mass production of lamps and lighting equipment. After the war the company continued in the full range of electrical equipment from electronics to atomic power stations, but was not very profitable. In 1961, after a failed takeover bid from the English Electric Company, GEC took over Radio and Allied Industries, a small but very profitable television set manufacturer. Michael Sobell and Arnold Weinstock from this company became GEC directors with a substantial shareholding. Weinstock became managing director in 1963 and undertook drastic changes to make the company more profitable. The rail traction operations were closed and the heavy electrical/ power station businesses were sold to Parsons. A number of ex GEC employees were recruited by Associated Electrical Industries (AEI). A hostile takeover bid was made for AEI in 1967 and the relative profitability/share prices enabled GEC to take over the much larger AEI. In 1968 English Electric agreed to merge with GEC. Further takeovers and mergers made the company one of the largest private employers in the UK. In 1989, Arnold Weinstock agreed a merger between the power and transport businesses of GEC and those of Alsthom of France, part of Compagnie Générale d’Electricité (CGE) to form GEC Alsthom. While Weinstock was in charge the UK arm, the company continued to prosper, but after his death of his son in 1996 he was asked to retire and most of the company’s operations were transferred to France, or were sold off. Small sales and service operations remain for some of the products. Many of the factories have been demolished, with only Stafford continuing on a moderate scale.
Associated Electrical Industries (AEI)Associated Electrical Industries (AEI) was formed in 1928 as a financial holding company for a number of leading electrical manufacturing and trading companies in the United Kingdom. The two major constituent companies were British Thomson-Houston (BTH) based at Rugby, (Mill Road Works) and Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Company Ltd (Metrovicks) situated at Trafford Park, Manchester. However, fierce rivalry existed between the Metrovick and BTH brands resulting in internal competition and duplicated management. This was highlighted during the Second World War in 1939, when Metrovicks and BTH became the first two firms in the world to construct jet engines (independently from each other). Following the Second World War, in 1954, AEI expanded to consist of BTH, Metrovicks, Edison Swan Electric Co, Ferguson Pailin, Hotpoint Electric Appliance Co, International Refrigerator Co, Newton Victor, Sunvic Controls, Premier Electric Heaters, Siemens Bros (1955) and Birlec (1954). In 1959 AEI decided to remove the familiar brands of BTH and Metrovicks and consolidate both as AEI resulting in internal problems and a fall in sales and market value. However, AEI acquired a variety of companies from 1959 to 1967, these included Associated Insulation Products, W. T. Henley’s Telegraph Works Co (1958), and London Electric Wire Co and Smiths (1958), Submarine Cables, Hackbridge Holdings Ltd., The Lancashire Dynamo and Crypto Ltd., W.T. Avery Ltd., Henley and Schreiber. The General Electric Company bought AEI in 1967.
AEI Traction DivisionIn 1959 Associated Electrical Industries (AEI) created a self-contained company named AEI Traction Division to control the railway activities of both Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Company Ltd and British Thomson-Houston (BTH). Included in this company were the interests of the Metropolitan-Vickers General Railway Signal Co., (later to become GEC General Railway Signal). The newly formed company established its headquarters, at Trafford Park, Manchester, and operated from three other sites, Attercliffe Common in Sheffield, Rugby Works, and Stockton Works supplying traction motors, machines, control gear and mechanical parts of locomotives. AEI Traction Limited’s product range encompassed electric and diesel-electric locomotives; electrical equipment for tramcars, trolley buses, trolley mining locomotives, traction motors and gears. In 1969 AEI Traction Division merged with English Electric Traction to form English Electric-AEI Traction Division.
English Electric-AEI Traction LimitedThe General Electric Company (GEC) merged AEI Traction Division and English Electric Traction in 1969 after acquiring both companies to create English Electric – AEI Traction Limited. The headquarters were located at Trafford Park in Manchester. This subsidiary company was renamed GEC Traction Limited in 1972.
British Thomson-Houston Co LtdThe British Thomson-Houston Co. Ltd., (BTH) was created as a subsidiary of the General Electric Company, USA in 1896 to exploit the sale of products in the United Kingdom. BTH was a reconstruction of an existing firm, Laing, Wharton and Down (1886). The BTH manufacturing works were based at Rugby, Warwickshire and the company’s products included induction motors, alternators, switchgear, turbo-generators and turbines, as well as a large number of rotary converters and motor converters, primarily for chemical plants. During the First World War, BTH’s most significant contribution was the development of marine apparatus for the naval service. The 1920s saw a period of vast expansion for the company with new extensions built at many of its factories such as Willesden, Birmingham, Chesterfield and Lutterworth. BTH amalgamated with Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Company Ltd to form Associated Electrical Industries (AEI) in 1928 although both companies retained their separate identities and continued to compete for the same contracts. BTH developed manufactured electric torpedoes and electrical components for aircraft engines, munitions, etc., during the Second World War and in 1935 independently of each other, BTH and Metropolitan-Vickers were the first two companies in the world to construct jet engines.
- Scope and ContentThe series contains manuals from GEC Traction and its predecessor companies. Includes workshop, instruction, maintenance and operating instruction manuals.
- Extent84 boxes
- Level of descriptionseries
- Repository nameNational Railway Museum, York