Avonside Engine Company, Bristol
The Avonside Engine Company was a locomotive manufacturer in Avon Street, St. Philips, Bristol, England.
Henry Stothert and Company
The firm was originally started by Henry Stothert in 1837 asHenry Stothert & Company . Henry was the son of George Stothert (senior), founder of the nearby Bath engineering firm of Stothert & Pitt. Henry’s brother, also George, was manager of the same firm.
An early order for the company was for two broad gauge (7 ft 0+1⁄4 in (2,140 mm)) 2-2-2 Firefly class express passenger engines Arrow and Dart, with 7 ft (2.1 m) driving wheels, delivered for the opening of the Great Western Railway from Bristol to Bath on August 31 1840. This was soon followed by an order for eight smaller 2-2-2 Sun class engines with 6 ft (1.8 m) driving wheels.
Stothert , Slaughter and Company
When Edward Slaughter joined in 1841, it became Stothert , Slaughter and Company. By 1844 the works were named “Avonside Ironworks” and in 1846 built Avalanche the first of five six-coupled saddle tank banking engines for the GWR. Another large order came for ten broad gauge passenger 4-2-2s with 7 ft 6 in drivers and eight goods engines from the Bristol & Exeter Railway for the independent operation of that line from May 1 1849.
Avonside Engine Company Ltd
In 1864, with Edward Slaughter still in control, the company took advantage of the Companies Acts and became the Avonside Engine Company Ltd. As if to mark the occasion, the works received a large order (the first from the GWR for some years following the development of Swindon Works for twenty 2-4-0 Hawthorn class engines with 6 ft drivers.
Avonside Engine Co. Arley Colliery Co. ‘Joan’ 2048-1932
During the 1860s and 1870s the Avonside company built broad gauge and standard gauge engines for many British companies, large and small but they also built up a considerable export business. 4-6-0 types
Avonside was a very early British builder of the 4-6-0 type of tender locomotive. Ten narrow gauge freight-hauling 4-6-0 locomotives, of weight varying from 20 to 25 tons, were supplied to the Toronto Grey & Bruce Railway and the Toronto & Nipissing Railway.. These very successful and reliable wood-burning locomotives pre-dated the first significant British domestic railway 4-6-0, the Jones ‘Goods’, by over 20 years.
Unfortunately detailed company records from this period have not survived.
The Avonside company was unusual in that most of its production for over 40 years comprised main line locomotives largely for British railway companies but also for export. By 1881 main line locomotives were getting much bigger and exceeding the capacity of the manufacturing equipment. They made a positive decision to concentrate on the smaller locomotive types within the capacity of the existing plant. This change was to a degree forced on the company as a result of financial difficulties following Edward Slaughter’s death. Edwin Walker of the Bristol Engineering firm Fox, Walker & Co. joined Avonside and endeavoured to turn the company round, but without success.
Re-organisation and closure
Walker was forced to liquidate the old company and form a new company with the same name to carry on the same business at the same address. At about this time the old firm of Fox, Walker & Co. was taken over by Thomas Peckett and became Peckett & Sons. In 1905 the Avonside firm left its historic home at St. Philips for a new plant at Fishponds but still with a small engine policy.
The company closed in 1934 and the goodwill and designs of the company were bought by the Hunslet Engine Company.