Hunslet Engine Co. Ltd., Leeds

The Hunslet Engine Company

The Hunslet Engine Company is aBritish locomotive – building company founded in 1864 at Jack Lane, Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England by John Towlerton Leather, a civil engineering contractor, who appointed James Campbell (son of Alexander Campbell, a Leeds engineer) as his Works Manager.

In 1871, James Campbell bought the company for £25,000 (payable in five instalments over two years) and the firm remained in the Campbell family ownership for many years. Between 1865 and 1870, production had averaged less than ten engines per year, but in 1871 this had risen to seventeen and was set to rise over the next thirty years to a modest maximum of thirty-four.

The first engine built in 1865 was Linden a standard gauge 0-6-0 delivered to Brassey & Ballard, a railway civil engineering contractor as were several of the firm’s early customers. Other customers included collieries. This basic standard gauge shunting and short haul ‘industrial’ engine was to be the main-stay of Hunslet production for many years. From the start, Hunslet regularly sent fitters to carry out repairs to its engines on customers’ premises and this is a service that the Hunslet Engine Company were still offering in 2006, over 140 years after their establishment.05081 No.8 0-6-0ST Hunslett 3807-1953  27-3-1954

No.8 0-6-0ST Hunslet 3807/1953

Post World War I

After the war, trading conditions were very difficult but Hunslet were once more able to attract overseas orders and they also received a series of repeat orders from the London, Midland & Scottish Railway for a total of 90LMS Fowler Class 3F  ‘Jinty’ 0-6-0T shunting engines. It was during the 1930s that Hunslet built their largest locomotives. These two 0-8-0 tank engines, built for a special train ferry loading job in China (which they fulfilled for many years) were at that date the largest and most powerful tank engines ever built. A year or so later the same design formed the basis for an 0-8-0 tender engine for India. Many other ‘large-engine’ orders were received in these inter-war years.


Other independent British manufacturers failed to survive the depression and Hunslet with considerable foresight acquired the patterns, rights and designs of other builders notably Kerr Stewart and the Avonside Engine Co.

Current Operations

The Hunslet Engine Company, is now part of the LH Group of Companies. It now owns the right to use the following British locomotive names, as well as being able to service and repair them, and supply replacement parts:

  • Andrew Barclay
  • Avonside Engine Co.
  • North British Engine Co.
  • Greenwood & Batley
  • Hudswell Clarke
  • John Fowler & Co.
  • Kerr Stewart
  • Kitson & Co.
  • Manning Wardle

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