Hunslet Engine Company

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The Hunslet Engine Company is a British locomotive-building company founded in 1864 at Jack Lane, Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England.

History[edit]

The company was founded by John Towlerton Leather, a civil engineering contractor, who appointed James Campbell (son of Alexander Campbell, a Leeds engineer who had helped set up Manning Wardle & Co on a site next door to Hunslet) as his Works Manager, who served for nearly 40 years, and in 1871 became the sole owner of the Company.

Hunslet specialised in the industrial and narrow-gauge market and established a good reputation. The firm became a limited company in 1902 but the Campbell family and later the Alcock family retained control. In the 20th century they were to build some larger locomotives but remained focused on the market for shunters and other small locomotives, pioneering the use of diesel engines particularly in mining and civil engineering applications but also for main-line shunters. During the Second World War they designed the Austerity 0-6-0STs which were produced as a national standard shunting engine and built many of them.

In 1972 Hunslet took over Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co but the two firms retained their separate identities for some time.

In 1982 Hunslet (Holdings) became a PLC, and in 1987 was sold to Telfos PLC who also acquired Ganz of Hungary. Following reorganisation a number of companies traded under the Hunslet name.

  • Hunslet-GMT in Leeds, (mining, industrial, narrow-gauge and rack locos)
  • Hunslet-Barclay in Kilmarnock (SG shunters, diesel railcars, passenger train refurbishment)
  • Ganz-Hunslet in Budapest (train and tram building for European markets)
  • Hunslet-Taylor in South Africa (locos for Africa)
  • Hunslet Transportation Projects Ltd in Leeds and Birmingham (new passenger trains)

In 1991 Telfos sold most of the above including the Hunslet Engine Co to the Jenbacher Group of Austria.

The Jack Lane, Hunslet, Leeds works closed in 1995, the last order being for narrow gauge diesel locomotives used in the tunnelling on the Jubilee Line Extension of the London Underground. Locomotive building continued in a smaller way at other factories in the Group.

In 2004 Jenbacher sold the Hunslet Engine Company to the LH Group. It has a new address in Leeds for sales and service, and locomotive work is undertaken at the LH works in Barton-under-Needwood, Staffs. For steam locomotive work the owners of the LH Group established a new company Hunslet (Steam Company) Ltd in 2004, to undertake loco repairs and new-build work at Statfold Barn. They produced several new locomotives of the Quarry Hunslet (including Statfold) and Kerr Stuart Wren types, which were given works numbers following on from Trangkil No 4 in the Hunslet series. The Steam Company was dissolved in 2018[1]. Steam locomotive work is now undertaken by Statfold Engineering Ltd.

In 2012 the LH Group was sold to Wabtec.

Present day[edit]

The Hunslet Engine Company is still in business as a Wabtec company to supply and build modern diesel shunters, and provide servicing for engines built by:-

  • Andrew Barclay
  • Avonside
  • North British
  • Greenwood and Batley
  • Hudswell Clarke
  • John Fowler
  • Kerr Stuart
  • Kitson
  • Manning Wardle


The Company site can be found here
Ffestiniog Hunslets include:


A number of other Hunslet (and predecessor companies) locos have visited one or more of the FR, WHR/RhE, and WHHR.

See also[edit]

Reference[edit]

  • Townsley, D.H. (1998)ː The Hunslet Engine Works, Plateway Press
  • ^ Companies House online, accessed March 2020