The Manufacture of Locomotives and Other Munitions of War, 1914-1919 – The North British Locomotive Co. Ltd., n.d. but ca. 1920. [ebook]


Hard back book, brown cloth binding with embossed gilt title and coloured vignettes of a locomotive and a tank. 12”x 14” pp.23, scores of B&W photogravure illustrations of locomotives tanks , aeroplanes, mines, torpedo tubes, gun mountings and other munitions.


Expensively produced by Tillotsons, specialist art printers, the purpose of this work was twofold. First to celebrate the achievements of the company during the Great War and secondly as part of a drive to attract new customers during the brief commercial boom following the Armistice.

North British Loco. was a comparatively new entity, having been formed by the amalgamation in 1903, of three old established loco building firms, the eldest having been established at Manchester in 1833, the most recent founded in 1864 at Glasgow. The company operated three large ranges of workshops (plans of each in the book) “Hyde Park” and “Atlas” in the Springburn area of the city, and “Queen’s Park” south of the Clyde. Each was under its own day-to-day management under the overall control of a centralised administration building located adjacent to the Hyde Park Works. The accommodation here was on such a lavish scale that it was not really required under wartime conditions and the company made it available to the Red Cross for the duration who converted it and ran it as “Springburn Hospital”. With such facilities at ts disposal NB could with some jutification claim to be “The Largest Locomotive Engineering Works in Europe” (even if it was spread across three campuses!

At the outbreak of hostilities the company had laid down the foundations for two new workshops at Springburn and it was quickly decided to complete these specifically for the manufacture of munitions. Designated the “Mons” factory and the “Marne” factory. Nearly 900, 000 shells of 8” size downwards were produced, as well as 6,000 sea mines, with welded cases for the Northern Barrage.

Having filled the railway companies’ own works with orders for war material, a very serious shortage of locomotives arose due to arrears of maintenance and restrictions on new building, the Ministry of Munitions belatedly realised that in this conflict railway engines were as much a munition of war as a field gun or a tank and backpedaled. To minimise disruption, the Minister of Munitions Dr. Addison, left the contracts with the railway companies own works largely undisturbed, but rescheduled work let out to the loco building firms like North British so some urgent railway work could be undertaken. Amongst the larger contracts carried out were “Great Central” designed 2-8-0s produced for the Railway Operating Dept., “Prince of Wales” 4-6-0s for the LNWR 34 0-6-0S for the North British, 20 2-6-0s and 15 2-8-0s for the Great Northern, and engines for all the other Scottish railways. None of this seems to have impinged on the productio of tanks, aeroplanes, etc., and orders were even fulfilled for some overseas railways, some of which were delayed pre-war orders

. For an insight into the disarray that some government departments found themselves in during the Great War, see:-

For the activities of a major railway locomotive works during the Great War see:-



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