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British Industrial History

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Todd, Kitson and Laird

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1838. Lion. Exhibit at the Museum of Liverpool.
1838. Lion. Exhibit at the Museum of Liverpool.
1838. Lion. Exhibit at the Museum of Liverpool.
1838. Lion. Exhibit at the Museum of Liverpool.

Founded by Charles Todd, James Kitson, and David Laird

1837 September. Announcement that Todd, Kitson and Laird are commencing the business in new buildings erected for the purpose at the Railway Foundry, Hunslet Lane, Leeds. Engineers, Brass and Iron Founders. Manufacturers of Locomotive Steam Engines, Tenders, Carriage and Wagon Wheels, Axles, Springs, Stationary Steam Engines and Boilers, on the High and Low pressure Principles, for Inclined Planes, Warehouses, Mills etc. Also Shafting and Gearing, Cranes, Turn-Tables, Pedestals or Chairs for Rails, Force and Lift Pumps, Cocks, Valves, Brass, Copper and Iron Pipes and Brass and Iron Castings of every Description. [1]

1837 The Liverpool and Manchester Railway ordered two locomotives to haul luggage trains, which were later called 'Lion' and 'Tiger'.

1838 This year saw the production of the company's first complete engines, either for the North Midland Railway or the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, and used a conventional 0-4-2 wheel arrangement with inside cylinders.

1838 Built the Lion, which was an early engine of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway and was withdrawn in 1857

1839 April 29th. The partnership was dissolved '...the Copartnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned, Charles Todd, James Kitson, and David Laird, in the trade or business of Engineers and Iron anil Brass Founders; carried on under the firm or style of Todd, Kitson, and Laird, at the Railway Foundry, at Hunslet, in Leeds, in the county of York, has been this day dissolved by mutual consent; and that all debts due to or from the said late firm will be received and paid at the counting-house of the said Foundry; and that the said business will in future he carried on by the said Charles Todd, in copartnership with John Shepherd, jr. of Leeds aforesaid, under the firm of Shepherd and Todd...' [2][3][4]

1839 December: Reference to Laird and Kitson's foundry [5]

1842 Laird left the partnership, not having received the financial return he expected. Kitson was then joined by Isaac Thompson and William Watson Hewitson, the company then becoming Kitson, Thompson and Hewitson.

From 'Short Histories of Famous Firms' by Ernest Leopold Ahrons [6].

"James Kitson entered into partnership with two others and founded the firm of Todd, Kitson and Laird, which began manufacturing early in 1838, as far as can be ascertained. Todd had been trained as an engineer, and Laird appears to have found much of the necessary capital. This early firm was the origin of the Railway Foundry, which was afterwards so well known as E. B. Wilson and Co. Its first engines were the Lion and Tiger for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the former of which was delivered in July, 1838, and is still in existence and at work as a pumping engine under the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board at Prince's Dock, Liverpool. Four similar, but larger, engines, with 14in. by 20in. cylinders, were built in 1839 for the same railway, and were followed by two 2-2-2 passenger engines, with 6ft. driving wheels for the Paris-Orleans Railway, which were delivered the same year.

But the original partnership did not last long, for in 1839 Messrs. Kitson and Laird withdrew, and Todd continued the existing business with a new partner under the title of Shepherd and Todd of the Railway Foundry.

With Mr. Laird, James Kitson then started new works on or near the site of the present Airedale Foundry under the title of Laird, Kitson and Co."

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Leeds Mercury, Saturday, September 2, 1837
  2. The London Gazette Publication date:3 May 1839 Issue:19730 Page:936
  3. The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, Saturday, May 11, 1839
  4. The Leeds Mercury, Saturday, May 4, 1839
  5. The Leeds Mercury, Saturday, December 7, 1839
  6. The Engineer - 1923/11/23