Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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W. and A. Kitching

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W. and A. Kitching of Hope Town Foundry, Darlington

1790 An iron foundry established.

William Kitching and Alfred Kitching took over the family business.

1832 Opened the Hope Town Foundry. The first engine built was the Enterprise No 25 of the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

1850 William Kitching died and Alfred continued the works for a further ten years.

1860 The Hope Town works were sold to the Stockton and Darlington Railway to enable them to extend their own works. Part of the general engineering work was transferred to the Whessoe Foundry Co at Darlington with much of the best machinery.

'Short Histories of Famous Firms' by Ernest Leopold Ahrons [1]

It may be truthfully stated that there are hardly any of the pioneer engineers of the first half of the nineteenth century who did more work in the development of the mechanical engineering side of the early railways in the North of England than the two partners in this old and at one time well-known firm.

Mr. William Kitching and his brother Alfred came of a family long connected with the iron and engineering trades of Darlington, and the former was one of the original directors of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, having joined the board in 1823, two years before this – the first public railway in the country – was opened. The early locomotives on the line were so far from giving satisfaction that, to quote from Zerah Colburn’s well-known work on “Locomotive Engineering and the Mechanism of Railways” the directors were understood to have seriously considered the propriety of abandoning locomotives altogether.

Timothy Hackworth it was who saved the situation, and Mr William Kitching was the director who never lost faith in the ultimate success of the locomotive, provided that suitably designed engines were built.

List of Engines

See Also


Sources of Information

  • The Engineer of 22nd October 1920 p419
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816