Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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R. A. Lister and Co

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Advertising sign.
February 1899. Lubricating Oils.
September 1902. U.S. Injectors.
January 1906. Lister's Harrows.
1913. Automatic electric light plant.
Nov 1919.
1926. Lister Pumping Set. Engine type A with pump 638.
November 1927.
December 1927.
1929. Electric lighting set.
Lister Sheep Shearer No 9.
On view at Tiverton Museum
1938. Lister-Cockshutt.
1938. Cream Separator.
Cream Separator.
1925. Model J.
Listroil can.
1938. New Foundry at Dursley Works.
1940's Start-o-matic.
January 1944.
February 1944.
March 1944.
April 1944.
May 1944.
April 1949.
July 1949.
June 1958
1948. Lister D. 1.5 hp.
1952. Works in Dursley.
Lister Cream Separator.
Detail. Exhibit at Museum of East Anglian Life.
Cream separator. Exhibit at the Grassington Folk Museum.
Lister Blackstone Swath Turner. Exhibit at Yankalilla Bay Museum.
Cream Separator.
Cream Separator.
Cream Separator.

Lister's of Dursley, Gloucestershire. Telephone: Dursley 177. Telegraphic Address: "Machinery, Dursley". (1937)

See separate sections for products -

Robert Ashton Lister started a business producing agricultural machinery in Dursley, Glos. His father (George Lister) had moved to Dursley from Yorkshire in 1817; soon afterwards, George had established a business involved in tanning, card-making and wire-drawing[1].

By 1867, Ashton had become estranged from his father and set up his own business in Howards' Lower Mill in Water Street, Dursley, producing agricultural machinery. Sales increased in the U.K. and abroad over the next 15 years despite the up and downs of the farming market.

1889 M. Pedersen, a Danish engineer, invented a novel cream separator. Ashton acquired a licence to sell this in the U.K., under the name "Alexandra Cream Separator". Pedersen later moved to Dursley to work in the dairy section of Lister's business.

1890 June. Royal Agricultural Society’s Disintegrator and Grist Mill Trials. [2]

1892 Manufacture of the "Alexandra Cream Separator" began at Dursley. Advert. [3]

1893 Incorporated as a private limited company.

1894 June. Royal Agricultural Society's Show. Pump for milk, water etc. [4]

1896 Public company.

1899 Pedersen set up the Dursley Pedersen Cycle Co with Ashton

Lister made products for Dursley Pedersen

1903 R.A.Lister took over an enterprise established by his relations, the Lister Electric Light and Power Manufacturing Co. Formed the Lister Electrical Machinery Co [5].

1903 Introduced new cream separator of Lister's own design.

1905 Took over the Dursley Pedersen Cycle Company after a slump in its sales; redesigned the gear mechanism; resumed production of cycles.

1907 John Herbert St. Hill Mawdsley took over Lister Electrical Machinery Co, which became Mawdsleys.

Early 20th century: new products introduced included sheep-shearing machinery, milking machines, as well as the manufacture of milk churns and barrels.

1909 Petrol engine introduced to the company's product range. Design acquired from F. C. Southwell (London). Used for a variety of purposes including electricity generation and powering the new sheep-shearing machinery. Victoria Works extended to cope with demand.

1911 Robert Ashton Lister received a knighthood.

1912 Lister-Bruston advertised their Automatic Electric Lighting Plant which could be seen at their Westminster premises[6].

1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices of Paraffin Commercial and Agricultural Motors, Tractors, Ploughs, Sprayers, etc. see the 1917 Red Book. Made under Avery name.

1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices of Petrol Motor Commercial Vehicles see the 1917 Red Book under the Avery name.

1914 Engineers. Specialities: cream separators and dairy machinery; petrol engines, sheep shearing machinery, automatic electric lighting plant. [7]

WW1: manufactured petrol engines, lighting sets and munitions components.

1917 Ceased sale of bicycles.

1920 At the Darlington Royal Agricultural Show they had a range of petrol engines from 2 to 5 hp applied to lighting sets, totary pumps and milking machines. [8]

1926 Introduced the Auto-truck, a light truck fitted with its own engine, for transporting goods around factories, railway stations, and dockyards. Continued in production until 1973.

From 1926 to 1968 Lister also built light narrow gauge railway locomotives, weighing as little as 1½ tons, typically used by small brickworks and on peat bogs. The locos were often characterised by a total lack of bodywork; sometimes they had the luxury of an all-over roof supported by four corner posts.

1927 The directors invited a group of workers, elected by everyone employed by the company, to sit with them at their meeting every month in order that a closer link could be made between workers and directors[9].

1929 Death of Ashton Lister.

1929 The first of Lister's own design of "CS" (cold start) diesel engine was made in Dursley. The CS is a slow running (600 rpm), reliable engine, suitable for driving electric generators or irrigation pumps. Lister engines were usually painted Green.

Production of these engines in England ended in 1987 but a number of Indian manufacturers have since continued production of "Listeroids" or clones copied from the CS design. These engines are used in India and also exported to other countries, including Australia and the USA. Recently there has been an upsurge in interest in these engines and their unique capabilities for long-term electrical generation or pumping. They are becoming increasingly popular for "off grid" or "remote" uses, partially because of their ability to use a large variety of alternate fuels and ease of maintenance and repair.

1930 Agreement with Ruston and Hornsby Ltd to coordinate the design, production and sales of the two companies's products but without financial merger of the companies. Lister would concentrate on engines up to 25 H.P. whilst Ruston and Hornsby would produce oil and gas engines, both horizontal and vertical. A new light, cold-starting high-speed diesel would be produced jointly, in sizes from 25 H.P. to 100 H.P. [10].

1931 R. A. Lister and Co established a contributory pension scheme for its male workers which would pay them £1 per annum for each year of service at the age of 65 [11].

1931 Joint venture Ruston-Lister Marine Co established with Ruston and Hornsby to focus on the maritime market (liquidated 1935).

1932 Lister and Ruston and Hornsby jointly acquired the road-roller manufacturers Aveling and Porter, and Barford and Perkins from the receivers of AGE. A new joint company Aveling-Barford was established to hold these interests.

1933 Issue of shares to fund expansion[12].

1934 After 10 years as Managing Director, Percy Lister became chairman in succession to Austin Ashton Lister.

1936 Rationalization agreement (1930) with Ruston and Hornsby ended by mutual consent.

1936 Acquired substantial shareholding in Blackstone and Co of Stamford leading to co-operative agreement. See Lister-Blackstone products.

1937 Engineers. "Lister" Auto Trucks. [13]

1937 Issue of shares to fund expansion of the business, including Blackstones which Lister controlled[14].

1937 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Floodlighted Revolving Globe, showing where Lister Auto-Trucks are used in both hemispheres, mounted on revolving base illustrated with photographs of auto-Trucks and extracts in various languages for advertisements. (Stand No. D.304) [15]

1938 Opening of new mechanised foundry at Dursley by R. A. Lister "one of the few surviving family concerns in the country"[16]. 3000 employees at Dursley; 1000 at Stamford.

1944 Producing the CD, CE and 2JPM diesel engines for marine use. [17]. Subsidiary factories set up in Nympsfield, Wotton-under-Edge and Cinderford to manufacture components.

1961 Manufacturers of agricultural machinery, including petrol engines, diesel oil engines, diesel marine propulsion and auxiliary engines, electric generating sets, pumps and pumping sets, diesel and petrol driven autotrucks, multi-level loaders, cream separators, milk coolers, butter churns, sheep shearing machines, horse and cattle clippers, farm elevators, self lifting tractor rakes, combine hay makers, side delivery rakes, swathe turners, fertiliser broadcasters, harrows, insecticidal fog applicators, woodcraft and teak wood garden furniture. [18]

1965 R. A. Lister and Company was taken over by the Hawker Siddeley Group.

1980 3,000 employees; 80% of production exported [19].

1986 Merged with Petter Diesels to form Lister-Petter Ltd.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Listers in Dursley
  2. The Engineer of 27th June 1890 p521
  3. Kelly's Directory of Worcestershire, 1892
  4. The Engineer of 29th June 1894 p562
  5. Gloucestershire Echo, Business Week, 25 May 2010
  6. The Times 5 June 1912
  7. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  8. The Engineer of 16th July 1920
  9. The Times 7 December 1927
  10. The Times, 30 June 1930
  11. The Times, 27 January 1931
  12. The Times, 2 February, 1933
  13. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  14. The Times, 20 April 1937
  15. 1937 British Industries Fair Page 383
  16. The Times, 23 April 1938
  17. The Modern Diesel edited by Geoffrey Smith. Published by Iliffe and Sons 1944
  18. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  19. The Times, 22 December 1980
  • [1] Wikipedia
  • [2] Listers in Dursley