Category:Beyer Peacock and Company Ltd

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Beyer, Peacock and Company Ltd. were a Manchester-based steam locomotive company specialising in exports (since the large British railway companies had their own in-house locomotive works), and now best-remembered for their production of Beyer-Garratt articulated locomotives, or "Garratts", which they produced in a wide range of gauges and sold all over the world. The company was founded in 1854 as a partnership, and gained "limited liability" status in 1902.

Catalogue cover: "Locomotives by Beyer Peacock"

As a specialist locomotive works, Beyer Peacock prided themselves in their metallurgical research and facilities (including their own on-site steel production facilities). However, as a company whose main business was the production of steam locomotives, they had obvious problems transitioning into a post-war world in which diesel and electric traction was rapidly taking over, and the company closed in 1966.

1931: "Loading Locomotives for the Far East"

Company History

Beyer-Peacock was created in 1854 by three men, Charles Beyer, Richard Peacock and Henry Robertson.


Charles Beyer (1813-1876)
German-born Charles Frederick Beyer worked his way up from very humble beginnings via Dresden Polytechnic to become Chief Engineer at Sharp Roberts building locomotives, based on obvious talent. He'd originally visited England with the help of a grant to allow him to write a report on textile machinery, but came back and got a job at the Sharp Roberts drawing office, where respect for his talents led to his promotion. Unhappiness at Sharp Roberts then prompted him to start the new locomotive company with Richard Peacock, and his contacts and reputation meant that the company already had orders before it even had manufacturing facilities.
Richard Peacock (1820-1989)
Richard Peacock was Locomotive Superintendent at the Manchester and Sheffield Railway, having apprenticed at Fenton, Murray & Jackson, been locomotive superintendent at the Leeds and Selby Railway, worked at the Great Western Railway, and then became locomotive superintendent at the Sheffield, Ashton under Lyne and Manchester Railway.
Peacock and Beyer had been two of the co-founders of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) in 1847, along with George Stephenson and others. The founding of the IME is supposed to have been inspired by a sense of disgust by loco engineers that when Stephenson had recently applied to be a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, he'd been told to write an application essay explaining why he thought his engineering capabilities entitled him to be a member (unsurprisingly, he declined).
Henry Robertson (1816 - 1888)
Henry Robertson's background was more in the building of railways than railway locomotives, and his main input into the company was financial. Robertson had worked as an engineer on a series of viaducts and awkward pieces of line, including the famous stretch of track at Shap Fell.


Peacock was responsible for designing the modular layout of the new works and foundry at Gorton, Manchester, alongside the works that he'd previously designed for the Sheffield, Ashton under Lyne and Manchester Railway, on what had previously been a greenfield site. The area now seems to have been redeveloped for housing, but has roads named Beyer Close, Peacock Close, and Garratt Way.

As a company whose customers were sometimes literally on the other side of the planet, Beyer-Peacock invested heavily in catalogues and literature, and even produced The Beyer Peacock Quarterly Review, filled with developments in railway technologies and metallurgy that would hopefully be of interest to railway engineers around the world trying to keep up to date with the latest developments (and who might have an influence on their employers' buying decisions).
Metropolitan "A Class"
Selling mostly to the foreign market, one of the company's earliest distinctive engineering successes was the design and building of the Metropolitan Railway A Class tank locomotives for the new Metropolitan Railway in around ~1864. These locomotives were to be used underground, which meant that to protect passengers from exhaust steam, the locomotives had to be fitted with special steam-condensing pipes (the Metropolitan later found it more practical to move over to using electrically-powered locomotives).
Garratt locomotives
Contact with Herbert William Garratt resulted in Garratt developing his ideas on railway articulation into a patented design for a three-section articulated railway locomotive, with a central suspended boiler and cab supplying steam to a pair of flanking steam-powered bogie drive units.

See also:

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