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Babcock & Wilcox

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Babcock & Willcox no. 95-4014 RR - Monarch - YB 5088 road building demo at GDSF 08 - IMG 0890

One of the 5 known B and W rollers in existence in the UK at GDSF working on the Road building demonstration

The firm of Babcock & Wilcox was a large industrial engineering company with many interests. The company took over and subsequently closed or sold off many firms. The main business was process plant and boilers. Today as Babcock International, the successor to the original Babcock and Wilcox Company is a company engaged in the design, engineering, manufacture, service and construction of power generation and pollution control systems and equipment for utilities and industries. The Parent group is an American corporation, with a British arm, and several other overseas subsidiaries.


The British arm of Babcock and Wilcox was founded in 1891. The original British works were at Kilbowie, Scotland, and employed 130 men. In 1902 the Renfrew Works were opened, where some 1,300 men were employed. Since then there have been many extensions, and now between 5,000 and 6,000 men are in regular employment. The firm's activities in Lincoln commenced in 1924, when the boiler works, engine shops and foundry of Clayton and Shuttleworth were purchased. The Lincoln branch produces pulverised fuel plants, steam winches, high-speed steam engines, structural work and power-station plant. The Company owns works in other parts of England and Scotland, as well as in Australia, France, Spain, Germany and Italy, with branch offices throughout the world. Its boilers are of a type better known probably than any others. The whole organisation was controlled by the late Sir James Kemnal, the Managing Director, who was largely responsible for the growth of this vast enterprise.[1]


A summary of some corporate events.[2]

  • 1856, 26-year old Stephen Wilcox of Rhode Island, USA, patented a water tube boiler that increased heating surfaces, allowed better water circulation and that was inherently safe.
  • In 1867, he and his friend, George Babcock, established a partnership, Babcock, Wilcox and Co, to manufacture and market Wilcox’s boiler. In 1867, Providence, Rhode Island, residents Stephen Wilcox and his partner George Herman Babcock patented the “Babcock and Wilcox Non-Explosive Boiler”, which used tubing to generate higher pressures and was more efficient than the (then) existing designs.
  • In 1881, the company was incorporated in America as The Babcock and Wilcox Company. In 1881, the company opened a sales office in Glasgow, Scotland.
  • By 1883 boilers were being made by sub-contractors in Scotland. The first completely British-built Babcock boiler was manufactured for the Singer Manufacturing Co works in Kilbowie, West Dunbartonshire.
  • 1888 Issued a catalogue on steam, its generation and use with details of their products.
  • 1891 A British company, Babcock and Wilcox Ltd was formed with a capital of GBP 240,000 with its sphere of operation to include the world outside of the USA and Cuba that were already covered by the American company.
  • 1894 Antwerp Exhibition. Awarded Grand Prix Diploma for Large Mechanical Constructions.
  • 1895 Babcock and Wilcox Ltd established its own manufacturing facility at Renfrew, Renfrewshire, Scotland.
  • 1900 The company's capital was increased to GBP 1,575,000. The firm rapidly became a leader in both land-based and marine boilers and opened subsidiaries and production facilities around the world. It became a public company. Manufactured the ten water-tube boilers for the Port Dundas electricity works in Glasgow.
  • 1911 Boilers for Dunston power station.
  • 1914 Specialities: Patent Water Tube Boilers and all Boiler-house Accessories.
  • WWI. The group developed a large defence business during the 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 World Wars, producing tanks and munitions in addition to their naval boiler business.
  • 1920 Electric cranes for Dover Harbour.
  • 1924 took over part of Clayton & Shuttleworth (Marshall, Sons & Co. bought the rest
  • In 1926, the company provided massive steam generating hardware for Battersea Power Station, London.
  • 1927 See Aberconway for information on the company and its history.
  • 1927 Advert for steam boilers. Principal works at Renfrew.
  • 1937 Engine. of London and Glasgow. Exhibit at Nottingham Industrial Museum.
  • 1937 British Industries Fair Advert. Water Tube Boilers, Pressed Steel forgings, Welded Pressure Vessels, Piping. "Everything for the Boiler House, including Valves". (Engineering/Metals/Quarry, Roads and Mining/Transport Section - Stand Nos. D.501 abd D.400)
  • In 1942, the company developed the cyclone furnace.
  • 1961 Employ 16,000 persons. Six subsidiaries. Manufacturers of water-tube and shell-type boilers, boiler-house equipment, nuclear power plant, mechanical stokers, pulverised fuel installations, cranes, conveyors, etc. [10]
  • 1967 Supplied the boilers for Ferrybridge-C power station.
  • 1968 Pressure tube development for the Winfrith (nuclear) power station.
Note: - Babcock and Wilcox published various editions of books titled Steam.

Clayton & ShuttleworthEdit

The Lincolnshire firm of Clayton & Shuttleworth was taken over in 1924. Babcock & Wilcox built a small number of engines and road rollers to the design of Messrs. Clayton & Shuttleworth Ltd. Only five Babcock & Wilcox rollers are believed to survive, two 6 ton and three 10 ton models.

List of steam enginesEdit

  • Steam Roller Toby Works no. 95/4009 of 1926 a 6 ton Roller Reg no. YB 7976 - This roller is one of eight delivered to W W Buncombe of Highbridge, Somerset in January 1926, where it worked until 1966.[3]
  • Steam Roller Brutus Works no. 95/4013 of 1926 a 10 ton Roller reg no. YB 5089.
  • Steam Roller Monarch Works no. 95/4014 of 1926 a 10 Ton Roller reg no. YB 5088 (photo above)

Muir HillEdit

Main article: Muir-Hill

The firm of Muir-Hill was taken over by Babcock, and subsequently relocated from Manchester, to Gloucestershire.

In a reorganisation they subsequently sold the firm off.


Babcock still exists but as several different companies.

Steam EnginesEdit

Babcock & Willcox no. 95-4014 RR - Monarch - YB 5088 road building demo at GDSF 08 - IMG 0890

List of preserved B&W engines (only 5 survive TER 2008 )

Preserved machines built by Babcock and Willcox
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Engine No. Name Build Date Type Weight Power nhp Reg No. Owner Image Other info
Babcock and Wilcox no. 4009 Toby 1926 RR 6 ton 4 nhp YB 7976 owner ? Babcock Wilcox no. 95-4009 RR - Toby - YB7976 at Lincoln 2012 - IMG 7258 'Toby' at Lincoln Steam Rally 2012
Babcock and Wilcox no. 4011 1926 RR 6 ton 4 nhp YB 7978 owner ? None Featured in
Babcock and Wilcox no. 4012 1926 RR 10 ton 5 nhp YB 5090 owner? None Featured in
Babcock and Wilcox no. 4013 Brutus 1926 RR 10 ton 5 nhp YB 5089  ? To add At GDSF 2008
Babcock and Wilcox no. 4014 Monarch 1926 RR 10 Ton  ? nhp YB 5088 Michael Doherty Babcock & Willcox no. 95-4014 RR - Monarch - YB 5088 road building demo at GDSF 08 - IMG 0890 At GDSF 2010 road building demo area
Babcock and Wilcox no. ? None Featured in
Babcock and Wilcox no. ? None Featured in
Machine types Key: SW = Steam Wagon, PE = Ploughing Engine, RR = Road Roller, SM = Showmans, TE = Traction Engine

See alsoEdit

References / sourcesEdit

  1. Graces guide extract from 1927 guide "The Basic Industries of Great Britain. Coal: Iron: Steel: Engineering: Ships. An Historic and Economic Survey by The Right Honorable Lord Aberconway P.C., K.C. (Charles McLaren) published in 1927 by Ernest Benn Ltd, Bouverie House, Fleet Street, London." (out of copyright)
  2. Extract from Graces guide
  3. [ Steam up - B&W roller sn 95/4009 Toby

External linksEdit

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