GNR Locomotives

Manufacturer: Avonside Engine Company

The firm was originally started by Henry Stothert in 1837 as Henry Stothert and Company. Henry was the son of George Stothert (senior), founder of the nearby Bath engineering firm of Stothert & Pitt. Henry’s brother, also named George, was manager of the same firm.

The company was given an order for two broad gauge (7 ft (2,134 mm)) 2-2-2 Firefly class express passenger engines Arrow and Dart, with 7 ft (2.1 m) driving wheels, delivered for the opening of the Great Western Railway (GWR) from Bristol to Bath on 31 August 1840. This was soon followed by an order for eight smaller 2-2-2 Sun class engines with 6 ft (1.8 m) driving wheels.

Stothert, Slaughter and Company

Edward Slaughter joined the company in 1841, when it became known as Stothert, Slaughter and Company.[1] By 1844 their works were named “Avonside Ironworks”. In 1846 built Avalanche the first of five six-coupled saddle tank banking engines for the GWR. 1846 also saw the delivery of six 2-2-2 tender locomotives for the opening of the Waterford and Limerick Railway in Ireland.[2] Another large order came for ten broad gauge passenger 4-2-2s with 7 ft 6 in drivers and eight goods engines from the Bristol and Exeter Railway for the independent operation of that line from 1 May 1849. In 1851 the company acquired a shipbuilding yard, of which Henry Stothert took charge as a separate undertaking.

Slaughter, Grüning and Company

In 1856 Henry Grüning became a partner of Edward Slaughter at the locomotive works, which then became Slaughter, Grüning and Company.

Avonside Engine Company Ltd

In 1864, with Edward Slaughter still in control, the company took advantage of the Companies Acts and became the Avonside Engine Company Ltd. As if to mark the occasion, the works received a large order (the first from the GWR for some years following the development of Swindon Works) for twenty 2-4-0 Hawthorn class engines with 6 ft drivers.

The Avonside Engine Company and its predecessors were unusual in that most of the production before 1880 consisted of main line locomotives largely for British railway companies but also for export. However, by 1881 main line locomotives were getting much bigger and exceeding the capacity of the manufacturing equipment. They made a positive decision to concentrate on the smaller industrial railway locomotive types for within the capacity of the existing plant. This change was to a degree forced on the company as a result of financial difficulties following Edward Slaughter’s death. Edwin Walker of the Bristol Engineering firm Fox, Walker & Co. joined Avonside and endeavoured to turn the company round, but without success.

In 1899 the company built for the short lived North Mount Lyell Railway three 4-6-0s designed by David Jones (railway).


Walker was forced to liquidate the old company and form a new company with the same name to carry on the same business at the same address. At about this time the old firm of Fox, Walker & Co. was taken over by Thomas Peckett and became Peckett and Sons.

Move to Fishponds

In 1905 the Avonside firm left its historic home at St. Philips for a new plant at Fishponds but still with a small engine policy.


The company entered voluntary liquidation in 1934 and the goodwill and designs of the company were bought in 1935 by the Hunslet Engine Company.

Edited from Wikipedia: