GNR Locomotives

Manufacturer: Vulcan Foundry

The Vulcan Foundry opened in 1832 as the Charles Tayleur and Company to produce girders for bridges, switches and crossings, and other ironwork following the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Because of the distance from the locomotive works in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, it seemed preferable to build and support them locally. In 1832, Robert Stephenson became a partner for a few years. The company had become The Vulcan Foundry Company in 1847 and acquired limited liability in 1864. From the beginning of 1898, the name changed again to The Vulcan Foundry Limited, dropping the word ‘company’.

Details of the earliest locomotives are not precisely known despite an “official” list apparently concocted in the 1890s which contains a lot of guesswork and invention, with many quite fictitious locomotives, for the period before 1845. This list claims that the first two locomotives were 0-4-0 Tayleur and Stephenson built in 1833 for “Mr Hargreaves, Bolton”, but this seems unlikely. The earliest authenticated products were 0-4-0 Titan and Orion, similar to Stephenson’s design, and delivered in September and October 1834 to the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. Other early orders came from the Leicester and Swannington Railway and there were also some 4-2-0s for America which were among the first British ‘bogie’ locomotives.

From 1835 the company was selling to Belgium, France, and in 1836 to Austria and Russia, the beginnings of an export trade which was maintained throughout the life of the company. The company’s locomotives had a strong Stephenson influence, many during the following decade being of the “long boiler” design. In 1852 the first locomotives ever to run in India were supplied to the Great Indian Peninsula Railway.

A number of Fairlie locomotives were built, including Taliesin for the Ffestiniog Railway and Josephine one of the NZR E class (1872). During 1870 the company supplied the first locomotives to run in Japan, and a flangeless 0-4-0T for a steelworks in Tredegar which was still using angle rails. A number of Matthew Kirtley’s double-framed goods engines were also produced for the Midland Railway. The healthy export trade continued, particularly to India and South America, and continued after World War I.

Following the formation of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1923 some very large orders were received, including over a hundred LMS Fowler Class 3F 0-6-0T engines and seventy-five LMS Compound 4-4-0 locomotives.


The factory passed through various hands as English Electric was bought by GEC, which in turn became GEC Alsthom then Alstom, and finally as part of MAN Diesel in 2000. At the end of 2002 the works closed. It was then an industrial estate (appropriately called “Vulcan Industrial Estate”).

Edited from Wikipedia: