By Derek Rayner, Kris Ward and Andrew Johnson
It was claimed that, at its peak, Leeds had more steam locomotive builders to the square mile than any other place on earth. Matthew Murray, the ‘father of Leeds engineering’, built locomotives 13 years before the Stockton & Darlington Railway opened, and his workshops trained up whole
generations of engineers who went on to form their own companies, in Leeds and elsewhere. The last steam loco built in Leeds was produced by the Hunslet Engine Co in 1971, a wood-burner for Java, Hunslet’s 2,236th steam locomotive. Another local firm, Kitson’s, built around 5,400 steam railway locomotives, and many others were made in Leeds, over 160 years. Road steam
traction started later, and ceased much earlier, only lasting about 80 years, but along the way thousands of steam traction engines, steam wagons and other vehicles were built by famous names including Fowler and McLaren. Steam cranes, trams, marine engines, steam generating plants and much more were also produced in Leeds. This publication introduces the reader to the main characters and companies involved. Among the marques described here are Hunslet, E B Wilson, Manning Wardle, Kitson’s, Hudswell Clarke, Fowler, Green’s, Mann’s, Greenwood & Batley, Joseph Booth, Thomas Smith, Mclaren and Yorkshire.