Greenwood & Batley

Greenwood & Batley

Greenwood and Batley were a large engineering manufacturer with a wide range of products, including armaments, electrical engineering, printing. The works was in Armley, Leeds, UK.


Thomas Greenwood and John Batley first set up their business in 1856, both having previously worked at Fairburn’s Wellington Foundry in Leeds. Their first premises, the Albion Foundry, was taken over from Thomas W. Lord. The foundry was located on East Street by the River Aire (Aire & Calder Navigation), however this quickly became too small for their needs and in 1859 they constructed the Albion Works in Armley Road, Leeds. In 1885 the company branched out into Flour and Oil Milling Machinery as a result of the acquisition of the business of Joseph Whitham, Perseverance Iron Works, Kirkstall Road, Leeds. By 1888 the works covered eleven acres and employed around 1600 men. A rail connection with the Great Northern Railway was installed in 1890 to bring in raw materials and to deliver finished products.

An early innovation was the installation of their own electricity generating station, completed in 1894. This allowed machine tools to be electrically driven rather than the traditional common shafts driven by steam. This development was to prove profitable in other ways, as the company was able to provide similar generator stations for both public supplies and industrial applications e.g. tramways, as one of its range of products.

A further acquisition in 1896 saw Greenwood & Batley take over Smith, Beacock & Tannett, Victoria Foundry, Water Lane, Leeds. This company were the successors to the Murray Round Foundry and were principally involved in the manufacture of Machine Tools.

The company became part of the Fairbairn-Lawson Group in the late 1960’s, however trading conditions were not favourable and in April 1980 the receivers were called in and 480 employees made redundant. The company was bought by Hunslet Holdings for £1.65M who continued to use the Greenbat name for their battery locomotives. By 1984 the work had been transferred to Jack Lane and the Albion Works were mothballed. In 1987 the site was sold and the works demolished


Greenwood & Batley rapidly became a giant of a company, manufacturing an incredible range of products. Their primary business was military equipment both in terms of machinery to make armaments and the production of components such as bullets and shell cases. They also produced some of the first tanks in the First World War.

By the turn of the century Greenwood & Batley offered the following products:-

Machine Tool Department

every description of General and Special machine tolls for Railway, Marine and General Engineers, including Hydraulic and other Forging and Stamping Machinery, Lathes, Punching, Shearing, Planing, Milling, Shaping, Drilling and Boring Machines. Bolt, Nut and Screw Machinery. Testing Machines for strength of Material. Wood Working Machinery.

Special Plants & Machinery

for making Armour Plates, Ordnance, Gun Mountings and Ammunition: also for Small Arms Cartridges, Gunpowder, &c., and every description of War Material. Rolling Mills for Metal Coining, Presses and Minting Machinery.

Oil Mill Machiney Department

The “Albion,” “Leeds, “ and Anglo-American systems for Extraction of every kind of Vegetable Oil including Machinery for Preparing and Decorticating Seeds, Nuts &c. Presses for making Cattle Feeding Cakes, Seed and Grain Elevators and Warehousing machinery. Oil Refineries. Cotton and other Baling Presses.

Textile Machiney Department

Improved Patented Machines for Preparing and Spinning Waste Silk, China Grass, Rhea, Ramie, and other fibres. Whyte’s patent Cop Winding Machine.

Engineering Department

Frickart’s Improved Corliss Steam Engines, single compound and triple expansion of the largest powers, for driving Factories, Mills, Electrical Installations, &c. Sole Manufacturers of The Brayton Patent Oil Engine.

Electrical Department

all kinds of Dynamos and Motors for Lighting or Transmission of Power. Speciality: Motors for electrically driven Machine Tools &c. De Laval’s Patent Steam Turbine Motors, Turbine Dynamos, Turbine Pumps and Fans (for Great Britain and Colonies, China and Japan).

Ordnance Department

Manufacturers of all kinds of Military Small Arms Ammunition e.g. .303 British. Self-propelling Torpedoes (Whitehead’s) for the Navy, and Horse Shoes for the British Government.

Printing and Sewing Machine Department

Patent Platen Printing Machines. Patent Boot Sewing Machines. Cloth Cutting Machines. Patent Boot Sewing Machines. Cloth Cutting Machines for Wholesale Clothiers, &c.

Locomotive Building

In 1876 the company built an experimental compressed air tramcar. The vehicle was supplied by a 100 cubic foot reservoir filled at 1000psi. The outcome of this work is not known but lack of evidence would indicate it was not a success. Similarly, in 1878 a Loftus Perkins tramway locomotive built. This was fed by a water tube boiler nominally rated at 500psi. Again there is no evidence of its success.

Leeds Corporation placed an order for 25 electric tramcars in 1896, and the vehicles entered service in 1897, however this work was not repeated.

Greenwood & Batley’s first successful venture into locomotive building occurred in July 1927 when five 4hp battery-electric narrow gauge locomotives were completed for Edmund Nuttall’s Mersey Tunnel contract. These locomotives proved very reliable and a total of 31 G&B locomotives were used on the Mersey Tunnel construction. Other work developed rapidly. In 1928, Flameproof locomotive were built for the Royal Navy and in 1929 the first export order was for seven, pantograph fitted locomotives for the Chinese Engineering and Mining Co Ltd.

In 1930 the first standard gauge locomotive was built for Luton Power Station. This was a 15hp design and was capable of hauling one hundred tons at 4mph on the level. This locomotive is preserved at the Armley Mills Industrial Museum, Leeds. A standard gauge passenger-carrying vehicle was constructed in 1933 for use by the Royal Navy at Gosport. This locomotive used two 10hp motors and could run at 20mph up a 1 in 137 gradient. Other products for which they were well known was coke car locomotive for Gas Works and Coking Plants.

In their short period of production, Greenwood & Batley built 1367 electric locomotives which were exported around the world. This company deserves much better recognition for its achievements.


Today there is no tangible evidence of this once great establishment, however it is still possible to buy on the second hand market machinery made at the Albion Works, surely a testimony to the quality of their products. The only local reminder of the Albion Works is the name of the public house “The Albion” which must have served many a pint to thirsty workers.

See also articles entitled Greenbat and Greenwood and Batley.



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