The National Gas Engine Company Ltd was founded by Mr H. N. Bickerton in 1889 in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, England. The firm occupied the former premises of Locomotive engineers Issac Watt Boulton in Wellington rd. By 1894 the firm was exporting engines to France. The name changed to the National Gas & Oil Engine Co. in 1932 to reflect the change from gas fuelled to Oil engines.
The engines were designed originally to run off the town gas supply (coal gas) and a later development was the use of producer gas plants using anthracite, coke and waste fuels such as wood or sugar cane etc. The introduction of the portable gas plant increased the demand for gas engines, as they not only proved to be most economical power available at the time but combined engines and gas plants could be installed anywhere in the world where any solid fuel was available from which the gas could be extracted. (this system was latter used during wwII by both the allies and the Germans to run cars, trucks and tractors) By the early 1900s the company was shipping hundreds of these engines sets to all parts of the world. A new type of 'National gas producer' plant was exhibited at the Royal Agricultural Show, Derby, and was awarded the gold medal in 1906.
By 1949, the Company had became associated with the Brush Group. This resulted in new methods of manufacture for high volume lines and a resulting increase in the production volume for both horizontal and vertical engines. Brush was a part owner till 1961 when they took National over completely. The company then started trading as Mirrless National Ltd. In 1977 Mirrless-National were in turn taken over by The Hawker Siddeley Group, and merged with theire Blackstone subsidary resulting in a name change to Mirrless-Blackstone (Stockport) Ltd.
In 1992 they were still trading under this name, building large diesel engines for ships, locomotives and power stations, but were then taken other by the German MAN AG group in 199?
By 1952, the Company, following the trend of world demands, concentrated on vertical engine production of;
- Industrial units from 62 to 2,000 b.h.p.,
- Marine auxiliary units from 41kW to 1390 kW
- Marine propulsion units from 77 to 1,880 b.h.p.
The Wellington Rd works was expanded as trade grew rapidly. The firm built new offices and several bays of factory space to accommodate the growing Drawing Office, Pattern Shop, Iron Foundry, and an expanding Shipping Department.
A wide variety of engines from a few HP up to the above mentioned 2,000 hp units were built.
- Details of model built required - Can you help and ad some information ?
Examples of National Gas engines exist in several UK and overseas museums, relating to Industry and Agriculture.
- Anson Engine Museum , near the original factor has several working examples.
- The Waterworks Museum - Hereford
- Klondyke Mill Preservation Centre has a working engine.
- Museum of Power in Wales has several examples
- The Sandstone Heritage Trust in South Africa has a large estate engine that was supplied new in the 1890's and is still operational.
- List of Engine manufacturers
- Museums list
- Shows and Meets - lists shows some of which have large displays of portable engines and larger examples in cluding National Gas Engine Co. and Blackstone engines.
References / sources