Ruston Engine

A large Ruston engine seen demonstrated at Newby Hall show 2008

Ruston was an industrial equipment manufacturer in Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England. They were most well known as a manufacturer of narrow gauge railway and standard gauge diesel locomotives and steam shovels. They also built cars, steam locomotives and a range of internal combustion engines.

Early historyEdit

The original company was Proctor and Burton established in 1840, operating as millwrights and engineers. They became Ruston, Proctor and Company in 1857 when Joseph Ruston joined them, acquiring limited liability status in 1899. From 1866 they built a number of four and six-coupled tank locomotives, one of which was sent to the Paris Exhibition in 1867. In 1868 they built five 0-6-0 tank engines for the Great Eastern Railway to the design of Samuel W. Johnson. Three of these were converted to crane tanks, two of which lasted until 1952, aged eighty-four. Among the company's output were sixteen for Argentina and some for T. A. Walker, the contractor building the Manchester Ship Canal.

During the First World War, Rustons produced tank sponsons for the Foster Male Tanks, and also aircraft, notably a large number of Sopwith Camels.

Ruston & HornsbyEdit

Main article: Ruston and Hornsby
Ruston type APR sn 152400

Ruston and Hornsby Horizontal Type APR engine of 1929 s/n 152400

Ruston+Hornsby 4AP-1926-Driffield-P8100574

A Ruston and Hornsby type 4AP of 1926 at Driffield Steam and Vintage Rally 2008

On September 11 1918, the company amalgamated with Richard Hornsby & Sons of Grantham, to become Ruston and Hornsby Ltd. Hornsbys were world leaders in vaporizing oil engines, building them since 1891, a full eight years before Rudoph Diesel's engine was commercially produced. Hornsby having bought the production rights to Herbert Akroyd Stuarts Oil engine designs, marketing them as the Hornsby-Ackroyd Safety Oil Engine.

The Ruston-Hornsby carEdit

After World War I they attempted to diversify and one outcome was the Ruston-Hornsby car. Two versions were made, a 15.9 hp with a Dorman 2614 cc engine and a larger 20hp model with 3308 cc engine of their own manufacture. The cars were however very heavy, being built on a 9 inch chassis, and extremely expensive - the cheapest was around £440 and the most expensive nearly £1000, and within a few years other makers were selling similar vehicles that weighed only 3/4 ton and cost around £120 - £200, and never reached the hoped for production volumes. About 1500 were made between 1919 and 1924.

Diesels and Gas TurbinesEdit

Ruston & Hornsby was a major producer of small and medium diesel engines for land and marine applications. It began to build diesel locomotives in 1931 (and continued up until 1967). It was a pioneer and major developer in the industrial application of small (up to 10000kW) heavy duty gas turbines from the 1950s onwards.

The company closed its Grantham factory in 1963. The company progressively became part of the The General Electric Company of UK ('GEC', not to be confused with the US firm General Electric (GE)) in 1967, of GEC-Alsthom in 1989, of Alstom in 1998 and latterly of Siemens in 2003. Its gas turbines are still manufactured in the Ruston Works in Lincoln and widely used around the world.

Technically, Ruston & Hornsby Ltd existed at the Vulcan Foundry in Newton-le-Willows in Merseyside until 2002, which was known as Ruston Diesels. It was taken over by MAN B&W Diesel AG on June 12th 2000.

Rustons in its various incarnations was always an engine producer, rather than a machine producer, and it is a true observation that they simply produced machines in order to sell engines.

Preserved LocomotivesEdit

Ruston & Hornsby 4wDM Shunter "Wensley" at Leeming Bar Station yard IMG 7395

Ruston built 4wDM Shunter "Wensley" at Leeming Bar Station yard

Heritage railways with Ruston locomotives include :

  • Corris Railway
  • Mid-Suffolk Light Railway
  • Moseley Railway Trust
  • Pleasant Point Museum and Railway
  • Talyllyn Railway
  • Welsh Highland Railway
  • Wenslydale Railway

See alsoEdit


  • Lowe, J.W., (1989) British Steam Locomotive Builders, Guild Publishing

External linksEdit

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