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Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd was a major British manufacturing company of the early years of the 20th century. Headquartered in Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne, Armstrong-Whitworth engaged in the construction of Steam rollers, armaments, ships, locomotives, auto mobiles, and aircraft.


In 1847, engineer William George Armstrong founded the Elswick works at Newcastle, to produce hydraulic machinery, cranes and bridges, soon to be followed by artillery, notably the Armstrong breech-loading gun, which re-equipped the British Army after the Crimean War. In 1882 they merged with the shipbuilding firm of Charles Mitchell to form Sir WG Armstrong Mitchell & Company and its Works extended for over a mile along the bank of the River Tyne.[1]

Armstrong Mitchell merged again in 1897 with the Whitworth engineering firm founded by Joseph Whitworth (inventor of the British Standard Whitworth thread [BSW]).[2] The company expanded into the manufacture of cars and trucks in 1902, and created an "aerial department" in 1913, which became the Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft subsidiary in 1920.

After the Great War Armstrong Whitworth converted its Scotswood Works to build locomotives, and from 1919 they rapidly penetrated the locomotive market due to their modern plant. [3] Their two largest contacts were 200 2-8-0’s for the Belgium State Railways (in 1920) and 327 4-6-0’s for the LMS (in 1935)[see below]. Their well equipped Works included their own design department, and enabled them to build large locomotives, including an order for 30 engines of three types for the modernisation of the South Australian Railways in 1926.[4] These included ten “500” class 4-8-2’s, which were the largest non-articulated locomotives built in Great Britain, and were based on ALCO [5] drawings modified by AW and SAR engineers. They were a sensation in Australia.[6]] AW went on to built 20 large three cylinder “Pacific” type locomotives for the Central Argentine Railway (F.C.C.A) in 1930, with Caprotti valve gear and modern boilers. They were the most powerful locomotives on the F.C.C.A.[7] AW also obtained the UK license for Sulzer diesels from 1919, and by the 1930’s was building diesel locomotives and railcars.[8] A total of 1,464 locomotives were built at Scotswood Works before it was reconverted for armaments manufacture in 1937. [9]

The company can also be credited with helping to create the Town of Deer Lake in the country of Newfoundland. Between 1922 and 1925, a hydroelectric station was built at Deer Lake by the Newfoundland Products Company and Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth and Company. The canal system used by the hydroelectric station helped to expand the forestry operations in the area. Some of the equipment used in the construction of the Panama Canal was shipped to the small island nation. Electricity from the project was used to power the pulp and paper mill in Corner Brook. Since the 1920s, Deer Lake has grown into a major area for the lumbering industry, as well becoming a service oriented centre.

In 1927, the defence and engineering businesses merged with those of Vickers Limited to create a subsidiary company known as Vickers-Armstrongs. The aircraft and Armstrong Siddeley motors business were bought out by J. D. Siddeley and became a separate entity. Production at the Scotswood Works ended in 1979 and the buildings were demolished in 1982. [10]


Hydraulic engineering installations

The forerunner company, Sir WG Armstrong Mitchell & Company, was heavily involved in the construction of hydraulic engineering installations. Notable examples include:

  • Hydraulic mains system, Limehouse Basin, London, 1850s
  • Swing Bridge, River Tyne, 1873
  • Tower Bridge, London, 1894
  • A Hydraulic lift in WG Armstrongs country Home , "Cragside", in Northumberland.


Armstrong Whitworth built a few locomotives between 1847 and 1868, but it was not until 1919 that the company made a concerted effort to enter the railway market.[11] Contracts were obtained for steam and diesel locomotives in Britain and overseas, including:- see Wikipedia#Armstrong & Whitworth for details


The Armstrong-Whitworth was manufactured from 1904 (when the company took over construction of the Wilson-Pilcher) until 1919 (when the company merged with Siddeley-Deasy and began construction of the Armstrong Siddeley) in Coventry.

The Wilson-Pilcher was an advanced car, originally with a 2.4 litre engine, that had been made in London from 1901 until 1904 when production moved to Newcastle. Two models were made, a 2.7 litre flat four and a 4 litre flat six. The engines had the flywheel at the front of the engine. Drive was to the rear wheels via a preselector gearbox and helical bevel axle. The cars were listed at £735 for the four and £900 for the six. They were still theoretically available until 1907.

The first Armstrong-Whitworth car was the 28/36 of 1906 with a water cooled, four cylinder side valve engine of 4.5 litres which unusually had "oversquare" dimensions of 120 mm (4.7 in) bore and 100 mm (3.9 in) stroke. Drive was via a four speed gearbox and shaft to the rear wheels. A larger car was listed for 1908 with a choice of either 5 litre 30 or 7.6 litre 40 models sharing a 127 mm (5.0 in) bore but with strokes of 100 mm (3.9 in) and 152 mm (6.0 in) respectively. The 40 was listed at £798 in bare chassis form for supplying to coachbuilders. These large cars were joined in 1909 by the 4.3 litre 18/22 and in 1910 by the 3.7 litre 25 which seems to have shared the same chassis as the 30 and 40.

In 1911 a new small car appeared in the shape of the 2.4 litre 12/14, called the 15.9 in 1911, featuring a monobloc engine with pressure lubrication to the crankshaft bearings. This model had an 88-inch (2,200 mm) wheelbase compared with the 120 inches (3,000 mm) of the 40 range. This was joined by four larger cars ranging from the 2.7 litre 15/20 to the 3.7 litre 25.5.

The first six cylinder model, the 30/50 with 5.1 litre 90 mm (3.5 in) bore by 135 mm (5.3 in) stroke engine came in 1912 with the option of electric lighting. This grew to 5.7 litres in 1913.

At the outbreak of war, as well as the 30/50, the range consisted of the 3 litre 17/25 and the 3.8 litre 30/40.

The cars were usually if not always bodied by external coach builders and had a reputation for reliability and solid workmanship. The company maintained a London sales outlet at New Bond Street. When Armstrong Whitworth and Vickers merged, Armstrong Whitworth's automotive interests were purchased by J. D. Siddeley as Armstrong Siddeley.

See also Armstrong Autombiles

Elswick Ordnance Company

The Elswick Ordnance Company (sometimes referred to as Elswick Ordnance Works) was the Armstrong Whitworth armaments branch, and was a major arms developer before and during World War I. Writers commonly refer to Elswick Ordnance rather than Armstrongs as the armaments developer. The shells it manufactured were stamped EOC.

Preserved Machines

Please add any known machine details to the list.(The TER lists 7 engines as surviving).
Click Hereto edit list.
Armstrong-Whitworth "Preserved Machine listing"
Engine No. Name Build Date Type Weight Size Reg No. Owner Image Other info
10R2 - 1922 RR 10 ton 5 hp BD 7511 owner ?, Market Harborough Armstrong Whitworth no. 10R2 - BD 7511 at Kemble 09 - IMG 1931.jpg At Kemble 2009 & GDSF 2008
10R11 - 1923 RR 12 ton ? hp PT 1034 owner ?, Haltwistle 100px Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki:Requested images

At ?
10R17 - 1924 RR 10 ton ? hp CA 7184 ?, Chard 100px Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki:Requested images

At ?
10R19 Little Jo 1924 RR 10 ton ? hp FJ 2795 Owner ?, Skegness 100px Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki:Requested images

At ?
10R22 Stormer 1924 RR 10 ton ? hp DX 4602 Owner ?, Lowestoft 100px Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki:Requested images

On display at East Anglia Transport Museum
10R35 Badger 1925 RR 10 ton ? hp NE 2271 Owner ?, Newhaven 100px Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki:Requested images

At ?
10R50 Highway Queen 1926 RR 10 ton ? hp NF 4098 Owner ?, Newark 100px Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki:Requested images

At ?
100px Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki:Requested images

No.? - year type ? ton ? hp Reg no. ? 100px Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki:Requested images

At ?
Machine types Key: SW = Steam Wagon, PE = Ploughing Engine, RR = Road Roller, SM = Showmans, TE = Traction Engine


External links

Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses some content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Sir William Armstrong-Whitworth Ltd. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons by Attribution License and/or GNU Free Documentation License. Please check page history for when the original article was copied to Wikia