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Whitaker Brothers Limited (1870s-1930s) of Horsforth near Leeds England. They were an early small mechanical engineering business who designed, invented and produced their own original steam cranes as well as piledrivers mainly for construction work and railway services.  

1911-Taken over by the Ruston, Proctor and Company of Lincoln, England. 

1912-Rail-mounted steam-powered pile drive for Central Argentine Railway 

Company History Edit

Whitaker Brothers Limited were one of the first inventors that were specialised in powerful steam powered excavator alongside their own steam powered railway cranes much of them were once popular for their longevity and clever engineering methods employed in their design and mechanicals found on their medium to large sized production models. Many were still working as late as the 1950s and 1960s when replaced by diesel powered improved machines. 

Resembling many other models at the time but making and offering a bigger model range than other other small British manufacturers like Appleby BrothersCraven Brothers Limited, Graton & Co. Ltd., who later whent on to accomplished 100 years of crane manufacturing in 1998, and are considered the grandfather of crane makers by some.

By the 1900s the firm were receiving seemingly endless orders to all corners of the UK for their cranes and excavators which was something unusual for a company that was producing both types of machinery at the time as the closest rivals were Priestman Brothers from Marfleet near Hull and Ransomes & Rapier Limited of Ipswich in Suffolk, two different  independent specialists who were making original excavating and lifting heavy equipment for a very long time, themselves also using steam-powered engines.  

In 1911 Whitaker Brothers Limited were taken over by another bigger company called Ruston, Proctor and Company a Lincoln-based agricultural tractor and traction engine among other farm equipment specialist. They then provided a growing distribution dealership for Whitaker Brothers Limited machinery models for sale alongside the then Ruston-Proctor original  agricultural equipment. That plan would later help Whitaker Brothers in developing and production of much larger and improved from construction to industrial models although still using steam-powered mechanical's. 

By 1912 from South America, the firm received almost 500 orders for Railway Service Steamcranes models who would be aided by their owners Ruston, Proctor and Company who were better experienced in doing so, of which hundreds of their steam engines and steam tractors were on the verge of being exported there too. In Argentina and Brazil alone being big countries sales were healthy and enjoyed some popularity as there were not many types of these machines except for a few vintage equipment that were being replaced by new improved machinery, of which were new railway steamcranes and new steamdriven piledrivers available in railway version and road versions.

Then by the 1930s further oveseas production orders came from Australia and New Zealand where the British Commonwealth Authorities wanted to further build and needed to expand their Railway lines to connect all corners of these two countries. In order to do that Whitaker Brothers sent a further shipment of their ordered new equipment to arrive almost four months later after, using a fleet of 10 steamships to meet the demand. But because of WW2 only of the six cargo vessels actually made it to the Sydney port and Wellington harbour safely with their load undamaged . 

Unfortunately that did not improve Whitaker Brother Limited situation because of a number of reasons and the company found themselves into financial problems so it was decided to develop petrol-driven powerplants and several prototypes were made for the first time in their history. Later an all new Petrol engined massive 36T Whitaker Brothers Railway Service crane was built that resembled a quarry dragline but modified as an Emergency Service Rail crane that could lift anything up to 40T and could rotate 360 degrees with a proper safety drivers cab installed which was powered by a petrol driven lorry crane of which several more of these would later be produced.  

Whitaker Brothers Limited would later find an aggressive crane and excavator market on the British Isles in the 1940s and elsewhere these were being sold, but then being a small firm they could not compete with much larger similar but modern brandnames those days. Their current owners now renamed Ruston and Hornsby concluded that it wouldn't be viable or worth keeping that company working together with them anymore, so it was later decided to invest more into their own development and the manufacturing of new Ruston branded diesel engines and gas-turbine engines for their newest machines and other vehicles they made, so that also marked the end in for Whitaker Brothers Limited in 1946. 


Photo Galley of 'Whitaker Brothers Limited' original machineryEdit

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