Leeds Engine:Today: Hunslet

Hunslet – the Engine Building Neighbourhood

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John Fowler’s Steam Plough & Locomotive Works

A name that became one of the leading names in steam traction engine production, John Fowler originally worked with other firms to supply such agricultural equipment. In 1860 Kitson, Thompson and Hewitson began producing a number of ploughing engines to Fowler orders. It was this partnership that lead to John Fowler establishing his own works alongside the Airedale Foundry. Fowlers produced huge numbers of traction engines, ploughing equipment and steam locomotives, and went on to produce diesel locomotives until the mid 1960s.
The main part of Fowler’s works has been demolished and the site is now occupied by a Costco store, a plaque in the car park tells visitors of the works that once occupied the site.
One building of the Fowler works does survive. This building can be found between Leathley Street and the Crown Point Retail Park that now occupies what was once the site of the Midland Railway’s Hunslet West goods sheds. The building was the locomotive works and Fowler locomotives were assembled here.

Completed locos would often have been delivered by rail, Fowler had a connection to the Hunslet West goods yard via a wagon turntable. The now bricked up doorway at the rear of this building is where completed locomotives would have emerged from the works complex
Many of Fowler's official works photos were taken at this location and a number of photos of locomotives and traction engines taken here can be found.
When the modern steel shutters are open on the Leathley Street side of the building the old arched doorways of the building can be seen, also look out for the rails that are still set in to the workshop floors. There are rails to a number of gauges since much of Fowler's locomotive production was for narrow gauge industrial railways.
Picture of the site of the rail access in the building

Several books have been published about the Leeds engine building industry, a list is displayed in the Links and Further Reading section.

External Website Links
This site features a comprehensive list of loco manufacturers and includes greater detail about the history of the local firms
Hunslet Remembered's section about the locomotive building industry and about steam road vehicle manufacture
The current Hunslet Engine Company website

This article was produced by Kris Ward, any feedback or contributions about the Leeds engine making industry would be greatly appreciated.

Page last modified: 20 June 2021

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