A Brief History of Manning, Wardle & Co
Manning Wardle rose from the ashes of early loco maker E.B.Wilson. Foreseeing the forthcoming demise of the firm, Works Manager Alexander Campbell formed a new partnership with financial backers J.Manning and C.W.Wardle (a local vicar). They established a new works on land adjacent to E.B.Wilson’s Railway Foundry, land that was part of the estate of Lord Boyne. When the Railway Foundry was wound up in 1858 a number of the plans were acquired, the good will of the firm and many of its personnel simply moved to the new works next door, the Boyne Engine Works.
Above, photo of the surviving gates of the Manning Wardle works bearing the title 'Boyne Engine Works' (photo Kris Ward)
The early days of the firm were like a continuation of the old order, similar locos were turned out, often to firms that had bought from their predecessors. For many years the locos still bore the Railway Foundry trademarks such as fluted safety valve covers and domes and the engraved rectangular brass works plates. Gradually the designs evolved to some extent from those produced under E.B.Wilson, though the resemblance to Railway Foundry products could still be seen in most of Manning Wardle’s output.
Sir Berkeley, No1210 of 1890, a typical Manning Wardle 0-6-0 saddle tank. It was used by contractors Logan & Hemmingway on a number of projects, including construction of the Great Central Railway. It is seen here on the Middleton Railway waiting to depart from Park Halt with the railway’s four wheel coaches, the scene is reminiscent of many of the light railway systems that employed similar engines.
Throughout Manning Wardle’s existence the bulk of their business was the 4 wheel and 6 wheel saddle tank engines. Many were used by contractors in big construction projects such as the railways that were built in the mid to late 1800s, docks and reservoirs, and the Manchester Ship Canal. Little tank engines were appearing everywhere in Victorian times, in collieries, quarries, factories, docks and small railway systems, not just here but across the world.
Just as the Railway Foundry had done before, the Boyne Engine Works liked to produce engines to standard designs, this meant they were able to supply locos very quickly.
Above - Replica Lynton & Barnstaple loco Lyd (Photo Andrew Johnson)
As well as the little standard gauge tank engines a number of interesting narrow gauge engines were built. There were many narrow gauge locos produced for industry and narrow gauge railway systems in the UK and across the world. One of the most famous examples of Manning Wardle's narrow gauge engines were the four supplied to the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway. Many of Manning Wardle's narrow gauge locos were quite similar to their standard gauge loco designs and many narrow gauge engines were basically scaled down versions of their popular contractors engines.
Looking very similar to the L class shown earlier, but somewhat further from its birthplace this is works number 815 of 1882, a slightly smaller Special K class, built to 3ft 6in gauge and used in the construction of the Japanese railway system. It is the only survivor of 3 engines the firm built for Japan and is now preserved in Japan’s National Railway Museum near Tokyo.
Though a small number of tender locomotives were built by Manning Wardle these were all four or six wheel engines, the firm stuck to small locomotives throughout its history.
Four crane locos were built, the first of which being for local firm Kirkstall Forge. Local crane manufacturers Joseph Booth of Rodley built the crane gear for the locos. Manning Wardle also subcontracted a number of other crane orders they received to the Rodley firm.
Even more unusual were the engines built for the John Barroughclough Fell's 'Fell centre rail system'. Initially tried at Parkhouse Hematite Ore Mines near Furness Abbey a number of problems were encountered with this single centre rail line. A two rail system was tried on an experimental line at an Aldershot military base using MW 412 of 1872. The system used wheels gripping the sides of the rails giving greater traction and allowing steep gradients to be tackled. Three meter gauge Fell Center Rail locomotives were also supplied to the Cantagallo Railway in Brazil in the same year. Further examples of the Brazilian engines were ordered and a similar engine to Ariel was supplied to Fell's St Austel & Pentewan Railway but these were not fitted with the centre rail system. John's son George surveyed the Snaefell Mountain Railway in the Isle of Mann, this line was intended to use the Fell system but was built as an electric railway using the centre rail for braking only
Below - Engraving form The Engineer of MW 412 for Aldershot featuring Fell's centre rail system. (Photo Graces Guide)
Two compressed air engines were produced in 1880, a cylinder (probably produced elsewhere) was charged with compressed air at 1000psi, this could run the four cylinder compound engine for about 6 miles. It appears these were not successful as there is no known record of their use beyond 1886.
In 1882 two Manning Wardle 0-4-0STs were used during Major General Gordon's Sudan expedition. This is claimed to be the first use of armoured locomotives.
Manning Wardle produced ten narrow gauge and three standard gauge steam trams; these would haul tramcars just as horses had done at one time. A similar development for the railway industry was the railmotor, a single carriage with its own permanently attached small steam loco. Five of these were built for the Taff Vale Railway in 1906. These designs were fairly short-lived ideas as electric tramways caught on and it was realised that the railmotor simply wasn’t a good idea. It was realised that it made more sense to just couple a small tank engine to one or two coaches as required. Three two-coach railmotors were also produced for Buenos Ayres Tramways in 1870, these had their engine sandwiched between the two coaches. Sadly none of these Manning Wardle steam trams or railmotors survived, however neighbouring firm Kitson & Co produced some very similar steam trams and rail motors of which a few survive, these are covered in the Kitson & Co article.
An interesting foray in to the road steam market was this steam roller. Not much is known about it, it must have been built around 1869 as it was trialled in Birmingham in 1869. It was later used in Halifax from 1871 onwards – on the consolidation of the approach roads to the then new cast-iron North Bridge. The roller was subsequently advertised for sale by Halifax Corporation in 1875 though it is not known where it ended up from there. (Photo Derek Rayner)
During the First World War the works concentrated on the war effort. Locomotive production was supposedly to be confined to engines that were necessary for the war effort, though a number of exports still took place. The works produced a number of Isaacson Radial aircraft engines during the war. Twenty armoured petrol locomotives were also built for military use, this was to be Manning Wardle’s only venture in to the internal combustion market.
After the First World War trade never returned to what it had been before the war. The global depression hit sales badly across the industry. Manning Wardle had never done much to modernised its facilities and its manufacturing methods, in effect they were still pretty much hand building locomotives. Though they were still producing excellent locos it was difficult for them to compete in prices, not good when there are four other loco builders within a couple of hundred yards alone. In 1925 only 4 locos were produced, likewise in 1926 4 more. This obviously couldn’t last and Manning Wardle went in to liquidation.
The last locomotive produced in the Boyne Engine Works, works No 2047 of 1926 ‘Warwickshire’ seen preserved at Kidderminster.
Manning Wardle’s designs and goodwill were taken over by neighbouring firm Kitson & Co, who themselves didn’t survive the inter-war downturn. The designs and goodwill were then passed on once more in 1938 to Robert Stephenson & Hawthorne of Darlington. A number of the Manning Wardle designed locos were produced after the firm ceased to exist, 23 by Kitson and 5 by RSH, these were mostly 0-6-0STs
Looking sadly neglected in recent times, this is the former works office of Manning Wardle. After the company closed the works were partially used by next door neighbour Hunslet Engine Co, as well as other industrial users. In World War II, like so many engine-making facilities in the area, it was used for munitions manufacture. When J&H McLaren took over the service work for John Fowler traction engines and steam rollers this work was carried out in a part of the Boyne engine works. Finally part of the Manning Wardle works was modernised when Hunslet Engine Co produced the class 323 electric units in the 1990s. With the demise of Hunslet Engine Co the site is now simply the car park for an electronics firm that has taken over the former Hunslet works, only the former offices and the gateposts still stand. Due to their rugged construction many Manning Wardle locomotives have survived and can still be seen operating. About a mile from their birthplace the Middleton Railway operates a couple of Manning Wardles. Somewhat further away the Kroderbane in Norway also has a pair of Mannings At the Great Central Railway (Nottingham) a group is restoring a collection of the engines like those once used to build the line. In spite of over 80 years having past since the last locomotive left the Boyne Engine Works there are 38 surviving engines around the world.
Considering Manning Wardle turned out their last locomotive over 85 years ago there are still plenty of their locomotives in preservation in the UK and overseas. There are also a lot of surviving records from the works and it is still possible to put together quite a comprehensive list of Manning Wardle's output. Below is a list of surviving Manning Wardles, check out our database for the complete list.
External Website Links
The Railway Foundry Leeds by Ronald Nelson Redman.
Locomotives of Quality, John E Simpson, ISBN 1 874498 02 4
Sir Berkeley & Friends by Robert Emblin ISBN 0 948530 03 0
Locomotives Built By Manning Wardle & Co, Fred W. Harmen, Century Locoprints...
Volume 1 Narrow Gauge, ISBN 0 9535313 0
Volume 2 Standard Gauge, ISBN 0 9535313 1 7
Volume 3 Broad Gauge & Works List, ISBN 0 9535313 2 5 
The Engineer, Nov 1 1872. Available as PDF on Graces Guide
* These buttons are provided to help readers search for often rare books on the subject and to promote any books available, we are under no commercial incentives for this
This article was produced by Kris Ward, any feedback or contributions about the Leeds engine making industry would be greatly appreciated.
With thanks to Derek Rayner for information about Manning Wardle's little known Steam Roller