Britannia Iron Works: A Book Review

| July/August 1993

11 Avenue Road Chelmsford, England CM2 9TY

William Marshall, Sons & Company of Gainsborough, Lincoln, United Kingdom, have been engaged in the design and manufacture of agricultural implements and machines since 1848 right through to the present time. A fascinating book on the history of the firm has just been written by Michael Lane, entitled The Story of the Britannia Iron Works.

It is a most detailed and comprehensive account of the artifacts manufactured by Marshall's over almost 150 years, and also gives an insight into the growth and evolution of the firm and of the personalities involved.

Marshall tandem roller, Works No. 87125, built in 1933. It has steam steering with instant reverse and a vertical boiler. Photo taken at the Great Dorset Steam Fair 1991.

Marshall portable, works No. 86161, built in 1931. It's driving a rack saw bench which was made in 1852. Photo taken at the Amberly Chalk Pits Museum in 1989.

In its early days Marshall's concentrated on the design and production of threshing machines, then in 1857 it produced its first portable steam engine. Twenty years later the first steam traction engine left the Britannia Works, and in 1894 steam rollers began to be manufactured there. Although Marshall's built an experimental gas engine in 1881, it was not until 1906 that their first internal combustion powered tractor left the factory. From then on, although producing steam powered engines for about another 30 years, much effort was applied to improving the internal combustion tractor, culminating in the present day production of their well known Track-Marshall range. Meanwhile, as steam powered vehicles were being phased out, a whole range of diesel engined rollers began to be produced.