The Problems of Diversifying into Commercial Lines: The Instance of Scotswood Locomotives
On 10 October 1918, the full board of Armstrong Whitworth decided that they should take up locomotive manufacture. Immediate steps were to be taken to organise the new department. Capital cost estimates were of the order of 500000 plus 20000 for a boiler-making plant which in part would serve the locomotive works. With the removal of automobile production to Coventry and the need for replacement work for its projectile and ammunition sections, Scots-wood seemed the ideal location. A decision was taken not to stint in making this a first-rate operation. To that end arrangements were made with Mr G. M. McColl of the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia to supervise building and start-up.1 By 1919, a target annual production of 300 to 400 locomotives had been decided. During that year a big party was thrown at the Station Hotel in Newcastle to launch the new department. After the party the guests were taken to Scotswood to see the first of the new locomotives run down the track and, to cheers, cut a red, white and blue ribbon. The department thus inaugurated with a flourish which recalls some of the pre-war battleship launches was to provide an interesting illustration of the differences between the economics of armament and of commercial engineering. In December 1921, McColl returned to America at the end of his contract.
KeywordsCommercial Engineering Steam Locomotive Blue Ribbon Locomotive Building Commercial Line
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