Vulcan Foundry Locomotive Works was founded in 1830 by Charles Tayleur, a Liverpool engineer, for the production of steam locomotives.
Robert Stephenson became a partner in 1832 and in the same year, the first locomotives, “Tayleur” and “Stephenson”, were delivered to the North Union Railway.
The construction of eight 2-4-0 locomotives for the Great Indian Peninsular Railway in 1852 saw the beginning of a long association with the railways of India, which in the next 100 hundred years resulted in 2750 locomotives being delivered to the sub-continent, (an average of one a fortnight).
The first locomotive for the Japanese Railways was built in 1872 and expansion continued throughout the later years of the 19th Century with the workforce rising from 537 in 1865 to 1390 by 1906.
Production during World War 1 included shells, gun mountings and Paravanes (mine-sweeping devices). In the 1930s, the works concentrated on locomotives for Britain, India, Argentina and China, (one of the latter is now persevered in the National Railway Museum, York) the workforce rising to over 4,000.
Heavy freight and shunting “Austerity” locomotives formed part of the World War II effort, including 600 “Matilda” tanks, machine gun mountings and torpedo parts. The factory was visited by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1941 and was a target for the Luftwaffe. As part of post-war European re-construction, 120 locomotives were built for United Nations relief and Rehabilitations Agency.
In 1955, the Vulcan Foundry merged with the English Electric Company Ltd. Following a large-scale reorganisation, the works made a significant contribution to the modernisation of British Railways, delivering over 900 diesel and electric locomotives between 1957 and 1968.
English Electric became part of the GEC Group of companies in 1968 and locomotive construction finally ceased in 1970. Output was then concentrated on the production of diesel plant and equipment. Following the break-up of GEC Group, the factory was acquired by M.A.N. (B.&W. Diesel) Ltd. In 2000 and was closed at the end of 2002.
Vulcan Village was built in 1830 to house the workforce employed in the newly-opened Vulcan Foundry Locomotive Works.
The village comprised six ‘rows’ of houses and at one time, had its own Post Office, school, laundry and public house. For many years a toll was extracted from through traffic on 29 February 2008, every Leap Year.
The village was sold during the 1970s to the Maritime Housing Association and has subsequently been extensively modernised. Period notices adorn the gable ends of the houses on Derby Row, whilst the last house on Manchester Row incorporates a magnificent representation, in stone, of “Vulcan”, which was removed from the Works. The Inn houses memorabilia from the factory.
Have you read? Check out the Rainhill Library Collection to find out more about Vulcan.