Dubs & Co.
Dubs & Co., Glasgow Locomotive Works.—
Of all the great industrial concerns of Glasgow, there is none whose important achievements and rapid advancement merit more attentive consideration at the hands of the reviewer than that of Messrs. Dubs & Co., of the Glasgow Locomotive Works. The history of this distinguished house dates from the year 1864, when it was founded by the late Mr. Henry Dubs, a gentleman who, from the very first periods of his eventful business career, was never in any other than the foremost rank of whatever enterprise he associated himself with. His early records constitute the groundwork of the present firm’s history, and concerning them a few words will at this point be appropriate.
Between 1850 and 1856 Mr. Dubs was manager of the Vulcan Foundry, Warrington, but owing to changes in the proprietary he left that concern in the latter year and entered the well-known firm of Beyer, Peacock & Co., of Gorton Foundry, assuming the post of shop manager, which he filled for something like two years. Leaving this house, he then entered the firm of Messrs. Neilson & Co., Hyde Park Locomotive Works, beginning his connection there in 1858 ; and during the continuance of his partnership, about 1862 or 1863, Messrs. Neilson built their new works at Springburn, which exist under the same name.
It was while associated with this firm that Mr. Dubs saw the rapidly increasing demand for locomotives both at home and abroad, which, notwithstanding the rapid strides that railroad building was making, promised to attain still greater proportions in the near future. He accordingly resolved upon establishing a business of his own, which should bear his name. In 1864 he turned, in person, the first sod of the present Glasgow Locomotive Works, and so well were all his plans matured, and so admirably were they carried into effect, that in a little over twelve months after the inception of the business their first locomotive was completed. From that time onward the career of Messrs. Dubs & Co., industrially and commercially, is expressible in the two words, progress and prosperity.
The works are among the largest, if indeed they are not the largest, of their kind in Scotland ; and the various departments in connection with them constitute a magnificent example of the proportions to which a modem industrial centre can attain. The drawing office is a vast airy apartment lighted from front and rear, and having separate tables or desks for each draughtsman. Here every part of the engine being designed must first be accurately drawn out on paper.
Behind the offices there is a large open space with numerous lines of rails on which are to be seen in action numbers of the patent locomotive steam cranes, patented by the firm in 1868, subsequently improved, and now a special feature of the manufacture of the house. These are most useful for lifting large masses of metal or other weighty substances and depositing the same in any required position. The locomotive crane was invented and patented by the late Mr. Henry Dubs in 1868, and was most favourably mentioned in Engineering of April, 1869. The same journal published another favourable review in 1877, when an improvement of great value had been perfected in the slewing arrangement of the crane. The firm produce these cranes of a power capable of lifting as much as seven tons, and have supplied them to many large engineers and railway companies. One was exhibited at the late Sydney Exhibition.
At the back of an open space are situated the different blocks of buildings devoted to the mechanical work of the industry, and covering an area of about 60,000 square feet each. Here there are numerous steam engines stationed at convenient intervals, and so arranged that an accident happening to one or more would not materially interfere with the general progress of the work going on. The first building on the left is the cooking depot, established by the firm for the convenience of the employees living at a distance ; and in connection with this is the large dining hall, capable of seating about two hundred men. Then comes the tinsmiths’ department, and adjoining this are the extensive stables. Next is the forge, on the outside of which are five charcoal furnaces, helping to supply the smithy with charcoal. The forge is admirably and quite perfectly equipped with all requisite plant and appliances ; and under the same roof is the wheel forge, where the parts of wheels are firmly and finally put together.
The smithy is another building of 200 ft. by 80 ft. in dimensions, and the boiler shop and angle-iron setting shop is 200 ft. by 120 ft. Thence comes the plate flanging sheds, the case hardening shop, the dressing shop, splasher shop, and the iron-moulding and pattern shops. And after these comes the similarly complete and extensive erecting shop, where all the several parts of locomotives are put together. The mechanical workshop, in which nearly all the plant and machinery is by Whitworth, and comprises planing, paring, slotting, drilling, milling, and powerful testing machines, with a host of other modern and highly effective apparatus, the whole shop being said to be one of the finest in existence ; the brass-finishers’ shop, and the grinding and polishing shops. The paint shop, always a busy place, is in a line with the erecting shop — all under one roof, 300 ft. by 280 ft. ; and the great packing department, 100 feet square, stands at the back in a separate building, and is supplied with an engine and travelling crane. All locomotives going abroad are packed here for shipment.
The whole works are perfect in every respect. The works are most advantageously situated, being bounded on one side by the Caledonian Railway Company’s line, and being within a short distance of the centre of the city. They thus possess facilities of the best kind, equally for the shipment of goods throughout Great Britain or to foreign countries. Employment is given to upwards of 2,500 hands, and some idea of the magnificent capacity of this immense establishment may be gleaned from the fact that the works can turn out, when in full running order, about 200 complete locomotive engines per annum.
The firm have lately commenced the manufacture of tramway steam engines on an improved principle. Owing to the great increase in the business of the house, extensive additions have been made to the works since 1878, and it is quite probable that further enlargements will be carried out in the near future. Messrs. Dubs conduct an enormous volume of business throughout the United Kingdom, and, in addition, are in constant receipt of orders from every quarter of the globe in which railways exist. At the time of our visit to the works a South American order of great magnitude was in hand, not to mention many others from all parts of the world.
The firm have also recently inaugurated extensive works at Kingston, in the province of Ontario, Canada. This place, one of the oldest and most historic towns in Upper Canada, and locally known under the characteristic name of the “Limestone City”, is situated on the main line of the Grand Trunk Railway, and also upon the northern shore of Lake Ontario, one of the great series of North American freshwater lakes. In this way the firm have an unsurpassed facility of water transit for their locomotives during the open navigation season, and the Grand Trunk Railway line passing their gates so to speak, gives them a direct through route to Chicago and all points west, available when navigation is closed.
The whole industry of this great representative house is one of distinct national and, indeed, imperial influence and importance, and it deserves an appropriate touch of national interest as well from the fact that the works herein briefly and all too inadequately surveyed are situated but a short distance from the spot where, more than three centuries ago, the hapless Mary Queen of Scots was forced to resign her pretensions to sovereignty by her turbulent nobles, thus fairly inaugurating that career of misfortune and disaster which culminated subsequently on the calamitous field of Langside, and terminated tragically nineteen years later in the Castle of Fotheringay.
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