Friday, December 14, 2012

Cars, Trains & More

It's seems our town's namesake, William R. Rust, was not the only industrialist to carry the name to great heights. I'd previously heard about the Ruston steam engine, but there is more to the story - much, much more!

Colonel Joseph Ruston not only built a very successful company, his company helped build the city of Lincoln in the UK (sound familiar?). The company produced an early line of automobiles in addition to the train steam engines, and much more. Only two of the cars remain.

I received this wonderful email from Steve Wildman, who is with Siemens (who eventually acquired Ruston's company). Thanks for the contact, Mr. Wildman and the wonderful story. As Walt Disney says, its such a small world after all...

Colonel Ruston was something of a hero in Lincoln, his company made many many things, the whole city is based on his industrial success.  Along the way he made 1300 cars (see the picture of the production line attached) but his biggest export was industrial engines along with a whole host of other things.  You can get a lot of info from my friends Ray Hooleys site members/Ruston.  The 6MB pic attached is the team working on the restoration of our second car a 1923 model retrieved from Australia in the sixties.

During World War 1 the factory made a lot of aircraft engines and complete planes.  Various pictures attached. when the war finished the company had 12,000 employees but little work since the government cancelled the plane contract.  They made furniture for the first month then turned their hand to making cars 1919- 1923. We never made any money out of cars but they kept the workforce employed and we soon returned to making diesel engines. Picture of Ruston plane also attached.I think his son (also Joseph Ruston was the Colonel though.) 
Brief overview pinched from Ray Hooleys site:
Joseph Ruston was born at Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, in 1835. His father, Robert, farmed 600 acres (2.4sq km) and employed 28 men. On leaving school, Joseph became an apprentice at the Sheffield cutlery firm of George Wostenholme. He came out of his time 1856 with a good commercial training and a modest inheritance from his father's estate. His enquiries for a suitable business led to negotiations with Messrs Burton & Proctor of Lincoln. They were in business as Millwrights and General Smiths, builders and repairers of all manner of agricultural machines and implements.

Ruston, Burton Proctor

Burton and Proctor were known for the quality of their work, but were in need of a good business head and more capital, to enable them to engage in larger projects. This was an ideal situation for the ambitious Joseph Ruston. An agreement was made in January 1857 and Ruston entered an equal partnership to be known as Ruston, Burton & Proctor. Each partner was to receive a salary of £150 per annum, and profits were to be shared equally. In addition, Ruston was to receive commissions of £4 for each steam engine and £1 for each thresher sold. He was to take charge of the commercial side of the business.

Ruston Proctor Co.

Ruston immediately commenced a program of expansion, spending money on land, new buildings and machines. He planned to build engines for stock - an unheard-of practice! Burton strongly disagreed with the lavish spending, saying that it would ruin them. Accordingly he left the partnership on 18th July 1857.Ruston purchased his share for $855. Within a few years the share was to become worth many times that amount. The firm of Ruston & Proctor prospered and employed several hundred men by the time Mr. Proctor retired in 1864. Joseph Ruston had established an impressive network of overseas agencies, and the Company's portable and stationary steam engines, threshing machines, elevators, corn mills, boilers, pumps etc., were in heavy demand. 

These products were constantly winning prizes at exhibitions all over the world. Ruston adopted the motto: "My Customer is my Best Friend". He insisted on a quality of product that pleased his customers. They became his friends and recommended his products to their friends. Thus the firm grew apace.Joseph Ruston was a super salesman by any standards. He travelled to Russia in 1880 to negotiate a deal for steam engines and pumps to drain 8 million acres (32,000sq km) of the Pripet Marshes. On the way back he heard of large oil strikes at Baku. He immediately headed in that direction and won large orders for oil-field equipment. A few years later Ruston persuaded a group of Lancashire businessmen that a ship canal from Liverpool to Manchester would be an economic viability if Ruston-built mechanical excavators were employed. Orders for more than 70 Ruston Dunbar excavators were received.

Ruston Proctor Co. Ltd.

By 1889 Ruston Proctor & Co. were employing 1600 men, being one of the largest engineering firms in the country. The product range included traction engines, steam rollers, and locomotives, in addition to the items already mentioned (see pictures below) 


1885 Ruston Proctor 'Colonial' Traction Engine supplied to Argentina

Ruston Proctor Steam Engine Erecting Shop, c. 1910

 1885 Ruston Proctor Locomotive No 5: two were

supplied to the Kimberley Diamond Mine, South Africa, in 1881

Ruston and Hornsby eventually became Ruston Gas Turbines which then  through a series of mergers and acquisitions finally became part of Siemens in 2006.


Anonymous said...

The Mansion of our city's namesake, William R Rust, is located at 1001 North I Street, Tacoma Wa. The beautiful Home is about 5 miles (15 minutes) away from here. It's worth is over a million dollars and it's awesome.

alex kenner said...

There are actually 12 Ruston Hornsby cars still in existence 8 in Australia 4 of which are owned by myself and 4 cars in the UK