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The Garrett Company logo detail on side of lorry cab
Richard Garrett & Sons was a manufacturer of agricultural machinery, steam engines and trolleybuses. Their factory was Leiston Works, in Leistonmarker, Suffolk, United Kingdommarker.

The company was active under its original ownership between 1778 and 1932. The company joined the Agricultural & General Engineers (AGE) combine in 1919, and the combine entered receivership in 1932.

The company was purchased by Beyer Peacock in 1932 after the collapse of AGE. The business continued as Richard Garrett Engineering Works until the works finally closed in 1981.

Today, part of the factory is preserved as the Long Shop Steam Museummarker. The rest has been demolished and the land used for housing.

In the 19th Century Richard Garrett's factory was THE pioneering agricultural engineers. It grew to a huge business employing around 2,500 people. It was Richard Garrett III, grandson of the companies founder, who really made the business take-off. In 1851 he visited the amazing 'Great Exhibition' in London, there he saw some brand new American manufacturing ideas. He thought they would be perfect for building steam machinery. Richard Garrett III then came up with something very revolutionary, 'The Long Shop', so called because of its length. The idea he had was something called 'Flow Line Production'. The machine would start at one end of the building and as it made its way along the building, it would stop at various stages where new parts would be added to the machine. There was also an upper level where other parts were made, they would be lowered over a balcony and then fixed onto the machine on the ground level. When the machine reached the end of the shop, it would be complete. He came up, many years before Henry Ford, with the World's First "Production Line"


Portable engines

The majority of the steam engines produced by Garrett were portable engines – combined with their fixed steam engines and semi-portables, they represented 89% of the works' output.

Traction engines

Garrett produced a wide range of traction engines and ploughing engines, 49% of which were exported.

Steam rollers

The construction of steam rollers was generally apportioned to Aveling & Porter by the AGE combine, limiting the production of these engines by Garrett. 90% of the rollers produced by Garrett were exported. Garrett rollers were produced under license under the name "Ansaldo-Garrett" by Gio. Ansaldo & C. of Italy.

Steam tractors

Richard Garrett and Sons are perhaps best known for their steam tractors, the most popular design of which was the Number 4 compound tractor, commonly referred to as the "4CD".

Steam wagons

Side view of Garrett steam wagon 34841 of 1926
The company produced steam wagons of both the undertype and overtype configurations. Their first steam wagons were three relatively unsuccessful undertypes constructed between 1904 and 1908.

The failed undertype wagons were followed by a relatively successful line of overtypes, the first being constructed in 1909. These wagons were developed using the experience Garrett's designers had gained producing the tractors. The majority of these wagons were fitted with superheaters, a feature used as a marketing point against the un-superheated Foden wagons. The overtype wagons were initially produced in a 5-ton capacity, with a 3-ton design following in 1911. By the early 1920s, the overtype wagon market was declining in the face of competition from undertype steam wagons and petrol wagons. In 1926 a last-ditch attempt was made to produce an updated design of 6-ton capacity using components from the new undertype designs, but only 8 were produced. Overall, 693 overtypes were produced to the firm's designs.

The final Aveling & Porter overtype wagons were assembled by Garrett, under the arrangements made at the formation of AGE.

By 1920 the success of the Sentinel undertypes was evident, and Garretts decided to re-enter the undertype wagon market. Their first prototype was produced in 1921, driven by a two-cylinder engine with piston valves actuated by Joy valve gear. Unusually for the time, the wagon was fitted with Timken roller bearings on the crankshaft, countershaft and axles. This design was built under license as the "Adamov-Garrett" by Adamov of Czechoslovakiamarker from 1925. In 1926 a prototype rigid six-wheeled wagon was produced. In 1927 a poppet valve engine replaced the earlier design, this being used until the end of production in 1932. 310 wagons were produced in this second phase of undertype construction.

Electric vehicles

From 1916 Garrett produced a range of electric vehicles. Their first foray into the market was with a 3 1/2 ton battery-powered vehicle, intended for local deliveries. They later produced trolleybuses and refuse collection vehicles.

Diesel wagons

Garrett were a pioneer in the construction of diesel-engined road vehicles, and their two 1928-built experimental Crude Oil Wagons, known as COWS in the works, are believed to be the first British-built wagons fitted with diesel engines from new. These vehicles were constructed using the chassis and running gear from the undertype wagon designs, one a four-wheeler and the other a six-wheeler, both fitted with a McLaren Benz engine.

The COWS proved the concept of a diesel wagon, and in 1930 the company embarked on designing a production vehicle. Due to the company being part of the AGE combine, the engine chosen for the design was a Blackstone's design, the BHV6. The first vehicle, designated the GB6, was completed in 1931 and a test programme was initiated. The venture was not successful, primarily due to the unreliability of the Blackstone engine, and the perilous economic state of the works at that time. After the company was bought by Beyer Peacock, a half-hearted attempt was made to market the design with a Gardner engine fitted, but no wagon was ever produced.


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