Kitson & Co. Ltd

Kitson and Company started their existence in 1837 when James Kitson, Charles Todd and James Laird founded an engineering company in Hunslet named Todd, Kitson & Laird. James Kitson and James Laird set their own company in May 1839 at the Airedale Foundry called Laird, Kitson and Co. Laird withdrew from the partnership in 1842 and the firm was then known as Kitson, Thompson and Hewitson to recognise the involvement as the new partners, Isaac Thompson and William Watson Hewitson who joined the compnay. In 1858 the name changed to Kitson and Hewitson when I. Thompson retired, on W.M. Hewitson's death in 1865 the firm took on the name Kitson & Company. The company became limited in 1899.

The first locomotives produced by Todd, Kitson & Laird were ‘Lion’ and ‘Tiger’ which were supplied to the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The first orders for Laird, Kitson & Co. were two locomotives for the North Midland Railway in 1840. In the early days Kitson produced some locomotives from designs produced by Robert Stephenson and Co. as the volume of their orders outstripped their production capacity. In later years, Kitson & Co. went on to develop the Kitson Meyer Articulated locomotive and the Kitson Still Locomotive that fused steam with an internal combustion engine.

The 1920s saw a decline in the company’s fortunes and in 1934 the company was placed into the hands of debenture holders and in 1938 Kinloch & Co., a merchant banker, injected funds into the company and the Locomotive Manufacturer’s Association, of which the company was a member, decided to close Kitson’s locomotive production and the company ceased to exist in 1945 when J.H. McLaren & Co. took over the assets and goodwill.