L Gardner & Sons Ltd 1890 - 1995
Lawrence Gardner established a general engineering business in Hulme, Manchester in 1868. The company produced sewing machines, moulds for rubber tyres, bread dough mixers and dentist chairs, among other products. Lawrence Gardner died in 1890, and his sons continued the business as L Gardner & Sons Ltd. The company began manufacturing dynamos in 1892 and by May 1894 started manufacturing internal combustion engines on the Otto four-stroke cycle that ran on town gas. By 1897, the company was experimenting with oil fuelled engines and switching from horizontal to vertical engine production.
The company moved to larger premises in Patricroft, Manchester in 1899, in an area that later became the Barton Hall Industrial Estate. Diesel engine production was established by 1903 and this type became popular as marine diesel engines. During the First World War (1914-1918), the company manufactured munitions, gun parts and tank engines. In 1930, the revolutionary L2 engine was developed for use in buses and lorries. This engine type subsequently led to the development of rail traction engines. By the end of the 1930s, the company was employing 2,800 people in a site occupying over 30,000 square metres and manufacturing around 3,500 engines per year. The company's heyday was in the 1950s and 1960s, when its diesel engines led the field for bus, lorry, rail and marine transport.
Along with other heavy industries, L Gardner & Sons suffered a decline in the 1970s and eventually became a subsidiary of Hawker Siddeley in 1977. It was later sold off to Perkins Engines of Peterborough in 1986. Automotive engine production ceased in 1994, but marine engine production continued. With its acquisition by L Gardner Group Plc, the company ceased all engine production and focused on the supply of spare parts and repair of existing engines.