Campbell Gas Engine Company

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This is a backup of the West Yorkshire Archive Service's "Off the Record" wiki from 2015. The live went offline in 2016 and remains unavailable.

The following source list was originally available only on paper in one of the West Yorkshire Archive Service offices. It may have been compiled many years ago and could be out of date. It was designed to act as a signpost to records of interest on a particular historical subject, but may relate only to one West Yorkshire district, or be an incomplete list of sources available. Please feel free to add or update with any additional information.

Campbell Gas Engine Company of Halifax

Hugh Campbell was born in Glasgow in 1860 and after deciding not to go into the Church he became an apprentice in the joinery trade before changing to a career in engineering. He served with several Scottish engineering firms and through the Glasgow Mechanics' Institute he qualified in engineering and came to spend much of his time in designing a gas engine. This was a stationary engine using coal gas as a combustible fuel, a reasonably cheap commodity. The engine was designed for generating electricity and powering machinery in workshops. The acceptance of his design by a Leeds firm brought him to Yorkshire where he was employed for 3 years by Greenwood and Batley Ltd of Armley, experimenting and testing gas engines built to his designs. In 1889 his father was appointed as chief carpet designer for J W and C Ward at Range Bank Mills, Halifax, and Hugh Campbell moved to Halifax to start his own business manufacturing gas engines. He set up a workshop in Stone Dam Works, Well Lane, Halifax, financed by local people who admired his workmanship. A new company was formed - The Campbell Gas Engine Company Ltd and premises were built in Gibraltar Rd, Halifax. Gradually these works were extended from Hopwood Lane to Parkinson Lane. The business expanded with exports to many parts of the world, employing a work force which varied between 600 and 800. During the First World War, when the Company was employed on munitions, up to 1500 men and women were employed. After the war in 1919 there was a serious dispute when Campbell refused to dismiss those men he had employed out of the services, and when resistance was prolonged he recruited considerable numbers who were not trade unionists. The prolonged strike was said to have cost the Company some £150,000. Campbell tried to establish a new business in the grounds of his home, Newstead, but without success. The main works were sold in 1928. After standing empty for 5 years, the works were sold to George Cohen and Company Ltd, machinery merchants who dismantled most of the heavy machinery still remaining. The Halifax firm of machinery merchants, Lewis J Ackroyd Ltd then purchased the buildings and demolished the whole site of some 5 acres. The housing estate, Gibraltar Avenue, was built on the site. Campbell went to work in Blackburn and died aged 90 in 1950.