Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,457 pages of information and 245,911 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Sharp, Roberts and Co

From Graces Guide
1834. Hibernia

of Manchester

Sharp, Roberts and Company of Faulkner Street (Globe Works) and Great Bridgewater Street (Atlas Works), Manchester were an engineering, machine and locomotive manufacturing company formed by Thomas Sharp and Richard Roberts.


Also connected with Thomas Sharp and Co and Richard Roberts and Co


May 1826 Roberts, Hill and Co and Sharp, Hill and Co were dissolved and re-formed as Sharp, Roberts and Co.

1826 June 24th. Advertisement: 'To the MANUFACTURERS of MANCHESTER and the NEIGHBOURHOOD. THE Patentees of the newly invented POWER LOOM, on which Dr. Birkbeck gave his Lecture at the Mechanics' Institution, in London, on the eighth of June, beg leave to announce that they have made arrangements with Messrs. Sharp, Roberts, and Co. for the Manufacture of them, and have appointed them Sole Agents for granting Licences to use them in this district, at whose Works, in Falkner-street, the Loom may now be inspected. June 23, 1826' [1]

1826 Commenced negotiations with Andre Koechlin to supply a large textile mill and textile machinery factory at Mulhouse.

1828 William Crossley of Sharp, Roberts and Co was listed as a contact in relation to advertised sale of flax mill in Wrexham [2].

1828 Opened the Atlas Works to manufacture textile machinery and machine tools.

1829 'Every one knows that to very great extent, and for an immense variety of purposes, cast iron has superseded the use of wood. There is, however, one purpose to which it is now applied, of which very few of us would dream, namely, the making of billiard table. Messrs. Sharp, Roberts, and Co. of Manchester, are now engaged in making a table, twelve feet long and six feet wide, which, when finished, is expected to be very superior to any wooden table; the surface being made perfectly true by large planing machine ; and as it will not be liable be warped or cracked by variations of humidity or temperature, will always retain its truth.'[3]. Note: An 1838 sale notice for the Horse Shoe Inn in Pendleton included the selling point: 'The billiard room is furnished with of Messrs. Sharp, Roberts and Co's. first rate metal tables'[4]

1831 'A Billiard table has been constructed by Messrs. Sharp, Roberts and Co. of Manchester ; it is of iron, and weighs upwards of 25 cwt.; its extensive superficies has been so levelled by the operation of planing as to ensure its perfect accuracy — the burr marks still remaining, to show the manner of working: it forms a triumphant illustration of what ingenuity and perseverance can produce : for ourselves we do not hesitate to say we never saw such a metallic surface — it will be necessary to preserve it from the corrosive action of damp, which may be effected by solution of gold in nitric ether, if applicable.— Athenieum.'[5]

1833 They had built a few stationary steam engines, and then built a locomotive, Experiment for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. It was a four-wheeled 2-2-0 with vertical cylinders over the leading wheels. After a number of modifications, three similar engines were built for the Dublin and Kingstown Railway. Although they were relatively fast, they were too hard on the track at speed.

1833 Agreement with John George Bodmer to be sole makers of his improved cotton machinery but soon after the agreement was cancelled

1833 Trial of steam-powered coach on Oxford Road, Manchester; it had been designed by Mr Roberts and built by Sharp, Roberts and Co [6].

1834 'Manchester, March 27. A correspondent says - "This day a trial was made with a new steam carriage (built by Messrs. Sharp, Roberts, and Co., of this place) carrying 50 to 60 persons; it went off in great style on the Oxford-road, and did six miles in 20 minutes. This is a rate travelling the common road far surpassing any thing hitherto attempted and will suggest the inquiry whether it will be necessary to go to the expense of making rail roads." [7]

1834 Charles Beyer joined the firm.

1834 Patent for improvements in grinding corn granted to Thomas Sharp and Richard Roberts

1834 Patent for spinning and doubling cotton

1834 Hibernia was a steam locomotive built for the Dublin and Kingstown Railway. The locomotive had vertical cylinders driving via bell cranks and was one of a class of three similar locomotives (including Experiment). Hibernia pulled the first train on the D&KR on 9 October 1834, which consisted of eight carriages.

1835 Description and illustrations of a gear cutting machine [8]

1835 Accepted an order for steam locomotives

1835 Commenced manufacturing the American designed Eclipse Speeder

1835 A slotting machine produced by the company in 1835 is displayed at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry. See Sharp, Roberts and Co: 1835 Slotting Machine.

1836 December 31st. 'The Partnership heretofore subsisting between Thomas Sharp, Thomas Jones Wilkinson, Robert Chapman Sharp, John Sharp, and Richard Roberts, as Engineers and Machine-Makers, at Manchester, in the county of Lancaster, under the firm of Sharp, Roberts, and Co. was this day dissolved by mutual consent, so far as respects the said Thomas Jones Wilkinson and Robert Chapman Sharp, who retire from the said concern.— Witness our hands this 31st day of December 1836. Tho. Sharp. Thomas Jones Wilkinson. Robt. C. Sharp. Jno. Sharp. Richd. Roberts. [9]

1837 A new 2-2-2 locomotive design was produced with horizontal inside cylinders under the smoke box and additional bearings to support the crank axle. Around 600 of these locos were built between 1837 and 1857. Ten of the first were sold to the Grand Junction Railway, with the "Sharpies" becoming a standard to compare with the "Bury" engines.

1838 The company had 3 establishments, in Falkner Street and Great Bridgewater Street, one of which was the Atlas Works where locomotive engines were assembled; Thomas Sharp, John Sharp and Thomas Sharp, Junior were present at the visit of Marshall Soult [10].

1838 The Paris and Orleans Railway ordered five locomotives and also five machine tools for their maintenance workshops (a slotting machine, radial arm drilling machine, small hand planer, machine for boring bearings, a machine called a tour sphérique, but the desciption refers to a machine for cutting the flanks of nuts). See Jean Georges Luc Clarke.

1839 Their 1825 patent for the self-acting mule was extended for a further seven years

1839 The Manchester Mechanics' Institution Exhibition included an iron shaving 63 ft long from a slide lathe at the works of Sharp, Roberts.[11]

1840 Death of two men in a well being sunk at the works in Falkner Street. Hugh Williams had descended into the 25 ft deep pit, and quickly collapsed. A blacksmith's striker, William Daly, went down to assist, and he too collapsed, due to the effect of 'black damp'. Both men were brought out dead by a Mr Bury, after some air had been pumped in by bellows. Mr Willams, of Carter's Court, Chorlton, was about 40, and left a widow and four children. It was stated that he had been a well sinker for 7 or 8 years. Mr Daly was 24, and had been married 3 or 4 months. At the inquest, Benjamin Fothergill stated that the strata in the well consisted of 18 ft of strong clay, then 2 - 2.5 ft of sand, then red sandstone. A candle lowered down was extinguished on reaching about 1 ft above the sand stratum. He was convinced that there was a considerable escape of carbonic gas from some quarter, which he thought was probably from the sand stratum[12]

1841 Listed as Sharp, Roberts and Co, machinists, engineers, boiler makers, etc., 79 Faulkner St and Great Bridgewater St [13].

1841 Thomas Sharp died.

1842 Displayed a 32 ft long machine screw, 'the longest probably ever made', at the Manchester Mechanical Exhibition.[14]

1843 June. The partnership of Sharp, Roberts and Co was dissolved. John Sharp and Thomas Beatt Sharp carried on their part of the business at the Atlas Works in Oxford street and Great Bridgewater street as Sharp Brothers. Richard Roberts carried on business at the Faulkner street Works. [15] (as Richard Roberts and Co)

1845 'Irish Railways. Those eminent mechanical engineers, Messrs. Sharp, Roberts, and Co., of Manchester, have purchased the large concerns near the North Wall, lately in the occupation of Hugh White, and formally the Gas works, for the purpose of establishing a branch of their business in Dublin, for the making of engines, and all kinds of machinery connected with railways.'[16]

Steam Locomotives

Built several broad-gauge locomotives for the Great Western Railway[17]



  • Tiger
  • Leopard
  • Panther
  • Lynx
  • Stag
  • Vulture
  • Hawk
  • Falcon
  • Ostrich
  • Greyhound


  • Gazelle
  • Giraffe
  • Antelope
  • Wolf
  • Zebra

See Also


Sources of information

  1. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 24 June 1826
  2. The Times, 2 August 1828
  3. Worcester Herald, 1 August 1829
  4. Manchester & Salford Advertiser - Saturday 12 May 1838
  5. Mayo Constitution, 6 June 1831
  6. The Morning Post, 20 December 1833
  7. Waterford Mail, 5 April 1834
  8. [1] Verhandlungen des Vereins zur Beförderung des Gewerbfleißes in Preussen, Volume 14, 1835. Text p.67ff, Plates I-IV
  9. Gazette Issue 19464 published on the 7 February 1837
  10. The Manchester Times and Gazette, 21 July 1838
  11. Manchester & Salford Advertiser, 5 January 1839
  12. London Evening Standard, 4 September 1840
  13. Pigot and Slater's Directory of Manchester & Salford, 1841
  14. Manchester Times, 25 June 1842
  15. [2] Gazette Issue 20237 published on the 27 June 1843
  16. Cork Examiner, 24 March 1845
  17. The Engineer 1910/12/16 Supplement
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816