Please note - A full and in-depth history of the Wolseley company
can be found in David Edgington's book - Wolseley Stationary Engines
which can be purchased online from www.stationaryenginebooks.co.uk
Further details can also be found as a plotted history from
Brief Company and Engine History
The Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Company was founded in 1887
by Frederick York Wolseley of Sydney, Australia and was one of the
first to produce mechnically powered sheep shearing machinery. It
was not until the early 1900's that the company started producing
cream separators to compete with this flourishing new market of
dairy equipment. Following on from this success and to keep up with
rapid demand, the Wolseley company invested in a new production
facility at Witton, Birmingham, England. At the same time an engineering
branch of the company was created to further develop the shearing
equipment and eventually engine production. During the transition
from the original works to the new complex it is thought that engine
experimentation, design and production took place. With the growing
popularity and repuation of engines from firms such as Lister and
Petter, Wolseley quickly took the opportunity to move into this
new market. By producing engines they could offer both the separator
and also the engine required to drive it and at the same time enter
into a market of opportunity by providing engines to carry out other
duties - such as shearing sets etc. This was around 1909 and it
would appear to tie in with the move from the original works to
the site at Witton.
The development of the stationary engines reflected the era. The
first engines were vertical single cylinder units of a similar layout
and style to the likes of the Lister J and L types which were already
very successful. The range of engines produced can be found here
listed in the generally accepted order of production.
Many engines were exported to Australia and New Zealand for the
sheep shearing industry, this is reflected in the fact that many
of the early and rarer Wolseley engines reside in preservation here.
Following almost 70 years of engine production and development
the company ceased producing engines in 1975. The last air cooled
engine rolled off the production line and was eventually to be acquired
for preservation around 20 years later and can be seen here.
The Wolseley company is still in existance today as a leading worldwide
supplier of heating and plumbing products.
Some historical Wolseley links:-