Clayton celebrates 90th Anniversary

Clayton celebrates 90th Anniversary
June 2, 2021 Jessica Salt

Ninety years of innovation and excellence 

In a year of unprecedented global challenges, 2021 is a year of celebration for Clayton Equipment Ltd as it marks 90 years since Stanley Reid Devlin established the company in 1931. History shows that Clayton has gone from humble beginnings to an unsurpassed global reputation in providing a significant contribution to the worldwide locomotive industry.

At a Team meeting held on Friday 29th May to mark the 90th Anniversary, Clive Hannaford Managing Director and Steve Gretton Chairman cut a celebratory cake and presented staff with a 90th Anniversary gift.

The cake in the shape of the latest Clayton CBD90 Hybrid locomotive was shared amongst 40 staff members who all received a slice of cutting-edge design!

Clayton’s success can be attributed to the British manufacturer’s unrivalled reputation for building enduring, long-lasting, low maintenance machinery that can withstand some of the toughest job site conditions. For 90 years, quality has been Clayton’s priority and this philosophy has never changed, despite the ever-changing and increasingly difficult economy.

Clayton – the early years  

It was formed in 1931 by Stanley Devlin to supply spare parts for products manufactured by Clayton Carriage & Wagon Equipment, which had gone into receivership. Initially working on his own, Devlin, who had been Chief Draughtsman for the Ertswhile company, managed to grow the business and diversify, relocating to an office at International Combustion Ltd in Derby. Clayton was able to help meet a need for steelwork and products as diverse as farm buildings, elevators and conveyors following World War Two. A move of premises to Hatton in Derbyshire in 1946 saw the business equip itself with machinery to build a wide rang of locos and industrial equipment. While many orders were for export, others were produced for British Railways.

After the decision by the National Coal Board in the 1960’s to stop using pit ponies Clayton developed the world’s first rubber tyre mining loco, with an impressive performance both in terms of haulage and active effort, which became a standard type for coal mine use.

In March 2005, the firm’s purchase from Rolls-Royce as a management buyout saw it become an independent company once again and move from Hatton to its current premises in Burton Upon Trent.

During 2007, the company developed the world’s largest steel tyred flameproof locomotive, which offered unrivalled haulage capacity. This was followed in 2009 with creation of the largest ever rubber tyred flameproof locomotive.

Today’s Clayton

 Over the last decade, Clayton has remained at the forefront of locomotive technology – “It’s the ability to be flexible and offer truly tailored solutions to buyers” that Clive Hannaford Managing Director believes makes the company stand out: “We build from 1.75 tonnes up to 150 tonnes. It’s such a broad product range that no-one else will do. Having a bespoke offering and giving the customer what they want with great service is driving our business forward’.

During recent times, Clayton-built products have played key roles in major infrastructure projects. In 2018 the firm completed work on a construction train, which at 500 meters length is the worlds longest. In the same year seven 40 tonne locomotives which were the first in the world to be Stage IV emissions compliant were produced for work on the Crossrail project.

In 2019 Tata Steel UK placed an initial order for three 90 tonne CBD90 Hybrid Bo-Bo locomotives capable of moving 2,500 tonnes at its Port Talbot works in Wales. The locos were the largest to built in the UK for more than 20 years. Subsequently Tata confirmed purchase of a further four locomotives.

For Clayton its hybrid designs have led to a record number of new contracts and forward orders, which has meant an increase in its workforce by 40% to cope. “We’ve had to employ a lot more people, including fitters, contracts managers and design engineers across all departments to just meet that demand”, says Hannaford.

This increase in the workforce compliments the new contract Clayton has agreed with Beacon Rail Leasing for the supply of 15 CBD90 Hybrid locomotives with an option of more to follow and assist in completion of the two CBD80 locomotives (an 80 tonne variant of the Hybrid Bo-Bo) being built for Sellafield Ltd, the subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Most recently Clayton Equipment gained a new Class 18 classification for its forthcoming CBD90 hybrid battery/diesel-electric locomotives, with Rolling Stock Library (RSL).


The future for clayton

 Clayton has strong brand heritage and reliable products – the future remains firmly with metro and shunting locomotives, along with mining locomotives, locomotive conversions and rail equipment seeing the company expand and safeguard another 90 years of innovation.

Today, Clayton is turning towards more environmentally friendly forms of traction, of all sizes, using the latest technology to meet emissions standards.

In a market dictated by regulations and driven by customers the shift from Diesel to low emissions is to an extent being forced on people. To facilitate low emissions, Clayton adopt a broad approach to spark customer intertest. Being flexible and small enough to say, ‘we’ll do this’ Clayton look at the engineering problems and come up with a solution. Ask what do you want? How are you going to do it? Then design it to the customer requirements – not the other way around.

Following the Tata contract the market has grown significantly and the interest and demand for Clayton products is huge. “We’ve got enquires for more than 600 locos,” says Hannaford predicting that if realised it would keep the factory going for many more years towards its next major anniversary.

After 90 years of innovation there continues to be plenty of expressions of interest in Clayton’s products and Clive Hannaford says, “It is a privilege to lead Clayton Equipment, it is a proud company that has never forgotten its roots nor its traditional values of providing the highest quality service by innovative thinking, excellence of execution and solid, yet flexible, partnerships with our impressive list of clients”.

 Steve Gretton Executive Chairman, added, “Clayton Equipment’s 90th Anniversary, is a time to celebrate – a time to reflect on the past and look towards the future with anticipation”.

Clayton Equipment is the only UK locomotive manufacturer, capable of designing and manufacturing locomotives from 1.75 tonnes to 150 tonnes, and with track gauges from 457mm to 1,676mm. The company designs and builds battery, Diesel, overhead (trolley), battery-Diesel and battery-Diesel-3rd rail hybrid locomotives, to over 60 countries, supporting the industrial depot, metro, mainline, tunnelling and mining industries.