Ashbury’s Offices and Canteen Ashton Old Road Openshaw
Ashbury’s Carriage Works was established by John Ashbury at Commercial Street, Knott Mill in 1837 but soon moved to larger premises at Oxford Road, Ardwick. In 1841 (or 1846) it moved to a site adjoining the Manchester Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway at 886 Ashton Old Road, Openshaw. At its height in the mid-19th century, it was the largest manufacturer of railway carriages, wagons, horse drawn trams, boilers and plant in the country, exporting rolling stock, cast iron railway bridges and water towers across the world. The works employed upwards of 2000 workers and occupied over 20 acres of land. The offices and dining hall, designed in 1859 by Edward Walters, were at the north end of the site.
Ashbury’s produced almost all the rolling stock for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway and for the Great Central Railway. It also produced stock for the Metropolitan Railway and the first 30 carriages for the City and South London underground railway as well as carriages for the Ffestiniog Railway. An entire area of the works, known as the Far East Shed, was devoted to the manufacture of carriages and other railway plant specifically for export to the far east. Water towers manufactured at Ashbury’s works still exist in Tasmania and carriages are still in use on the North Borneo Railway, running a leisure steam locomotive from Tanjung Aru to Papar. When, in the late 1860s following the American Civil War, an American Army engineer invented the refrigerated boxcar for the shipping of meat, it was Ashbury’s works that were commissioned to build and export it.
In the early years of the twentieth century the business was transferred to Saltley in Birmingham when it merged with Ashbury, Brown and Marshalls. This was absorbed into the Metropolitan Amalgamated Railway Carriage and Wagon Company Ltd which later became the Metro Cammell|Metropolitan-Cammell Carriage and Wagon Co Ltd. The works ceased production about 1925 and subsequently became a goods marshalling yard.
Reference Builder 16 March 1872 page 201 - list of works by Edward Walters