Burn & Co Ltd

From FIBIwiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Burn & Co Ltd


An engineer company in Howrah was started in 1871 by a retired Colonel Archibald Swinton. The first record of the company was in 1809 when Alexander Burn became head of the company along with a Mr Currie and called ‘Burn & Currie’. Currie left in 1831 and the company became ‘Alexander Burn & Co’, later contracted to ‘Burn & Co’. ‘Burn & Co Ltd’ was formed in 1895 to acquire and carry on as a going concern the business of ‘Burn & Co’ [1].

By the early 1900’s the company had its head office at 12 Mission Row, Calcutta, a site in Howrah known as the Howrah Iron Works and offices in Bombay, Raneegee, Jubblepore, Rangoon, Singapore and Straits Settlement. Its UK based company was ‘Burn, Craddock & Co’ with offices in London and Glasgow [1].

‘Burn & Co’ also owned large factories at Jubbulpore and several at Raneegunge which supplied tiles, bricks, stoneware, pipes and refectories; and a brickworks at Durgapur. It was also a civil engineering company and built many public buildings and factories. It built the Calcutta Tramway system and most of Calcutta’s drainage system [1]

Wagon Manufacturing

The Howrah Iron Works became a major railway contactor from the very beginning of railways in India in the 1850’s. With the rapid expansion of Railways, Burn & Company started manufacturing Railway rolling stock at Howrah to cater to the increasing demand. [2] [3]

By 1930 the works covered an area of 35 acres (14ha), a Warehouse of 18,000 sq.feet(1700 sq.mtr) and several departments – Rolling Stock, Bridge Building, Permanent Way, Shipbuilding, Foundry and General Engineering. A broad gauge(BG) siding ran through the Warehouse and linked the site to both the East Indian Railway(EIR) and Bengal Nagpur Railway(BNR) and to two jetties on the Hooghly River [1].

‘Burn & Co’ produced both passenger carriages and wagons for many Indian mainline railways. By 1896 they were manufacturing coal tubs for collieries. From 1912 they produced their own design of railway motor trolley, fitted with a 4hp air cooled engine capable of carrying six passengers at 30mph(50kph) [1].

Railway Construction and Operation

Managing Agents

‘Burn & Co’ were also Managing Agents for a number of businesses. The following have been identified:-

  • Indian Standard Wagon Co Ltd founded in 1918 at Burnpur as a specialist company manufacturing railway wagons, carriages and railway equipment. The company was established after the Government of India made public their intention of annually buying a larger quantity of rolling stock from private companies in India
  • Indian Iron and Steel Company established in 1918 in the town of Hirapur, the name of the town was changed to Burnpur (date unknown) but the works are still known as the ’Hirapur Works’
  • Raniganj Pottery Works Railway, the Pottery Works at Raniganj (with alternative spellings Raneegunge and Raneegungee) was established in 1868, it manufactured various pottery wares and ceramic insulators as a minor product

Later Developments

Martin, Burn & Company In 1946 ‘Burn & Co Ltd’ merged with ‘Martin & Company’ to form ‘Martin, Burn & Company’ [5]

Burn Standard Company Limited In 1975 ‘Burn & Co Ltd’ merged with the ‘Indian Standard Wagon Co Ltd’ (founded in 1918, at Burnpur) to become the ‘Burn Standard Company Limited’ and developed excellence in manufacturing Railway wagons, forged components, springs etc. [6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 “Industrial Railways and Locomotives of India and South Asia” compiled by Simon Darvill. Published by ‘The Industrial Railway Society’ 2013. ISBN 978 1 901556 82-7. Available at http://irsshop.co.uk/India. Reference: Entry WB40 page ....
  2. Google Books "Business and Politics in India by Stanley A. Kochanek";Retrieved 4 Aug 2017
  3. Google Books "Private Investment in India, 1900-1939 by Amiya Kumar Bagchi";Retrieved 4 Aug 2017
  4. “Administration Report on Railways 1918” page 54, pdf page 62. ‘’Note Deoghur is incorrect spelling’’;Retrieved 4 Aug 2017
  5. Wikipedia "Martin, Burn & Company";Retrieved 4 Aug 2017
  6. "Burn Standard Company History";Retrieved 4 Aug 2017