The company was founded as Hudswell and Clarke in 1860. In 1870 the name was changed to Hudswell, Clarke and Rogers. There was another change in 1881 to Hudswell Clarke and Company. The firm became a limited company in 1899.
The locomotive part of the business is now part of the Hunslet Engine Company. Locomotive-building was always only one part of a diverse product inventory that included underground diesel-powered mining locomotives, hydraulic pit-props and related mining equipment.
In 1911 Hudswell Clarke entered into an agreement with Robert Hudson for the manufacture of narrow gauge locomotives. This arrangement produced sixteen standardised designs, designated 'A' to 'Q', which ranged from four-coupled (0-4-0) 5 hp engines to six-coupled (0-6-0) 55 hp models. The designs were sufficiently flexible to allow for the various track gauges in use. Over the years, 188 locomotives were supplied to these designs.
During World War II the company diversified into armaments, as did so many other engineering companies. In the post-war period Hudswell, Clarke and Co Ltd was closely involved in various secret programmes, including the British nuclear weapon programme. The airframe for the first British nuclear bomb, Blue Danube was manufactured by Hudswell Clarke at its Roundhay Road, Leeds, plant. The airframe for Red Beard, the second generation tactical nuclear bomb, followed with that for Violet Club, the Interim Megaton Weapon; and there were many other projects. All the bombs detonated at the Christmas Island H-bomb tests were contained in airframes designed and built by Hudswell Clarke. The company were also major contributors to other military projects, eg. the Centurion main battle tank conversion into an armoured bridgelayer, that served with the British Army for many years. The contraction of defence manufacturing in the mid-1960s contributed to the sale and demise of the company.
Locations of preserved Hudswell Clarke locomotives include:
Various public domain files declassified by: