R. Hornsby & Sons Limited

R. Hornsby & Sons Limited

Richard Hornsby & Sons was an engine and machinery manufacturer in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

The roots of the company go back to 1810 when Richard Hornsby and his partner Richard Seaman established a business of brass and iron founders called Seaman & Hornsby. Seaman retired in 1828 and Richard Hornsby took sole charge of the company, which was now making ploughs and seed drills at the Spittlegate Ironworks in Grantham. The company grew to become a major manufacturer of agricultural machinery.

In 1851 Richard Hornsby’s sons, Richard, James and William became partners in the firm which became styled Richard Hornsby & Sons.

The company began to produce steam engines which were used to drive threshing machines for harvesting crops. Hornsbys was incorporated as a limited company in 1877. At this point the company employed around 1,400 people. In 1896 Hornsbys became the first company in Britain to make and sell an oil-engined tractor.

During the First World War, Hornsbys gave up all its normal manufacturing operations in order to produce munitions and engines for the Admiralty.

At the end of the War the company merged with Ruston & Proctor of Lincoln to become Ruston & Hornsby. In 1968 Ruston & Hornsby became part of the General Electric Company.