A study of the first ten years of oil engine manufacture has produced some interesting sets of figures that are presented in a series of tables. There are in fact eleven years covered in the exercise, but in the first year only two engines were sold. Edward Blackstone acquired the sole right to exploit the Carter Brother’s engine patents in a licensing agreement dated 18th September 1896. A month later the first Stamford built engines left the works. These engines carried the serial numbers 10497 and 11543. The first, a 4˝ hp, was sold to a customer in Tralee, Ireland; the second, a 1˝ hp, to a customer in Birmingham. No more left the works until February the following year.
Table 1 helps to explain, or illustrate, some of the anomalies of the company’s engine numbering and dating. It can be seen that the serial numbers allocated do not match the quantity of engines produced. For the first three or four years the serial numbers appear in a random sequence. After this the numbers are usually found in short runs, from five to fifteen, with blocks of unused numbers between them. There is no obvious reason for allocating numbers in this way. It is possible that the missing numbers were used for other pieces of machinery, mills perhaps, but there is no evidence to suggest what these may be.
|Year of Manf.||Serial Number start||Serial Number End||Total Produced|
|Total Engines Produced||2575|
Later when production levels rose to much higher levels there was no definite cut-off, test dates overlapped into the following, often by several weeks: In some cases even longer. For example; three engines with consecutive numbers sold to Antoun Bros. Of Alexandria were each tested in a different year. No. 143731 was tested 21 December 1922, No.143732 tested 19 March 1923, and No. 143733 on 23 November 1924.
One sometimes hears an engine owner claim that his engine is very rare or the only one of its kind. Is he right or indulging in a flight of fancy? Table 2 shows how many of each size of engine was sold in the period under review. It should be noted that the table does not take into account the various changes in design or layout that took place during these early years. Few of these changes are recorded in the company’s engine registers. An exception to this was the change from the bent (forged) crank shaft to the slab (balanced) crank shaft. This took place gradually during 1904-1905. The first balanced crank was fitted to engine No. 43598 in June 1904; the last forged crank was installed in No. 47060 in March 1905.
|Engine Size||Qty Produced||Engine Size||Qty Produced|
|1/2 hp||3||12 hp||91|
|1 hp||1||12-1/2 hp||1|
|1-1/4 hp||41||13 hp||1|
|1-1/2 hp||49||13-1/2 hp||1|
|2 hp||127||14 hp||67|
|2-1/2 hp||2||15 hp||2|
|3 hp||170||16 hp||34|
|3-1/2 hp||84||17 hp||87|
|4 hp||97||20 hp||11|
|4-1/2 hp||1||21 hp||11|
|5 hp||383||22 hp||20|
|5-1/2 hp||1||26 hp||41|
|6 hp||1||30 hp||2|
|6-1/2 hp||559||35 hp||18|
|7 hp||12||42 hp||2|
|8 hp||489||50 hp||5|
|9 hp||7||55 hp||1|
|10 hp||106||60 hp||1|
|Total Engines Produced||2575|
So where did these two and a half thousand engines go? Obviously the home market was the largest with 1,450 engines being sold in the UK. At this period Ireland was still a single country within the United Kingdom. As Table 3 shows, the British Empire and countries under British influence were a good source of export orders. The largest importers of Blackstone engines were Australia and New Zealand. Almost a quarter of the firm’s production went to these two countries. Three main agents were responsible: Clutterbuck Bros, whose Adelaide branch sold 412, McArthur & Co of Sidney, sold 141 and Andrews and Beavan of Christchurch, New Zealand sold 88. These figures are quite surprising, as the first engines did not go to Australia until 1901 and New Zealand until 1902. The remaining seven engines went to other dealers or direct to customers.
|Country||No of Engines||Country||No of Engines|
North America does not feature at all, probably because of have an engine manufacturing industry of its own. South America, although only recording two sales in this period, was to develop in later years into a profitable market through the efforts of A.Pruden & Co. of Buenos Aires.
The accuracy of the table is obviously affected by the number of destinations that are not identified in the registers. Some agents such as Viethardt & Hall and Palmer & Co. may have been overseas agents but also to have had UK customers. The name Marshall causes some difficulty. It appears in the registers as Marshall, Marshall & Co., Marshall & Sons Ltd., Marshalls of Gainsborough, Marshall (G’boro) Bombay and Marshall Sons & Co. With some the destination appears to be obvious, in others it is not clear at all. This naturally effects how the distribution of engines in the United Kingdom (see Table 4 below) is calculated. For example the figure for Lincolnshire is much smaller than one would expect it to be.
|Brecknockshire||20||Co Waterford||1||Isle of Man||2||Rutland||10|
|Buckinghamshire||2||County Wicklow||3||Isle of Wight||3||Shropshire||93|
In addition some customers’ names have no address entered. So, from which of three Barhams did Mr Arter purchase a dozen engines of various sizes during these ten years? Who, and where, were Hearle & Son who bought a 12 hp engine in 1906?Such details were of little importance to the clerk who made these records. Probably more detailed information was held elsewhere in the company’s files. Sadly these other files no longer exist. However, although such omissions are frustrating, they do not diminish the overall picture of Blackstone’s sales distribution.