The Kerr Engine Company Limited Page

The Kerr Brothers Engine and Foundry Company, Walkerville, Ontario

The Kerr Engine Company Limited, Walkerville, Ontario

1923
Circa 1929

 

Circa 1925
Circa 1925

 

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We don't know much about The Kerr Engine Company Limited. We know that the company was founded in 1872 by Robert Mason Kerr and his brother William. The plant was originally located in Sandwich Township, but was moved to Walkerville in 1876. In 1890 they incorporated as the Kerr Engine Co., Limited. Robert Kerr, president of the Kerr Engine Co., died at his home in Walkerville some time in 1923. Harry O. Kerr was either the son or nephew of Robert, and he became president and general manager. After the death of the president, Harry O. Kerr, in December 1945, his brother, Edward, carried on the business along with another member. Then after a serious illness of the two members of the firm remaining, the company closed in 1949. Bawden Industries purchased the designs, patterns, jigs and fixtures as well as the manufacturing and sales rights of the Kerr Engine Co. Ltd in 1949.

From an ad in Water & pollution control: Volume 87, 1949, the company was described as manufacturers of hydrants, valves, valve boxes, indicator posts, floor stands, etc.

From a company slogan: "Others have copied our designs, but KERR quality is what tells the story. Insist on Genuine "Kerr" Valves being supplied you, and get what you "pay" for. THE KERR ENGINE CO. LIMITED Valve Specialists WALKERVILLE"

 

 

 
Petrolia Ontario City Spec Model Hydrant

 

The town of Petrolia had one of the first water systems in Ontario. This was due to several factors. For one, it was an oil town and therefore more prone to fires than the average town. For another, the wells were polluted with salt water and the creek was polluted with oil. Water was brought in by tank wagon and sold for a penny a pail. People had to put up with this for 25 years.

In 1892, Petrolia had an agreement with the Petrolia Water Works Company (PWW), a private firm, to provide water for the town. It is unknown how extensive the water system was, or how many hydrants were installed. The PWW company was unorganized, financially and mechanically. The wells and the company failed.

In 1895, the town council commissioned Willis Chipman of Toronto to build a new public water and sewer system. The new town owned system was sometimes referred to as "the Petrolia Water Works" but was later known as the Petrolia Public Utilities Commission. Chipman suggested a pipeline from Lake Huron, since local wells were no good. Chipman had his crews in the field by March 1896.

The valves for the water system came from Doherty Mfg. Co. of Sarnia (another hydrant manufacturer). The fire hydrants came from the Kerr Engine Co. Limited of Walkerville. Some of the pipe came from Hamilton but they could not supply enough. As a result, the St. Lawrence Foundry (another hydrant manufacturer) was contracted to supply the rest of the pipe. This partnership between companies could explain why the Kerr Engine Co and St. Lawrence Foundry produced hydrants of the same design.

The pipe started being laid by July 1896 and by Dec 1896, all the pipe was installed. The first waterworks test for fire pressure took place in Jan 12, 1897. At this point, Chipman had installed seven gate valves, four automatic air valves and four blow-off valves. By the time it was all finished, Petrolia had one of the finest water systems in all of Ontario.

 

In the picture above: Petrolia receives brand new Kerr Engine Co. hydrants in 1896.

 


Front view
Nozzles: 2x 2.5" 1x 4"
Model: Petrolia City Spec
Date: Unknown
On barrel front: The Kerr Engine Co. Limited, Walkerville Ont.
Front view without operating nut cover. Back view
Nozzles: 2x 2.5" 1x 4"
Model: Petrolia City Spec
Date: Unknown
On barrel back: W Chipman, C.E Engineer Toronto.

Back view without operating nut cover.

 

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Front Logo Back Logo

 

 

 
Small Model Unknown #1

 

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Front view
Nozzles: 2x 2.5"
Model: Small
Date: 1909
On barrel front: The Kerr Engine Co. Limited, Walkerville Ont. 1909
Back view
Nozzles: 2x 2.5"
Model: Small
Date: 1909
On barrel back: blank
Side view Side view Logo view

 

 
Front view
Nozzles: 2x 2.5" 1x 4.5"
Model: Small
Date: Unknown
On barrel front: The Kerr Engine Co. Limited, Walkerville Ont.
We do not have one of these hydrants in our museum. If you can provide us with one or know of where we can obtain one, please e-mail us.

 

 

 
Large Model Unknown #2

 

 
Front view
Nozzles: 2x 2.5"
Model: Large
Date: 1912
On barrel front: The Kerr Engine Co. Limited, Walkerville Ont.
 Logo View We do not have one of these hydrants in our museum. If you can provide us with one or know of where we can obtain one, please e-mail us.

 

We assume that on the front of this hydrant it reads: The Kerr Engine Co. Limited, Walkerville Ont.
Back view
Nozzles: 2x 2.5"
Model: Large
Date: 1901
On barrel Back: Willis Chipman Engineer, 1901
We do not have one of these hydrants in our museum. If you can provide us with one or know of where we can obtain one, please e-mail us.

 

 

 
Model Unknown #3

 

1923 Print ad

 

We do not have one of these hydrants in our museum. If you can provide us with one or know of where we can obtain one, please e-mail us.
Front view
Nozzles: 2x 2.5"
Model: Large
Date: Unknown
On barrel front: The Kerr Engine Co. Limited, Walkerville Ont.
Front view
Nozzles: 2x 2.5"
Model: Large
Date: 1918
On barrel front: The Kerr Engine Co. Limited, Walkerville Ont.
Logo view
Bonnet view
Kerr Engine Co. Limited, Walkerville Ont
 

 

 

 
Model Unknown #4

 

This hydrant appears to be a Ludlow List 75 type hydrant. It also seems to be a clone of the Terminal City Iron Works TC-1 slide gate hydrant model. The only visible difference is that the Kerr model doesn't have any nut pockets which is typical for the other Ludlow types. Both of these hydrants are missing their proper nozzle caps.
Front view
Nozzles: 2x 2.5"
Model: List 75
Date: Unknown
On barrel back: Made By The Kerr Engine Co. Limited, Walkerville Ont.
Back view
Nozzles: 2x 2.5"
Model: List 75
Date: Unknown
On barrel back: Made By The Kerr Engine Co. Limited, Walkerville Ont.
Side view
Bonnet view
KERR, OPEN, arrow
Logo close up view

 

Front view
Nozzles: 2x 2.5" 1x 4"
Model: List 75
Date: Unknown
On barrel back: Made By The Kerr Engine Co. Limited, Walkerville Ont.
Back view
Nozzles: 2x 2.5" 1x 4"
Model: List 75
Date: Unknown
On barrel back: Made By The Kerr Engine Co. Limited, Walkerville Ont.
 

Bonnet view

OPEN, arrow

Logo close up view

 

 

These are the nozzle caps that we are missing.

 

 

The Kerr hydrant models below appear to be a clone of the Columbian Iron Works "One Piece Barrel" model hydrant. The Kerr Engine Co. models have a cast iron weather cap on the operating nut, and more decorative dimpled nozzle caps. We believe the reason for this is because Kerr simply used the same caps as the Ludlow type hydrant above that was already in production. These models came in 4 1/4" and 5 1/4" sizes. Some models had a frost jacket and others did not.

The Bawden Machine Co. Limited made a copy of the Kerr Engine Co. hydrant and they named their model "The Kerr" as a tribute to the former hydrant maker. You could say it is a clone of a clone.

 

 

 
Model "Non-Jacket" Hydrant

 

Front view
Model: Non-Jacket
Nozzles: 2x 2.5" 1x 4"
Date: 1925
V.O. 4 ¼"
Back view
On barrel: The Kerr Engine Co. Limited, Walkerville, Ont., 4 1/4, Non-Jacket
Side view

Bonnet view.

6 bolts in bonnet

Close up of the lettering as shown on another hydrant.

 


Front view
Model: Non-Jacket
Nozzles: 2x 2.5"
Date: 1941
V.O. 5 ¼"

Back view:

On barrel: The Kerr Engine Co. Limited, Walkerville, Ont., 5 1/4, 150, 1941

Bonnet view.

8 bolts in the bonnet

Note: This hydrant is not marked as "Non-Jacket" but it is identical to one dated 1937 which was marked as "Non-Jacket". Also it is marked as having a 150 PSI rating.

 

 

 
Model 102 Hydrant

 

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6 bolts in the bonnet

Front view
Model: 102
Nozzles: 2x 2.5"
V.O. 4 1/4"

Back view.

On barrel: The Kerr Engine Co. Limited, Walkerville, Ont., 4 1/4, No. 102


We do not have one of these hydrants in our museum. If you can provide us with one or know of where we can obtain one, please e-mail us.

 

 

Please click the icons below to see PDF copies of the patent drawings for the Columbian Iron Works hydrant models.

US1717392 US0978385 US2019919 US2020365 US2100862 CA365232


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