Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Brill Company

In 1847, Johann Georg Brill (later known as John George or J.G.), arrived in Philadelphia with his wife and two children. After working for almost twenty years with Murphy and Allison, the prominent Philadelphia railroad car firm, Brill, with his son Georg Martin, founded J.G. Brill and Son in 1868. The company was located at 31st and Chestnut Streets.

During its more than seventy-year history, the J.G. Brill Company produced over 45,000 railroad cars, buses, and most importantly, trolleys. At its height, Brill was manufacturing between one-third and one-half of the country's trolley cars, as well as being one of the world's largest producers of undercarriages. During World War I, the plant converted almost entirely to the production of war materials for the United States government, as well as for governments of several other Allies. Over 10,000 automotive trucks and ambulances were manufactured by The J.G. Brill Company during World War I for the United States military alone. Firing platforms for howitzers, limbers and caissons for searchlights, radio telegraph units, and hundreds of thousands of shells came out of the Brill factories to support the war effort. Orders from the Allies brought Brill almost $16,000,000 from 1914 to 1918.

At the same time that Brill was growing larger, the market for trolley cars and trolley buses (the company's main product) was diminishing. By the middle of the twentieth century, most American cities had focused their transportation systems around buses, a product Brill did not even begin to manufacture until the 1940s and one that would never be a major component of the Brill line. Within fifteen years of their purchase, several of Brill's acquisitions folded, and by 1937, only one still existed. In the 1930s, Brill became a part of the larger Brill Corporation, which encompassed all of the existing Brill plants as well as Fageol Motor Company, Hall-Scott Motor Car Company, and American Car #38; Foundry Motors Company. By 1940, Brill was out of the trolley car business entirely, and finally, in August 1944, the remaining Brill Corporation subsidiaries had been absorbed by larger companies not affiliated with the industry.

above from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

No comments:

Post a Comment