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History of Lister Petter | PowerMark

History of Lister Petter

British engines are sought after for their quality & also the legacy they hold. Genuine UK Parts, like the stock we have here on our site, are highly sought after across the whole Diesel energy industry. PowerMark are proud to stock one of the greatest names in Diesel engine manufacturing, built upon the combined pedigree of two classic companies, Lister Petter.

Who Was Lister?

Lister Petter has its origins as a Diesel powerhouse back in 1867 and was originally known as R A Lister & Company. The company was founded to produce agricultural machinery in Dursley, Gloucestershire, by Sir Robert Ashton Lister. Lister decided to form the company out of the former Howard’s Lower Mill after a falling out with his father.

By 1889 Robert had seen some success and was now in possession of the rights to manufacture and sell Danish engineer Mikael Pedersen’s new Cream Separator. These innovative devices created cream of a regular consistency. They were marketed in the UK and British Empire as “The Alexandra Cream Separator”. The success of the cream separator resulted in Pedersen joining Lister in Dursley. Together they founded the Dursley Pedersen Cycle Company in 1899.

By the early 1900s, R.A. Lister had expanded into a variety redesigned Pedersen’s cream separator, expanded the ever-popular lines of sheep shearing machinery, was producing milk churns and wooden barrels for butter, and was even using the off-cuts developed a successful line of wood-based garden furniture.

Early R.A Lister Engines

In 1909 Lister acquired manufacturing rights from the London-based firm of F.C. Southwell & Co. for their design of petrol-driven engines and broke into the engine industry for the first time. During World War I, the factory was focused solely on War Department production, producing petrol engines, lighting sets and munitions with a largely female workforce.

After the war, Sir Robert Lister retired and turned management at Dursley over to his grandsons (sons of Charles Ashton Lister CBE) Robert, Frank, Percy, and George together with A. E. Mellerup. Developing foreign competition meant that the manufacturing of milk churns and barrels ceased, and the oversupply of second-hand ex-military engines and lighting sets reduced the company’s profit considerably. The company was eventually turned around with the introduction in 1926 of the Lister Auto-Truck, a small monowheel tractor used to move goods around factories, railway stations and dockyards the world over. The Lister Auto-Truck reached massive popularity thanks to its reliable engine, and production continued until 1973.

The firm went through a period of significant growth and prosperity in the 1920s and 1930s. The company began running a 24-hour manufacturing process, expanding its range of products, and supplying to around 6000 UK customers and many more worldwide.

Lister Petter Diesel Engines

Sir Robert died in 1929, and in the same year, Lister’s design of the “CS” Diesel engine was made. With one cylinder and producing 9 horsepower (6.7 kW), it became known as the Lister 9-1. This was quickly followed by the 5-1, 10-2, 18-2 and 38-4, all in 1930; the 27-3 in 1931; and 3-1, CD and CE in 1933. Lister engines were traditionally painted a mid-range shade of Brunswick Green, which continues to be used today by Lister Petter. The CS is a slow running (600 rpm) reliable engine, suitable for driving electric generators or irrigation pumps. CS type engines gained a reputation for longevity and reliability, especially in Commonwealth countries, to which they were widely exported. Some CS engines ran practically continuously for decades in agricultural, industrial, and electrical applications. By 1936 Lister was producing 600 engines across a range of 80 different sizes and types of Diesel and petrol models, most of which were small at around 1.5 to 3 hp. These could be bought stand-alone (many were used in the construction industry), or powering a complementary range of pumps.


Lister saw massive success and was still run by the Lister family, but in 1986 Hawker Siddeley merged Lister and rival, Petter Diesel, to form a new company, Lister Petter Ltd. Nowadays, Lister Petter still create powerful Diesel engines, with the latest innovations, made right in Gloucestershire. We’re proud to stock the latest genuine Lister Petter parts, right here in the UK at PowerMark. Check our site today.

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