The company was founded in Manchester in 1811 and had its base at the Atlas Works. Originally it was known as Messrs Sharp Roberts and was a manufacturer of machine tools and cotton spinning machinery; the company’s first locomotive was built in 1833 for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.
The company moved to Glasgow in 1888 and took over Walter Neilson’s Clyde Locomotive Company in Springburn, renaming it the Atlas Works after the Manchester premises.
In 1903 Sharp, Stewart amalgamated with the Glasgow firms Neilson, Reid and Co and Dübs and Co to form the North British Locomotive Company.
It was here that young Jonathan worked with his elder brother John, by then Chief Engineer of the company.