William Marshall at Gainsborough founded the firm of Marshalls in 1848. At first the firm manufactured mill gearing and traded as machinists. Soon they were making threshing machines and in 1856 the first portable steam engine was manufactured, as well as boilers, some being supplied to Russia for the railways. At the same time, the manufacture of steam stationary engines of all types commenced.
In 1908, the first oil tractor was produced, but during 1914-18 Britannia works was given over to the War effort, so it was not until 1919 the company reverted to its previous product range. In 1930, the firm of Clayton & Shuttleworth was acquired; the first 15/30 diesel tractor was produced and was followed by the Model M in 1938. However, in 1939, the factory was again devoted to the war effort.
The form quickly reverted to normal conditions after the war and established itself as a leading tractor manufacturer with the Field Marshall single-cylinder series, introduced in 1945, many of which can still be seen today at vintage rallies in use for belt working. In 1946, the firm acquired John Fowler & Company (Leeds) Ltd and to mark its centenary in 1948, introduced the Marshall Fowler VF crawler.
The 70hp Marshall MP6 model was introduced in 1956, but only 200 were made and 190 of those exported, making it very rare today. 1956 also heralded the introduction of the Track Marshall crawler, which continued into the 1960s, alongside a range of Marshall diesel road-rollers. In 1968, Marshalls was absorbed into the Thos. W Ward Group and in 1969 all tractors were traded under the joint name of Marshall Fowler Ltd.
In 1974, a new tractor production plant was opened, and Wards sold their interest in the company to British Leyland who renamed the company Aveling Marshall Ltd. The main products were crawler tractors and wheeled shovel loaders at this time. In 1979 BL sold off their special products division and Aveling Marshall came into the ownership of local businessman, Mr Charles Nickerson. He continued to trade under the name Track Marshall Ltd.
In 1981 Mr Nickerson acquired the Leyland wheeled tractor business and carried on production of the blue range of Leyland tractors, and the company was renamed Marshalls Sons & Company Ltd in 1982. In 1984, Marshalls introduced the own range of 100 Series tractors in the familiar beige/yellow colour, which were based on the previous Leyland offerings.