Ferdinand Schichau had studied engineering in Berlin, the Rheinland and Great Britain. In 1837, he founded the engineering institution, later known as F. Schichau GmbH, Maschinen- und Lokomotivfabrik (F. Schichau engineering and locomotive factory) in Elbing. It started with the production of hydraulic presses and diggers; in 1860, it began to produce locomotives for the Prussian Eastern Railway. From 1867 locomotive construction began in earnest, and three years later, the factory was connected to the railway network. In the early 20th century, the firm was one of several that built the Prussian P 8, the most numerous steam locomotive of its day.