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British Industrial History

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Thomas Edward Vickers

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Thomas Edward Vickers (1833–1915) of Vickers

1833 July 9th. Born the son of Edward Vickers and his wife Ann Naylor. See Vickers Genealogy

1841 Living at Weston Bank, Eccleshall Bierlow, Sheffield: Edward Vickers (age c37), a Merchant. With his wife Ann Vickers (age c37) and their children George N. Vickers (age c10), Thomas Edward Vickers (age c7), Sarah Ann Vickers (age c5), Albert Vickers (age 2 years 6 months), and Frederic Vickers (3 months). Three servants.[1]

1851 Living at Firs Hill, Pitsmoor, Sheffield: Edward Vickers (age 47 born Sheffield), Alderman and Borough Magistrate, Merchant and Steel Manufacturer. With wife Ann (age 47) and children Thomas Edward Vickers (age 17), Sarah Ann (age 14), Frederick Vickers (age 10), Gertrude L. Vickers (age 6) and Isabel Vickers (age 4). Also two visitors and three servants. [2]

1854 Age 21. Tom (usually known as Colonel Tom because of his association with the local militia) had joined the business by the age of twenty-one. By then the family firm, known as Naylor, Vickers and Co, was one of the leading crucible steel makers in Sheffield

1860 Age 27. Tom Vickers married Frances Mary Douglas (1841–1904), the only child of Joseph Douglas, a London surgeon; they had two sons and four daughters

1861 Living at Taplow House, Leeward Road, Eccleshall Bierlow: Edward Vickers (age 57 born Sheffield), Magistrate, Steel Manufacturer and Merchant. With his wife Ann Vickers (age 51 born Sheffield); their son Thomas E. Vickers (age 27 born Sheffield), Steel Manufacturer and Merchant; his daughter-in-law Frances M. Vickers (age 19 born Knigtsbridge); his son Frederick Vickers (age 20 born Sheffield); his son-in-law John Macnamara (age 32 born London), a Gentleman; his daughter Sarah A. Macnamara (age 24 born Sheffield); Gertrude L. Vickers (age 16 born Sheffield); and his daughter Isabel Vickers (age 14 born Sheffield). Eight servants.[3]

1861 of River Don Steel Works, Sheffield; joined the I Mech E [4]

1871 Living at Bolsover Hill, Eccleshall: Thomas E. Vickers (age 37 born Sheffield), Managing Director of Steel Manufactory, Major in Hallamshire Rifle Volunteers. With his wife Frances Mary Vickers (age 29 born London) and their children Douglas Vickers (age 9 born Sheffield); Mabel F. Vickers (age 8 born Sheffield); Clara Mildred Vickers (age 5 born Sheffield); Florence Evelyn Vickers (age 4 born Sheffield); Ronald Vickers (age 1 born Barlborough, Yorkshire); and Bertha Vickers (age 6 Months born Ecclesfield, Yorkshire). Also his mother-in-law Emma Douglas (age 52 born London). Seven servants.[5]

1875 Age 42. He married secondly Edith Foster (d. 1909), daughter of John Foster of Maltby, near Sheffield

1881 Living at Bolsover Hill, Eccleshall: Thomas E. Vickers (age 47 born Sheffield), Managing Director of Limited Company, Justice of Peace for the Borough of Sheffield and Lt-Colonel of Volunteers. With his wife Frances M. Vickers (age 39 born London); his mother-in-law Emma Douglas (age 63 born London); his children Douglas Vickers (age 19 born Sheffield); Mabel Frances Vickers (age 18 born Sheffield); Florence Evelyn Vickers (age 14 born Sheffield); Bertha Vickers (age 10 born Sheffield). Nine servants. [6]

1901 Living at 26 Queens Gate Gardens, Kensington: Thomas E. Vickers (age 67 born West Riding), Chairman and Director of Companies, Hon Colonel. With his wife Frances M. Vickers (age 59 born St. Margaret's, London) and their daughters Clara M. Parry (age 35 born Ecclesfield) and Bertha Vickers (age 30 born Ecclesfield). Seven servants.[7]

1909 Age 76. Tom Vickers resigned as chairman, handing over to his brother Albert Vickers, who held the post until 1918.

1915 October 19th. Died in London age 82

1915 Age 82. Tom Vickers died at his home, 12 Stanhope Place, Hyde Park, London, on 19 October 1915 and was cremated at Golders Green, Middlesex.


1916 Obituary [8]

Colonel THOMAS EDWARD VICKERS, C.B., formerly Chairman and Managing Director of Vickers, Limited, died in London on the 19th October, 1915, aged 82 years.

Born on the 9th July, 1833, he was the second son of the late Mr. Edward Vickers, a partner in the steelmaking firm of Naylor, Vickers and Company, of Sheffield.

After being educated at ShefIield Collegiate School and at Neuwied in Germany, the subject of this notice entered the Vickers works in 1850, and at the age of 21 was entrusted with the principal manufacturing control of the business.

In 1867 he became senior partner, and from 1873 onwards was Chairman and managing Director of the firm. The River Don works were established in 1866, since which date the original enterprise has undergone continuous development and extension, taking up in succession the manufacture of heavy forgings, armour-plate, guns, shipbuilding and other subsidiary industries, and attaining at length its present position among the great industrial establishments of the world.

To this development, Colonel Vickers’s administmtive energy and foresight, and great inventive ability, largely contributed. He early prosecuted, with vigour and success, the investigation of processes of steel manufacture, introducing into this country a new method of making steel castings and tires, inventing the double rolling-mill for the latter, and making numerous important experiments and improvements in the openhearth process.

In 1907 he was awarded the Howard Quinquennial Prize of The Institution 'in recognition of the part taken during his career in developing and improving the production of steel for important engineering purposes.'

He resigned the chairmanship of Vickers in 1909, but continued to take a keen interest in the business until his death.

Colonel Vickers was a member of the Cutler’s Company and served as Master Cutler in 1872-3, was a Justice of the Peace, and rendered vduable service on several technical committees.

He was also a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Iron and Steel Institute. He was among the first to join actively in the Volunteer movement, becoming a Captain, and eventually honorary Colonel of the Hallamshire Rifles.

In 1898 he was made a C.B. in recognition of his public services.

He married, in 1860, Frances Mary, daughter of the late Mr. John Douglas, and had issue two sons and four daughters.

Colonel Vickers was elected a Member of The Institution on the 5th February, 1889.


1915 Obituary [9]

Colonel THOMAS EDWARD VICKERS, C.B., was born in Sheffield on 9th July 1833.

He was educated at the Sheffield Collegiate School, and acquired his first technicalities of the industry of iron and steel at Neuwied-on-the-Rhine.

On his return to England about 1854, he took charge of the hammers and rolling mills of the Millsands Works. He soon discovered the limitations of this establishment, and centred his thoughts on selecting a fresh site. This was found at Brightside, and developed into the present undertaking known as the River Don Works. In the year that he returned from Germany be acquired a German invention for a moulding composition which could withstand the heat of molten steel. He adopted the process and used it with great success at the Millsands Works.

In 1864 he himself invented a double rolling mill for rough-rolling railway tyres from a punched bloom. Such a mill was constructed and erected in 1867 at the River Don Works, and is still running successfully.

In 1870 began the developments in the production of good steel by the open-hearth process. The adoption of his tyre mill and of the open-hearth process, as against the crucible, led to the remarkable development of the Vickers firm.

In 1867 the business was converted into a Limited Company, of which Colonel Vickers became chairman a few years later. The firm gradually acquired the reputation of producing steel of unquestionable quality and reliability.

In 1882 guns and armour plates were added to the products of the undertaking, and in 1888 the firm was selected by the Government for the making of armour plates.

In the year 1897 the Naval Construction and Armaments Company's Works at Barrow were acquired. Another step towards progress was marked by the purchase of the Maxim-Nordenfeldt Guns and Ammunitions Company. As a result of this, the Company's undertakings were extended to Birmingham and Erith, and other important branches and concessions were developed at home and abroad, the style of the firm being changed to Vickers, Sons, and Maxim, and again changed in 1911 to Vickers Limited. This purchase and the possession of the Barrow yard made it possible for the firm to construct a battleship without any outside help whatever. He retired from the chairmanship of the Company in 1909.

Colonel Vickers was amongst the first to join the Volunteer movement, eventually becoming Colonel of the Hallamshire Rifles.

In 1898 he received the distinction of Companion of the Order of the Bath for his services.

His death took place in London on 19th October 1915, at the age of eighty-two. He was a Justice of the Peace for the West Riding of Yorkshire and for the City of Sheffield, and was Master Cutler in 1872.

He was elected a Member of this Institution in 1861, in which year he read a Paper on "The Strength of Steel containing different proportions of Carbon." He was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and of the Iron and Steel Institute.



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1841 Census
  2. 1851 Census
  3. 1861 Census
  4. I Mech E Register
  5. 1871 Census
  6. 1881 Census
  7. 1901 Census
  8. 1916 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  9. 1915 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries