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William Beardmore (1824-1877)

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William Beardmore (1824-1877)


1878 Obituary [1]

William Beardmore was born at Greenwich on the 6th of May, 1824.

On leaving school he was apprenticed to his father, Mr. Joseph Beardmore, who was then and for many years afterwards Chief Engineer at the General Steam Navigation Company’s works, Deptford.

When his pupillage was over, William Beardmore was appointed Assistant Superintendent of the same works, and held the post for about ten years, during which time his ingenuity and inventive talents were constantly being exercised, for the benefit of the Company.

In 1850 considerable attention was drawn to the necessity of smoke-consuming apparatus for river steamers, and he devised a hollow cast-iron furnace bar, which completely achieved the desired end.

Among several patents taken out at this time by Mr. Beardmore, either alone or in conjunction with his future partner, Mr. Rigby, the most important were a super-heating apparatus, composed of a box of tubes placed in the uptake of the boiler (No. 2,838, December 10, 1858), and an arrangement for applying high-pressure steam through the medium of a high-pressure cylinder, working within a low-pressure cylinder in such a manner that the high-pressure steam, having actuated the piston in the central cylinder, passed thence into the external cylinder, where it worked a ring piston before passing to the condenser (No. 626, March 7, 1860).

Mr. Beardmore also gave much attention to the construction of direct-acting engines for screw propulsion, in lieu of the cumbrous and antiquated forms of geared and side-lever engines then in vogue; and he patented, in association with the late Robert Napier, M.Inst.C.E., a direct-acting engine, which in general plan and idea somewhat resembled the trunk engine of John Penn and Sons, and was successfully introduced in several ships fitted out by Messrs. Napier.

In 1861 Mr. Beardmore entered into partnership with William Rigby, for the purpose of carrying out on a more extensive scale the rolling mill and forge at Parkhead, Glasgow, previously established by Mr. Rigby and the younger Napiers.

In addition to the manufacture of all classes of heavy forgings for marine engine work, the firm erected rolling mills for the production of plates for ship and boiler purposes. For several years from the starting of these mills large quantities of armour plates for the home and foreign navies were produced, and these were the only rolled armour plates made in Scotland. Subsequently this class of manufacture became gradually restricted at Parkhead as heavier armaments were adopted; and now the chief seat of the armour plate manufacture is at Sheffield, but they are still produced at Parkhead up to 3 or 4 inches in thickness.

On Mr. Rigby’s death, in 1863, the conduct of the business devolved upon Mr. Beardmore, until 1871, when he took into partnership his brother Isaac, who for a number of years had been managing the forge department.

During the whole of this time Mr. William Beardmore’s inventive faculties were actively employed, and he took out patents for steam rams for naval purposes, for puddling and re-heating furnaces, for improved processes for the manufacture of iron and steel, &c. At the same time, by his indefatigable attention to all departments, by his industry, energy, and perseverance, the Parkhead works were gradually improved and extended until they became the largest of their kind in Scotland, and achieved an European reputation.

The illness from which Mr. Beardmore suffered began to tell visibly upon him during the last three months of his life, and about a month before he died he removed to Brighton for change of air. There, however, he grew rapidly worse, and passed away on the 11th of October 1877, in the fifty-fourth year of his age regretted not only by his professional friends and acquaintances, but by all classes of workmen employed under him.

Mr. Beardmore was a promoter and director of the Glasgow and Coatbridge (North British) railway, a line which has been of much service to the district through which it passes; and also of the Glasgow, Hamilton, Coatbridge, and Bothwell railway, which was only opened for mineral traffic a few days after his death.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 6th of March, 1860, and was also a member of the Iron and Steel Institute, in the proceedings of which he took much interest.


1878 Obituary [2]

MR. WILLIAM BEARDMORE.-This gentleman, for several years a member of the Iron and Steel Institute, was born at Greenwich on the 6th of May 1824.

He was apprenticed to his father, Mr. Joseph Beardmore, who was then and for many years Chief Engineer at the General Steam Navigation Company's works, Deptford. When his pupilage was over, William Beardmore was appointed assistant superintendent of the same works, and held the post for about ten years.

In 1850 considerable attention was drawn to the necessity of smoke-consuming apparatus for river steamers, and he devised a hollow cast-iron furnace bar, which completely achieved a desired end. Among several patents taken out at this time by Mr. Beardmore, either alone or in conjunction with his future partner, Mr. Rigby, the most important were a superheating apparatus, composed of a box of tubes placed in the uptake of the boiler (No. 2838, December 10, 1858), and an arrangement for applying high-pressure steam through the medium of a high-pressure cylinder, working within a low-pressure cylinder in such a manner that the high-pressure steam, having actuated the piston in the central cylinder, passed thence into the external cylinder, where it worked a ring piston before passing to tile condenser (No. 626, March 7, 1860).

Mr. Beardmore also gave much attention to the construction of direct-acting engines for screw propulsion, in lieu of the cumbrous and antiquated forms of geared and side-lever engines then in vogue; and he patented, in association with the late Mr. Robert Napier, M. Inst. C.E., a direct-acting engine, which in general plan and idea somewhat resembled the trunk engine of Messrs. John Penn & Sons, and was successfully introduced in several ships fitted out by Messrs. Napier.

In 1861 Mr. Beardmore entered into partnership with Mr. William Rigby, for the purpose of carrying out on a more extensive scale the rolling mill and forge at Parkhead, Glasgow, previously established by Mr. Rigby and the younger Napiers. In addition to the manufacture of all classes of heavy forgings for marine-engine work, the firm erected rolling mills for the production of plates for ship and boiler purposes. For several years from the starting of these mills large quantities of armour plates for the home and foreign navies were produced, and these were the only rolled armour-plates made in Scotland. Subsequently this class of manufacture became gradually restricted at Parkhead as heavier armaments were adopted; and now the chief seat of the armour-plate manufacture is at Sheffield, but they are still produced at Parkhead up to 3 or 4 inches in thickness.

On Mr. Rigby's death, in 1863, the conduct of the business devolved upon Mr. Beardmore, until 1871, when he took into partnership his brother Isaac, who for a number of years had been managing the forge department. During the whole of this time Mr. William Beardmore's inventive faculties were actively employed, and he took out patents for steam rams for naval purposes, for puddling and re-heating furnaces, for improved processes for the manufacture of iron and steel, &c.

Mr. Beardmore died at Brighton on the 11th of October 1877, in the fifty-fourth year of his age.



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1878 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  2. 1878 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries