Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,363 pages of information and 245,904 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Alexander Wright

From Graces Guide

Alexander Wright (1816-1859) of Alexander Wright and Co

1859 July 23rd. Died. Late of the Kensal Green Gasworks, civil engineer. Will proven by his widow Harriet Augusta Wright of Western House, Kensal Green.

1871 Living at 23 Sutherland Gardens, Paddington: Harriet Augusta Wright (age 47 born London), Annuitant and Widow. With her seven children; Alexander Patrick Wright (age 22 born Westminster), Civil Engineer; Henneritta Augusta Wright; (age 19 born Marylebone); Lewis Thompson Wright (age 17 born Kensal Green), Clerk Shipbrokers office; Frank Wright (age 15 born Kensal Green); Arthur Gary Wright (age 13 born Kensal Green); Robert Murdock Wright (age 12 born Kensal Green); and Richard Searle Wright (age 11 born Kensal Green). One servant.[1]

1881 Living at 23 Sutherland Gardens, Paddington: Harriette A. Wright (age 55 born London), Widow. With her three children; Harriette A. G. Wright (age 29 born London); Robert M. Wright (age 22 born London), (?) Student; and Richard S. Wright (age 21 born London), Student of Medicine. One servant. [2]

1891 Creditors. '...any claims against the estate of Harriet Augusta Wright, late of 93, Sinclair-road, Kensington, in the county of Middlesex, Widow, and also carrying on business at 36, 38, and 40, Millbank-street, Westminster, as a Gas Engineer, under the firm of Alexander Wright and Co. (who died on the 24th day of November, 1890, and whose will was proved by her sons, Robert Murdock Wright and Richard Searle Wright, the executors thereof...'[3]

1860 Obituary [4]

MR. ALEXANDER WRIGHT, born in Glasgow in the year 1816, was apprenticed to Mr. Cowan, Gas Engineer of that city.

On coming to London, he was engaged at several engineering manufactories ; he then conducted the business of Mr. Stevens, (Assoc. Inst. C.E.,) of Southwark Bridge Road ; and ultimately, he became principal foreman at Mr. Edge's gas meter manufactory, in Westminster.

His engagement under Mr. Edge terminating in 1844, he established himself as a meter manufacturer, at Hamburg, but not being so successful as he anticipated, he returned to London and carried on the manufacture of meters and gas apparatus, for a short time, in Holywell Street, and afterwards, in Millbank Street, Westminster.

During this period, Mr. Wright sedulously devoted himself to chemistry and to the practical details of gas engineering ; he built several gas works, and constructed the largest station meter then made. He also invented several instruments for testing the quality of gas, equally adapted to the requirements of the practical gas manufacturer and to those of the scientific experimentalist, among which may be mentioned, an improved apparatus for determining the specific gravity of coal gas, and an instrument for detecting the quantity of bisulphuret of carbon ; an alkalimeter, adapted for readily ascertaining the strength of ammoniacal liquor; a registering pressure- gauge for supply mains and for exhausters, &c. He also materially assisted in putting the Bunsen photometer into a working form, and in establishing correct principles for photo metric investigations.

Mr. Wright had thus attained considerable celebrity as a practical Engineer and careful analyst. He contributed some able articles to the 'Journal of Gas Lighting,' the most important of which were;- 'The Theory and Economy of Artificial Light;' 'Coal and its Products by Distillation:' and 'The History of the Gas Meter.' Unfortunately, however, engagements led him to defer the conclusion of the last, from time to time, and it remains unfinished.

In 1850, Mr. Wright accepted the appointment of Engineer to the Western Gas Light Company, which owes much of its success and present prosperous condition to his indomitable resolution, industry, and judgment.

In 1857, he was also appointed Consulting Engineer to the Great Central Gas Consumers’ Company, which appointment, from peculiar circumstances affecting that company at the time, offered considerable scope for the exercise of his talents and energies. He continued to discharge his duties to the satisfaction of the directors and shareholders of these two companies, to the time of his death.

Mr. Wright originated and patented, in 1856, a plan for lighting mines with. This scheme was successfully carried into operation at the Balleswidden Mine, St. Just, Cornwall, but unfortunately, soon after its practicability had been demonstrated, the mine proved unprofitable to the adventurers, and was almost entirely closed ; this threw a damp on the project, and it has since remained in abeyance.

The Metropolitan Local Management Act came into operation in the year 1855, and Mr. Wright was elected Member of the Board of Works, for the Westminster district, which position he continued to hold to the date of his death, having been re-elected in June, 1859.

The following remarks from the 'Journal of Gas Lighting,' will express the estimation in which Mr. Wright was held by the members of his profession:-

'Cut off at the premature age of forty-three, in the prime of life, in robust health, and in the flood-tide of that prosperity which his unwearied industry, his conciliating manners, his vigorous intellect, his unimpeached integrity, and his enlarged views had justly won for him. His loss leaves those who knew him as well, and appreciated him as sincerely, as the a blank in a large circle, the extent of which can only be appreciated by him to say, that the blank is one which will not be easily filled up. writer of these lines ; and it is no disgrace to his brethren who survive Alexander Wright was, indeed, an honour to his country and his profession.

'A self-taught genius, he combined acuteness of perception with quickness of apprehension; a singular felicity in expressing his views, with the most varied knowledge on scientific subjects ; and modesty of demeanour with a frankness and candour which impressed those around him with confidence in his judgment. His contributions to the perfecting of the gas meter were many and important, and his paper on 'The History the Gas Meter,' which appeared anonymously in our columns some years since, proves how thoroughly he understood that subject. His self- registering pressure indicator is to be found in every well-regulated gas-work throughout the land, and his photometers, in experienced hands, have relieved photometry from the doubts which empiricism threw over its early practice. As a member of the Metropolitan Board of Works, he entered upon another sphere of usefulness, in which the soundness of his views on the subject of metropolitan improvement soon placed him in the front rank among the members of that body. The main drainage scheme was carried through the opposition it encountered principally by his indomitable perseverance, and he looked forward to the embankment of the Thames as the next great work of the Board.

'Towards the latter end of June Mr. Wright sought relaxation from his labours by a journey in the north of Europe. He returned from Hamburg on the 17th of July, and on the following day was seized with an attack of Asiatic cholera in its most malignant form, to which he finally succumbed on the 23rd. He was interred near two of his children in the Norwood Cemetery on the Uth, amidst the mournful regret of the numerous friends who had assembled round his grave to pay the last honours to departed worth ; and if anything can soothe the sorrow of his family on so trying an occasion, the universal expression of affection for his memory which their bereavement has called forth, is not without value.'

Mr. Wright was admitted an Associate of the Institution in 1856, and was transferred to the class of Members, on the 25th of January, 1859, only six months before his death, which occurred on the 23rd of July, 1859.

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