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British Industrial History

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Francis William Willcox

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Editing Francis William Willcox (1840-1896)

of 45 West Sunniside, Sunderland.


1896 Obituary [1]

FRANCIS WILLIAM WILLCOX was born on 17th March 1840 in Birmingham, being the youngest son of Dr. Willcox of that town, and was educated at King Edward's Grammar School.

In 1855 he was apprenticed to Messrs. Robert Napier and Sons, shipbuilders and engineers, Glasgow, with whom he remained seven years, during the latter part of which he had charge of the steam trials of the vessels engined by the firm, and often went to sea in charge of the machinery.

While in Glasgow he attended Professor Rankine's lectures at the University. He then became assistant to Sir John Anderson, superintendent of machinery in Woolwich Arsenal; and had charge of machinery at home and at out stations, as well as of the steam vessels of the war department.

In 1866 he went to Messrs. J. and G. Rennie, engineers and shipbuilders, London, as managing draughtsman and chief designer; and went for them to Egypt in connection with the fitting of compound engines in the Khedive's fleet.

In 1870 he became manager and designer to Messrs. T. R. Oswald and Co., engineers and shipbuilders, Pallion, Sunderland.

In 1872 he commenced practice in Sunderland in partnership with Mr. Wawn, as consulting and superintending engineers and naval architects; they carried out work for Lloyd's underwriters and for numerous insurance societies in various parts of the world, and also had the superintendence of a large fleet of steamers.

He designed several mechanical devices, including a steam and hydraulic steering gear, ventilators for ships' holds, and a screw propeller; these were fitted to upwards of six hundred vessels in numerous ports at home and abroad.

His death occurred at his residence in Sunderland after four days' illness on 30th April 1896 at the age of fifty-six.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1885; and was also a Member of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland, and of the North-East Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders.



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