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British Industrial History

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George Tangye

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George Tangye (1835-1920) was one of a family of nine - six boys and three girls - born to Joseph and Ann Tangye. He was born on 17th October 1835 at Illogan (the birth place of Richard Trevithick) nr Redruth in Cornwall.

He went to work in Birmingham for Thomas Worsdell a railway engineering company where his brother Richard Tangye was clerk of the works and where his brother John and Joseph would later join him.

In 1858 with his four brothers he formed Tangye Brothers and Price, which later became Tangye Brothers

1872 Continued to run the businesses after 2 of his brothers retired

1881 He was made Managing Director of Tangyes

1906 He became Chairman on the death of his brother Richard

1921 Obituary [1]

GEORGE TANGYE was born at Illogan, near Redruth, Cornwall, on 17th September 1835, being the youngest of six sons of Joseph Tangye.

Having received an early training in the local school, he was sent to complete his scholastic education at a Friends' School in the Mendip Hills.

After working as a clerk at the works of Mr. Thomas Worsdell, in Birmingham, where his brother Richard — afterwards Sir Richard — was also employed, he joined with his brothers in starting in business in 1857 as machinists at 40, Mount Street, Birmingham.

Owing to the growth of the business a new factory had to be built in 1859.

A few years later the idea was conceived of designing steam-engines in which the various parts could be made interchangeable. The result was that the well-known Tangye engine came into existence, which was shortly followed by their high-speed governor.

A still larger factory was therefore required, and finally the Cornwall Works, Soho, close to the historic foundry of Boulton and Watt, was erected.

In 1881, when the firm was turned into a limited liability company, George Tangye was made vice-chairman and finally Chairman of the company when his brother — Sir Richard Tangye - died in 1906. For many years he lived at Heathfield Hall, which was formerly the home of James Watt. He carefully preserved, in the condition in which the great inventor had left it, the garret in which he had worked; and George Tangye was responsible for the fine collection of relics of Boulton and Watt, which he finally gave to the City of Birmingham.

On the occasion of the Joint Meeting of this Institution and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in Birmingham, he presented to the latter Society an original letter of James Watt suitably framed (Proceedings, 1910, page 808).

His death took place at his residence in Birmingham on 7th October 1920, at the age of eighty-five.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1875.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • The Engineer of 15th October 1920 p381