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 163,411 pages of information and 245,908 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.

George Wilson

From Graces Guide

George Wilson (1829-1885) of Charles Cammell and Co

c1829 Born the son of George Wilson

Eldest brother of Alexander Wilson (1837-1907)

1859 George Wilson, Cammell and Co, Cyclops Steel Works, Sheffield.[1]

1885 December 1st. Death in his 57th year. Chairman and Managing Director of Charles Cammell and Co since the death of Charles Cammell. Son of George Wilson of Broughton Ferry who was in the Fifeshire Flax trade. Survived by his wife, five sons and three daughters [2] [3]

1885 Obituary [4]

GEORGE WILSON was born at Largo, Fifeshire, on 11th March 1829, being the second son of Mr. George Wilson, flax-spinner, who was afterwards at Haughmill and Prinlaws in partnership with the late Mr. John Fergus, M.P. for Fifeshire.

After attending school at Kennoway under the late Mr. Bethune, he was sent by his father in 1839 in company with his two brothers, Henry and John, to the Collegiate School, Sheffield, his father having friends among the trustees of the school. As there was then no railway to Sheffield, the three boys went by the primitive wooden steamer "Pegasus" from Leith to Hull; thence by a small steam-boat to the village of Thorne on the river Don, and thence by coach to Sheffield. He was afterwards sent to the Madras College, St. Andrews; and finally to the University of Edinburgh, where he had the advantage of studying chemistry under Professor Gregory, the intimate friend of Liebig.

In his seventeenth year he joined Messrs. Cammell and Johnson, the founders of the Cyclops Works, Sheffield, to learn the business of steel-making, his father being greatly impressed with the belief that steel would be one of the most important industries in the future.

After a time he was sent by the firm to America ; and he subsequently rose gradually to the position of manager of their business.

On the death of Mr. Johnson, he became a partner of Mr. Cammell; and ultimately, on the formation of the present company of Messrs. Charles Cammell and Co., he was elected managing director ; and on the death of Mr. Cammell he was appointed chairman of the company. His whole life was devoted to the prosperity of the business at the Cyclops Works, and thereby to the advancement of the interests of the town of Sheffield.

In 1875 he had the honour as Master Cutler of entertaining the Prince and Princess of Wales at luncheon on the occasion of their first visit to Sheffield. As a man of business he acquired a high reputation, both in this country and on the continent, possessing very remarkable administrative combined with sound practical ability.

His death took place from a seizure of congestive apoplexy whilst in the act of performing his duties at the works in Sheffield, on 1st December 1885, at the age of fifty-six.

He was elected a Member of this Institution in 1859.

1888 Obituary [5]

GEORGE WILSON, the Chairman and Managing Director of Messrs. Charles Cammell and Co., Limited, Sheffield, was born in 1829. He was the second son of Mr. George Wilson, of Haugh Mill, Fifeshire, who was engaged in the flax-spinning business in partnership with Mr. John Fergus, M.P. for his county.

Mr. Wilson’s connection with Sheffield began when he was but nine years of age, at which time he was sent by his father to the Collegiate School of that town. He subsequently finished his education at Edinburgh University, where he distinguished himself more particularly in chemistry, mathematics, and modern sciences.

His father was impressed even at that time with the great development which he foresaw was awaiting the iron and steel industries of Sheffield, and consequently procured his son’s introduction into the firm of Johnson and Cammell, the original founders of the Cyclops Works. George Wilson soon gained the confidence of his employers by giving evidence of great capacity for undertaking duties and responsibilities of more than ordinary importance. An early and signal proof of this ability for business was the successful manner in which he fulfilled more than one mission to America, with which he was entrusted by his employers.

On his return to England he was promoted to a high position in the works, and on the death of Mr. Johnson he became Mr. Cammell’s partner and responsible manager.

In the year 1864 the firm was converted into a Limited Company, under the title which it still bears, and Mr. Wilson was unanimously elected Managing Director, under the Chairmanship of Mr. Cammell.

During the next fifteen years his frequent visits undertaken in the interests of the Company to nearly every capital on the continent, as well as to Egypt, gained him a European reputation in governmental as well as manufacturing circles.

Upon the death of Mr. Cammell in 1879, he was immediately elected Chairman of the Company. It was during this period that he assisted his brother, Alexander Wilson, in the development of his invention of combining steel and iron in the manufacture of armour-plates, which was afterwards perfected, and is now well known throughout the civilized world as the Wilson Compound system.

Previous to 1882 he and his brother, at Dronfield Steelworks, initiated the bold course of removing the export steel-rail trade to the sea coast - a step which was abundantly justified by the course of events. This action may be said to have crowned the advance which has been attained by the Company under the bold but calculating enterprise of its late chairman.

From their small beginning in 1842, the works have now come to include the different establishments known as the Cyclops Steel and Ironworks, Sheffield ; the Yorkshire Steelworks at Penistone ; the Grimesthorpe Ordnance Tire and Spring Works, Sheffield ; the Derwent Steel and Ironworks at Workington; the Oaks Collieries near Barnsley, and the Parkhouse and other iron mines near Whitehaven. These constitute the different departments of an undertaking whose paid-up capital is one and a-half million sterling, and under whom ten thousand hands find employment.

Occupied though he was with these heavy responsibilities, Mr. Wilson was nevertheless on all occasions ready to place his leisure and ability at the service of his fellow-countrymen. In the year 1875, as Master Cutler of Sheffield, he had the honour of entertaining the Prince and Princess of Wales upon the occasion of their visit to the town. He was a Justice of the Peace for the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Mr. Wilson died on the 1st of December, 1885, in his fifty-seventh year. His character was a combination of qualities rarely to be met with in the same man. He was of rare determination of purpose, but at the same time of such unfailing courtesy, that all with whom he was brought into contact were ready and proud to do him service. Though weighted with business of momentous importance, he mould receive small and great with the same unruffled composure, and in the same tone of buoyancy which characterized the leisure moments of his unclouded domestic life. His career forms a conspicuous illustration of the secret of real greatness, that they who mould be successful masters of others. must have first learned to be masters of themselves.

Mr. Wilson was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 7th of March, 1865, and was transferred to the Class of Member on the 25th of March, 1879.

1885 Obituary [6]

GEORGE WILSON, chairman and managing director of Charles Cammell & Co. (Limited), Cyclops Steel and Iron Works, died at Sheffield on Wednesday, December 2d, 1885. He was the son of Mr. George Wilson, flax manufacturer, Broughty Ferry, Fifeshire, and at an early age entered Mr. Cammell's office in Sheffield, as a clerk in the iron department. He had not long been in this position, when he was intrusted with an important mission to extend the Company's business in America: The work was expected to take about three years, but young Wilson completed it satisfactorily in six months.

On his return to the Cyclops Works he at once received a prominent position, which he continued to fill until, on the death of Mr. Cammell in 1879, he was appointed chairman and managing director of the company.

In 1882 he induced his shareholders to acquire the plant of the Dronfield Steelworks and the Derwent Iron Company, and to combine the two at Workington under the style of the Derwent Steel and Iron Works. The works of C. Cammell & Co. now embrace the Cyclops Steel and Iron Works, Sheffield, the Grimesthorpe Ordnance, Tire, and Spring Works, the Yorkshire Steelworks at Penistone, the Derwent Steel and Iron Works at Workington, and the Old and New Oaks Collieries. The paid-up capital of the Company amounts to £1,500,000, and close upon 10,000 hands are employed. The ‘specialites’ of the Company are armour-plates, tires, axles, rails, and ship-plates.

Mr. Wilson was the chairman of the International Railmakers' Combination, which was formed by English and Continental rail manufacturers in 1883, with a view to keeping up the price of steel rails to a point that would yield manufacturers a fair margin of profit, and in connection with the difficult and delicate deities of this post he showed much tact and judgment. Only a short time before his death Mr. Wilson was consulted by the Russian Government in reference to the erection of works at Kolpino, near St. Petersburg, for the production of armour-plates.

Deceased was an original member of the Iron and Steel Institute, and in 1870-71 filled the position of Member of Council.

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