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British Industrial History

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John Inglis (1820-1888)

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1820 Born in Glasgow, brother of Anthony Inglis

John acquired the craft of marine engineer

1847 Joined his brother in the business which was to become A. and J. Inglis. John's practical experience gave new impetus to the young firm.

1855 Messrs. Inglis contracted to supply the machinery for the ‘Tasmanian’, one of the pioneer screw steamers.

1861 John Inglis, 61, Engineer Master Employing 260 Men & Boys, living in Blythswood Glasgow, with Annie Inglis 30 and Elizabeth Inglis 8 months[1]

1862 the Messrs. Inglis added shipbuilding to marine engineering, and acquired space at the confluence of the Kelvin and the Clyde for that purpose.

1881 John Inglis 61, engineer and ship builder living in Kelvin, with Elizabeth Inglis 20, Patrick M Inglis 16, Mary Inglis 14[2]

1888 Died. of A. and J. Inglis.[3]


1888 Obituary [4]

ON Saturday, the 12th inst., the remains of Mr. John Inglis were laid in the Glasgow necropolis in the presence of a large number of relatives and friends. Among the latter were not a few who were none the less his friends because the connection between them was that of employer and artisan, for of all the classes in the community none had a higher place in his regard than that to which the competent industrious craftsman belongs.

Mr. Inglis was of that generation of engineers, now rapidly thinning, who saw the infancy of steam navigation and the birth of iron shipbuilding and screw propulsion. At the date of the beginning of his apprenticeship the steam vessel had only been in continuous use for about twenty years. Ocean transit by steam was hardly considered practicable, and its commercial success was held to be a thing almost unattainable. In the extraordinary development of steamship building which has taken place in the last fifty years Mr. Inglis bore an active, if unobtrusive part.

After the seven years' apprenticeship of those days, he spent other seven years as journeyman, leading hand at country jobs, repairing machinery afloat and ashore, and as junior and chief engineer in the coasting steamers then beginning to multiply in response to the growing demand for regular communication.

In 1847 his brother Anthony, six years his senior, and equally ambitious and energetic, took him as a partner. Mr. Anthony Inglis had previously carried on business as a ship smith, &c., for ten years, but at this date the little smithy in Clyde-street was given up, ground acquired in Warrock-street, and the workshops which formed the nucleus of Whitehall Foundry erected.

Mr. Anthony Inglis devoted himself to the commercial part of the business, for which he had considerable aptitude, while his brother applied his mechanical skill and his exceptional energy and activity to the careful design and faithful execution of the orders the young firm was fortunate enough to secure. Success followed their efforts from the very outset....[much more]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1861 census
  2. 1881 Census
  3. National Probate Calendar
  4. Engineering 1888 Jan-Jun: Index: General Index