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British Industrial History

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Nathaniel Worsdell

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Nathaniel Worsdell (1809–1886)

1809 October 10th. Born in London the eldest son of Thomas Clarke Worsdell

He attended school in Knutsford, Cheshire, to the age of thirteen, and was apprenticed to Jonathan Dunn, coach builder in Lancaster, in 1823.

1827 Went to work with his father at the carriage building enterprise in Liverpool

On 3 October 1833 he married Mary Wilson (1811–1869) of Bentham near Lancaster, and remained at the Crown Street works when the rest of the family moved to Leipzig in 1837.

The carriage of mail on the railways began at a very early date, and Nathaniel built some mail vans in 1838 which incorporated his own patented device for the automatic picking up and setting down of mailbags in transit. The Post Office was very interested but would not agree to his asking price (£3500, subsequently reduced to £1500) for the right to use his patent, and it soon introduced a device of its own which was a clear infringement. As a Quaker, however, Nathaniel would not pursue the matter in the courts and he never received any compensation from the Post Office.

1838 Birth of his son Thomas William Worsdell

In 1843 he moved as carriage and wagon superintendent to the new Grand Junction Railway's works at Crewe where he remained until he retired in 1880.

1850 Birth of his son Wilson Worsdell

He was involved in many of the charitable and educational activities of the growing railway community and also served as a Liberal on the local council.

He died on 24 July 1886 at his home, Southlea, 8 Chetwynd Road, Oxton, Birkenhead, Cheshire.


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