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British Industrial History

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Parkhead Forge

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1871. Friction clutch.
1881. Wine decanter presented to Gracie Beardmore on the inaugeration of "Samson" the massive steam hammer.
1896. Thomas Shanks and Co lathe cutting a 64 ton Nickel steel cylinder for a 12,000 ton forging press.

Parkhead Forge, Glasgow.

1835 Parkhead Works established[1] by Mr. Reoch. [2]

1837 David Napier (1799-1850) purchased the Parkhead Forge from the Reoch brothers for £2800 (possibly to secure the supply of forgings to his family's engineering businesses). He appointed William Rigby, the future son-in-law of the shipbuilder Robert Napier, as works manager. It was to serve as an adjunct to the Lancefield Foundry.

By 1847 David Napier's enterprises were in difficulties and he became bankrupt.

1848 Robert Napier took over the bankrupt Parkhead Forge in the east end of Glasgow to supply wrought iron plates and forgings for his works.

1860 Robert Napier's company was on the verge of bankruptcy. William Beardmore senior, father of William Beardmore, was recruited to Parkhead.

1861 Mr. Beardmore entered into partnership with William Rigby, for the purpose of carrying out on a more extensive scale the rolling mill and forge at Parkhead, Glasgow. In addition to the manufacture of all classes of heavy forgings for marine engine work, the firm erected rolling mills for the production of plates for ship and boiler purposes. For several years from the start-up of these mills, large quantities of armour plates were produced for the home and foreign navies; these were the only rolled armour plates made in Scotland. Subsequently heavier armaments were adopted so Parkhead lost the business but, by 1877, plates up to 3 or 4 inches in thickness were still produced at Parkhead[3].

1862 Messrs Rigby and Beardmore of Parkhead Forge had completed 2 large castings for ships being constructed by Napiers[4].

1863 On Mr. Rigby’s death [5], Mr. Beardmore took on the running of the business but it continued to be known as Rigby and Beardmore for some years[6].

1866 Boiler explosion at Rigby and Beardmore's Parkhead Forge killed 3 workmen[7].

By 1871 Robert Napier was forced to sell his company's interest in the Parkhead Forge.

c1871 Isaac Beardmore (who for a number of years had been managing the forge department) became a partner and the company was called W. and I. Beardmore.

1877 William Beardmore senior died, Isaac became sole proprietor of the Parkhead Forge. William junior inherited his father's share in the business but he first completed his education and only then returned to Glasgow (in 1879) to become the junior partner in the company.

1879 William immediately persuaded his uncle Isaac to begin making open-hearth steel and to install a steel foundry.

1880 The partnership became I. and W. Beardmore

1881 June 1st. A massive steam hammer called "Samson" was installed, under the direction of William Beardmore. [8] [9]

1886 On his uncle’s retirement, William Beardmore became the sole proprietor of the business. The steelworks and gun arsenal at Parkhead was the most profitable part of the Beardmore company and was the last part to be disposed of in the rationalization of 1928/30.

1888 William diversified the business into armour plate production.

1889 The company began making plates for high pressure Scotch boilers.

1895 A 12,000 ton press was installed to make American Harveyized armour plate. At the turn of the century Beardmore embarked on a massive extension to the works: these included a new office block, a gun factory, and additional armour plate capacity.

By late 1899 William was also contemplating building a large naval shipyard at Dalmuir on the lower Clyde. He acquired the goodwill of the insolvent shipbuilding business of Robert Napier and Sons. Work began on the new yard in 1900. At the same time he joined a syndicate that bought J. I. Thornycroft and Co of Chiswick, torpedo boat builders; Beardmore was subsequently appointed chairman.

1902 Became the limited company William Beardmore and Co

See William Beardmore by William S. Murphy.

A history of the Forge was recounted in The Engineer 1896/02/07.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 23 June 1909
  2. The Engineer 1896/02/07
  3. Obituary of William Beardmore (1824-1877)
  4. The Times, 23 April 1862
  5. Obituary of William Beardmore (1824-1877)
  6. Glasgow Herald, 24 November 1865
  7. The Dundee Courier and Argus, 22 August 1866
  8. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=4Ta8AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA122&lpg=PA122&dq=Samson+Steam+Hammer&source=bl&ots=iXNVk7M43I&sig=H1wDJoR0um0-Jc9r81HB7YuDAhU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=zeeGVN2QGMLsUsL2g-gI&ved=0CCAQ6AEwADgK#v=onepage&q=Samson%20Steam%20Hammer&f=false
  9. Wine decanter owned by Roy Siggery commemorating it's inaugeration.
  • Biography of William Beardmore, ODNB, by Michael S Moss [1]