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Richard Williams (1817-1909)

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Richard Williams (1817-1909) of the Patent Shaft and Axletree Co


1909 Obituary [1]

RICHARD WILLIAMS died at his residence, Brunswick House, Wednesbury, on June 28, 1909, in his seventy-third (93rd) year.

He was early apprenticed to the firm of Messrs. Fawcett, Preston & Company, millwrights and engineers, during which period he was engaged for twelve months in fitting up the ill-fated President, one of the first of the great Atlantic liners.

In 1838 he became the representative in Liverpool of Messrs. Aspinall, Jones & Company, a firm then in business at Smethwick, and in 1844 he commenced his association with the late Mr. Thomas Walker, who was then engaged in the development of the Brunswick Works, Wednesbury, afterwards known as the Patent Shaft and Axletree Works.

In 1866, when the business was acquired by a limited liability company, the general managership passed into his hands. A few years later, when the neighbouring works of Lloyds, Foster & Company were absorbed by the company he became general manager of the combined undertaking, which comprised furnaces, forges, mills, factories, and mines, and found employment for upwards of 4,000 hands. He retained that position until 1883, when he retired and became a director, retiring finally from the board in 1891.

He was one of the founders of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and an original member of the Iron and Steel Institute.


1909 Obituary [2]

RICHARD WILLIAMS, the last of the Original Members of this Institution, was born in Liverpool on 3rd January 1817.

On his fourteenth birthday ho was apprenticed for seven years as an engineer and millwright, to the firm of Messrs. Fawcett, Preston and Co., of that city.

At the end of his term he left the firm and undertook an engineering agency until 1844, when he went to Wednesbury as assistant-manager at the Patent Shaft and Axletree Co. His business ability soon found scope for development, and he remained with the company as manager, general manager, managing director, and finally as director only until 1891, when he retired from active business life altogether.

In addition to the successful management of these works, he took a leading part in the regeneration of Wednesbury. He became a member of the old Local Board of Health soon after its formation, and its chairman later on, filling the office for twenty-five years.

He also took the leading part in securing for the town a charter of incorporation in 1886, and was unanimously chosen as the first mayor and alderman, which latter honour he held until his death. In recognition of his services he was made first freeman of the Borough of Wednesbury in 1900.

He was a director of the South Staffordshire Water Works Co., a Mines Drainage Commissioner, the first chairman of the Wednesbury School Board, a Borough and a County Magistrate, and was connected with many local musical, athletic, and philanthropic institutions.

He was the last survivor of the original Members who joined in founding this Institution in 1847, and was also an original member of the Iron and Steel Institute.

His death took place at his residence in Wednesbury after a short illness on 28th June 1909, in his ninety-third year.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1909 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries
  2. 1909 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries