Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Robinson and Russell

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of Millwall

1844 John Scott Russell moved to London; worked on the design of yachts, boats, barges and ships.

1847 Henry Robinson, Alfred Robinson and Richard Robinson had taken over the Millwall shipyard given up in 1844 by Fairbairn. The Robinsons invited John Scott Russell to join them in a shipbuilding venture.[1]

1847 Listed as Robinson and Russell, Marine Engineers, Millwall, Poplar

1849 Henry Oliver Robinson left the partnership with Albert Robinson, and John Scott Russell, carrying on business at Millwall, as Engineers and Iron Steam-vessel Builders, under the firm of Robinsons and Russell[2]

1849 Launched their first ship, the Manchester, on 6 July.

1850 Russell designed a yacht, Titania, for Robert Stevenson which had very hollow bowlines but was constrained by British yacht-racing rules. In 1851 Titania was the only yacht to accept the challenge of the US yacht America; her defeat inaugurated the America's Cup races.

The yard took up an increasing amount of Russell's time particularly from 1851 when he took sole control of the yard.

1851 The paddle-frigate Dantzig was built at Millwall, one of the first ships in the Prussian Navy.

1851 Provided ironwork for the 'stupendous' viaduct for the joint MS&LR/LNWR goods station in Manchester. The viaduct had large cast iron girders supported by 28 cast iron Doric columns, 20 ft high, each weighing 6½ tons. Store Street was crossed by a 68 ft span wrought iron bridge of unusual design, having a tubular wrought iron top member. The designer was Alfred Stanistreet Jee.[3]. All of the cast iron was of the toughened type patented by J. D. M. Stirling. It seems that the viaduct and bridges were short-lived, because further enlargement of the railway infrastucture took place in the 1860s. This included the provision of a large skewed plate girder bridge across Sheffield Street. This 1912 photograph shows that at least the Doric columns survived.

1852 I. K. Brunel entered into partnership with John Scott Russell, an experienced Naval Architect and ship builder, to build the SS Great Eastern. Before building work could begin, Russell's shipyard was devastated by a serious fire but was only partially covered by insurance. The yard closed.

1852 David Napier's yard at Millwall closed because of competition from the Clyde yards. Part of the yard was later let to John Scott Russell for the building of the SS Great Eastern. Presumably as John Scott Russell and Co

1854 The keel of SS Great Eastern was laid down on May 1, 1854.

1856 Russell had several fixed-price contracts for warships and these together with another fire, added to his financial problems and his shipyard, like several other Thames builders, failed in February 1856. He remained in charge of building the Great Eastern under a new contract.

1858 The Great Eastern was finally launched, after many technical difficulties on January 31, 1858.


Manufacturers of Colonial Sugar Machinery - is this the same company?

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 'John Scott Russell' by George S. Emmerson, 1977, John Murray
  2. London Gazette 17 April 1849
  3. Illustrated London News - Saturday 11 January 1851