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British Industrial History

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William Allen and Sons (USA)

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of Worcester, Mass.

William Allen (1825-1906) was born in the English midlands emmigrated to America in 1849, as a skilled mechanic. His father and grandfather worked for James Watt. William, the third generation of boiler markers in his family, was trained in the Soho works. On arrival in Worcester, he made pistols. After working for Oliver Ames & Sons, he became a partner in the Stewart & Allen Boiler Works. In 1875 he purchased the Worcester Boiler Works and formed a new company, William Allen & Sons, which became one of the largest manufacturers of steam boilers in New England.[1]

'WILLIAM ALLEN, Manufacturer of Boilers, was born in the town of Soho, near Birmingham, England, August 19, 1825, and died in this city. He was descended from a family of engineers ; his father, grandfather and great grandfather were engineers in the employ of the James Watts Engine Works, Birmingham, England. He was apprenticed at the age of sixteen in the Bolton & Watts Works and while he was learning his trade there, a son of James Watts was connected with the business. It was customary for the Watts Company to send their most experienced men to all parts of the world to install engines and boilers, and one of Mr. Allen's uncles was sent to Calcutta to superintend the erection of machinery.

'In 1849 William Allen decided to come to this country. He landed in Boston in September, 1849, and at once secured employment at his trade in the Walworth & Nason Works. He came to this city, November 25, 1849, and entered the employ of the Allen & Thurber Pistol Works. Later he was in the employ of the W. A. Wheeler Foundry & Machine Works. Three years later Mr. Allen engaged in business on his own account in the firm known as the Stewart & Allen Boiler Works. Three years later this firm was dissolved and Mr. Allen purchased the Worcester Boiler Works at South Worcester, admitting his sons, Captain George L. Allen and William P. Allen, to partnership under the firm name of William Allen & Sons. The business was small at the beginning in 1875 but soon grew to large proportions. New buildings were erected and the Worcester Boiler became well known throughout the country. Eventually the Allen works became the largest in this line of business in New England. The plant was extended after removing to Washington and Green Streets, until it occupied an acre and a half having boiler shops, foundry and machine shop, connected by spur tracks with all the railroads entering the city. Mr. Allen lived to see the business employ a force of one hundred and fifty machinists and mechanics. He manufactured horizontal, tubular, vertical and marine boilers and all kinds of steam machinery, such as feed water heaters, steam boxes, rubber devulcanizers and specialties such as the Allen patent bleaching kiers and dyewood extractor, water- wheel cases, penstocks, oil and water tanks, iron stacks and other plate and sheet iron work. The Allen heating boiler was in great demand for residences, churches and public buildings throughout New England. The firm also dealt in fire-brick, fire-clay and other boiler supplies. Mr. Allen was a Republican in politics, and was a member of the Common Council in 1870-71-72.'[2]

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] Worcester History website
  2. [2] HISTORY OF WORCESTER AND ITS PEOPLE by Charles Nutt, 1919