Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,372 pages of information and 245,906 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

William McNaught (1811-1888)

From Graces Guide

William McNaught (c1811-1888) of J. and W. McNaught

1861 Living at 3 Oldham Road, Castleton, Lancs: William McNaught (age 49 born Manchester), Engineer and Millwright employing 40 men and 10 boys. With his wife Kezia McNaught (age 51 born Bury) and their five children; John McNaught (age 20 born Rochdale), Engineer and Millwright; William McNaught (age 17 born Rochdale), Engineer and Millwright; Elizabeth McNaught (age 15 born Rochdale); Harriet McNaught (age 13 born Rochdale); and Jane Ellen McNaught (age 9 born Rochdale). One servant.[1]

1881 Living at Crawford House, Castleton: William McNaught (age 69 born Manchester), Master Engineer. With his three children; John McNaught (age 40 born Rochdale), Master Engineer; and Will McNaught (age 38 born Rochdale), Master Engineer; and Jane E. McNaught (age 25 born Rochdale). Two servants.[2]

1888 Died. 'On the 10th inst., at his residence, Rochdale, William McNaught, in the 77th year of his age.'[3]

The first engine built in Rochdale was one of 8 horse-power which Petries built in 1819 for James King of Leavengreave, the price of which, complete with boiler, was £300. A year later they contracted for a set 20 horse-power for John Whitworth of Facit; by 1829 they had reached 50 horse-power in a single unit made for Newalls of Littleborough, then among the largest millowners in the district; in the following year they supplied a horse-power engine for Jacob Bright’s first mill at Fieldhouse and it. 1845 they built for the Fieldhouse New Mill, their finest job up to that date — a magnificent pair of 60 horsepower beam engines, designed by William McNaught, the sight of which, at work, was one of his (the speaker’s) earliest inspirations towards engineering. Two years later a practically identical pair was exported to Russia, thus beginning a connection with the Continent which subsequently extended to Germany, Austria, Spain and Sweden, as well as overseas business with Canada and New Zealand. This first Russian job included boilers, and at £4,500 was one of the biggest contracts Petries ever tackled. Although the beam engine was their speciality for over 50 years, and they were in other ways inclined be conservative —particularly in their long adherence to the single-cylinder engine, comparatively low steam pressures, and certain archaic expressions—they held their reputation to the last for sound workmanship and reliability. From about 1883, when they entered the 1,000 horsepower class and made the engine for the Crawford “A” Mill, they kept fair pace with other engine makers in the adoption of new types. During the 90 years of operation at Phoenix Foundry an average output was recorded of one new engine, often complete with boiler plant and gearing, every two months, and there had been installed in the mills of Europe, under the Petrie nameplate, prime movers to a total of 80,000 horse-power. But Petries were not the only engine makers in Rochdale. Earnshaw, Barlow and Holt of Oldham Road, William Todd of Barrackfield, David Howarth in Duke Street, and in their earlier years Thomas Robinson and Son, made comparatively small engines which one still came across in odd places.
But from 1860 there was only one serious competitor of Phoenix Foundry, and that was the firm established just before that year by William McNaught. William McNaught was born in Manchester in 1822, served an apprenticeship in Heywood, and after a course in marine engineering in London, came to Rochdale in 1838 as chief designer, and later superintendent, at Petries. He remained with them 20 years, during which time, either alone in conjunction with them he invented and patented their earliest automatic expansion gear and governing arrangements. He was the designer of their finest beam engines installed at Fieldhouse. He left Whitehall Street, apparently in some discontent as to his share of patent royalties, and in 1860 was established as a general engineer and millwright in the old foundry then known as Halstead’s Union Foundry on the site the present Wet Rake Gardens. About 1862 he removed to much larger premises in Crawford Street, which he named St. George’s Foundry, and there set to work in earnest to give Petries at least a good run for their money. When he retired in 1870 his sons, John and William, started to build the then standard horizontal compound engine. Their first real job was a 250 h.p engine for the Wham Bar Mill Heywood, but much larger engines for the new "limiteds” in the Oldham area quickly followed, and during their forty years of real activity — 1874 to 1914 — they made 95 engines, an average of one every twenty two weeks. During the same period Petries turned out 185, one every eleven weeks, but the average horse power was rather less than half that recorded by McNaughts, so the final result was a draw. John and William McNaught sent eight engines to India and others to Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Russia, Malta, and Australia. Incidentally, our William McNaught was not the originator or inventor of the principle compounding known as McNaughting. The patentee of this principle, whose name also was William, was a cousin who practised at first in Glasgow and later in Manchester.
Up to the last war, when for practical purposes engine building in Rochdale ceased, the firms of Petrie and McNaught between them engined the industrial world to the extent of 130,000 horse power — no mean record, although, in order to measure it against the march of time, it was interesting to note that the same figure — 130,000 h.p.—was now available from a single unit of the turbo-alternator plant a power station like Battersea. .....'[4]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1861 Census
  2. 1881 Census
  3. Manchester Times - Saturday 18 February 1888
  4. Rochdale Observer - Wednesday 24 November 1943