Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,113 pages of information and 245,598 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 Neilson (1810-1882)

From Graces Guide

William Neilson (1810-1882), Ironmaster

William was one of the sons of John Neilson (1779-1855), ironmaster of Glasgow; others were Walter (1807-1884) and Hugh Neilson ( - 1885).

His own sons included James, William, Walter and Hugh Neilson (1845-1890), Thomas Paterson Neilson and Beaumont Neilson.

1839 Established Mossend Iron Works.

1851 William Neilson 41, iron and coal master, lived at Mossend Works, with Anne Neilson 34, James Neilson 12, William Neilson 10, Walter Neilson 8, Hugh Neilson 5, Marrian Neilson 1[1]

1861 William Nelson Esq 50, Iron & Coal Master Employing & 40 Miners Of Coal, 68 Boys And 2 Women, And Farmer Of 230 Acres Employing 6 Men & 5 Women, lived in Mossend House, with Ann Neilson 43, James Neilson 22, manager iron, William Neilson 20, engineer iron, Walter Neilson 19, Slate Roller Of Iron, Hugh Neilson 15, Thomas Neilson 9, John Neilson 5, Beaumont Neilson 4[2]

1862 He acquired the Orbiston House estate in Glasgow[3]

1882 Obituary [4]

Mr. WILLIAM NEILSON was born in the early part of the year 1810, and died on Wednesday, May 24, 1882, being thus at the time of his decease in the seventy-third year of his age. His grandfather, Walter Neilson, was associated with William Dixon of the Govan Ironworks, and his father was John Neilson of Oakbank Engine Works, Glasgow. An uncle of the deceased was James Beaumont Neilson, the well-known inventor of the hot-blast as applied to iron smelting. Walter Neilson, his eldest brother, who survives him, was one of the founders of the well-known Summerlee Ironworks in the year 1837.

Along with his brother Walter, the deceased was actively trained by his father at the Oakbank Engine Works in all the branches of mechanical engineering, as that art was then pursued, including boiler-making, smithwork, millwright work, &c. Partly from the fact, no doubt, of Mr. J. Beaumont Neilson being appointed to the manager of the first Glasgow gaslight works, a considerable amount of business came to the Oakbank Works in connection with the equipment of some of the earliest gasworks established in Scotland, including those of Glasgow, Dundee, Kilmarnock, Arbroath, and Johnstone.

Colliery machinery formed at first the principal part of the work done at the Oakbank establishment, but as the two sons, Walter and William (the deceased), came to take an active part in its management, a much higher class of engine work was manufactured Heavy pumping and winding engines were turned out at Oakbank, as well as condensing engines for mills and other works, while in a number of instances some excellent types of blowing engines were made by the firm, including No. 1 and No. 2 engines at Summerlee Ironworks, and another for the Nibshill Ironworks. The firm also made a number of marine engines for Clyde and Channel steamers.

At the same works the Fairy Queen, the first iron steamboat that ever sailed on the Clyde, was constructed. After its construction, this vessel had to be hauled from the works to the Clyde, a distance of about three miles, before it could be launched. A number of other iron boats were built at Oakbank, including two for England, one for Ireland, and one for Russia. The one last referred to was a passage-boat seventy feet in length, for canal traffic. It was sent out to Russia in three pieces, and it is understood to have been the first iron boat ever used in that country.

Along with his father and his two brothers, Walter and Hugh, the deceased, in the year 1840, started the Mossend Ironworks, near Holytown, about eight miles from Glasgow. These works were commenced exclusively for the manufacture of wrought iron, as the works started three years earlier at Summerlee, Coatbridge, by his eldest brother and partners, were intended only for the making of pig iron.

Mr. Neilson began his iron manufacturing operations at the Mossend Works on a somewhat limited scale; but the establishment, which he started forty-two years ago, became in course of time the largest works of the kind north of the Tweed. As the growth of iron shipbuilding proceeded, the manufacturing powers of the Mossend Works had every now and then to be extended in order to meet the increasing demands for their specialties, in the shape of ship and boiler plates, large sections of deck beams, angle bars, and general merchant bars.

Mr. Neilson was ever ready to adopt the most advanced notions as to rolling machinery and other plant, with the view of maintaining the reputation which had been secured by the finished iron branded "Mossend." Mr. Neilson was one of the first iron manufacturers in Scotland to adopt reversing gearing for rolling-mills, and to introduce for reheating purposes the Siemens regenerative furnace. Some time ago, he added the manufacture of steel on the Siemens system to the capabilities of the Mossend Works.. This department has now been in operation for more than a year and a half, with very successful results.

Mr. Neilson became a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1871, and took an active part in the arrangements for the Glasgow meeting in the following year. He was also a member of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland, and of several kindred Societies.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1851 census
  2. 1861 census
  3. Glasgow Story [1]
  4. 1882 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries