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William Simpson (1809-1864)

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William Simpson (1809-1864), engineer, of William Simpson and Co

1809 Born in his father's house at Chelsea waterworks, the 6th son of Thomas Simpson.

Was trained by his elder brother, James Simpson, in engineering; James helped him in the operation of a steam engine company in Pimlico, London[1].

1829 William Simpson, Coleshill Street, Chelsea, now studying Engineering, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[2]

1830s William ran the family's engine manufactory at Pimlico[3], Simpson and Co at Grosvenor Engine Works.

1852 A William Simpson was at 2 Eccleston St[4] - perhaps this was William?

1858 William Simpson and Co established an engineering works and factory, known as Grosvenor Works, at Grosvenor Wharf, Isle of Dogs.

1862 the Isle of Dogs site was extended westwards to meet Wharf Road, and further factory buildings were erected [5]

1862 The partnership of James Simpson, William Simpson and James Simpson, Junior carrying on business as manufacturing engineers as Simpson and Co and William Simpson and Co at Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, and Cubitt Town, Poplar, was dissolved. James Simpson would carry on the business[6].

1862 William Simpson (1809-1864) left, to establish his own ship-repairing yard at Empire Wharf, Isle of Dogs[7].

1862 William Simpson, Engine Works, Grosvenor Road, Pimlico, London.[8]

1863 William Simpson took a 60-year lease of the Empire wharf and established his own ship-repairing yard, known as Christ Church Works. The yard was dominated by a large patent slip 500ft long, extending over 100ft into the Thames.

1864 Simpson took an adjoining plot from Cubitt and Co increasing his river frontage to 237ft [9]. Later that year, whilst returning from work, he met his death.

1886 and 1867 The Christ Church Wharf and Patent Slip was advertised for sale[10].

1864 May 7th. Died.


1865 Obituary [11]

William Simpson, the sixth son of the late Mr. Simpson, the well-known Engineer of the Chelsea and other Waterworks, was born at Chelsea on the 29th of July, 1809.

He was brought up in the office and upon Engineering works under his brother, James Simpson (Past-President Inst. C.E.), and was by him placed at the head of the engine and machine manufactory in Pimlico, of which he was admitted as a partner. From these works proceeded several powerful and very good pumping engines, and a large quantity of other kinds of machinery.

Ultimately Mr. William Simpson seceded from the Grosvenor Works and created for himself an establishment near Woolwich, for the construction of iron vessels, boilers, bridges, &c.

It was on his return from these works on the evening of Saturday, May 7th, 1864, that the accident occurred by which he lost his life. He was observed to be sitting dozing on the rail of the steamer, and it is supposed that he lurched forward and, in endeavouring to recover himself, he fell overboard. It was nearly a week before the body was recovered.

Mr. W. Simpson joined the Institution of Civil Engineers as an Associate on the 10th of February, 1829, and was transferred to the class of Members, on the 7th July, 1838. He served the office of Auditor of Accounts in 1838 and again in 1840.

He was much attached to the Society, was a frequent attendant at the meetings, and always took a lively interest in the proceedings. He was an amiable man, and his unfortunate decease, in his fifty-second year, caused great pain to his family and friends.


1865 Obituary [12]

William Simpson was born in London on 29th July 1809, his father, Mr. Thomas Simpson, being the promoter and founder of the Chelsea and Lambeth Water Works.

He devoted himself to the mechanical branch of engineering, and was the active partner in the firm of Messrs. William Simpson and Co., of Pimlico, from its commencement until the end of 1862, the works being established for the manufacture of steam engines and machinery, especially in connection with hydraulic works.

By this firm were constructed the pumping engines on the double cylinder principle, working with high, and low pressure steam in combination, now so successfully used by the Chelsea, Lambeth, and New River Water Works ; and a paper on the construction and results of working of these engines was communicated through him to the Institution in 1862.

He died on 7th May 1864, at the age of fifty-four, by falling from a steamer whilst returning from the Isle of Dogs, where he had recently established some iron shipbuilding and general engineering works.

He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1862.



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Biography of James Simpson, ODNB [1]
  2. 1829 Institution of Civil Engineers
  3. A biographical dictionary of civil engineers in Great Britain and Ireland, edited by A. W. Skempton
  4. Post Office London Directory (Small Edition), 1852
  5. 'Cubitt Town: Riverside area: from Newcastle Drawdock to Cubitt Town Pier', Survey of London: volumes 43 and 44: Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs (1994), pp. 528-532. [2]
  6. London Gazette, 9 December 1862
  7. 'Cubitt Town: Riverside area: from Newcastle Drawdock to Cubitt Town Pier', Survey of London: volumes 43 and 44: Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs (1994), pp. 528-532. [3]
  8. 1862 Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  9. 'Cubitt Town: Riverside area: from Newcastle Drawdock to Cubitt Town Pier', Survey of London: volumes 43 and 44: Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs (1994), pp. 528-532. [4]
  10. London Gazette, 10 December 1867
  11. 1865 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  12. 1865 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries