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British Industrial History

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William Stableford

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William Stableford (1815-1887)

1862 William Stableford, Railway Carriage Works, Oldbury.[1]

1887 March 4th. Died.

1887 Obituary [2]

WILLIAM STABLEFORD was born on 31st December 1815 at Birstal, a village about three miles from Leicester.

At an early age he showed his mechanical inventiveness by so altering the little machine for weaving webbing, at which lie was employed, as to double the amount of work it produced.

A few years later he began to work for his feather, who seas a builder of railway wagons; and in 1846 he was appointed foreman in the works of Mr. Hamer at Leicester, on whose decease he became manager at the railway wagon works of Messrs. Johnson and Kinder at Bromsgrove.

He subsequently took the management of Mr. Johnson's railway carriage and wagon works at Oldbury; and on the conversion of the business into a company in 1862 he was appointed general manager. This position he held for nine years, and in 1871 was appointed managing director, in which capacity he continued until compelled to retire in 1879 through failing health.

In 1865 he invented a brake for railway wagons, which was extensively used both at home and abroad. When railways were being first opened in New Zealand, he designed the first rolling stock suitable for the narrow gauge, having combined centre-buffers and automatic couplings, for which he invented a safety shackle for preventing the draw-hook from getting out of position when in work.

In 1879 he purchased a small repairing shop for railway wagons at Coalville near Leicester, which he developed into an extensive establishment, and executed there some large contracts for both English and foreign railways.

For a number of years he had taken an active interest in the local affairs of Oldbury, until compelled by ill-health to retire about a year ago.

He died on 4th March 1887, at the age of seventy-one, after an illness extending over three years; and during the last eighteen months he was quite blind.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1862.

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