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Alfred Austin Rickaby

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Alfred Austin Rickaby (1840-1904) of Bloomfield Engine Works, Sunderland.

1904 Obituary [1]

ALFRED AUSTIN RICKABY was born at High Coniscliffe, near Darlington, on 5th July 1840.

He commenced his career as a miller and wheelwright in a large flour mill in the Darlington district. When about sixteen years of age ho removed to Sunderland, and went to serve under Mr. Joseph Pile, marine engine builder, of Monkwearmouth, finishing his apprenticeship with Mr. George Clark.

At the age of twenty-one he took charge of laying down the shipbuilding plant for Mr. William Pile, North Sands, Monkwearmouth, subsequently commencing business as a mechanical engineer on a large scale at the South Docks, Sunderland, in an engine and rivet factory.

This not proving successful, he returned to Mr. William Pile, and took part in many large undertakings connected with marine engineering, such as the enlargement of the graving dock beside the Wearmouth Bridge. In this work he introduced a composite cofferdam, which was one of the first to be introduced. He also supervised, for Mr. Pile, the laying down and erection of a complete marine engineering plant, including machine, erecting, and boiler shops, metal and brass foundry and coppersmiths' sloop; and was the first to send a vessel to sea from Sunderland with double compound engines working at a pressure of 75 lbs. per square inch.

On the death of Mr. Pile, Mr. Rickaby commenced business on his own account at the Bloomfield Engine Works, Sunderland, and soon had a large staff of skilled workmen engaged in all kinds of pattern- making, finishing, and erecting work.

Among his inventions may be mentioned a floating metallic piston-rod packing and elastic metallic pistons. The productions of the Bloomfield Works have been of a varied character, comprising colliery plant, marine and stationary engines, pumps, feed-water heaters, steam winches, steam-hammers, water-softening apparatus, &c., also boring out cylinders in their places and re-boring crank-pin holes, and similar work. A special branch of the business he built up was that of broker for all classes of machinery, and for this purpose he kept in stock a very diversified stock.

His death took place at his residence in Sunderland on 22nd November 1904, at the age of sixty-four.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1873, and he was also a Member of the North-East Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders.

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