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 163,368 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.

Ormerod, Grierson and Co

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William Walker's self-adjusting expansion gear, 1869
William Walker's self-adjusting expansion gear, 1869
April 1870.
January 1872.


Ormerod, Grierson hand-operated crane at National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port
Ormerod, Grierson hand-operated crane at the Colonel Stephens Railway Museum in Tenterden, Kent

Ormerod Grierson & Co of Manchester were engineers and iron and brass founders.

1811 Established in Minshull Street.

1861 Known as Richard Ormerod and Son.

1862 'Large Iron Bridge for India.
—There is in course of construction in Manchester a very large iron railway and carriage way bridge combined, intended to span the Jumna, near Delhi. It is to consist of 12 spans, each girder being 216 ft. long, which, with the thickness of the eleven piers upon which it is to rest, to give a total length of over half a mile. The first span of this malleable iron lattice bridge it now completed. The metals for the East India Railway Company are laid along the top, and the roadway along the bottom, the latter having a clear height of 16 ft. The bridge is from designs of A. Rendel, Esq., C.E., London, and is being constructed by Messrs. Ormerod, Grierson, and Co., of the St. George’s Ironworks, Hulme, Manchester. One unusual feature of the structure is that all the rivet holes are drilled instead of being punched. The bridge, notwithstanding its great strength, has a light and airy appearance. The open lattice-work has the effect of relieving it from the dull and heavy aspect inseparable from tubular structures.'[1]. The Jumna (now Yumana) bridge was mentioned in Charles T. Porter's memoirs. Porter, an eminent American engineer, worked with Ormerod, Grierson as a consultant. See also below.

1863 they became Ormerod, Grierson and Company of Hulme Hall Road and Chester Road, Hulme. The factory was located on Hulme Hall Road, occupying land between the Bridgewater Canal and the adjacent railway viaduct. [2] Apartment blocks have recently been built on the site.

1864 'SOUTH WALES INSTITUTE OF ENGINEERS. .... The Chairman .... invited discussion on a paper read at their July meeting, by Mr. H. M. Maynard— ON MULTIPLE DRILLING FOR RIVETTED BOILERS. In this paper it was stated that the first application of the principle of multiple drilling which appears to have been brought into practical use is in the Charing-cross bridge, at Hungerford (designed by Mr. J. Hawkshaw, and manufactured by Messrs. Cochrane and Co). Messrs. Ormerod, Grierson and Co., of Manchester, have also constructed a machine for drilling rivet holes in the Jumna bridge, which drills all the holes in a plate (160 in number) at once. Messrs. Kennard, brothers, at the Viaduct Works, Crumlin (Monmouthshire), have also several of these machines for the purpose of drilling the rivet-holes in the girders of a bridge over the Thames at Blackfriars, which, collectively, are capable of drilling 552 holes at once, and one is constructed for drilling angle-iron, and is capable of drilling a long straight row 26 feet in length. The fact of drilled rivetted work being superior to punched, rivetted work is now becoming generally understood, and is making a great revolution in most ot the engineering factories of this country. ....'[3]

1865 Dissolution of the Partnership between Henry Houldsworth Grierson and John Chadwick, in the trades or businesses of Ironfounders and Mechanical Engineers, carried on at the St. George's Foundry, in Hulme, in the parish of Manchester, under the style or firm of Ormerod, Grierson, and Co., by mutual consent; debts received and paid by Henry Houldsworth Grierson[4]

Supplied three multiple drilling machines to Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Co for bridge construction. The largest of the machines drove 108 drills simultaneously.'[5]

1866 Supplied steam-driven pumping machinery to Australian Paper Company's works. [6]

1866 Letter from H. Houldsworth Grierson to 'Engineering' clarifying the position regarding their ceasing manufacture of the Allen high speed steam engine, due to the high cost of manufacture. They were also giving up bridge manufacture, and concentrating on engines, boilers, and millwright work.[7]

1869 Applying William Walker's patent self-adjusting expansion gear [8]

1869 Advertising as manufacturers of Joseph E. Holmes's Patent Stone Dressing Machine. Bryan Johnson of Chester was the only other licensee in Great Britain.[9]

1871 '... licenses for constructing the Babcock and Wilcox engine in this country have been taken by Messrs. Ormerod and Grierson, of Manchester, and by Messrs. Crossley Brothers, of the same place. The engine was lately fully described by us, and we believe that it is one which is likely to come into extensive use when its merits become generally known, as they deserve to be.'[10]

1876 Details of their multitubular boiler. [11]

1881 May have made a steam locomotive. They did. See below.

1881 'STEAM TRAMCARS. Some interesting experiments with steam tramway engines have been made on the Walton tramways, near Liverpool, ..... The third experiment was with a combined engine and car made by Messrs. Ormerod, Grierson, and Co, of Manchester, on Apsey's patent. The boiler is placed vertically at one end of the car, end the cylinder is in the centre of and underneath the oar, the whole being carried on two bogies each with four wheels. The car is constructed to carry 22 passengers inside, end about the same number outside, and is driven from either end. Over the outside passengers is flxed a light awning, through which the funnel is carried, so as to protect passengers from smoke. The combined car possesses great advantage from the fact that the weight assists in giving a better grip upon rails both for traction and for the brakes, and it also occupies less room in the street. Not the slightest heat was felt inside the car, and it ran with greater smoothness and much less noise than an ordinary horse car. From some cause a large amount of ateam was shown during the run. Mr. Apsey says that he ran for months in Paris without showing steam. The hydraulic band brake was not sufficiently quick in action, and the stopping was mainly done by reversing the engines, but this may be improved upon. When nearly at the end of the return journey one of the wheels unfortunately broke. New wheels had been put on to suit the centre groove rails in use here, and cast iron ones had been used, as there was not sufficient time to obtain cast steel ones, which take longer in manuufacture. ....'[12]

1890 'Preliminary Notice: TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION, by Messrs. WILLIAM WILSON & SON, during the present month (of which due notice will be given):
THE IRONWORKS and PREMISES known as the St. George's Ironworks, now in the occupation of Messrs. Ormerod, Grierson, and Co., ironfounders, engineers and millwrights, situate Hulme, in the city of Manchester, in close proximity to the docks of the Manchester Ship Canal, which are now being constructed; also extensive frontages to Hulme Hall-lane, the Bridgewater Canal, the Cheshire Lines, and the Manchester South Junction and Altrincham Railways.—Further particulars will appear in future advertisements, ....'[13]

1890 'THE AFFAIRS OF SIR EUSTACE PIERS. At the London Bankruptcy Court, yesterday, Sir Eustace Piers, the founder of the well-known engineering firm of Ormerod, Grierson, and Co., Manchester, came up before Mr. Registrar Brougham for public examination. The debts are expected to amount to upwards of £4,000, and it is expected by careful realisation of the assets the creditors will be paid 20s. in the pound. Mr. Woolf, Q.C., for the creditors, pointed out that a statement of affairs had not been filed, and asked for an adjournment ; and upon Mr. Eley, for the bankrupt, explaining that the bankrupt had not been able get access to the books, which were the possession of Ormerod, Grierson, and Co., his Honour adjourned the examination until the 16th of January.'[14]

1891 'SERIOUS CHARGE OF FRAUD. Mr. Ernest James Read, Mr. Robert Cory Hanrott, and Mr. Arthur Nightingale Butt were summoned at the Mansion House yesterday, for that, between lst September, 1887, and 31st March, 1891, they conspired together, by false pretences, to deceive Sir Eustace Fitzmaurice Piers and others, and to cheat and defraud the Shareholders of a certain Limited Company, called Ormerod, Grierson, and Company. .... Sir Eustace F. Piers said prior to the 31st January, 1837, he was carrying on business at Hulme, Manchester, under the style of Ormerod, Grierson, and Co., engineers and millwrights. Witness was sole proprietor, and the works were known as the St. Georges Ironworks. The business was established in the year 1800. .....'[15]

1891 'A QUESTION OF COSTS. At the Central Criminal Court, on Monday, Mr. Grain, behalf of Ernest James Read, Robert Cory Hanrolt, and Arthur Nightingale Butt, who were acquitted last sessions of the charge of conspiracy preferred against them by Sir E. Piers, Irish baronet, in respect of circumstances arising out of the firm of Ormerod, Grierson, and Co., Manchester, applied that the prosecutor should be ordered to pay costs. Defendants were discharged by the magistrate, but the prosecutor proceeded under the Vexatious Indictment Act.—The Recorder said that he fully remembered the facts, and he felt bound to exercise his discretion, and made the prosecutor pay costs.'[16]

1892 They were known as St George's Ironworks.

1892 'THE AFFAIRS OF SIR EUSTACE PIERS. A sitting was held yesterday at the London Bankruptcy Court, before Mr. Registrar Brougham, for the public examination of Sir Eustace F. Piers, late proprietor of Ormerod, Grierson, and Co., millwrights, &c. of Manchester who, in January, 1887, converted the businesss into a limited company with a capital of £100,000. Mr. Hough, official receiver, attended for the department, Mr. Winch, Q.C., and Mr. Ringwood appearing for Mr. Butt, creditor, and Mr. Sidney Woolff, Q.C. (with him Mr. Horace Kent) appeared for the London Assets Company. In the course of the examination the bankrupt stated he joined tbo firm in 1868, and paid out Mr. Grierson in 1882, then taking over the whole business on his own account. He turned the business into a limited company in January, 1887, but himself had the whole of the shares with the exception of the necessary qualification number held by the other signatories. Possession of the property was afterwards taken under proceedings, and subsequently the company went into liquidation, and he went into the Bankruptcy Court. The land upon which the company's buildings were was on the Manchester Ship Canal, and was now of much greater value than before. In reply to Mr. Woolf, Q.C., the bankrupt stated that his occupation prior to becoming connected with Ormerod, Grierson, and Co. was beside the question. Pressed as to what his occupation was, replied. "I was Sir Eustace Piers." The Registrar: That is not a proper answer to the question. The bankrupt was examined at some length to the amount of capital that had put into the firm, and stated that his capital amounted to about £13,000 odd. Examined as to the amount which he had drawn for the business from year to year, he explained that a sum of £6,000 alleged to have been drawn from March, 1889, to March, 1890, included repayment of loans and other expenses, although the whole sum had been entered as drawn. It was true that within two months of the formation of the company the capital stood at £3,942, and that in spite of that fact the business was sold for £100,000. The suggestion that it was sold for that amount to a confiding public was totally unfounded, inasmuch as it was practically sold to himself and was never intended for the public. It was sold subject to mortgages of £23,000, the company had to discharge, and therefore increased the selling price to £123,000. One valuation was made on behalf of the company at the time of transfer. Witness was appointed managaing-director for life at a salary of £500 per annum. — At the close of the day the examination was adjourned until June, further accounts having to be filed.'[17]

1904 Advert: 'ST. GEORGE'S IRONWORKS, LIMITED (late Ormerod, Grierson and Co.), Hulme, Manchester, have the largest Assortment of WHEEL and PULLEY PATTERNS in the trade. In addition, have purchased all Wheel, Puliey and Tooth Block Patterns, etc., belonging to the late Henry Wren and Co., London-road Iron Works Manchester, and are in a position to supply CASTINGS, Millwright, and all kinds of Engineering Work promptly. Catalogues of Wheels and Pulley Patterns on application. N.T. No. 229 Manchester. Telegraphic Address: *Ormerod Grierson, Manchester" '[18]

1907 'LONG LITIGATION ENDED. The appeal by the plaintiffs in the case of Ormerod, Grierson, and Co., Ltd., v. St. George's Ironworks, Ltd., against the order of Mr. Justice Kekewich, March last, dismissing the action with costs to be paid by the plaintiffs, Captain C P. Piers and Ormerod, Grierson and Co., Ltd , came before the Court of Appeal. Mr. Willis appeared for the appellants, and Mr. Shebbear for the defendant Butt. Mr. Willis applied for leave to withdraw the appeal, and the Court ordered that it should be dismissed. This litigation arises out of the affairs of Sir Eustace F. Piers, Bart., which has been going on since 1888, and in which is stated quite £20,000 has been spent in law costs.'[19]

Jumna (Yumana) Bridge

'GREAT IRON RAILWAY BRIDGE FOR INDIA. Messrs. Ormerod, Grierson, and Co., of the St. George's Ironworks, Hulme, have just completed the third span of a huge wrought-iron lattice girder bridge for a railroad and carriage-way combined, which is intended to cross the river Jumna, near Delhi. The bridge is for the East India Railway Company, and is from the designs of Mr. A. M. Rendel, C.E. If our readers will imagine an iron tube, with solid top and bottom, with open cross lattice work sides, through which air and light can freely pass ; that this tube is over half a mile long, 18ft. high by 18ft. wide, with a clear space 16ft. from the level of the highway for carriages and pedestrians to the under side of the railroad above, they will be able to realise the extent of this colossal structure. Its entire weight will be about 3,400 tons, and when delivered at Liverpool for shipment to India, it will have cost more than £50,000. The bridge will be composed of 12 girders, each 216 ft. long, supported at each end by stone piers, 205 ft. distant from each other. Each span has a rise of five inches in the centre. The top and bottom parts of the girders resemble a continuous trough, the upper pair being inverted. The bottom of this trough has one plate 3/8in. in thickness, the strength gradually increasing to three plates of the same size, at the centre. The sides of the trough are composed of two half-inch plates, riveted together ; and instead of being joined to the bottom plates in the usual way with angle iron, they are flanched, or bent to a curve of four-inch radius, thus forming their own attachment. In a structure of such magnitude, and which will be exposed to the intense heat of an Indian sun, it is of the greatest importance that due provision be made for variation of expansion and contraction. This provision has been secured by a simple arrangement which allows the end of each girder to slide on rollers with perfect certainty and ease ; while by the same apparatus the varying deflections are also provided for. All the parts of the structure are so fitted, by planing and other self-acting tools, that great ease of construction has been secured when the work is being put together, giving also the advantage of little trouble in joining the parts on their arrival in India. The drilling machines for boring the plates are fine specimens of that class of tools. One of them will drill at one time 160 holes one inch diameter in a plate 13 ft. long, 4 ft. broad, by ? in. thick. The pressure the drills by the movement upwards of the table supporting the plate, regulated by two small valves which act upon two hydraulic rams.'[20]

See Also


Sources of Information

  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816
  • ‘Engineering Reminiscences’ by Charles T Porter, 1908, contains many references to Ormerod, Grierson. The American engineer worked closely with them on the design of high speed horizontal steam engines.
  1. Norwich Mercury - Wednesday 25 June 1862
  2. The Godfrey Edition map: Lancashire Sheet 104.10: Manchester (SW) 1894 [1]
  3. Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian, Glamorgan, Monmouth, and Brecon Gazette - Friday 15 July 1864
  4. London Gazette 3 November 1865
  5. Newcastle Daily Chronicle - Friday 23 August 1867
  6. [2] Article from Sydney Morning Herald, 14th July 1866]]
  7. [3] Engineering, 7 Sept 1866, p.175
  8. 'Engineering' 22 Oct 1869
  9. Building News, 2 July 1869
  10. Engineering, 10 March 1871
  11. The Engineer of 1st December 1876 p379
  12. Bristol Mercury - Thursday 10 November 1881
  13. Manchester Courier - Saturday 17 May 1890
  14. Manchester Evening News - Saturday 15 November 1890
  15. London Evening Standard - Friday 6 February 1891
  16. West Somerset Free Press - Saturday 11 April 1891
  17. Manchester Courier - Saturday 2 May 1891
  18. Cheshire Daily Echo - Tuesday 12 April 1904
  19. Manchester Courier - Friday 8 November 1907
  20. Newcastle Journal, 24 September 1862