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Ralph Peacock (1826-1889)

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Ralph Peacock (1826-1889) of Aire and Calder Foundry, Goole (1875)

1889 Obituary [1]

RALPH PEACOCK, of Goole, was born at Fremington, in Swaledale, Yorkshire, on 6th September 1826; and his father removing shortly afterwards to Leeds, he commenced work at the age of eleven under him and his grandfather, who were the contractors for making the old Leeds tunnel on the Leeds and Selby Railway.

He was apprenticed at York to Mr. Thomas Cabry, but was transferred to Selby, and before he was of age was sent to France to superintend some engineering works.

On his return, his uncle, Mr. Richard Peacock, who was then locomotive superintendent of the Manchester Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, wished him to join that line, and he was appointed superintendent engineer at New Holland. He was transferred thence to Sheffield, and at the age of twenty-three was removed from the locomotive department to become marine inspector and manager at New Holland. Here he first became acquainted with Goole, having designed and prepared the specifications of the steamer "Cheviot" for Messrs. H. T. Watson and Co.

Shortly afterwards he removed to Goole, and joined Mr. H. T. Watson in the Cyclops Engineering and Shipbuilding Works on the north side of the Barge Dock, of which he became the sole proprietor on the retirement of Mr. Watson in 1860. To meet the requirements of increasing business, the works were gradually enlarged until they extended from the Barge Dock to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway; and the manufacture of smoke-consuming appliances, steering gear, and disintegrators, kept a large number of men in constant employment. Shipbuilding of all kinds was carried on, including many tugs, flyboats, and steam compartments for the Aire and Calder Navigation, and a large iron steamship, the "Mary West," of such a length that it had to be launched broadside into the Barge Dock.

In 1867 additional works on the opposite side of the dock were purchased, and larger contracts were taken for engines, boilers, and shipbuilding, until in 1873 the whole business was converted into the Goole Engineering and Shipbuilding Company, Mr. Peacock retaining a large interest and acting for a few years as manager.

On leaving this position, he bought a colliery in South Wales, which resulted in disastrous loss, for after the first few days the pit was flooded.

Returning to Goole, he first took a wine and spirit business, besides acting as consulting engineer for the Yorkshire Coal and Steamship Company, in whose vessels he introduced many improvements of his own, including a propeller which was extensively adopted.

The collision by which the "Cuxhaven" was sunk on 20th April 1886 did much to undermine his health, in consequence of the unremitting attention he bestowed upon the wreck for some days.

Lately he had been occupied in the inspection of a new steamer building at Messrs. Earle's yard at Hull. He died on 29th April 1887, in the sixty-first year of his age.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1869.

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