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Thomas Greenwood

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Thomas Greenwood (1807-1873) of Greenwood and Batley

c1810 Born at Gildersome.

1834 Listed as a machine maker of Dean Street, Kirkstall Road, Leeds [1]

1840 Advert: 'TO MACHINE MAKERS AND OTHERS. MR. THOS. HARDWICK begs to announce that he has received Instructions from the Trustees under a Deed of Assignment, to SELL by AUCTION .... on the Premises of Mr. Thomas Greenwood, Machine and Tool Maker, Dean-Stree, Kirkstall Road, all the Valuable MECHANIC and SMITH's TOOLS; PLANING and DRILLING MACHINES ; STOCK IN-TRADE and EFFECTS;— comprising Two 9 Inch Back Gear Lathes. 10 Inch and 12 Inch Ditto, with Iron and steel Tools and Belts ; Upright Drilling Machine; Three Common Lathes : One 17 Foot 6 Inch Slide Lathe Bed, with two Screws for Screw Cutting. ..... Large Planing Machine, with Iron and Steel Tools and Belts complete; ....'[2]

1843 Became Chief Draughtsman to Peter Fairbairn and Co

1851 Living at 31 Park Square, Leeds (age 41 born Gildersome), Flax and Silk Machine Maker. Partner employing 850 men. With wife Joanna (age 43) and children Mary (age 15), Jane (age 13), George (age 10), Sarah Ann (age 8), Arthur (age 5), Fanny (age 4) and his nephew Henry Greenwood (age 14). Plus three visitors and a servant. [3]

1858 of Albion Foundry, Leeds.[4]

Died 1873

1874 Obituary [5]

Thomas Greenwood was born at Gildersome, near Leeds.

After serving some years in his father’s machine shop, he, about the year 1833, established himself, in conjunction with his brother, as a machine and tool maker.

On the death of his brother, he, after a short engagement with Messrs. Whitham, of the Perseverance Ironworks, entered the drawing office of Sir Peter Fairbairn, of the Wellington Foundry, Leeds, and continued with him as manager, and shortly afterwards as partner along with Mr. Batley, under the firm of Fairbairn, Greenwood and Batley, until 1856.

Sir Peter Fairbairn principally devoted himself to the manufacture of flax machinery; but the outbreak of the Russian war so interfered with the ordinary business of the firm that nearly every order on hand was countermanded, and it became a question how to utilise the existing machinery and keep the men fully employed, At this crisis Mr. Greenwood’s energetic mind conceived the idea of constructing machinery for the manufacture of the Enfield rifle and other war stores.

Having persuaded Sir Peter Fairbairn to take up this new branch of art, he successfully competed with the most celebrated and experienced American tool-makers (who at that time had entire charge of the Enfield factories) in making machinery for the manufacture of interchangeable small arms for the British Government, and was thus instrumental in securing for this country a new branch of machine making.

On the close of the Russian war in 1856, Mr. Greenwood left the Wellington Foundry, and, associating himself with Mr. Batley, who had been formerly cashier in the same works, established the Albion Foundry, under the style of Greenwood and Batley. Subsequently this firm built a large and extensive range of premises in Armley Road; and by way of preserving the old association, they called their new premises the Albion Works, at the same time keeping up their humbler establishment at East Street. Here the firm rapidly gained a high position, and it is not too much to say that the Albion Works, Leeds, are known all over the civilised world.

Following the example of Sir Peter Fairbairn, Mr. Greenwood’s attention was principally devoted to the production of flax and silk spinning, and small-arm machinery, thus curiously lending himself to the development of arts diametrically opposed to each other. Mr. Greenwood, in 1871, went to Russia to establish it small-arm manufactory in that empire, and there obtained one of the largest orders his firm ever received. He also went to America, and while there in the summer of 1872, suffered severely from the effects of the intense heat which then prevailed, and to which suffering his death, a few months after, may be traced.

Mr. Greenwood‘s life was a story of self-help and enterprise, and the success he ultimately achieved was as much owing to his industry and perseverance as to his undoubtedly high mechanical talents. On the subjects with which he was more particularly acquainted, Mr. Greenwood contributed Papers which have been published in the Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, of which society he was a Member. As a citizen of Leeds he was held in deserved respect. He at one time was a member of the Town Council, and also acted as Chairman of the Leeds Board of overseers.

The news of his death, which occurred on the 9th of February, 1873, at Gipsy Hill, near the Crystal Palace, caused general regret; and his funeral, at the Woodhouse Cemetery, whither his remains had been conveyed from London, partook of the nature of a public ceremony, sixteen hundred of the work-people employed by the firm following him to the grave. Mr. Greenwood was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 4th of February, 1860.

1874 Obituary [6]

THOMAS GREENWOOD was born in 1807 at Gildersome near Leeds, and after serving some years in his father's machine shop he removed to Leeds about 1833, and went into business with his brother as machine and tool makers; but on his brother's death he became draughtsman and traveller with Messrs. S. and J. Whitham of Leeds.

In 1843 he entered the works of the late Sir Peter Fairbairn, Wellington Foundry, Leeds, and soon after became practical manager of those works, in which in 1848 he and Mr. Batley became partners, and remained there until 1856.

Mr. Greenwood and Mr. Batley then commenced business together at the Albion Foundry, East Street, Leeds, and in 1860 erected the large Albion Works in Armley Road, Leeds.

He was a thorough practical mechanic of very inventive genius and quick appreciation. His productions contributed greatly to the progress of the flax and silk manufactures, and in 1865 he gave a paper to the Institution on machinery employed in the preparation and spinning of flax (see Proceedings List. M. E. 1865 page 103).

His firm were also largely employed by the British and many Foreign governments as makers of machinery for the manufacture of war material, in which capacity he was very successful and rendered great services to his country.

He successfully competed with the most celebrated and experienced American tool makers in the manufacture of interchangeable small-arms machinery for the British and other European governments, and thereby he secured for this country a new branch of machine making. In connection with this subject be contributed two papers to the Institution, on machinery for the manufacture of gunstocks and of the Boxer cartridges (see Proceedings Inst. M. E. 1862 page 328 and 1868 page 105).

He became a Member of the Institution in 1858, and was on the Council from 1868 to the time of his death, which took place on 9th February 1873, at his temporary residence at Gipsy Hill near London, in the sixty-sixth year of his age.

1873 Obituary.[7]

1873 Obituary [8]

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