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British Industrial History

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William Heap

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William Heap (1863-1911)

1863 Born in Ashton under Lyne, son of Joshua Heap, an engineer's tool maker[1]

1881 Engineer's tool maker

1901 Leading engine draughtsman, living in Horwich with Lucy E Heap 35, Gertrude A Heap 13, George H Heap 10, Lewis Heap 5[2]



1911 Obituary [3]

WILLIAM HEAP was born at Ashton-under-Lyne on 21st March 1863.

He received an elementary education at a local school, and commenced his apprenticeship at the early age of eleven years with Messrs. Joshua Heap and Co., of Oldham and Ashton. During the evenings he studied by himself as far as he was able.

After his apprenticeship of three years was over, he worked at the lathe and bench at various works in the Manchester district until 1884, when he became successively machine-tool fitter in charge of repairs to plants of Messrs. Hick, Hargreaves and Co., of Bolton, the Solid Nut and Tube Co., of Openshaw, and Messrs. S. Marsden and Sons, of Manchester. During the next four years, 1891-95, he worked its tool-fitter, charge-hand, and assistant foreman, and designed and supervised the manufacture of several labour-saving devices. He then became leading draughtsman, and was closely connected with the design of the luggage-transporter at Victoria Station, Manchester.

He was engaged mainly in experimental designing until 1900, when he was appointed head of the electrical drawing office at the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Co.'s locomotive works at Horwich. For the greater part of this time he also acted in the evenings as Instructor of Workshop Engineering Practice at the Bury Technical School.

In 1904 he went to Ceylon to take up the post of Rolling Stock and Workshop Superintendent for the Colombo Electric Tramways and Lighting Co. The earlier portion of his service was devoted to the improvement of the rolling stock, whereby he increased the capacity of the line with a reduction in labour costs.

Among some of his inventions and improvements may be mentioned: an electro-pneumatic brake arrangement for the Liverpool and Southport electric railway; a brush-bolder; and a gyroscopic recorder for noting and recording the angle of the pitch and roll of a vessel at sea.

His death took place suddenly at Colombo from heart failure, on 1st August 1911, at the age of forty-eight.

He became a Member of this Institution in March 1911.



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