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 162,868 pages of information and 245,381 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.

William Muir and Co

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Lathe 2670 still in use in Chennai, Tamil Nadu (South India). (2012).
Lathe 2670 still in use in Chennai, Tamil Nadu (South India). (2012). (Detail).
2023. Muir treadle lathe at Ellenroad Steam Museum
2023. Muir treadle lathe at Ellenroad Steam Museum
January 1866.
January 1880.
1885. Exhibit at Darlington Railway Museum.
Cylindrical grinding machine in reserve collection at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry
Manchester Corporation seal embossing press at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry
December 1889.
June 1898.
August 1899.
Slotting machine exhibited at Amberley Working Museum.
February 1901.
January 1902.
1909. Headstock of turbine rotor lathe.
1909.102 inch turbine rotor lathe.
1922. Spur Gear Generating Machine.
February 1929.
1947. Light machine shop before re-organisation.
1947. Light machine shop after re-organisation.
Exhibit at Geevor Tin Mine Museum. No.1688 lathe.
Muir travelling head shaper served a supporting role in store at Wortley Top Forge. Now in private preservation.
Muir flat belt radial drill of unknown date.
Muir flat belt radial drill of unknown date.
Muir milling machine with cast overarm.
Muir (originally steam-driven) punch and shear machine, note the mountings for the steam engine cylinder and crosshead now gone and v-belt pulley bolted to the flywheel.
Muir steam-driven punch and shear machine plate.
Muir steam-driven punch and shear machine gears.

W. Muir and Co Engineers and machinists, of Britannia Works, Sherbourne Street, Manchester.

1842 Business established when William Muir left Whitworths in June and established a workshop in Berwick Street, Manchester, where he had room for a small forge, his lathe, and a bench.

1847 Advertising his business address as 59 Oxford Street (opposite Atlas Works), Manchester. By 1849 an upholsterer was occupying No. 59.

Outgrew his Manchester premises and then, jointly with Thomas Edmondson, Muir occupied a large building in Miller's Lane, Salford. Edmondson occupied the top floor as a Railway Ticket Printing Office; Muir manufactured the printing, dating, and other machines, as well as conducting business as a machine-tool maker. Miller's Lane was in a very old part of the City of Salford, through which the railway viaduct had been built to serve Manchester Victoria station. The lane was a short thoroughfare whose north side was defined by the viaduct, while the western end joined Greengate, and the eastern end led into a yard behind a cotton mill.

1849 advert: 'LETTER COPYING PRESSES, and EMBOSSING Ditto, Designed by WILLIAM MUIR and Manufactured under his own personal superintendence. An assortment of all sizes kept in stock. Presses fitted with Steel Dies for Initials, Address of Business Firms, & c.; also Dies and Stamps of every description, made to order. Sold Wholesale and Retail at Low Prices for cash, at the Manufactory, Millers-lane, Greengate, Salford, four minutes' walk from the Manchester Exchange.

1851 Exhibited at Great Exhibition[1].

1852 Muir was asked to supply the Woolwich Arsenal with machinery for making interchangeable rifle sights; and with business increasing, he built the Britannia Works in Sherborne Street, Strangeways, and took on partners.

1857 C. F. Partington wrote a pamphlet entitled 'Introductory Account of Messrs. Muir and Co.'s Improved Machinery for the Manufacture of Rifle Sights' which described the manufacture of the sights and the special purpose machinery used to fulfill a government contract for 400 sights per week during the Crimean War.[2]

1862 Exhibited at London Exhibition[3]. Drawing of screwcutting lathe here [4]

1867 Partnership dissolved between William Muir, Charles Garnett, and Robert Garnett, Sherborne-street, Strangeways, Manchester, machine makers[5]

1893 New Companies:
This company was registered on the 10th inst., with a capital £80,000, in shares, to acquire and purchase the business carried on by Charles Garnett, Alfred Muir, and H. Garnett, at Strangeways, Manchester, and elsewhere, under the style of William Muir and Co. and to carry on the business of machinists, machine-tool makers, manufacturers, and mechanical engineers. The subscribers are:— [with number of shares].
C. Garnett, 34, Colville-terrace, Bayswater, W., machine-tool maker 1
A. Muir, Rookswood, Broughton Park, Manchester, machine-tool maker 1
H. Garnett, Valley Field, King's Lynn, machine-tool maker 1
F. H. Garnett, 34, Colville-terrace, W., late captain 15th Regiment 1
J. A. Farnworth, 132, Waterloo-road, Manchester, cashier 1
H. Muir, Rookswood, Broughton Park, Manchester 1
W. Muir, Sherborne-street, Manchester, machine-tool maker , 1
The first directors are:— A. Muir, H. Garnett, and F. H. Garnett; qualification, £1,000; remuneration, £100, exclusive of managing director. Registered Hinde, Milne, and Bury, solicitors, Manchester.'

1913 Muir made gear hobbing machines for C. A. Parsons and others for the production of high power, high speed marine reduction gearing. Controversy between Parsons and Muir & Co over the best way of minimising errors in hobbing. Muir & Co had patented machinery incorporating a master gear having a pair of wormwheels connected by planetary gearing.[6]

1914 Machine tool makers. Specialities: machine tools for shipbuilders, armament works, engine works etc. Employees 450. [7]

1922 Description and illustrations of Muir's machine for cutting turbine reduction gear wheels, from Paper by James Henry Melloy [8]

Produced balancing machines for turbine rotors [9]

1937 Company renamed Muir Machine Tools[10]

1944 Acquired by David Brown and Sons.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1851 Great Exhibition: Reports of the Juries: Class VI.
  2. The Practical Mechaanic's Journal, 1857, p.47
  3. 1862 London Exhibition: Catalogue: Class 7.: William Muir and Co
  4. [1] BnF Gallica website: Livre Des Machines-outils, leur importance, leur utilité, progrès apportés dans leur Fabrication by J. Chrétien, 1863
  5. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 4 March 1867
  6. [2] Letter from J. H. Melloy of Muir & Co, p.344, The Engineer, 28 March 1913
  7. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  8. [3] The Engineer, 5 May 1922, p.494ff
  9. A small turbine rotor balancing machine can be seen in a photo in 'Maritime Heritage - White's of Cowes' by David L. Williams, 1993, Silver Link Publishing, p.76
  10. The Times Mar 12, 1951