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British Industrial History

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Andrew Leslie

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Andrew Leslie (1818-1894) of A. Leslie and Co

1858 Iron Ship Builder, Hebburn Quay, Newcastle-under-Lyme.[1]

1894 Jan 27th. Died.[2]

1894 Obituary [3]

ANDREW LESLIE was born in Shetland on 1st September 1818.

He was brought up in Aberdeen, and there served his apprenticeship to Messrs. Bowman and Vernon, working first as a rivet catcher and afterwards as a boiler maker. Before he was out of his time he had given indications of that assiduity and keen grasp of work which afterwards became so marked; and he was speedily promoted to a good position.

After remaining a few years longer with the firm he commenced business for himself at Aberdeen in 1850 as a shipbuilder; and in 1854 went to the Tyne, where only three shipbuilding yards existed at that time. Having selected Hebburn as the place to start in, he commenced work there at once as an iron shipbuilder, and founded the firm of Andrew Leslie and Co. He quickly saw the advantage of having his workmen around him, and began the work of building Hebburn by erecting houses for them.

The shipbuilding yard prospered rapidly, and soon took a place in the first rank from the high character of the work turned out, growing and expanding in every way till it came to give employment to about 3,000 hands. During the same time more than a thousand houses were erected for the workmen and other persons employed, together with an institute and school and a costly church.

Having aspired to founding a town at Hebburn as well as a great shipbuilding yard, he had succeeded in doing so before he gave up his busy life.

In 1885 he retired from the firm, after having built over 200 ships, including the twin steamer "Calais-Douvres" for channel service. A project which he had greatly at heart, but did not live to see commenced, was the construction of a ship canal from the Tyne to the Solway; and another was the erection of a railway bridge over the Tyne from Hebburn to Wallsend. He was a magistrate at Hebburn, and for the counties of Durham and Northumberland, and was also a member of the Tyne Commission.

Having been suffering for some time from weakness of the heart, he had apparently recovered sufficiently to be on the point of starting for the south, when his death took place suddenly at his residence, Coxlodge Hall, near Newcastle, on 27th January 1894, at the age of seventy-five.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1858.

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