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British Industrial History

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Charles Randolph

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Charles Randolph (1809-1878) of Randolph, Elliot and Co

1809 June 21st. Born in Stirling the son of a printer, bookseller and author.

He was educated in the classics at Glasgow University but a preference for science led to further training at Anderson's University.

After completing his apprenticeship with Robert Napier, the marine engineer, Randolph worked in Manchester millwright factories before returning to Glasgow.

1834 he started his own firm (millwright engineers in Centre Street, Glasgow[1]) and orders came in from the Selkirk woollen mills and the Dundee linen factories.

1839 Mr. John Elliot, whom Randolph knew as an outdoor manager in one of the Manchester firms, became a partner, the firm becoming known as Randolph, Elliot and Co. Business as general millwright engineering improved considerably, including mechanisms for controlling and conveying power in spinning mills, weaving mills, print works, paper mills, gunpowder mills.

1842 Elliot died but the business still continued to progress.

1852 John Elder joined as a partner in 1852; the firm began making marine engines, a sideline that was to supersede the original work.

By 1868, when Randolph retired, 111 engines had been built, along with 106 ships and three floating docks. Patents taken out included improvements to the compound engine.

Randolph undertook various executive positions following retirement

1872 Built a steam carriage for road use

1878 November 11th. On his death he left £60,000 to Glasgow University.

1878 Obituary [2]

1872 Description of the steam coach [3]

"We had yesterday an opportunity of inspecting a new steam the lowest point, and entirely to remove the objection of disturbance to the general traffic of the street. The carriage to which we refer has been introduced by Mr. Charles Randolph, of this city, whose eminence as an engineer is a guarantee for the soundness of the principles which it embodies. Mr. Randolph has for a considerable time given careful attention to the subject of steam as applied to street locomotion, and his plans having been matured towards the close of last year, use - the machinery having been made by Messrs. Dubs and Co., of the Glasgow Locomotive Works, and the carriage portion by Messrs. James Henderson and Co., of North-street, Anderston.

The carriage is 15ft. in length, and is externally a handsome specimen of the coach builder's handicraft. It consists of three divisions or compartments which are harmoniously united - the driver's box in front, the boiler and engine-house in rear, with a compartment for passengers in the centre and is carried on four wheels, two at each end....

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