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British Industrial History

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Mirrlees Watson Co

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February 1901.
January 1902.
1922. Surface Condenser.
1929. Self-Priming Centrifugal Pump.
December 1929.
February 1959.
Mirrlees Watson centrifugal pumps at Pinchbeck Pumping Station

of Glasgow, engine manufacturers

See Mirrlees for history.

1868 On the failing health of Mr Tait, partner in Mirrlees and Tait, Mr Watson (later Sir W. Renny Watson) was taken into partnership and the title of the firm became Tait and Watson.

1870 William Tait died but the title of the firm remained unchanged until 1882.

1883 Formed Watson, Laidlaw and Co with Mr John Laidlaw, who was in charge of the centrifugal department of the company[1].

1885 Mr. A. Robertson and J. C. Hudson, who had been for some time in the management of the business, were admitted as partners and the title of the firm changed to Mirrlees Watson Co.

1887 The patent rights of Home T. Yaryan in the evaporating apparatus which bears his name, were acquired.

1888 J. C. Hudson retired and Mr W. J. Mirrlees, eldest son of Mr J. B. Mirrlees, became a member of the firm.

1889 Incorporated as a limited company Mirrlees, Watson, Yaryan and Co reflecting the intimate association of the firm with the Yaryan Company

1896 Three members of the Board formed a committee to make investigations into the practical possibilities of a new internal combustion engine patented by Dr Rudolf Diesel.

During March 1897 the committee visited Germany and, after studying Dr Diesel's 20 BHP engine, an agreement was signed whereby the patentee granted an exclusive licence for the manufacture and sale of the diesel engine in Great Britain.

The first engine was completed in November 1897. This was the third diesel engine in the world and after exhaustive tests by Professor Watkinson of the Royal Technical College, Glasgow, was later put into regular service on the company's premises. It is now to be seen in the Anson Engine Museum.

1899 The Dieselmotoren Company of Augsburg bought back the exclusive licence in exchange for a non-exclusive licence and a considerable sum of money. Also in that year the Company was again reconstructed and became the Mirrlees Watson Co.

c1903 The success of the 50 BHP per cylinder type of engine led to a demand for a lighter engine with higher speeds; the Admiralty ordered two engines, each of 160 BHP at 400 r.p.m. for installation in the battleship HMS Dreadnought.

1907 Public company.

1908 Mirrlees Watson Co supplied complete sugar processing factories, 2 to Mexico and 1 to Formosa, and sugar processing machinery to many other countries[2].

1908 The diesel engine business of the company at Glasgow increased so rapidly that a decision was taken to manufacture diesel engines in a new facility. Charles Day, then Chairman of the Company, went to Cheshire to set up the new factory at a small village called Hazel Grove, on the outskirts of Stockport. With the financial assistance of H. N. Bickerton of the National Gas Engine Co, they formed Mirrlees, Bickerton and Day. The factory opened during October 1908 for the manufacture of diesel engines ranging in power from 50 BHP to 750 BHP.

1911 A seawater distillation plant was installed in Águilas for the railway between Lorca, Baza and Águilas. It arrived on 22nd November 1910 and was completed on 3 March 1911. It could produce 120 cubic metres of purified water per day, using a ton of coal for every 35 cubic metres of pure water. Closed in 1922.[3]

1926 Mirrlees, Bickerton and Day met with the shareholders of the company to discuss incorporating Mirrlees Watson Co[4]The two companies were amalgamated.[5]

1927 Acquired the rights of manufacture and sale, both for land and marine service, for the British Empire, of the surface condenser made in France by La Societe des Condenseurs Delas of Paris with power to grant sub-licenses to other condenser manufacturers.[6]

Formation of the Mechanical Stoker Division at the initiative of Charles Day to supply the "Combustioneer" underfeed stoker of the Steel Products Engineering Co, of Springfield, Ohio.

1944 Associated British Engineering acquired for cash the goodwill and assets of the diesel engine business of Mirrlees, Bickerton and Day. Mirrlees' Glasgow factory was to remain as part of the Mirrlees Co and would continue to operate as Mirrlees Watson Co, manufacturer of sugar machinery[7].

1948 Acquired Blairs Ltd

c.1960 Mirrlees (Engineers) was a subsidiary.

1967 A. and W. Smith and Co acquired Mirrlees Co and subsequently traded as Smith Mirrlees. Smith Mirrlees was acquired in 1988 by Fletcher and Stewart, sugar machine manufacturers of Derby.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 11 November 1908
  2. The Times, 11 November 1908
  3. [1]
  4. The Times, 29 June 1933
  5. The Engineer 1926/03/19
  6. The Engineer 1927/05/20
  7. The Times, 6 September 1944