Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 143,348 pages of information and 230,029 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

William Alexander Adams

From Graces Guide

Jump to: navigation, search

William Alexander Adams (1821-1896) of Fairfield Works, Bow

1821 Born son of William Bridges Adams

1846 of Adams and Allcock

1896 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM ALEXANDER ADAMS was born on 26th August 1821 at Quintero, near Valparaiso in Chili, whither his father William Bridges Adams, well known as an engineer and inventor, had gone for his health.

In 1826 they came to London, where at the age of fifteen he commenced his practical education in the carriage works of his father and uncle in Drury Lane. His natural mechanical talent and perseverance were early shown by his making at the age of sixteen a model of an oscillating-cylinder engine.

In 1843 the Fairfield Works, Bow, were built by his father and uncle, by whom he was taken into partnership in the business of general carriage builders for road and railway.

In 1846 be became manager to Messrs. Fox, Henderson and Co., London Works, Birmingham; and in the latter part of the same year he entered into partnership with Mr. George Allcock.

In 1850 the partnership was dissolved, and he commenced business on his own account. In that year he read a paper to this Institution on railway carriage and wagon springs (Proceedings 1850, Jan. page 19, and April page 14); and in October of the same year a paper on railway carrying stock, and papers on improvements in the construction of railway carrying stock (Proceedings 1851, Jan. page 10; and 1852, page 206).

In 1851 he started the letting of railway wagons on the purchase-lease plan. In 1853 he took a leading part in forming the Midland Wagon Works, which were established at Rotherham, but eventually moved to Birmingham.

In 1862 he joined as a director in the establishment of the Birmingham Joint Stock Bank. In the next year he and his partner, Mr. Henry Griffith, sold their business to the Midland Wagon Co., in which he retained his seat on the board of directors. About that time he became a director of Muntz's Metal Co.

In 1873-4 he travelled extensively in America, and introduced in the United States the purchase-lease plan of letting railway wagons, for which purpose he formed the Union Rolling Stock Co.

Throughout his life he was an ardent sportsman; be wrote a book entitled "Twenty-six years' reminiscences of Scotch grouse moors," and a pamphlet on "Bores and loads for sporting guns for British game shooting." He was a justice of the peace and deputy-lieutenant for the county of Hereford, and latterly took much interest in magisterial and other county work.

Having had a slight paralytic stroke about four years previously, he had been an invalid for six months prior to his death, which took place from general natural decay at his residence at Gaines in Herefordshire, on 31st January 1896, at the age of seventy-four, a week before what would have been his golden wedding day.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1848; and in 1865 an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

1896 Obituary [2]

WILLIAM ALEXANDER ADAMS, son of the late Mr. William Bridges Adams, was born at Quintero, Chile, on the 26th August, 1821.

In 1826 he came to London and at the age of fifteen was placed in the carriage-works belonging to his father and uncle in Drury Lane.

In 1843 the Fairfield Works, Bow were erected by them, and he was taken into partnership. Mr. Adams severed that connection in 1846, when he became manager to Fox, Henderson and Co, of the London Works, Birmingham.

In the latter part of that year, however, he set up in business with George Allcock. That partnership was dissolved in 1850, when Mr. Adams started on his own account. In the same year he presented to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, of which he was a Member, two Papers 'On Railway Carriage and Wagon Springs' and two dealing with railway carrying stock: and in 1852 he contributed to the same Institution a further Paper 'On Improvements in the Construction and Materials of Railway Wagons.' Mr. Adams’ knowledge of the mechanical construction of railway wagons, coupled with energy and perseverance, made his business very successful.

In 1853 he formed the Midland Wagon Co, and ten years later he and his then partner, Henry Griffith, sold their business to this Company, on the board of which he retained a seat. About that time he became a director of Muntz's Metal Co.

In 1874 he introduced into the United States the purchase lease system of letting railway wagons, and in the following year he formed the Union Rolling Stock Company for the purpose of financing wagons on that system in the States.

In 1876 Mr. Adams presented to this Institution a Paper entitled “Railway Rolling Stock capacity, in relation to the Dead Weight of Vehicles,” which was read and discussed in conjunction with a communication “On the Construction of Railway Wagons, with special reference to Economy in Dead Weight” by the late Mr. W. R. Browne.

Mr. Adams died at Gaines, Herefordshire, on the 31st January, 1896, at the age of seventy-four. He was a keen sportsman, and wrote a book entitled 'Twenty-six Years Reminiscences of Scotch Grouse Moors' and a pamphlet on 'Bores and Loads for Sporting Guns for British Game Shooting,' both of which were published by The Field office.

Mr. Adams was for some years a director of the Birmingham Joint Stock Bank and a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Hereford. He was elected an Associate on the 10th January, 1865.

See Also


Sources of Information