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British Industrial History

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William Hall (1806-1887)

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1806 Born son of Alexander Hall

Obituary 1887 [1]

ON the 9th inst. Mr. William Hall, sen. , of the renowned shipbuilding firm of Messrs. A. Hall and Co., Aberdeen, died at his residence in that town, at the ripe age of eighty-one. The deceased served an apprenticeship with his father, who was also a shipbuilder, and afterwards proceeded to sea as a carpenter for three years. When about thirty years of age he joined his brother in the ship building concern subsequently formed for the production of clipper bow vessels, for long known as Aberdeen clippers. In 1846, when British shipowners and builders first directed their efforts to the construction of clipper vessels intended to rival the highly successful American ships engaged in the coasting trade of China, and in the still more lucrative opium trade, Messrs. Hall were commissioned to build the first of these. This was the schooner Torrington, which proving a success, was followed by others of larger dimensions. While the American vessels for some time continued superior in speed, it was discovered that they were inferior in strength, and as some of them had landed cargoes in a damaged state, shippers encouraged the building of vessels of superior strength, at the same time striving after increased speed by improved models. Messrs. Jardine, Mathieson, and Co. commissioned Messrs. Hall to build a vessel with lines as fine as those of any American ship, but of superior strength. The Stornoway - the first of the renowned Aberdeen clippers - and the Chrysolite were produced, which, though proving very fast for their size, were still no match for the Americans which were double their dimensions. The Cairngorm, however, another vessel built for Messrs. Jardine by Messrs. Hall in 1853 proved equal in speed to any of her foreign competitors; and by delivering her cargo in superior order, obtained a preference. Thereafter the ships of British build, led by the Aberdeen clippers, won special reputation for speed and weatherly qualities, beating the fastest American vessels on long ocean voyages, and gradually obtaining an ascendancy in the China trade, which was only interrupted by the growth of steam navigation. Mr. Hall was much esteemed by a large circle of old-time shipbuilders and engineers, as well as by the inhabitants of Aberdeen. A marble bust of him was recently obtained by public subscription and placed in tbe Aberdeen Art Gallery. Mr. Hall is survived by several daughters and two sons, partners in the shipbuilding business.

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1887/08/12