Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

William Wouldhave

From Graces Guide

William Wouldhave (or Willie Woolhave) (1751–1821), plumber, glazier and parish clerk of South Shields

c.1789 Invented a life-boat, though it was patented by Henry Francis Greathead

Also invented the first safety-lamp that Isaac Dodds had ever seen, which was like a large parrot cage enclosing a glass lamp, the air being supplied by bellows worked by the collier’s knees, using the air from the lowest strata. Dr. Clanny brought out a lamp about the same time, but Dodds believed the idea was derived from Mr. Woolhave.

Early 1800s: taught Isaac Dodds.

On the death of Woolhave, the inhabitants of South Shields raised a subscription for a tombstone, on which was carved the life-boat.



Entries on Ancestry:

There is a memorial to William Wouldhave in the former graveyard of St. Hilda's in South Shields.

There is also a Wouldhave Memorial, at the South Shields Pier Head, for his part in the invention of the self-righting lifeboat.

Best of all there is a Weatherspoons pub in South Shields named after William, call 'The Wouldhave'.


William Wouldhave of South Shields entered into a competition to find the best design for a boat to save lives. With cork inside, his lifeboat was designed to be self-righting if overturned in stormy seas. Although Wouldhave's design came second place in the competition, he is credited by many as the 'inventor of the lifeboat'.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Biography of Henry Greathead, ODNB