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William John Crossley

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Sir William John Crossley (1844-1911) of Crossley Brothers

1867 Francis William Crossley, with help from his uncle, bought the engineering business of John M. Dunlop and Co at Great Marlborough Street in Manchester city centre, including manufacturing pumps, presses, and small steam engines.

William joined his brother shortly after the purchase. Both of the brothers had served engineering apprenticeships: William at Armstrong, Mitchell and Co, in Newcastle upon Tyne.

William concentrated on the business side, Frank provided the engineering expertise.

The brothers were committed Christians and strictly teetotal, refusing to supply their products to companies such as breweries, whom they did not approve of. They adopted the early Christian symbol of the Coptic Cross as the emblem to use on their road vehicles.

1869 They acquired the rights to the patents of Otto and Langen for the new gas-fuelled internal combustion engine

1881 Crossley Brothers became a private limited company

1906 Crossley Motors was registered as the vehicle manufacturing arm of Crossley Brothers.

1910 Knighted.

1911 Died. Read his obituary in The Engineer 1911/10/20, p 401.

1911 Obituary [1]

Sir WILLIAM JOHN CROSSLEY, Bart., was born at Dunmurry, near Lisburn, County Antrim, Ireland, on 22nd April 1844, being the second son of the late Major Francis Crossley, formerly in the service of the East India Company.

He received his early education in Ireland, and from there he went to Bonn, in Prussia; at the age of nineteen he entered the Elswick Works of Sir William Armstrong, where he received a four years' course of training.

At the end of his time he joined his brother Francis, who had bought an india-rubber machinery works in Manchester. This business was carried on for some years, but without much success; indeed, it almost ended disastrously. They also devoted some of their energies to improvements in flax-scutching machinery.

In spite of their temporary failure, however, the brothers stood together, and their determination met with reward, for soon afterwards — in 1876 — the English patent rights of the Otto gas-engine were secured by them. They set themselves to improve upon Dr. Otto's designs, and succeeded in their business to such an extent that more extensive premises had to be found. Land was acquired in Openshaw, and extensions were made from time to time until, at the present day, the works cover an area of about nine acres.

In 1881 the business was converted into a private company, and at the death of Francis Crossley in 1897, it was formed into a public company. Sir William and his brother devoted much of their leisure and wealth to philanthropic work in Manchester, and for a long period he was chairman of the Manchester Hospital for Consumption. At his own cost he extended the accommodation of the Convalescent Home at Bowdon, in Cheshire, and his interest in the work was further proved by his gift of £70,000 for the erection of the Sanatorium in Delamere Forest for the reception of consumptive patients from Manchester and other Lancashire towns.

In 1901 he was elected is member of the Cheshire County Council, and devoted much useful work to the improvement of technical education under the County Authority. He was one of the promoters of the Manchester Ship Canal, and afterwards became a director of this undertaking.

In 1903 the Corporation of Manchester conferred upon him the freedom of the city; and in 1906 he was elected Member of Parliament for the Altrincham Division of Cheshire. He, however, lost the seat at the election in December 1910. He was a Justice of the Peace for Manchester and Cheshire.

In 1909 he received a Baronetcy, in which he is succeeded by the eldest of his three sons—Mr. Kenneth Irwin Crossley.

His death took place after an operation, in Manchester, on 12th October 1911, at the age of sixty-seven.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1875.

1911 Obituary [2]

Sir WILLIAM J. CROSSLEY died on October 12, 1911, at a Nursing Home in Manchester, after a comparatively short illness. He was born at Glenburn, Dunmorry, near Lisburn, in the County of Antrim, in 1844, and was the son of Major Crossley of the Indian Army.

After being educated privately in Ireland, he went to Bonn, in Prussia, and subsequently at the age of nineteen entered, as an apprentice, the Elswick Works of Sir William Armstrong. At the end of his course of training he became associated with his brother, Francis William, in an india rubber works in Manchester. Although these works were not entirely successful, he ultimately achieved success in other directions.

In 1876 he secured the English patent rights of the well-known Otto gas-engine. The Brothers Crossley devoted themselves to the improvement of the Otto engine, and did pioneer work in the design and construction of combustion-engines. So successful were their operations that it became necessary to extend their works, and land was acquired for that purpose in Openshaw, where the present works, covering nearly nine acres, were built. The business was converted into a private limited company in 1881, but on the death of Francis Crossley it was formed into a limited company.

The fortune that accrued from his successful business enterprise he devoted, together with much of his leisure, to philanthropic work in Manchester. He was chairman of the Manchester Hospital for Consumption, and it was through his generosity that the committee of that institution acquired possession of the Convalescent Home at Bowdon, in Cheshire. He also gave the sum of £70,000 for the purpose of establishing a Sanatorium in Delamere Forest for consumptive patients from Manchester and other towns in Lancashire. He took an active part in the promotion of clubs for boys and girls in the lower classes of Manchester.

He was one of the promoters of the Manchester Ship Canal, of which he afterwards became a director. He was also a director of the Manchester Trust, Limited, and of the Scottish Life Assurance Company, Limited.

The freedom of the city was bestowed upon him in 1903, and in 1906 he was elected a Member of Parliament in the Liberal interest for the Altrincham division of Chester At the last general election he was, however, deprived of his seat. In 1909 he was created a Baronet.

He was a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and became a member of the Iron and Steel Institute iii 1883. In 1899 he was a member of the Manchester Reception Committee, on the occasion of the visit of the Iron and Steel Institute to that city.

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