Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 149,682 pages of information and 235,430 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.

Alexander Angus Croll

From Graces Guide

Alexander Angus Croll (1811-1887)

c.1811 Born in Perth, Scotland, son of George Croll (a merchant[1]) and Janet (nee Hood)[2]

1840 Patented method of purifying town gas of ammonia[3] as Superintendent of the Chartered Gas Company's Works in Brick-lane, for "certain improvements in the manufacture of gas for the purpose of illumination, and for the preparation or manufacture of materials to be used in the purification of gas for the purpose of illumination."[4]

1843 Dissolution of the Partnership of Alexander Angus Croll and James Buckingham Bevington, as Manufacturing Chymists, or otherwise, under the name or style of A. A. Croll[5].

1843 & 1844 Croll, with William Richards (1816-1893), filed patents for improvements in gas manufacture and metering. An important contribution by Richards was the development of the DRY GAS METER.

1843 Engineer, of Brick Lane, St Lukes when he joined the Freemasons.

1844 Richards and Croll left the Gas Light and Coke Co to produce dry gas meters, founding Richards and Co. at St. James's Walk, Clerkenwell.

1845 The business did not flourish.

1845 Dissolution of the Partnership between Alexander Angus Croll and William Richards, under the firm of Richards and Company, as Dry Meter Manufacturers, in Saint James's-walk, Clerkenwell; debts received or paid by Alexander Angus Croll.[6]

Croll continued in the dry gas meter business in partnership with Thomas Glover (1809-1868) as Croll and Glover.

1849 A civil engineer and manufacturing chemist when he gained the Freedom of the City of London.[7]

1849 Angus Croll had a factory in Moorgate Street, Bow Common[8]

1850 A gas manufacturer, of Tottenham[9] when he left the partnership D. Y. Stewart and Co, ironfounders of St Rollox

1851 Alex. Croll 39, civil engineer, lived in Poplar with his wife Isabella Croll 43, and mother Janett Croll 69[10]

By 1852 Croll was a Sheriff of London[11]

1854 With Richard Laming, of Millwall, Poplar, William Daniel Owen of the same place, and Herman Dirs Mertens of the same place, manufacturing chemists, petitioned for extension of the 1840 patent[12]

1858 The partnership with Thomas Glover as dry meter manufacturers was dissolved, leaving Glover to continue under his own name.

1858 Patent on "Improvements in the treatment of sulphate of alumina, and in obtaining alum"[13]

1861 Alexander Croll 49, civil engineer, lived in Romford with Sophia Hale Croll 34 and his mother Janet Wood Croll 79[14]

1861 Alexander Angus Croll had factory and premises in Coleman Street, Bow Common[15]

1862 With other partners set up the Gas Meter Co in Kingsland Road

1864 Patent petition by Alexander Angus Croll, of Coleman-street, in the city of London, Engineer, in respect of the invention of "improvements in the preparation of materials to be used in the purification of gas for illumination."[16]

1869 Appointed Honorary Colonel of the Second Tower Hamlets Engineer Volunteer Corps.[17]

1871 A Angus Croll 59, magistrate, lived in Putney with Sophia Croll 44, and his mother Janet Croll 90[18]

1871 Patent for an invention of "improvements in meters for measuring water or other fluids."[19]

1875 Patent to Alexander Angus Crpll, commonly known as Colonel Croll, of Coleman- street, in the city of London, for the invention of "improvements in the treatment of sulphur ores."[20]

1881 A. A. Croll 69, Colonel 2nd T. H. V. En., J P, lived in Putney with Sopia H. Croll 54[21]

1887 Died in Dunblane[22]

1887 Obituary [23]

.... established himself, tentatively, as a chemist at Millwall. Two years later he took out his first patent, No. 7,748, dated July 26, 1838, for “Improvements in the manufacture of gas for the purpose of affording light.” This was followed by No. 8,253 of November 2, 1839, “ Improvements in the manufacture of gas, and in converting the salts used in purifying gas, and improvements in the manufacture of ammoniacal salts.” But reverses came, and he lost all his capital. Thereupon he sought and obtained the post of second engineer at the Brick Lane Station of the Chartered Gas Company. Here he found his true work, and remained for six years amid congenial surroundings, fulfilling his duties to the great satisfaction of the Directors, who showed their appreciation of his services in a practical form by periodically increasing his salary. He took great interest in the condition of the men under his charge, and laboured long to induce temperate habits among them. ..... When he left the Chartered Company the men gave him a massive silver snuff-box as a token of their appreciation of his efforts on their behalf. While occupying this position he presented to the Institution a Paper on the Purification of coal-gas, and the application of the products thereby obtained to agricultural and other purposes. This communication was highly thought of, and obtained for its Author one of the two Telford medals awarded that Session.

Mr. Croll next became lessee of the gasworks at Coventry, Tottenham, and later at Winchester. He also made many visits to the continent in connection with the introduction of gas, and was much engaged in Holland. On one of his tours, being at Copenhagen, he had the honour of an interview with the King of Denmark, and was also entertained by the great sculptor, Thorwaldsen, then at work on the celebrated group Night and Norning.” Visiting the prison of this capital, there was pointed out to him a prisoner who was allowed to work at his own trade-that of a watchmaker-for the support of his wife and children. This circumstance made a great impression on Mr. Croll, and he afterwards paid much attention to prison life and discipline, and wrote a pamphlet on the subject, which was published in 1870.

During the years between 1849 and 1852 considerable agitation was afoot concerning cheap gas for the people. The price of gas had recently been reduced from 7s. to 6s. per 1,000 cubic feet, and great efforts were being made to induce the companies to consent to a further reduction. Into this movement Mr. Croll threw himself with characteristic energy. As a principal result the Great Central Gas Company was started. He was for several years the mainstay of this undertaking, which was floated by his money, and maintained only by his indefatigable exertions.

After he had made himself personally responsible for the success of the concern, the contractors, operated upon by subtle unseen influences, withdrew from their contract, and faint-hearted Directors made his position almost untenable. Nevertheless he persevered; in three months 60 miles of mains and 40 miles of services were laid, the work being carried on day and night ; and to the hour of his promise he gave the citizens the gas contracted for at the price of 4s. per thousand. The mains laid were so large that a workman was enabled to pass through the entire line from Bow to the City, at the same time laying an electric wire in the pipe, which, it is believed, formed the first application of telegraphy to private purposes. This enterprise he finally conducted to a most successful termination, and he had the satisfaction of seeing the new association take up a strong position, and hold its own against the competition of the older companies, until it was eventually incorporated with the Chartered Gas Company.

To Mr. Croll is mainly due the institution of the Metropolitan Gas Referees, and the modern system of gas-testing on behalf of the public, and while Chief Engineer of the Surrey Gas Consumers Association he had much to do with the so-called 'districting.'

..... Although mainly directed to the improvement and extension of gas-supply, Mr. Croll’s energies were not exclusively devoted to that branch of engineering. He was for a long time connected with the United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company, and finally became its Chairman. He rendered most important service to the late Mr. Frank Ives Scudamore in the course of the negotiations between the Government and the Telegraph Companies prior to their transfer; and while arranging for every officer of the United Kingdom Company to receive compensation, he asked for nothing, and received nothing himself.

In recognition of his services in this business, a splendid piece of plate was presented to Mr. Croll, which is now to be seen in the Guildhall Library. The handsome pile of buildings in Coleman Street and Basinghall Street, City, known as the Wool Exchange, was erected by Mr. Croll, he having leased the land from the Merchant Taylors’ Company, and planned and carried out the whole block, with its fine sale-room, the mart of the Colonial wool-trade. His last active work, as almost his first, was in connection with a patent for the production of sulphate of ammonia. He had matured every detail of his new process by daily experiment, and made his last test on the 14th of May, 1887.

Three weeks later, on the 7th of June, his well-filled life came to an end. He died at Dunblane, N.B., not far from his birthplace.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Grant of Freedom of the City of London
  2. BMD
  3. The Engineer 1862/04/04
  4. London Gazette 10 Jan 1854
  5. London Gazette 16 June 1843
  6. The London Gazette 13 June 1845
  7. Grant of Freedom of the City of London
  8. London Electoral register
  9. The Edinburgh Gazette 2 May 1851
  10. 1851 census
  11. London Gazette 6 December 1852
  12. London Gazette 7 Feb 1854
  13. London Gazette 26 July 1861
  14. 1861 census
  15. London Electoral register
  16. London Gazette 28 March 1865
  17. London Gazette 12 Oct 1869
  18. 1871 census
  19. London Gazette 14 Aug 1874
  20. London Gazette 23 April 1875
  21. 1881 census
  22. National Probate Calendar
  23. 1887 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries