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British Industrial History

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Edward Slaughter

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Edward Slaughter (c1815-1891) of Stothert, Slaughter and Co

c1815 Born at Turnham Green

1841 December 28th. Married Mary Ann the eldest daughter of John Hensley of Tavistock Square. [1]

1851 At Colchester House, Clifton Park is his wife Mary Ann with a visitor and three servants. No mention of Edward Slaughter. [2]

1853 of the Avonside Iron Works

1861 Living at Colchester House, Clifton (age 46 born London), Manufactory Engineer employing 680 men and 98 boys. With his wife Mary Ann (age 41 born London). Also three servants. [3]

1863 May 27th. His wife Mary Ann dies at Brighton [4]

Some time marries Alice

1871 Living at Colchester House, Clifton (age 57 born London), a Civil Engineer. With his wife Alice (age 32 born Bath) and their children Edward (age 3 born Clifton), Osmond (age 1 born Clifton) and Alice (age 4 months born Clifton). Also his sister-in-law Louisa Fraser (age 47 born Bloomsbury) and his niece Louisa Fraser (age 18 born Clifton). Plus five servants. [5]

1881 Living at 4 Clifton Park, Clifton, Bristol (age 65 born London), Railway Stock and Debenture Holder. With his wife Alice (age 42 born Bath) and their children Catherine (age 10 born Clifton), Mary (age 8 born Clifton) and Clara (age 5 born Clifton). Two visitors and six servants. [6]

1891 Living at 25 Royal York Crescent, Clifton (age 75 born Turnham Green, London), Living on own means. With his wife Alice (age 52 born Bath) and their daughter Mary (age 18 born Clifton). Plus one visitor and four servants. [7]

1891 May 13th. Death from syncope following pneumonia at 25 Royal York Crescent, Clifton, Bristol age 75 [8]


1891 Obituary [9]

EDWARD SLAUGHTER was born in London on 1st December 1814, and having been educated at Ealing and in Paris was apprenticed for five years to Mr. John Seaward, Canal Ironworks, Limehouse, London.

After two years of travel he became assistant engineer to Mr. I. K. Brunel in 1837, and took part in the construction of the London end of the Great Western Railway, subsequently holding a post at the Bristol end.

In 1840 he became managing partner of Messrs. Stothert Slaughter and Co., Bristol, specially with a view to the manufacture of locomotive engines. In 1866 the concern was converted into the Avonside Engine Company, of which he then became the managing director.

In 1873 failing health induced him to abandon active work. When travelling abroad he devoted much attention to the peculiar conditions of foreign railways, on which steep gradients and sharp curves were largely employed; and as many of the locomotives were furnished by his firm, he took a prominent part in the introduction of the various bogie arrangements. He also designed and built two screw-steamers fitted with engines of the locomotive type, for running between Bristol and Newport, whereby the passage was greatly accelerated.

His death took place on 13th May 1891, at the age of seventy-six.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1853.


1891 Obituary [10]

EDWARD SLAUGHTER was born in London, on the 1st of December, 1814, and was educated partly at the school of Dr. Nicholas at Ealing, and partly in Paris. He served a pupilage of five years to Mr. John Seaward of the Canal Ironworks, Limehouse.

After some two years of travel (1836 and 1837), he joined Mr. I. K. Brunel in 1837 as Assistant Engineer, and took part in the construction of the London end of the Great Western Railway, especially in laying the permanent way over a large portion of the line, building stations, and general work. Mr. Slaughter’s ability was highly esteemed by Mr. Brunel, who subsequently gave him a post at the Bristol end of the line.

Upon the opening of the line to Hay Lane, near Swindon, in December, 1839, he accepted the offer of Henry Stothert and Co. of Bristol, who had recently started engineering works, to join their firm as managing partner, specially with a view to the manufacture of locomotive engines. The partnership was formed early in 1840 under the style of Stothert, Slaughter and Co., which was changed in 1856, when Mr. Henry Gruning was admitted, to that of Slaughter, Gruning and Co. The concern developed into a large business under the personal management of Mr. Slaughter, and was carried on with great success for many years.

In the year 1866 the business was converted into the Avonside Engine Company, Limited. Mr. Slaughter retained the engineering and general management, taking the title of Managing Director, which post he held until 1873, when failing health induced him to abandon active work.

During this period he was much abroad, where he devoted special attention to the peculiar conditions of foreign railways, and supplied nearly one thousand locomotives, besides some marine and stationary engines and iron steamships.

Mr. Slaughter was greatly interested in the improvement of the steamboat service between Bristol and Newport. He designed and built two screw-steamers fitted with engines of the locomotive type, working direct on to the screw-shaft. These boats, the 'Avon' and 'Severn', were very successful and did good service in competition with the old paddle-boats. The passage which formerly occupied about three hours (and sometimes eight by reason of missing the tides in the rivers) was reduced to two hours.

These steamers became the property of an independent company, and continue at work at the present time. As many of the locomotives were furnished to foreign railways, in which for the most part steep gradients and sharp curves were employed, he took a prominent part in the introduction of the various articulated or bogie systems. A visit to the United States confirmed and developed the views and practice he had always advocated on this head.

Continually increasing deafness, a weak voice, and feeble health, caused him to withdraw with much regret from active participation in engineering work, but he continued to take a warm interest in the published Proceedings of the Institution, of which he was elected a Member on the 6th of December, 1853.

He died on the 13th of May, 1891.

Mr. Slaughter was a man of considerable character and parts, and formed an important factor in Bristol life. His reputation as a mechanical engineer, especially in connection with locomotive construction, was of the highest class. He was an excellent judge of work, and was ruled by the strictest sense of honour in all engagements he undertook.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Bristol Mercury, Saturday, January 9, 1841
  2. 1851 Census
  3. 1861 Census
  4. The Bristol Mercury, Saturday, May 30, 1863
  5. 1871 Census
  6. 1881 Census
  7. 1891 Census
  8. The Times, Wednesday, May 20, 1891
  9. 1891 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  10. 1891 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries