Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 134,020 pages of information and 213,092 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

John Anderson (1814-1886)

From Graces Guide

Jump to: navigation, search

Sir John Anderson (1814-1886), inventor of ordnance manufacturing machinery and manager of Woolwich Arsenal.

1814 Born at Woodside, near Aberdeen, on 9 December 1814.

His mother remarried and his stepfather, Irvine Kempt, employed him at the Woodside cotton works of Gordon, Barron and Co from the age of thirteen. He served an apprenticeship there as a mechanic.

1839 Left on the completion of his apprenticeship; he then worked for several engineering concerns in Manchester and London.

1840 he married Eliza Norrie, with whom he had a daughter and two sons.

1842 Anderson was recommended by the shipbuilder David Napier for the position as foreman at the brass gun foundry at Woolwich Arsenal. Anderson rapidly mechanized the manufacture of ordnance, much of the machinery being of his own invention. He is credited with devising sixteen different machines for armaments manufacture. Working practices were overhauled.

Anderson also oversaw the modernization of the Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills .

1854 After a visit to the United States in 1854, Anderson recommended the establishment of a government small-arms factory using American-style techniques of mass production. The authorities decided to expand an existing facility at Enfield Lock, Middlesex under Anderson's direction. This freed the government from its dependence on private manufacturers.

1856 Chief Inspector of Machinery, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich.

Established a factory for the manufacture of Lancaster shells for the Crimea War.

1859 the government decided on the production of rifled field-guns - Anderson was appointed assistant superintendent of the royal gun factory under Sir William Armstrong.

From 1866 until his retirement in 1872 he was superintendent of machinery.

1870 Mr. Anderson had the degree of LL.D. conferred upon him by the University of St. Andrews He served as a juror at the International Exhibitions at London, Paris, and Vienna in 1862, 1867, and 1873 respectively, and was at the head of the British jurors at the Philadelphia Exhibition of 1876, and in Paris in 1878. [1]

In recognition of his services at the Exhibitions he was nominated a Companion of the Order of Francis Joseph of Austria, and was made an officer of the Legion of Honour. He received the honour of knighthood in 1878. [2]

c.1878 Knighted.

1886 Died at St Leonards, Sussex.


1886 Obituary [3]

SIR JOHN ANDERSON, LL.D., F.R.S.E., was born at Woodside near Aberdeen, on 9th December 1814, a few months after the death of his father, who was a merchant in that village.

On leaving the village school, at the ago of thirteen, he was apprenticed as a mechanic at the Woodside Cotton Works of Messrs. Gordon Barron and Co., under his step-father, Mr. Irvine Kempt, where he remained for about ten years.

Leaving Woodside in 1839, during the next three years he followed his profession in the works of Mr. Penn, Greenwich; Messrs. Sharp Roberts and Co., and Messrs. William Fairbairn and Co., Manchester; and Mr. David Napier, London.

In 1842 he was appointed, on the recommendation of Mr. Napier, to take charge of the brass-gun foundry and other new works at Woolwich arsenal. There he gradually introduced much needed reforms in the system of working, and invented new machines to be used in the construction of cannon and in the casting of rifle bullets. During the first eight years of his service, he devised no fewer than sixteen new and valuable machines for executing different processes in the manufacture of guns, bullets, percussion caps, &c. One bullet machine turned out 40,000 bullets per hour; and another of his inventions was a machine for automatically granulating gunpowder.

In 1853 the valuable services which had been rendered by him in several branches of the ordnance service by his inventions and adaptations of machinery received substantial recognition from the government.

In the same year he was appointed to report upon the capabilities of the government rifle factory at Enfield for manufacturing bayonets by machinery; and the result of the enquiry was the establishment by the government of a small-arms factory at Enfield in entire accordance with his plans, where after the first few years were produced annually 100,000 muskets with bayonets complete, at a cost of less than £2 each.

In 1854, during the Crimean war, he erected within two months a shell factory covering more than 3000 square yards, and containing the necessary steam-engines, steam-hammers, and machines of various descriptions, many of them original and specially devised, the whole of which was in full operation within that time.

In 1859 the manufacture of Armstrong guns was taken up by the government, and he was chosen to superintend the work as chief inspector of machinery. In 1866 he was appointed superintendent of machinery to the war department.

This post he occupied till 1872, when be retired after thirty years of service.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1856, and was elected a Member of Council in 1861, and a Vice-President in 1868. In 1858 he contributed a paper on some applications of the copying or transfer principle in the production of wooden articles (Proceedings, page 237); and in 1862 another on the application of the copying principle in the manufacture and rifling of guns (Proceedings, page 125). He also published a work on the strength of materials, besides many technical pamphlets. The honour of knighthood was conferred upon him in 1878. To his native village of Woodside he presented a building for a permanent free library, together with 50,000 volumes, forming one of the most complete of its kind in Scotland.

His death occurred on 28th July 1886, at his residence, Fairleigh, St. Leonards-on-Sea, at the age of seventy-one, after a fortnight's illness from an aggravated bronchial affection.


1886 Obituary [4]

Sir JOHN ANDERSON, who died on the 28th of July, 1886, was elected a Member of the Institution on the 4th of February, 1862. His career was one well calculated to encourage young engineers, as it affords an instance of steady success attained by a clear brain with determined concentration of mind on the matter in hand. Sir John had so worn himself out in the service of his country that, for many years before his death, he had been compelled to seek the rest and quiet which his health imperatively demanded ; and thus it happened that his name was latterly less before the public than was once the case.

Born at Woodside, near Aberdeen, on the 9th of December, 1814, three months after the death of his father, he was known when very young by his genial spirits and affectionate nature, as well as by the vigour with which he threw himself into all the amusements of the boys of the village, among whom indeed he generally acted as a leader.

He received at the village school the usual good education which has long been the advantage possessed by children of every rank in Scotland. When at home he was carefully looked after by his mother, a woman of a remarkably affectionate nature, and also by his stepfather, Mr. Irvine Kempt, a man held in high esteem in the neighbourhood for extreme uprightness of character, as well as for being possessed of an extensive general knowledge far above the average.

It was probably from the influence which he exercised on the young boy that he, like his stepfather, developed a taste for reading and a great desire to. acquire knowledge. This love for books induced him at a very early period to become the honorary librarian of the church library at Woodside, and people who were readers then, and have now grown old, relate how pleased and able the librarian was to advise them as to the books they should select.

Sir John Anderson seems never to have forgotten this part of his youthful experience, for towards the end of his life, actuated by the desire that the youth of his native village should cultivate a habit of reading from which he himself had drawn so much pleasure and advantage, he erected at Woodside a free library, well stocked with the best literature of the day, every volume of which had been specially selected by himself.

Near to Woodside, which stands on the banks of the River Don, were large cotton-mills, and in these Mr. Kempt held a responsible position as Manager of the engineering-shops. It was through his influence that his stepson was taken into these mills, first as a boy clerk, and afterwards to serve an apprenticeship of seven years as an artizan in the shops. In these workshops the young lad was under the same kind and intellectual eye as in his home, and he rapidly grew to be an excellent workman.

From the first he took great interest in machinery. While an apprentice, in his spare hours, among other things he made for one of his friends a wooden clock which kept good time, and to another he presented a lathe of his own manufacture. But he did not occupy all his spare time in these amusements; regularly in the evenings he walked into the city of Aberdeen, 2 miles distant, to attend at the Mechanics Institute the classes for mechanical drawing and other subjects.

He was also at this time the centre of a small number of kindred spirits about his own age, who met in the evening to discuss chemical and scientific questions, and to solve, as best they could, difficulties with which they had no better means of grappling.

As the term of his apprenticeship drew to an end, he resolved that there was at Woodside no sufficient scope for a career, and he determined to go south, so that he might become thoroughly acquainted with the best mechanism, and the modes of executing work in the first workshops of the kingdom, and obtain, if he could, a situation which would give him a favourable opening.

At the age of twenty-five years, on the day his apprenticeship ended, he left Woodside for Manchester, and went to work with Messrs. Fairbairn, a firm to which he had been recommended by his stepfather. He did not, however, remain there many months, but having seen what he wanted, he left and worked in succession with Messrs. Sharpe Roberts and Co., Manchester, Messrs. Penn of Greenwich, and Mr. Napier of London.

During this period, which lasted from 1839 to 1842, the young man was storing his mind with a complete knowledge of the various metals, and their best treatment under various circumstances. He was not, however, without anxiety as to his future. The state of trade was at the time particularly bad, and many men were being discharged. So gloomy indeed was the outlook, that Mr. Anderson seriously contemplated going abroad to push his fortune in the Colonies; but before he could carry out this resolution, the circumstances arose which determined the course of his future life.

Mr. D. Napier, in whose works he was employed in the spring of 1842, had, it appears, been employed from time to time by the Ordnance Department, and was then engaged in constructing an engine for the Royal Brass Foundry in the Arsenal. In connection with this, General Dundas, the then Inspector of Artillery, had called on Mr. Napier at his works, and the General mentioned incidentally that he was looking for a young engineer to take charge of the brass-gun manufacture, and of some new works in connection with it at the Arsenal. Mr. Anderson was at once suggested by Mr. Napier as being a suitable person; but the General hesitated when he noticed the apparently extreme youth of the pale-faced young man pointed out to him. It was, however, settled then and there that Mr. Anderson should be sent to the Brass Gun Foundry, to have charge of the erection of the engine, and the General would then have ample opportunity for observing how he managed matters, and be able to judge of his fitness for the vacant post.

The erection of the engine, for some reason, entailed more than the ordinary trouble, and so conspicuous was Mr. Anderson’s earnestness in the matter, that General Dundas determined to offer him the appointment of Engineer of the Royal Brass Foundry. The pay attached to the office was low, indeed less than he was earning at Mr. Napier’s, but the field in the Arsenal was so open and inviting to an enthusiast in his profession, that he did not hesitate to accept the offer. This being, as it were, the point of departure in his life for the special work he was to perform for the country, it may be convenient to note the conditions of the situation. On the one hand, there was an energetic mechanic burning with desire to succeed, who from the apprenticeship he had served, and from what he had seen in the best workshops of the country, possessed a thorough knowledge of mechanical construction in all its branches. Besides this, he was a good draughtsman and calculator, for although he had never learned to use the higher mathematics, he possessed a rare faculty in working out, by the simplest rules, questions of strains and similar problems of considerable complexity.

He had also acquired, in the various ways above described, a sound knowledge of the laws of gases and liquids, and besides all this, his excellent memory was stored with general information. He was, however, devoid of experience in conducting work, for, as has been shown, he never remained beyond a few months in any of the large establishments where he might have had an opportunity of rising to a superior position.

He also possessed a natural modesty which, at first at least, led him to feel diffident of his powers. The work before him was to effect a revolution in the gun-factories. The state of the gun-factories in 1842 was very unsatisfactory; since the close of the war in 1815, things had been in a quiescent state; the plant had become obsolete, and the staff naturally somewhat indolent. The time had come when this was to end. The shops had to be enormously increased in size, and filled with machine-tools, and the workmen in them, growing in number to thousands, had to be trained to perform operations of the greatest delicacy. There was therefore an ample field for the full play of the energy of the young mechanic. Mr. Anderson set about his work with vigour. As he had a special aptitude for invention, new machine-tools, such as were specially adapted to the various processes in gun-manufacture, soon made their appearance in the shops, and the class of man who handled them was of a higher type than the old workmen.

Mr. Anderson was from the first imbued with the conviction that properly designed machines could be made to relieve mankind of much manual labour, and later in life he often spoke of the development of labour-saving machinery, expressing his conviction that enormous strides would yet be made in that direction. The introduction of machine-tools was one of his steady aims throughout his service in the War Department, and it is believed that it was in the Arsenal that their advantages were first clearly seen and brought into play. Although it is impossible here to refer to the many and varied machines invented by Mr. Anderson at this time, one of them, the bullet-making machine, must be mentioned. It is unnecessary here to describe it in detail, but it profoundly impressed the War Office authorities with the mechanical genius which &fr. Anderson possessed.

From his first entry to the Arsenal his daily labour was excessive. Actively superintending during the day, and inventing in his quiet home at night, was for eight years, with little rest, the record of his life. For not only had he the care of the gun foundry, but the authorities, finding that they had in Mr. Anderson an engineer of rare talent, entrusted him with the preparation of new machinery for the manufacture of powder at Waltham Abbey. It is easy to understand that the elaborate action of the granulating-machine, incorporating-mills, dusting-machinery, &C., required for its perfecting much anxious thought, but one by one the difficulties were overcome, and the manufacture was brought to a high pitch of efficiency.

But though he had his hands full of hard practical work indoors and out, he found time to give lectures to the Cadets in the Royal Military Academy on practical mechanics. These lectures, many officers have testified, were always interesting and instructive.

The lecturer, as he went on, became more and more warm and enthusiastic over his subject, and it was difficult for the most indifferent to be unaffected by the fervour of his address. The whole subject of applied mechanics was so familiar to him, that he rarely went through the fixed programme of the lecture, but would often be induced largely to amplify some part of the subject as he went along, and those unintended digressions were generally the most brilliant parts of his address. There was, besides the natural enthusiasm of the lecturer, another reason for the popularity of these lectures ; the practical knowledge which he possessed of the things he spoke about, gave a force and solidity to his remarks which are always wanting in one speaking from a purely theoretical and literary knowledge.

The duties above described filled up the period from 1849 to 1853, and the time when the still greater effort was to be called for was at hand. His diffidence in himself had now gone, and he had become as bold and far-sighted in the application of machinery as he was learned in its details. He was also actuated by a spirit of patriotism as pure as ever filled the heart of a soldier. The war with Russia was imminent, and the Ordnance Board were beginning to realize how unprepared the Arsenal was to furnish war material in large quantities. The Board at once consulted Mr. Anderson, who, in what was called his leisure time, was asked to prepare a report on the introduction of steam-power into the Royal Laboratory.

Immediately after this he had to report on the construction of a manufactory for making muskets by machinery. These reports, which led to the complete reconstruction of the laboratory plant of the Arsenal, and to the erection of the small-arms factory at Enfield, were written in snatches of time taken from the numerous duties which then rested on his shoulders.

In 1854, he, with two Artillery officers, visited America and minutely examined the American system of small-arms manufacture ; a large quantity of machinery was purchased, and an American engineer engaged to come over to England and take charge of the new factory at Enfield. He had hardly returned when, towards the end of 1854, a pressing demand came from the Crimea for Lancaster shells. Mr. Anderson at once promised the Board of Ordnance that he could erect a factory filled with machinery and plant, and have it in operation in two months. As the shells were formed of a single piece of wrought-iron, in shape like a champagne-bottle, this was a formidable task; but before two months were out, a shed of 30,000 square feet, containing four steam-engines, seven steam-hammers, and forty machines of various sorts-many of them original-were at work ; and all this was done during a stormy winter season. Mr. Anderson himself has written, 'the tear and wear of mind and body to accomplish that task cannot be recorded.'

Another work which may be mentioned, out of the many in which he was engaged, was the preparation of a floating factory for the Crimea. This was fitted out in ten weeks, and dispatched with a picked body of artizans, and excited the admiration of foreign officers more perhaps than anything else done in the Crimea, as showing the determination of this country to be finally victorious. Many services cannot be here recorded; some may be named. Saw-mills had to be sent out to the Black Sea; supplies to the army of shot and shell had to be maintained ; a new foundry and boring-mill had to be designed and erected in the Arsenal, and afterwards an extensive gas-works for the War Department in Woolwich.

In 1855, Mr. Anderson formed one of a Commission which visited the Continent, and reported on the manufacture of ordnance abroad, and finally he was a member of the Ordnance Select Committee, a body of officers specially charged with the investigation, for the guidance of the Secretary of State, of new suggestions or inventions in war material. Sir John during this period, 1853-57, made a surrender to duty of every minute not required for rest.

He was therefore glad when there came a short period of comparative rest, as the superintendence of the War Department machinery, after 1857, for some time did not require exceptional exertion.

This however did not last long, for in 1859 it was determined by the War Office, after many consultations at which Mr. Anderson assisted, to commence, in accordance with Sir W. Armstrong’s views, the construction of rifled guns at the Arsenal.

Mr. Anderson was selected to superintend the work while the system was being introduced, and the entire conduct of an establishment of about three thousand workmen was placed in his hands. Once more his energies were in full play, and so quickly were the new appliances brought into working order, that within twelve months one hundred and three 12-pounder guns were ready for service. When these extensive factories had been brought, in 1863, as near perfection both in efficiency and economy as Mr. Anderson could bring them, they were handed over to Royal Artillery officers to carry on, and he resumed his proper work of Superintendent of Machinery generally.

With the completion of the Armstrong Gun factories that period of intense exertion in the Arsenal, which had begun in 1842, came to a close, but Mr. Anderson was by no means idle.

Apart from the ordinary duties of Superintendent of Machinery a variety of promiscuous occupations filled up his time. He wrote a book on the Strength of Materials which has had a wide circulation. He delivered one of the series of Cantor Lectures for the Society of Arts, and for several years lectured on Applied Mechanics to the Royal School of Naval Architecture. He also acted as an Examiner to the Science and Art Department. He found time to devise improvements in the construction of railway plant, and held patents for these inventions. He was also consulted both as an arbitrator and adviser in the planning of engineering establishments, and in this latter capacity he rendered much assistance to the Turkish Government. But the employment which gave him most pleasure was that connected with the International Exhibitions, where his wide knowledge of machine construction made him a most reliable person to determine the merits of the various exhibits.

In London, in 1862, and Paris, in 1867, he acted as a juror. At Vienna, in 1873, he occupied the more important post of Vice-President of the Jury for Machinery; while in Philadelphia, in 1876, and in Paris, in 1878, he was President of the Machinery Group, and materially assisted the executive in the general management of that department. This work was thoroughly congenial to him, and his success in it may be attested by the fact that he was appointed an Officer of the Legion of Honour by the French, and Commander of the Order of Franz Josef, by the Austrian Emperor.

After the Paris Exhibition of 1878 he was knighted by Her majesty. He had been before this elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and the University of St. Andrew’s had, in 1871, conferred on him the honorary degree of LL.D. Subsequently, in 1881, he was presented with the freedom of the City of Aberdeen, an honour which he highly prized, as it has been but rarely bestowed.

Sir John left the public service in 1872. The great expenditure of strength both of body and mind which had been put forth in the years 1842 to 1866, began gradually from the end of that period to be felt. Attacks of asthma and bronchitis from time to time began to trouble him and required that he should be most careful. of his health. He therefore retired to St. Leonards with his books. It was difficult to believe that the once strong man, familiar with the hurry and bustle of life, could easily settle clown to quiet retirement; but AS his strength of body gradually failed he seemed to accept the situation with resignation and even content.

When at home at St. Leonards, his days were spent in reading; works of a philosophic character, such as 'Buckle’s History of Civilization,' were his greatest favourites. He had never any great liking for what may be called general society, but among friends who would converse with him on some serious subject his manner was most charming and enthusiastic, and his remarks were always characterized by modesty, great breadth of view and liberality.

He had married, in 1842, a wife by whose affectionate care he found in the busy part of his life always a peaceful home, and by whom during his last years he was nursed with tenderness and patience.


1886 Obituary [5]

SIR JOHN ANDERSON, LL.D., F.R.S.E., died at his residence at St. Leonard's-on-Sea. on Wednesday. For some time he had suffered from a bronchial affection, and a sudden aggravation of the illness caused his death.

Sir John was born at Woodside, near Aberdeen, in 1814. As a boy he was employed for ten years in the engineering department of a local cotton mill, and such was the esteem in which he was held that on leaving he was presented with a testimonial by the inhabitants. In 1839 he left Woodside for Greenwich, and followed his profession in various establishments. In 1842 he was appointed to take charge of the brass gun-foundry at Woolwich Arsenal. In that capacity Mr. Anderson set himself to introduce much-needed reforms, revolutionising the system of working, and inventing new machines to be used in the construction of cannon and in the casting of rifle bullets. One bullet machine invented by him turned out 40,000 bullets an hour, at a cost of 5.5d per thousand, whereas by the old method of casting they cost 5s. per thousand. Another of his inventions was a machine for grinding, which was a great success.

Mr Anderson's guiding motive was an enthusiastic love of his profession backed by a spirit of real patriotism and sense of duty. He had by this time become known not only to his superiors, but widely in other quarters as a first-rate mechanician, a man of great resources and untiring energy, and accordingly be had had offers to accept other well paid situations - one foreign Government offering him a high salary to enter their arsenal. All these offers and handsome profits from patents he refused.

In 1853 the Lords Commissioner of the Treasury made a substantial addition to Mr. Anderson'a salary expressly on the ground that "the valuable services which had been rendered by him in several branches of the ordnance service by his inventions and adaptations of machinery" entitled him to special consideration. But more important services were still to come.

In the year 1853 Mr. Anderson was requested to report on the capabilities of the Government Rifle Factory at Enfield for manufacturing bayonets by machinery. His report was to the effect that, while bayonets were turned out in limited numbers at a cost of 7s. 6d. each, they could be made by proper machinery far more rapidly at a cost of 2s. 6d. each. In a subsequent report he expressed his belief that all the separate parts of a rifle could be made by machinery at the rate of 500 a day if required. His proposal in this matter roused the strong opposition of the gun trade generally in London and Birmingham. These private manufacturers declared Mr. Anderson's statements that he could make any part of a rifle by machinery more perfectly and at a much cheaper rate than they were made by hand to be entirely illusory.

A Select Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to inquire into the subject, before which Mr. Anderson was severely cross-examined. But he stuck to his point, declaring himself prepared to undertake to carry out what he had said he could do, while Lord Raglan, Sir Thomas Hastings, and General Tulloch expressed their strong confidence in his ability to accomplish what he said. A small arms factory was established by the Government at Enfield, entirely according to his plans. After the first few years this factory produced annually 100,000 muskets with bayonets complete, and at a cost of less than £2 for each. The entire sum spent on lands, buildings, machinery, gasworks, &c., amounted to £315,000, and this sum, together w1th a depreciation of £48,000, had been entirely repaid, and in 1862, there was a surplus of £14,000 from the profit as compared with the prices paid to contractors.

In 1851 the Government took up the manufacture of Armstrong guns, and Mr. Anderson was chosen to superintend the work. He had now conferred upon him the office of Inspector of Machinery, with a salary of £1000 and £200 in lieu of house or quarters, at which salary he continued till 1872, when, on finally retiring, he was paid a handsome allowance.

In 1870 Mr. Anderson had the degree of LL.D. conferred upon him by the University of St. Andrew. He served as a juror at the International Exhibitions at London, Paris, and Vienna in 1862, 1867, and 1873 respectively, and was at the head of the British jurors at the Philadelphia Exhibition of 1876, and in Paris in 1878. In recognition of his services at the Exhibitions be was nominated a Companion of the Order of Francis Joseph of Austria, and was made an officer of the Legion of Honour. He received the honour of knighthood in 1878.

Sir John Anderson married, in 1840, Eliza, daughter of Mr. William Norrie, of London.

In 1881 Sir J. Anderson presented to his native village a free library, which cost £ 6000, and was subsequently presented with his portrait by the inhabitants.- Times.


1886 Obituary[6]

"SIR JOHN ANDERSON.

Sir John Anderson. LL.D., F.R.S.E., died at his residence at St. Leonard’s-on-Sea on Wednesday last. For some time he had suffered from a bronchial affection, and a sudden aggravation of the illness caused his death. We are indebted to the Times for the following account of his career. Sir John was born at Woodside, near Aberdeen, in 1814. As a boy he was employed for ten years in the engineering department of a local cotton mill, and such was the esteem in which he was held that on leaving he was presented with a testimonial by the inhabitants. In 1839 he left Woodside for Greenwich, and followed his profession in various establishments. In 1842 he was appointed to take charge of the brass gun-foundry at Woolwich Arsenal. In that capacity Mr. Anderson set himself to introduce much needed reforms, revolutionising the system of working and inventing new machines to be used in the construction of cannon and in the casting of rifle bullets. One bullet machine invented by him turned out 40,000 bullets an hour at a cost of 5Jd. per thousand, whereas by the old method of casting they cost 5s. per thousand. Another of his inventions was a machine for grinding, which was a great success. Mr. Anderson’s guiding motive was an enthusiastic love of his profession backed by a spirit of real patriotism and sense of duty. He had by this time become known not only to his superiors, but widely in other quarters as a first-rate mechanician, a man of great resources and untiring energy, and accordingly he had had I offers to accept other well paid situations—one foreign Government offering him a very high salary if he would enter their arsenal. AU these offers and handsome profits from patents he refused. In 1853 the|Lords Commissioners of the Treasury made a substantial addition to Mr. Anderson’s salary expressly on the ground that “the valuable services which had been rendered by him in several branches of the ordnance sendee by his inventions and adaptations of machinery ” entitled him to special consideration. But more important services were still to come.

In the year 1853 Mr. Anderson was requested to report on the capabilities of the Government Rifle Factory at Enfield tor manufacturing bayonets by machinery. His report was to the effect that, while bayonets were turned out in limited numbers at a cost of 7s. Cd. each, they could be made by proper machinery far more rapidly at a cost of 2s. Od. each. In a subsequent report he ex* pressed his belief that all the separate parts of a rifle could be made by machinery at a rate of 500 a day if required. His proposal in this matter roused the strong opposition of the gun trade generally in London and Birmingham. These private manufacturers declared Mr. Anderson’s statements that he could make any part of a rifle by machinery more perfectly and at a much cheaper rate than they were made by hand, to be entirely illusory. A Select Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to inquire into the subject before which Mr. Anderson was severely cross-examined. But he stuck to his point, declaring himself prepared to undertake to carry out what he had said he could do, while Lord Raglan, Sir Thomas Hastings, and General Tulloch expressed their strong confidence in his ability to accomplish what he had said. A small arms factory was established by the Government 1 at Enfield, entirely according to his plans. After the first few years this factory produced annually 100,000 muskets with bayonets complete and at a cost of less than 2/. ! for each. The entire sum spent on lands, buildings, machinery, gasworks, &c., amounted to 315,000/., and this sum, together with a depreciation of 48,000/., had been entirely repaid, and. in 1862, there was a surplus of 14,000/. from the pront as compared with the prices paid to contractors. In 1859 the Government took up the manufacture of Armstrong guns, and Mr. Anderson was chosen to superintend the work. He had now conferred upon him the office of Inspector of Machinery with a salary of 1000/. and 200/. in lieu of house or quarters, at which salary he continued till 1872, when, on finally retiring, he was paid a handsome allowance. In 1870 Mr. Anderson had the degree of LL.D. conferred upon him by the University of St. Andrew.

He served as a juror at the International Exhibitions at London, Paris, and Vienna in 1862, 1867, and 1873 respectively, and was at the head of the British jurors at the Philadelphia Exhibition of 1876, and in Paris in 1878. In recognition of his services at the Exhibitions he was nominated a Companion of the Order of Francis Joseph of Austria, and was made an officer of the Legion of Honour.. He received the honour of knighthood in 1878. Sir John. Anderson married, in 1840, Eliza, daughter of Mr. William Norrie, of London. In 1881, Sir J. Anderson presented to his native village a free library, which cost 6000/., and was subsequently presented with his portrait by the inhabitants."


See Also

Loading...

Sources of Information

  • Biography of Sir John Anderson, ODNB