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John Houldsworth

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John Houldsworth (1807-1859)


1860 Obituary [1]

MR. JOHN HOULDSWORTH, of Cranston Hill, was born at Whitehall, Glasgow, on the 12th of April, 1807.

His Father, the late Henry Houldsworth, of Coltness, Lanarkshire, removed with his Brother-in-law, Mr. William Hussey, upwards of sixty years ago, from Lancashire to Glasgow, where he introduced many improvements in the spinning of cotton, and gave a fresh impetus to what was then a small, but is now a great branch of manufacture in the commercial metropolis of Scotland.

The subject of this memoir received the best education which the institutions of his native city afforded ; and when about eighteen years of age, he was sent abroad. He resided in Geneva for upwards of two years, and his being thus early thrown among strangers and new objects, had great effect in developing a liberal and highly scientific mind.

On his return to Glasgow, he undertook the partial management of his father's mechanical business, and his natural taste for that profession soon led him to take the foremost rank among the skilled men of the time. He was a very intimate friend and associate of the late Mr. James Smith, of Deanston, with whom he was connected in bringing out some valuable and important improvements in the spinning of cotton.

It should also be mentioned, that some years ago, Sir Peter Fairbairn was connected with him in business.

About twenty-five years ago, Mr. Houldsworth gave his earnest attention to the development of some of the extensive fields of iron ore in the west of Scotland, and with his Brothers, and some friends of his family, he established the Coltness and Dalmellington Ironworks, situated in Lanarkshire and Ayrshire, in which counties the proprietors have now fourteen blast furnaces, capable of producing about 120,000 tons of pig iron annually.

He was, in addition, the senior partner of various establishments for machine making, iron founding, cotton spinning and weaving ; all of which were in a flourishing condition, and gave employment to great numbers of people. He was likewise connected with several large railway undertakings, and with shipping; his services as a Director having been found very valuable, in consequence of his great experience in business, added to his scientific attainments and general intelligence. He never failed to lend a helping hand to establish any great national, or local enterprise, or to give advice as well as pecuniary assistance, if necessary, to individual genius. His practical and scientific information rendered his advice and judgment of the greatest importance, and his evidence before Committees of the House of Commons, and in legal courts, was of the highest value; in no case was this more remarkable, than during the celebrated ‘Hot Blast Trial.’

Only four months before his death, he returned from an excursion to Norway, whither he had gone in his yacht, with a few friends. It is remarkable, that from that time, he, like the late Mr. Robert Stephenson, who made the same voyage about the same period, and under the same circumstances, never enjoyed his wonted health. The weather being exceedingly boisterous, was, probably, instrumental in aggravating, in both cases, diseases, which resulted in depriving society of two valuable members.

After a short illness, he died at Glasgow, from a severe attack of liver complaint, on the 18th of October, 1859, in the fifty-third year of his age ; and no citizen in a public, or private capacity could be more regretted, not only by the large circle of relatives and intimate friends who enjoyed his munificent hospitality, but by the general public, who fully appreciated the benevolence of his character and the exemplary utility of his life.

He was the last Provost of the’ Burgh of Anderston, before it was incorporated with the municipality of Glasgow, and at his decease, he was the senior magistrate of the latter city. He had been connected with the Institution of Civil Engineers fifteen years, having joined it as an Associate, in 1844.


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