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Manassah Gledhill

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Manassah Gledhill (1825-1898) of Joseph Whitworth and Co

1825 December 13th. Born at Golcar, the son of Joseph Gledhill (1800-1878), Machinist, and his wife Grace (1799-1859)

1851 Living at 28 Paddock Street, Ardwick, Manchester: Joseph Gledhill (age 51 born Lowestwood, Yks.), Machinist. With his wife Grace Gledhill (age 51 born Jepcur, Yks.) and their four children; Manalza Gledhill (age 25 born Lowestwood, Yks.), Machinist; John Gledhill (age 23 born Lowestwood, Yks.), Machinist; Elizabeth Gledhill (age 18 born Horth, Yks.), Dress Maker; and Grace Gledhill (age 13 born Manchester).[1]

1853 Married in Manchester to Dinah Hill

c1862 Birth of son John Manassah Gledhill

1881 Living at 195 Upper Brook Street, Chorlton: Manassah Gledhill (age 54 born Huddersfield), Mechanical Engineer. With his wife Diana Gledhill (age 48 born Manchester) and their son John M. Gledhill (age 19 born Manchester), Apprentice Engineer. One servant.[2]

1888 Patent. 'Projectiles for ordnance and other guns and firearms.'[3]

1898 Died

1900 'The late Mr. M. Gledhill, a director of Armstrong, Whitworth, and Co., left £150,000 to charities.'[4]

'WILL OF MR. MANASSAH GLEDHILL. MUNIFICENT BEQUESTS TO MANCHESTER AND OTHER CHARITIES. By the will of the late Mr. Manassah Gledhill, of Birchfield, Rusholme, director of Sir W. G Armstrong-Whitworth and Company Limited, who died on the 13th September, 1898 (probate of which has been granted), after providing for the members of his family, the following charities will benefited by legacies, free of duty, viz.:— The Southern Convalescent Hospital, £2,000; the Huddersfield Infirmary, £1,000; the Manchester Southern Hospital, £1,000; the Manchester St. Mary's Hospital, £1,000; the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, £1,000; Manchester and Bowdon Hospital, £1,000: the Barnes Convalescent Home, £1,000; the Ancoats Hospital, £500; the Eye and Ear Hospital, St. John-street, Manchester, £500; the Children's Hospital, Pendlebury, £500; the Red Bank Dispensary, £500; the St. John's Ambulance Association, £500; the Northern Counties Hospital for Incurables, £500; the Royal Albert Asylum, Lancaster, £500; the Provident Dispensary, Openshaw, £250; the Manchester Nursing Institute, High-street, £250; the Manchester and Salford Lock Hospital, £ 250; the Dispensary for Women and Children, Ancoats, £250. The residue of the estate is held by the trustees upon trust, to be distributed amongst such charitable institutions of like nature to those above as the trustees may determine.' [5]


1898 Obituary [6]

'Mr. Manassah Gledhill, whose death on Tuesday we regret to announce, was for more than forty years connected with the works founded by the late Sir Joseph Whitworth in Manchester. At the time of the Great Exhibition of 1851 Whitworth was recognised as the first mechanical engineer of his time, and soon after the Crimean War was asked by the Government to assist them in the production of a more accurate rifle than then existed. Whitworth, after some hesitation, agreed to experiment, and, after a period of investigation, ascertained principles that have served as the basis of all subsequent gun and rifle construction. They were ; that the truth of the flight of a projectile depends on the rapidity of its rotation, and that the range and remaining velocity depend on the length of the projectile, and that the range is considerably increased by tapering the rear of the projectile. The adoption of Whitworth's form of projectile for the bullet of the weight then required by the War Office, five hundred and thirty grains, gave a calibre of .5 of an inch, which was so much less than the calibre then usual as to gain for the rifle the epithet of small-bore. In all the experiments of those days Mr. Gledhill was Whitworth's chief assistant, and in the subsequent experiments on Artillery was constantly employed as confidential overseer. Mr. Gledhill became a Director of the Company which Sir Joseph Whitworth afterwards formed, and after Whitworth's death, on the amalgamation of the Company with that of Whitworth's rival Armstrong, Mr. Gledhill became a Director of the new Company.'[7]. He left a widow and one son, Mr John M. Gledhill (Manager at Openshaw Works)


1899 Obituary [8]

Manassah Gledhill was born at Huddersfield on 15th December 1826. As a youth he developed a strong natural taste for mechanics and engineering, and studied closely to instruct himself in the various branches.

He served his time with Messrs. Parr, Curtis, and Madeley, engineers and machinists, Manchester; and after working in one or two other shops he obtained employment in September 1852 as a turner in the works of Sir Joseph then Mr. Whitworth in Chorlton Street, Manchester. Mr. Whitworth was at that time engaged in developing his plan of hexagonal rifling for the bore of heavy cannon; and the first gun on that principle Mr. Gledhill succeeded in satisfactorily rifling in the lathe himself, which in those days was a feat of considerable skill and difficulty, and was personally acknowledged by Mr. Whitworth.

In October 1858 he was appointed foreman, and in 1863 was made works manager of the gun, ordnance, and steel departments, being associated with Sir J. Whitworth's early experiments in artillery at Shoeburyness and Southport; and was engaged on working out the flat-headed shot which penetrated a 4-inch wrought-iron armour-plate attached to the side of the 'Alfred.' The shot was fired from a 68-pounder cast-iron gun rifled on the Whitworth hexagonal plan, and was driven through the plate and entered the planking of the ship's side. This was the first instance of the penetration of a 4-inch armour-plate by solid shot, and from it dates the use of steel projectiles for that purpose. He had also much to do with the development of the fluid-compressed casting process for steel ingots, whereby steel is still largely manufactured by the firm. His most important work was the origination of the hydraulic forging press for forging heavy steel ingots, which forms one of the most valuable modem developments in engineering. His perfecting of the hydraulic forging press revolutionized the manufacture of large ordnance and marine forgings, which previously it had not been possible to make by steam hammers. Owing to the comparative ease with which large gun tubes and forgings can be produced and supplied by the press, the designs of heavy guns have in recent years undergone a complete change; they are now made in a minimum number of forgings, thereby greatly increasing the strength of the gun in all directions.

He had also devised many improvements in presses, guns, projectiles, marine shafting, and various machinery; and a hydraulic forging press of 12,000 tons pressure, the largest yet made, was nearing completion at the time of his death.

From November 1880 he was managing director of Sir Joseph Whitworth and Co. The removal of their works from Chorlton Street to their present site at Openshaw near Manchester was carried out largely under his supervision in 1880.

In 1896, when the amalgamation of the firm with that of Sir W. G. Armstrong, Mitchell, and Co. took place, he became a director of the joint concern, and retained his position as managing director of the Openshaw works, though failing health abated his active part in the administration.

His death took place at his residence, Birchfield, Rusholme, Manchester, on 13th September 1898, in the seventy-second year of his age. He was a justice of the peace for the county of Lancaster.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1887.



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1851 Census
  2. 1881 Census
  3. Birmingham Daily Post - Friday 12 October 1888
  4. Gloucester Citizen - Tuesday 09 January 1900
  5. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 6 January 1900
  6. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - 17 September 1898
  7. Morning Post, 15 September 1898
  8. 1899 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries Minutes of the Proceedings