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Matthew Murray Jackson (1821-1892)

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Matthew Murray Jackson (1821-1892)

1859 Matthew Murray Jackson, Escher, Wyss and Co, Engine Works, Zurich.[1]

1892 November 4th. Died.[2]



1893 Obituary [3]

MATTHEW MURRAY JACKSON was born in Leeds on 29th June 1821.

He was the grandson of the famous engineer Matthew Murray (Proceedings 1882, pages 267-9), who was the owner of the Round Foundry, Leeds, and the contemporary and competitor of George Stephenson and James Watt. His father, also an engineer and later on one of the partners in the firm, had him educated at a school in Leeds; and he was so fond of spending all his spare time at the works, that before he was ten years old he knew almost as much about machinery and the use of tools as many an apprentice who had gone through the shops.

After a couple of years' study in Germany, he entered his father's business at the age of seventeen as a draughtsman, and was soon promoted to one of the managerships. The work of the then firm, Messrs. Fenton, Murray, and Jackson, comprising steam engines, machine tools, millwork, heckling and spinning machinery, afforded him an excellent training in mechanical engineering.

In 1844 he was appointed chief engineer and manager to Messrs. Escher Wyss and Co., Zurich, Switzerland, who were at that time beginning to make their own machinery, instead of sending for it from Leeds; a foundry and shipbuilding yard were built, and English foremen were engaged for these departments as well as for the boiler-making and fitting shops. In a few years he had the satisfaction of seeing their first vessel, the "Republican," launched on the lake of aria, the first steamer ever seen in Switzerland. The difficulties to contend with were both serious and numerous. Every ton of iron had to be shipped from England or Belgium, no coal could be obtained nearer than Westphalia, and the traffic arrangements on the continental railways were at that time in their infancy.

The works nevertheless prospered, and other steamers for the Swiss lakes followed in quick succession. During his twenty-four years' managership he is believed to have built over a hundred vessels for the Swiss and Italian lakes, the Rhine, Danube, and other rivers, as well as several sea-going ships for the Mediterranean and Adriatic. He was one of the first to employ high and low-pressure cylinders, on the principle of what was then known as Woolf's compound engine. Large orders of locomotives for Swiss and Italian railways, and stationary engines, millwork, hydraulic and pumping machinery, and turbines, were carried out at the same time by the firm, which for the last forty years has given regular employment to over two thousand mechanics and workmen.

In 1868 he left the firm of Messrs. Escher Wyss and Co. to become engineer-in-chief of the Austrian Danube Navigation Co. at Budapest, which owns a fleet of two thousand vessels and barges, and employs over three thousand men at Budapest alone, the traffic extending from Passau on the Austrian frontier down to Varna on the Black Sea, over a waterway of about two thousand miles.

During his sixteen years in the service of the company he devoted himself to the re-organisation of their fleet, overhauling two or three hundred of their steamers, fitting many with new engines and boilers, and building a large number of new vessels after his own designs, including the "Orient," the largest afloat on the Danube. For transport vessels on the Danube he adopted the plan now used also in Germany and elsewhere, of haulage by means of a wire-rope laid along the bottom of the river or canal, which was picked up by the advance of the vessel, and, after passing over a clip pulley driven by machinery, dropped back into the water at the stern. He also built the great locks, worked by hydraulic machinery, in the Danube canal.

In 1884 he retired from the management, and returned to England, being at the same time appointed consulting engineer to the company, whose new vessels continued to be constructed from his designs, several being built on the Tyne under his superintendence. As recently as 1890 he returned for three months to Budapest to lend his services to the company.

In 1874 he was created a knight of the Imperial Austrian Order of Francis Joseph, and in 1878 received the Cross of the Legion of Honour, in recognition of the display made by his company at the Paris Exhibition in that year. In 1882 he was a member of the Jury of the Naval and Industrial Exhibition at Trieste.

His death took place at his residence at West Brighton on 4th November 1892, after a short illness, in the seventy-second year of his age.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1859.


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