Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 150,697 pages of information and 235,204 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Peel, Williams and Co

From Graces Guide
Part of large 1814 Peel & Williams advertising poster at London Science Museum
Detail from 1814 advert, showing the Phoenix Foundry. Comparison with the Bancks 1831 map suggests that the width of the yard has been greatly exaggerated. The view is probably looking north west from Mason Street.
Detail from 1814 advert, showing the Soho Foundry. Comparison with the Bancks 1831 map suggests that the view is looking north east, with the Ashton Canal on the left, and a canal basin in the foreground. The 1831 map shows a wing of the building which would have obscured the view of the yard, so perhaps this wing was added between 1814 and 1831. The bright lights do not represent a bold incursion by the sun, but rather reflections of room lights
Extract from the Bancks 1831 map, showing Phoenix Foundry. Scale: 1 inch represents approx 100 yards
Detail from Bancks's 1831 map, showing Soho Foundry (in the era of Peel, Williams and Peel. Scale: 1 inch represents approx 100 yards

of Manchester

Note: This entry also covers Peel and Williams.

After 1825 the business became Peel, Williams and Peel.


Peel, Williams & Co, later called Peel and Williams was the biggest engineering business in Manchester during the first two or three decades of the 19th century. The company later became Peel, Williams and Peel. The book 'Science & Technology in the Industrial Revolution' by A. E. Musson and Eric Robinson [1]. devotes a chapter to the company, with the stated aim 'of rescuing from oblivion the history of the firm'. Much of what follows in the first section below is taken from that source. The book is available on-line [2]

The company was founded by George Peel, Senior and William Ward Williams. George Peel was a cousin of Sir Robert Peel.

By 1800 Peel, Williams & Co were established in 'Millar’s Street', and soon established a new works, Phoenix Foundry, in Swan Street (a continuation of Miller Street), at Shudehill Pits. The foundry is shown on Bancks and Co's Plan of Manchester, 1831 as 'Pheonix Foundry', bounded by Swan Street, Mason Street, Cable Street, and close to the Swan Street/St. George's Street junction. Their early products included standard gear wheels, hydraulic presses, looms, and portable steam engines.

1802 Advertisement: 'JOURNEYMEN IRON-FOUNDERS - Good, Steady Hands, will meet with a permanent Situation, and liberal Wages, by applying to Messrs. Peel, Williams and Co. iron-founders, Manchester.'[3]

1806 A catalogue listed castings for water wheels, gears, weighing machines, factory heating equipment, spinning rollers, and wrought iron shafting for mills.

1806 Advertisement: 'WANTED IMMEDIATELY, TWO BRASS MOULDERS. Steady, sober men, who have a perfect knowledge of ther business, will meet with constant employment, and liberal wages, by applying to Peel, Williams Co. Iron Founders, Shude-hill, Manchester.'[4]

1808 Advert: 'Peel, Williams and Co., Iron and Brass Founders, SHUDE-HILL PITS, MANCHESTER, TAKE the earliest opportunity of informing their Friends and the Public, that they now compleated very CONSIDERABLE ADDITIONS to their extensive LIST of PATTERNS for MILL-WORK, particularly Bevil, Mitre and Spur Geers, with all sizes of segments for water-wheels ; also patterns for cast-iron water-wheels, on the most approved principle ; with Models of nearly every other description of mill-work; which they can with confidence recommend for accuracy, neatness, and durability.
Peel, Williams & Co. feel highly flattered with the very general satisfaction their Models have hitherto given and hope the additions they continue to make will entitle them to future patronage.
N. B. Lists of their various and extensive being printed, may be had by application at their works, Shude-hill and any models not found in that list, shall be made on the shortest notice.' [5]

1810 The firm acquired the Soho Foundry in Ancoats, by the side of the Ashton Canal. This had been established by David Whitehead, who had become one of the leading makers of Trevithick’s high pressure engines. See Peel, Williams and Peel for more information about Soho Foundry.

1810 Peel, Williams and Co was renamed Peel and Williams on the death of George Peel, Senior,

1812 Supplied an engine for the first steam-powered cotton mill in Alsace (Dollfus Mieg & Cie, Mulhouse). The engine was evidently something of a celebrity: it was referred to in an example of a steam engine power calculation in an 1838 French textbook, which referred to the engine of Mrs Peel & Williams at the 'filature de Mrs Dolfus & Mieg (Bas-Rhien)' [6]

1819 'An experiment was made on Thursday last, on the line of the Ashton Canal, near the Soho Foundry, on Mr. Rastrick's (the engineer for the Huddersfield Canal Company) new method of propelling vessels by steam without the aid of paddle wheels, which, we understand, gave universal satisfaction to the Committee assembled for the purpose of witnessing it, and far surpassed the most sanguine expectations of the ingenious contriver. We believe the plan is very simple, and well adapted for dragging boats along tunnels, crossing wide rivers, creeks, &c.— The steam engine, with its necessary apparatus, was made by our townsmen Messrs. Peel & Williams, and the experiment tried under their directions. Manchester Chronicle.' [7]

1820 The company may have been the biggest engineering concern in Manchester, based on a valuation from the poor rate assessments.

1821 Listed as Peel and Williams, iron and brass founders, Phoenix Foundry, Shudehill; roller and spindle-makers, water-press and steam engine manufacturers, and gas-light erectors, Soho Foundry, Ancoats [8]

On WEDNESDAY the 27th day of November, 1822. at the Roller and Spindle Manufactory, PHOENIX FOUNDRY, Swan-street, Manchester, the property of Messrs. PEEL and WILLIAMS, who are declining that part of their business;
ALL the valuable LATHES, TOOLS, IRON, STEEL, &c. comprising five sliding lathes, for turning spinning rollers, one do. for engine feeding rollers ; and one do. for copper rollers, with the speed geering, &c. all with iron frames; 7 spacing lathes, one large and four smaller centring machines, for setting rollers ; one drilling machine, one coupling machine, with cutters, &c. four single and four double fluting engines, with gearing to work by steam ; one large fluting engine, for engine feeding rollers, all with iron frames; two polishing lathes, one punching machine, two lathes for wharving spindles, one large stone, with machine for grinding, two smaller do. for centring spindles; one glazer, two bright anvils and machine, for setting spindles; three pair smiths' bellows 30 to 34 inches each, with framing; three anvils, three spindle swage blocks, great variety of smiths’ and turners’ tools, guages, mule and billy spindles, of 14, 15, 16 and 17 inches, both in a forged and finished state ; mule and throstle rollers, 16 and 17 inches, various diameters; cast-iron and hardwood lathe frames, with speed pulleys ; grinding stones with iron frames and troughs; a quantity of cast-steel, for spindles ; and a quantity of best swarf iron, for rollers, &c.&c.
Sale to begin at ten o’clock precisely.'[9]

1824 Death announcement: 'Monday week, aged 45, Jonathan Peel, Esq. of the firm Messrs. Peel and Williams, iron founders, Manchester, and cousin to Sir Peel, Bart.'[10]

c.1825 Joseph Peel and George Peel the sons of George Peel, Senior entered into partnership with Williams, and the firm became Peel, Williams and Peel.

Examples of Engines

1819 Advertisement for sale of Smithfield Colliery, Little Hulton, included an 11 HP winding and pumping engine by Peel, Williams & Co[11]

1821 Engine: 'The engine we illustrate above is now in the possession of Messrs. Fred. Silvester and Co., Castle Hill Foundry, Newcastle, Staffordshire. It is a small condensing Watt engine, made by Messrs. Peel and Williams. On an oval plate fixed to the base of the engine there is an inscription. In the centre is the word "Soho," and above "Peel and Williams," and below it "Manchester." Round the margin of the plate run the words, "This engine was at work on a carriage drawn by 3 horses through the town of Manchester on the day the King was crowned, 19th July, 1821, George 4th." The engine is beautifully made, and in excellent preservation. It ought certainly to be acquired by some technical museum.' [12]

1824 Supplied a beam engine and boiler to Richard Ingham & Sons, Cinderhill Mill, Todmorden [13]

4 HP Peel & Williams condensing engine advertised for sale by D. Hodson, silk machine maker, 27 Gun Street, Spital Square, in 1832[14]

They supplied a 36 HP steam engine to the Sheaf Steam Corn Mills, Sheffield, referred to as 'very superior' when the mill was advertised for sale in 1833[15]

5 HP Peel & Williams condensing engine advertised for sale at a silk mill in Marsh Gate Lane, Stratford, London, in 1833[16]

In 1836 the sale of a mill in Pollard Street, Ancoats (near Peel, Williams Soho works) included a 14 HP engine by Peel & Williams.[17]

An 1849 advertisement for the sale of a warehouse belonging to J. R. and J. Ferguson in Carlisle included a 4 HP engine by Peel, Williams & Co,[18]

16 HP Peel & Williams condensing engine and two hydraulic presses advertised for sale at Ellers Paper Mill, Ulverston[19]

1861 The sale of Castle Fields Mill of Turner and Bott, Canal Street, Derby, included 'a capital 30-horse condensing steam engine, by the celebrated Engineers, Peel and Williams'.[20]

Beam engine of about 40 HP included in the sale of a veneer saw mill at 53 Seel Street in 1863[21]

1865 Sale Notice: '.... on the Premises, The St. George's Mill, Vauxhall-road, near Athol-street. Liverpool, a Portion of the valuable MACHINERY and PLANT, including the following ; — A large Condensing Beam Engine of great power, by Peel, Williams, and Co., Manchester, with a flywheel about 30 feet diameter .....'[22]

An 1874 Auction Notice for the sale of Union Street Mill, Rochdale included a 40-horse power engine made by Peel, Williams and Co, with Petrie's regulating valve.[23]

1890 Advertisement for sale of plant at the Silk Works, Norwich, included two engines by Peel and Williams, of 40 HP and 30 HP[24]

Related Businesses

1804 Advertisement: 'BATTY AND CO. At Peel, Williams and Co's Iron Foundery, Shudehill, Respectfully inform COTTON SPINNERS, and MACHINE MAKERS, that they have fitted a Set of Machinery of the first construction, for the manufacturing of ROLLERS, of every description; which they flatter themselves will, upon trial, be found inferior to none in the kingdom. Any orders they may be favoured with, shall be executed with punctuality, and to a degree of truth, that they trust, will secure a continuance of the patronage they solicit.
A Loam and Dry Sand Moulder are wanted, to undertake that part of the work by the piece Sober, steady men will meet with liberal encouragement by applying to Peel, Williams and Co. (One Concern ).'[25]

1807 Partnership dissolved between Jonathan Peel, William Williams, George Peel and Francis Batty being dissolved in April 1807[26]

1809 'Stonetrough Colliery near Congleton.
ALL persons who have any claims upon the partnership lately subsisting between John Johnson, Eliza Harrison, George Peel, Jonathan Peel, William Williams, William Kirby, and Thomas Boothman, in the above-mentioned Colliery, are requested to send in the particulars of their respective demands on or before the first day of January next, to Messrs. Birch & Foster, solicitors, Rugeley, Staffordshire, in order that an arrangement may immediately be made for paying the same.' [27]

Phoenix Foundry

A large engraved advertisement dated 1814 shows the Phoenix Foundry and Soho Foundry, with many examples of their products (see illustration). At Phoenix Foundry, we see, on the left, the offices, next to which appear to be the blacksmiths' shop, with three hearths. On the right is a long four storey building, presumably where machining and fitting were done. Scaling from the 1831 Bancks map suggests that this building was approx 70 yards long by 20 yds wide. All the products in the yard appear to be castings - no forgings or assembled products. The castings include gears, railings, pipes, pots and columns. In the left foreground is a stack of pig iron bought in for making castings. In the shadows on the right are large weighing scales.

William Green's map of 1787 - 1794 [28] shows that the foundry did not exist at that time, Shudehill Pits occupying much of the north side of Swan Street. These were former marl pits, latterly used as reservoirs. By 1849 the area had been further redeveloped, with the site of Phoenix Foundry being occupied by a row of shops and/or houses and Cable Street Silk Mill [29]

An 1825 directory lists Edward Green as a lathe and tool maker at Phoenix Foundry, Swan Street.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 'Science & Technology in the Industrial Revolution' by A. E. Musson and Eric Robinson, p.459ff
  2. [1]Online copy of 'Science & Technology in the Industrial Revolution' by A. E. Musson and Eric Robinson
  3. Manchester Mercury, 19 January 1802
  4. Manchester Mercury, 1 April 1806
  5. Manchester Mercury, 31 May 1808
  6. [2]'Aide-mémoire de Mécanique Pratique: à l'usage des Officiers d'Artillerie et...' By Arthur Morin, 2nd ed 1838
  7. Leicester Chronicle, 24 December 1819
  8. 1821-22 Pigot and Dean's New Directory of Manchester and Salford
  9. Manchester Mercury - Tuesday 12 November 1822
  10. Leeds Intelligencer - Thursday 3rd June 1824
  11. Manchester Mercury - Tuesday 19 January 1819
  12. [3] The Engineer, 10 June 1892, p.497
  13. [4] Rootsweb 'Todmorden and Walsden' website, Cinderhill Mill webpage
  14. Morning Advertiser, 1 February 1832
  15. Sheffield Independent, 24 August 1833
  16. Morning Advertiser - Tuesday 11 June 1833
  17. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 19 November 1836
  18. Carlisle Patriot - Saturday 21 July 1849
  19. Kendal Mercury - Saturday 19 February 1859
  20. Derby Mercury - Wednesday 18 December 1861
  21. Liverpool Mail - Saturday 11 July 1863
  22. Liverpool Albion - Monday 27 November 1865
  23. Rochdale Observer, 5 September 1874
  24. Eastern Daily Press, 8 December 1890
  25. Manchester Mercury, 6 March 1804
  26. Derby Mercury, 30 April 1807
  27. Chester Chronicle, 22 December 1809
  28. 'A Plan of Manchester & Salford' reprinted on A3 sheets by Neil Richardson, 2000
  29. The Godfrey Edition Old Ordnance Survey Maps: Manchester Sheet 24: 'Manchester (New Cross) 1849': Alan Godfrey Maps [5]