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Richard Price Williams

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Richard Price Williams (1827-1916)

1859 Richard Price Williams, Great Northern Railway.[1]

Civil Engineer, M.I.C.E.,[2] of 9 Great George St, Westminster, London, SW. (1875) [3]

Victoria Mansions, 32, Victoria Street, London. (1895). [4]

1869 Patent Switch for railways. [5]

1869 Improved Railway Crossings. [6]


1916 Obituary [7]

RICHARD PRICE-WILLIAMS was born in London on 22nd November 1827, being a son of Dr. John Morgan Williams, of Bridgend, Glam.

He was educated at his native place, before serving a pupilage under the late Mr. George Heald, who was the late Mr. Thomas Brassey's engineer on the construction of the Lancaster, Carlisle, and Caledonian Railways in 1845-6.

He afterwards served as an apprentice in the locomotive works of Messrs. Kitson, Thompson and Hewitson (now Kitson and Co, Ltd.), at Leeds, being engaged later on, from 1854 to 1860, in designing and preparing plans of girder bridges, and carrying out other works while resident engineer at Leeds on the Great Northern Railway.

Subsequently he acted as Consulting Engineer for the proposed Metropolitan Outer Circle Railway, and in the preparation of plans and estimates for a number of other railways, both in this country and in the Colonies.

He was appointed by the Royal Commission on Coal Supplies in 1866 and subsequent years to prepare evidence of their duration, and for the Royal Commission on Irish Railways in 1868 he was appointed Chief Engineer to examine and value them. He also acted for most of the principal railway companies in the United Kingdom to prepare and advocate their claims against the Government for the purchase of the telegraphs in 1871.

In 1889 he reported upon the condition of the railways in New South Wales and Tasmania, and afterwards acted as arbitrator on behalf of the Tasmanian Main Line Railway Co. for the disposal of the railway to the Tasmanian Government, being subsequently appointed Consulting Engineer by the Governor.

Mr. Price-Williams' name will always be associated with the introduction and development of the Bessemer process in this country. His early connexion with the construction of railways led him to make railway engineering his own particular branch from the commencement of his practice. His written contributions and his continual personal efforts were greatly instrumental in inducing the British railway engineers to make a trial of the Bessemer steel rails in place of the iron rails which were so short-lived under heavy traffic. Sir Henry Bessemer appreciated his services, and appointed him manager of the first Bessemer steel works put down at Greenwich. Apart from his engineering activities, Mr. Price-Williams did a large amount of statistical work on a variety of subjects, and was for many years a Member of Council of the Royal Statistical Society.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1859, and served as a Member of Council from 1880 to 1887. At the Annual General Meeting this year the President announced that the Council had nominated him as an Honorary Life Member in recognition of his services in connexion with railways.

In 1879 he presented a Paper to this Institution on "The Economy of Railway Working," but the greater number of his Papers on this question were read before the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Royal Statistical Society.

He became a Member of the former Institution in 1861, and was awarded the Telford, Watt, and Stephenson gold medals. The Iron and Steel Institute awarded him the Bessemer gold medal in 1898 on the recommendation of Sir Henry Bessemer.

He died at Bournemouth on 19th September 1916 (within two months of entering his ninetieth year).


1916 Obituary [8]

RICHARD PRICE-WILLIAMS died at his residence at Bournemouth on September 19, 1916, at the age of eighty-nine. He was born in London, and in 1845 became a pupil of the late Mr. George Heald, the engineer employed by Messrs. Stephenson, Brassey & Mackenzie in the construction of the Lancaster and Carlisle, Caledonian, Trent Valley, and other principal railways in this country.

He afterwards entered the locomotive works of the firm of Messrs. Kitson, Thompson and Hewitson (now Kitson & Co., Ltd.), of Leeds, as an apprentice, being, later on, from 1854 to 1860, engaged in the designing and construction of girder bridges and other civil engineering work as assistant and resident engineer on the Great Northern Railway, at Leeds. He acted afterwards in the capacity of consulting engineer in the construction of the Metropolitan Outer Circle Railway, and in the preparation of plans and estimates for a number of other railways, both in this country and in the Colonies.

Mr. Price-Williams was intimately associated with the introduction and development of the Bessemer process in this country. His first papers, read in 1886 and 1870 before the Institution of Civil Engineers, on maintenance and renewal of permanent way and of rolling-stock were greatly instrumental in inducing British railway engineers to make trials with Bessemer steel rails in place of the iron rails used until then. Sir Henry Bessemer appointed him the manager of the first Bessemer steel works put down at Greenwich.

It may be mentioned that the first piece of Bessemer steel was made at Baxter House and then rolled into a rail-shaped bar at Dowlais. The chemical tests of this bar were made by the late Mr. Riley in 1857, at which time Mr. Price-Williams was assistant engineer on the Taff Vale Railway, where he had full opportunity of witnessing both the manufacture of iron rails and the very small early preliminary researches in the matter of Bessemer steel.

Mr. Price-Williams was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers since 1861, and that Institution awarded him the Telford gold medal in 1866, the Watt gold medal in 1870, and the George Stephenson gold medal in 1902. He was nominated an Honorary Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1871. He was awarded the Bessemer Gold Medal in 1898 and contributed to the Institute some exceedingly interesting and valuable papers.


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