Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Riley Hargreaves and Co

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Civil Engineer Richard Riley came to Singapore and along with shipwright William Hargreaves, set up Riley, Hargreaves & Co in 1865. They were civil mechanical and electrical engineers as well as shipbuilders, boilermakers and iron and brass founders. [1]. Their offices were at Clarke Quay. [2]

They would grow to have a large engine shop, machine shop and building sheds which were well equipped with powerful punching and shearing machines. They were adept at ship building in steel, iron, composite or wood.[3]

They would eventually open branches in Ipoh, Kuala, Seremban, Bangkok and Medan. [4]

In 1895 they built their first steamer named Ban Fo Soon of 440 tons which was to be involved in trade with Dutch ports and was registered in Indonesia.

In 1897 they built 585 ton steamer Sarie Borneo which was owned by Malayan Steamship Co (Limited). [5]

In 1902 they opened their Ipoh branch by buying out the firm of Mitchell Bros. This branch was specialised in the electrification of mines and mining equipment such as pudding machine and winding gear.

In 1903 they launched the government steamer Sea Mew.

In 1904 they were employing several qualified engineers: John McLachlan, Herbert Saxelby, James Allan, James Armstrong, Win Chalmers, James Drysdale, Robert Goldie and Samuel Smith. [6]

From 1904 till August 1915 C E F Sanderson was the Chairman of the Board of Directors.[7]

In 1912 they formed United Engineers when they merged with the engineering company Howarth Erskine & Co which had been founded by Samuel Erskine and J. Howarth in 1875.

United Engineers still exists today and is responsible for building some of Singapore’s most iconic and historic buildings.



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Singapore, Then and Now vol 2, by Ray K Tyers, page 282
  2. Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics by Victor R Savage, Brenda Yeoh, page 350
  3. Technology and Entrepôt Colonialism in Singapore, 1819 -1940 by Goh Chor Boon, page 49
  4. Singapore, Then and Now vol 2, by Ray K Tyers, page 282
  5. Lloyd’s Register Collections, Singapore Port, LRF/PUN/SNG1151/
  6. Technology and Entrepôt Colonialism in Singapore, 1819 -1940 by Goh Chor Boon, page 49
  7. The Strait Times, 28 October 1915, page 10