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Robert Daglish

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Robert Daglish (1779-1865) of Robert Daglish and Co

1802 April 1st. Married at Earsdon By North Shields to Margaret Twizell (1778–1849)

1830 Robert Daglish of Wigan, Civil Engineer, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]

1849 October 3rd. Death of his wife Margaret, age 71, at Orrell Cottage, near Wigan.[2]

1851 Living at Ormskirk Road, Orrell: Robert Daglish (age 69 born Northumberland), Retired Civil Engineer - Widower. Two servants. [3]

1861 Living at Ormskirk Road, Orrell: Robert Daglish (age 80 born Hurtley, Northumberland), Mine and Civil Engineer - Widower. Two servants.[4]

1865 December 28th. Died. Probate to his sons George Daglish of Wigan, Surgeon, and Robert Daglish of St. Helens, Engineer.


1867 Obituary [5]

Robert Daglish was born on the 21st of December, 1779.

He settled at Wigan in the year 1804, as Engineer to Lord Balcarras, the father of the present Earl, where he managed for his lordship, the engineering establishment now known as the Haigh Foundry and Brock Mill Forge.

He there constructed the Arley Colliery engine, and many other pumping, winding, and blast engines, which were celebrated in their day as improved and efficient machines.

After some years’ experience at these works, Mr. Daglish took the management of the Orrell Colliery, near Wigan, and whilst there he constructed the railway in connection with it.

He at once appreciated and applied to this railway the then novel invention of the locomotive steam engine of John Blenkinsop, of Leeds, in which the power was applied by means of a large cog-wheel working into a rack laid down beside the ordinary rail.

By arrangement with the patentee, Mr. Daglish constructed a locomotive of this description in the year 1812, and started it on this railway in 1813. It was known as the 'Yorkshire Horse,' and was long looked upon with interest by all concerned in the advancement of engineering science.

Under Mr. Daglish's management, the Orrell Colliery became a most successful commercial undertaking, and 'Orrell coal' in that district has become the equivalent for the 'Wallsend' of the north.

In the year 1825, Mr. Daglish projected, and commenced the survey for, the Bolton and Leigh Railway, in which undertaking, besides the ordinary engineering difficulties, he had to contend against, and eventually to yield to, the wishes of a large landed proprietor, who objected to embankments and cuttings, and insisted upon the line undulating with the natural surface of the land.

Soon after the introduction of the railway system for passenger traffic, the Directors of the London and Birmingham Railway - the largest undertaking of the time - by the offer of a premium of £100, by an advertisement in the columns of 'The Times,' invited public competition for the best form of parallel rail and pedestals.

Mr. Daglish took up the inquiry, and in his tender dated the 3rd of December, 1834, he said: 'I am quite sure a velocity of from fifty to sixty miles per hour may be obtained upon a well constructed railway with greater safety than twenty miles upon any of the present lines yet in operation, not only from their having too light a rail and an ill-constructed pedestal, but also from the mode of fixing them, especially at the joints, which is the great cause of so much deflection and sudden action both vertically and horizontally ; so that it is not in the power of man to make a locomotive engine to stand the action they are subject to long together, besides the like effect upon every carriage used upon the line, which can only be attributed to the defective principle of the rails, &c,, together with bad workmanship at the commencement.'

He thus early recognised the difficulty which has at all times occupied the minds of engineers, and of which the fish-plate has now been offered as a partial solution. He also felt the necessity of having the rails of sufficient weight to resist the heavy traffic, which he foresaw must necessarily pass over them; and in the same tender, whilst alluding to the wish of the directors, that the weight of the rail should not exceed fifty pounds per yard, he said- 'Allow me to assure you that every public railway will never regret having sufficient strength in the rails at the beginning, and ought not by any means to confine themselves to a pound or two in the yard, in order to make such a valuable work as the one in question as complete and substantial as possible at the commencement.'

This advertisement was answered by almost every engineer of eminence at that period, and out of no less than seventy-two competitors, the premium was awarded to Mr. Daglish. His prize rail and pedestal or chair became generally adopted. Mr. Daglish did not patent this valuable invention, but generously threw open its use to the public.

For many years - indeed to within a short time of his death - Mr. Daglish enjoyed an extensive practice as a mining and civil engineer, his advice being sought by many of the principal colliery proprietors in Lancashire, Cheshire,and North Wales. He was largely consulted by foreign as well as by English railway companies.

The Great North of England Railway; the Boston and Providence Railway; the New York and Haarlem Railway; the Norwich and Worcester Railway (U.S.); and the Bootle Waterworks, are some of the undertakings upon which he was consulted. He was, some years ago, one of the projectors of, and a partner in, the St. Helen’s Foundry, which is still carried on by his son and grandson.

The important subject of the ventilation of mines occupied much of his attention, and he invented an improved anemometer for measuring the air passing through colliery workings. In his own neighbourhood his exertions to ameliorate the social and religious condition of those around him are well known, and will be long remembered.

During an active business life of upwards of sixty years, Mr. Daglish secured and retained to the last the respect and esteem of all who had the good fortune to make his acquaintance, and the memory of his life and works will be an incentive and encouragement long felt amongst those who remain behind him.

He was elected a Member of the Institution on the 30th of March, 1830, and died at his residence at Orrell, Lancashire, on the 28th of December, 1865, at the advanced age of eighty-eight years.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1830 Institution of Civil Engineers
  2. Preston Chronicle - Saturday 06 October 1849
  3. 1851 Census
  4. 1861 Census
  5. 1867 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries