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British Industrial History

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Walter Mabon

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Walter Mabon & Co of Ardwick Iron Works, Raven Street, Ardwick, Manchester

  • 1847 'Accident at Ardwick.—
    Shortly alter nine o'clock, yesterday morning, a most fearful accident occurred at the works of Mr. Walter Mabon, known as the Ardwick Foundry, in Ogden-street, by which one unfortunate man lost his life, and three others were so seriously injured that but slight hopes are entertained of their recovery. It appears that, about half past nine o'clock, four labourers in Mr. Mabons employ, named Thomas Bolton, John Mahomet, Patrick Connor, and James Mason, were busily employed at work in the foundry-yard, in raising a heavy beam of iron by means of a crane. Whilst so engaged, from some cause or other the chain by which the iron beam was suspended suddenly snapped in two when the sudden spring caused the crane to rebound and it fell with a tremendous crash upon the poor fellows underneath. What the nature of their injuries may be is scarcely yet known, so horribly were they fractured and mutilated ; but almost as soon as the alarm had subsided they were all removed on stretchers, obtained from the police-office, to the Royal Infirmary. Of course, every attention was there paid to the sufferers, which their injuries seemed to call for; but one of them, James Mason, we regret to state, expired about an hour after his admission. On enquiring late last night we were told that Mahomet was somewhat better, although still in considerable danger; but Bolton and Connor are still in so precarious a state that slight hopes are entertained of their recovery— Manchester Courier of Saturday.' [1]
  • 1850 Iron and brass founders, engineers, makers of gasometers, boilers, hydraulic presses. Walter Mabon’s home address: 3 Summer Place, Ardwick [2]
  • 1854 'Accident from the Breaking of a Chain. Monday, Mr. Herford, city coroner, held an inquest on James Hand, a young man, 22 years age, residing at Lee's Buildings, Bark-lane, Ardwick. The deceased, on Monday morning, was assisting several men to hoist a large boiler by a crane at the iron works of Mr. Walter Mabon, Eagle-street, Ardwick, when one of the links in the chain broke, and the boiler fell upon him. He was taken up quite dead. The chain was calculated to bear much heavier weight, and its breaking could not be accounted for.' [3]
  • 1854 'Fatal Accident in Sawing Timber.—An inquest was held upon the death of a young man named Thurston Walker, bookkeeper. It appeared that on the afternoon of Tuesday last, he was standing near a man at Mr. Mabon’s ironworks, Ardwick, who was sawing a deal plank through, with a circular saw moved by steam. The plank was twelve feet long, seven feet wide, and very thick,—so that when it became accidentally displaced, and was thrown, by the saw's force, out against the deceased, it struck him very heavily, in the belly; he fell down much hurt. He was only 23 years old, and has left a young widow and one child.'[4]
  • 1855 'Manchester.— Mr. Walter Mabon, of the Ardwick Ironworks, is constructing four iron boats for the Government, which it is believed are intended be employed by the commissariat for landing stores in the Black Sea. The order was received on the 29th. Nov. through Messrs. Whitehall, Lennox, and Co., merchants, Liverpool ; and the time allowed for its completion was until January 15th. The boats are being constructed at Mr. Mabon's Albion Ironworks, Gorton, three being on the stocks, and the keel of the fourth being laid. They are of the class of vessels termed lighters, and are of the following dimensions : —Length, 50 feet; width, 12ft. 6in. ; depth 4ft. 6in. They will each carry about 40 tons of measured goods, and with that load will draw about 3ft. 6in. of water. The materials which the lighters are being constructed are 1/4in. and 3/8in. wrought iron plates, strongly rivetted together. The framework is composed of angle and T iron ; the gunwale of each boat being of angle iron, and the keel (6in. by 3in.) of T iron. The deck beams are 7in. by 3in. and are formed of double angle iron. A number of additional hands have been engaged to ensure the completion of the boats within the specified time. — Manchester Guardian
    [Walter Mabon is a native of Kelso, and son of the late Mr. John Mabon, surgeons’ instrument maker. At an early age Mr. Mabon went to Manchester ; but although he had served a regular apprenticeship in the millwright business in Kelso, so stringent were the rules of the trade, that, became his indenture had not been signed at the time he became an apprentice, he was not allowed to work, and sent back to Scotland to make up his time. Having done so, he returned to Manchester where he found ready employment in one of the best firms, and by skill, industry, and perseverance, he soon found himself in a position to enter the field of enterprise on his own account. How far Mr. Mabon has succeeded the above and many other marks of public favour will shew. Besides the construction of several iron bridges, he has been engaged in number of public works, which, while they have given satisfaction to his employers, redound to his own credit.]'[5]
  • 1855 Built the iron roof for Wolverhampton station [6]
  • 1855 Letter: 'GAS WORKS, WAVERTREE-LANE. TO THE EDITOR OF THE DAILY POST.
    Sir, Having seen in a leading article of Liverpool Northern Times, some remarks made about the gas-works at Wavertree-road, and being contractor for a gasholder therein mentioned, I beg to state that the remarks made about the same are anything but in accordance with the truth; and have certainly no hesitation in stating that the whole article is one of the most flimsy affairs ever concocted, and must certainly have been written by some party wholly unacquainted with gas or the requirements for its manufacture, the whole of the arrangements of the works having every improvement introduced for the good and proper manufacture of gas. But as I can only consider myself connected with the articles, so far as relates to the gasholder, I will leave Mr. King, or any other interested party, to answer the remaining part of the article, which I think they will have no difficulty in doing. The tanks for the gasholders are four in number, as stated in the Northern Times, but they are neither 120 feet diameter nor 40 feet deep ; and, so far from the gas holders being of the most antiquated style, every improvement has been introduced in their construction, so as to render them in every respect very durable, and, at the same time, nothing has been overlooked by Mr. King, so as to render them both economical in price and very sightly structures. The Northern Times states that much unnecessary ground has been thrown away in not having the gas-holders made on the telescope principle. The gasholders are on the telescope principle, each being 103 feet diameter by 26 feet deep each lift, and not 120 feet diameter by 40 feet deep, as stated in the Northern Times; and as one of the gasholders is now nearly completed, I very much doubt whether the party who wrote the article ever has visited the gas works, or, if he knew what a telescope gasholder was, he would not have made such an error in his statement. I have made gasholders and apparatus for a great number of places, including the Chartered Gas Company, London; the Alliance and Consumers' Gas Company, Dublin; the Manchester Corporation Gas Committee; the Salford Gas Committee; Leeds New Gas Company; Wakefield Gas Company; Macclesfield Gas Company, &c., &c.; and can only say, that, from what experience I have had as a gas engineer, the Wavertree Gas Works are replete with every improvement; and I do not consider that either the apparatus or gasholders are too large for the quantity of gas which will be manufactured and consumed. Please insert this in your next publication.—Yours, respectfully, WALTER MABON Ardwick Iron Works, Manchester, August 9,1855.'[7]
  • 1875 'A petition for liquidation was filed yesterday in the Manchester County Court by John Mabon, of Ardwick and Gorton, engineer and boiler maker. The liabilities are £30,300.'[8]
  • 1875 'Liquidation by Arrangement of the affairs of John Mabon …. trading under the style or firm of Walter Mabon & Co' [9]

1865 Wedding announcement: 'MABON-FLETCHER—FLETCHER-CHANTLER — September 27, at the Cathedral, Manchester, by the Rev. Richard Butler, M.A., rector of St. Silas' Church, Ardwick, John, second son the late Walter Mabon, Esq., engineer, Ardwick Ironworks, and Summer-place, Ardwick, to Maria, second daughter of Jas. Fletcher, Esq., engineer, Salford. and Higher Crumpsall.— Also, at the same time and place, James, second son the above-named James Fletcher, Esq., to Mary Clementina Chantler, of Prestwich, only child of the William Chantler, Esq., of Tottington.'[10]. Was James Fletcher James Fletcher (1806-1881)?

1876 'THE BANKRUPTCY ACT, 1869. —IN THE COUNTY COURT OF LANCASHIRE, HOLDEN AT MANCHESTER. In the matter of a special resolution for liquidation by arrangement in composition with creditors instituted by JOHN MABON, of Ardwick, Manchester, in the county of Lancaster, and of Gorton, in the said county, engineer and boiler maker, trading under the style or firm "Walter Mabon and Co." The creditors of the above-named John Mabon, who have not already proved their debts are required on or before the 14th day of April, to send their names and addresses, and the particulars of their debts or claims to me, the undersigned John Hall, of 64, Port-street, Manchester aforesaid, iron merchant, the trustee under the liquidatlon, or in default thereof they will be excluded from the benefit of the dividend proposed to be declared. Dated this 31st day of March, 1876.
JOHN HALL, Trustee.
SLATER & POOLE, solicitor, 5, Norfolk-street, Manchester.' [11]

Ardwick Iron Works

The 1849 O.S. map[12] shows the Ardwick Iron Works located just to the east of the River Medlock, with access from Raven Street, which was parallel to the main road (Ogden Street), the two being linked by Eagle Street (all three streets are mentioned in the articles above). The site itself was quite small, and certainly not large enough for trial assembly of a 103 ft diameter gasometer. (Perhaps it was assembled at 'Mabon's Albion Ironworks, Gorton' where the barges were made, mentioned above). The largest building at Ardwick was approx 130 ft long by 45 ft wide, and there were several smaller buildings, overlooking a triangular courtyard, whose short sides were each 100 ft long. Other industrial activity in the immediate area was dominated by the Mount Street Dye Works and Ancoats Bridge Print Works.

The 1915 map shows a very different picture, the Iron Works having been replaced by a recreation ground with a bandstand, and the print works replaced by the large Bridge Street Mills.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Morning Post, Monday 18th October 1847
  2. Slater's Directory of Manchester & Salford, 1850
  3. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 8th April 1854
  4. Manchester Times, Saturday 27th May 1854
  5. Kelso Chronicle - Friday 5 January 1855
  6. Worcestershire Chronicle, 6th June 1855
  7. Liverpool Daily Post, Saturday 11 August 1855
  8. Staffordshire Sentinel, 15th June 1875
  9. [1] London Gazette July 13, 1875
  10. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 30 September 1865
  11. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 1 April 1876
  12. 'The Godfrey Edition Old Ordnance Survey Maps - Manchester Large Scale Sheet 35, Upper Ardwick, 1849', originally drawn at 36" to 1 mile [2]