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Walter Williams (1831-1892)

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1831 Born in Dudley, son of Walter Williams (b.1795) ironmaster[1]

1850 Walter Williams junior, of Albion Iron Works, West Bromwich, joined I Mech E as graduate.[2].

1851 Ironmaster, living in West Bromwich

1852 Member of I Mech E

1861 Resigned from I Mech E

1869 Re-elected as a member I Mech E; of Wednesbury Oak Iron Works, Tipton.

1877 Resigned from I Mech E


1892 Obituary [3]

WALTER WILLIAMS, who died on Saturday, the 5th of March 1892, at Pau, was born in 1830, and lead consequently reached the sixty-second year of his age. His father was a member of the firm of Philip Williams & Sons, of the Wednesbury Oak Ironworks, Tipton. These works had for many years occupied a prominent position in the South Staffordshire iron trade, having been erected in the earlier part of the present century by Philip Williams, who was at that time in partnership with Benjamin Gibbons.

In 1816, Philip Williams became the sole owner of the Wednesbury Works, but at a later date he assumed his sons, Philip and Walter, as partners, and the firm thereupon took the style, which it has since retained, of Philip Williams & Sons. Mr. Walter Williams was a son of Walter, the brother of Philip Williams, and, on the death of the latter, in 1864, he was entrusted, jointly with his brothers, Joseph W. Williams and P. A. Williams, with the management of the works and collieries belonging to the firm, in which position he continued until the time of his death.

The Wednesbury Oak Works have long been among the largest in South Staffordshire, embracing collieries, blast-furnaces, and finished ironworks. The firm also carried on for many years.yorks known as the Union Furnaces at West Bromwich, but some sixteen years ago this latter property was disposed of to the Stour Valley Coal and Iron Company, which was subsequently dissolved. The property then reverted to the original owners, who carried it on under the style of Philip Williams & Company, until the furnaces, having become antiquated, were discontinued.

Besides the several works named, the firm carried on manufactured iron-works, and engaged in the mining industries of Smethwick and Bilston, which were administered successfully for a number of years. On the establishment, in the year 1863, of the South Staffordshire Ironmasters' Association, Walter Williams undertook the office of honorary secretary, and he acted in this capacity for several years, during which time the Association increased in membership and influence. He was succeeded in this office by the late Mr. John Jones, who, at a later date, became secretary to the North of England Ironmasters' Association, and to the Iron and Steel Institute.

Mr. Walter Williams held for several years the position of Chairman of the South Staffordshire Ironmasters' Association, and he also filled for a term the office of President to the Mining Association of Great Britain. For a number of years he was also Chairman of the South Staffordshire District Bank, an office which gave him a considerable amount of prestige in that locality.

From 1877 to 1888 Mr. Williams held the position of Chairman of the South Staffordshire Mines Drainage Commissioners, and assisted materially in the passing of the first of the South Staffordshire Mining Drainage Acts in 1873. The drainage area affected by this Act was from 95,000 to 100,000 square miles in extent, and comprised almost the whole of the South Staffordshire coalfield. It was estimated at that time that 150,000,000 tons of coal and 17,000,000 tons of ironstone were flooded within this area. The Drainage Commissioners began operations in 1873, over an area of about eighty square miles, part of the district having been withdrawn from their control. The work of the Commission was divided into surface drainage and mines drainage, and rating powers were obtained which extended over a great part of the South Staffordshire coalfield, thereby enabling the very considerable cost of instituting operations to be defrayed.

The cost of pumping the water within this area for several years varied from 1d. to lid. per ton, but latterly, the tonnage having been reduced, it rose to about 31d. per ton. The pumping engines controlled by the Commission had, during the three years ending with 1891, averaged 644,000 gallons per twenty-four hours. In the important work carried out by the Commission, Mr. Walter Williams personally took a most prominent part until December 1888, when, on personal grounds, he resigned his position.

In 1874, Mr. Williams stood as a candidate in the Conservative interest for Wolverhampton, but was defeated. He was one of the original members of the Iron and Steel Institute, and in 1872 he was elected a member of the Council--a position which he held until 1878. He took a considerable interest in, and was a tolerably regular attender at, the earlier meetings of the Institute, and he took some part in the discussion of papers read in 1869 and 1871. He was a Justice of the Peace for South Staffordshire, and a Doctor of Laws. Of late years he did not enjoy good health, and it was with a view to improving his condition that he proceeded to Pau, where he died.


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Sources of Information

  • Mechanical Engineer Records