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British Industrial History

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William Butlin

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William Butlin (c1824-1897), builder of portable steam engines

1897 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM BUTLIN, of Duston House, near Northampton, died at Weymouth on February 4, 1897, at the age of seventy-three years. He was educated at the Guilsborough Grammar School, and on leaving school became a pupil in the firm of Berry & Co., machine engineers, Liverpool, and afterwards studied at the College of Civil Engineers, Putney, where he gained his full certificate as a civil engineer in 1848.

Mr. Butlin started the old Vulcan Works, Weston Street, Northampton, for the manufacture of steam-ploughs, portable engines, agricultural machinery, &c. This business he carried on with great success for upwards of twenty years. He made the first leather-splitting machine used in Northampton. He took a leading part in founding the iron ore industry in Northamptonshire. He was an exhibitor at the Exhibition of 1851, and there saw some specimens of Northamptonshire iron ore; and on finding that deposits of this mineral abounded on his family property, he at once set to work to make a series of experiments at the Vulcan Works. He is said to have smelted the first piece of iron in his county, and this specimen had a place in the Northampton Museum for some time.

In 1852 the East End Iron Works were established at Wellingborough, the one furnace there built being afterwards replaced by two.

In 1866 the business of the firm had so increased as to render it necessary to build the Irthlingborough Works at Wellingborough. Mr. Butlin did not take any active part in politics, but identified himself with all local movements.

He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1882.

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