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British Industrial History

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William Dent Priestman

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1944.30 B.H.P. Priestman Locomotive for Hull Docks in 1894.
1944.8 B.H.P. Priestman "Oil Auto Car" - 1897.

William Dent Priestman (1847–1936), engineer

1847 Born on 23 August at East Mount, Sutton, near Hull, the second son of eleven children of Samuel Priestman (1800–1872), corn miller and railway company director, and his wife, Mary Anne (1807–1899), daughter of William Dent.

1864 Engineering apprentice at Martin Samuelson and Co, owners of the Humber Iron Works in Hull.

After the Samuelson business failed, Priestman completed his apprenticeship in the locomotive shops of the North Eastern Railway in Gateshead.

1869 Joined the hydraulics department of W. G. Armstrong and Co in Newcastle.

Had the opportunity to become a partner in R. and W. Hawthorn, locomotive builders of Newcastle, but his father was opposed to the idea

Without consulting his son, Samuel paid £3000 for a run-down engineering works, the Holderness Foundry.

1872 By the time of Samuel's death the business was in serious financial trouble.

1873 Priestman was joined by his younger brother Samuel; they concentrated on repair work for ships in the docks and general engineering as Priestman Brothers

1874 Constructed a winch for Thomas Christy, a London company promoter, capable of operating a grab obtained from the USA, in order to dredge for gold in Vigo harbour. Further cranes followed - the first grab crane mounted on a rail bogie was supplied to S. Pearson and Son, contractors.

1878 Won a silver medal in Paris Exhibition for their first steam crane and self-acting bucket.

1879 Priestman lectured at the Hull Mechanics' Institute on a project to use liquid fuel directly in the engine cylinder instead of steam or gas.

1884 Purchased the Étève–Hume patents for gasoline engines

1886 Priestman patented his own design of two-stroke engine running on paraffin fuel oil.

1890 Entered the marine market, with a series of twin-cylinder vertical engines.

1891 Engine maker, employer, living in Southcoates, Hull with his family[1]

By 1894 competitors were selling engines at substantially lower prices

1895 The business went into receivership in January. The company then concentrated on the manufacture of grabs and cranes; Priestman was excluded from the board.

1901 Manager for mechanical engineering firm constructing steam and oil engines in Beetham, Westmorland, living with Marion and Philip, 8[2]

1911 Engineer (mechanical). Grab dredger maker. Employer. Living in Sculcoates with his wife Marion and 3 sons, Samuel Dent, David Dent and Philip Dent, all of whom worked in the same works[3]

1927 of Holderness Foundry, Hull, when he wrote to "The Times" concerning the scheme which encouraged team working that had been in operation at the Foundry for 10 years[4] . 1936 He died at his home, 81 Village Road, Garden Village, Hull, on 7 September.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1891 census
  2. 1901 census
  3. 1911census
  4. The Times July 29
  • Biography of William Dent Priestman, ODNB