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William Laird (1831-1899)

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1899.

William Laird (1831-1899) of Laird Brothers

1831 April 11th. Born the son of John Laird


1899 Obituary [1]

William Laird was born at Birkenhead on 11th April 1831, being the eldest son of Mr. John Laird, M.P.

After receiving his education in Liverpool and at Harrow, he was taken into his father's office in the iron shipbuilding works of Messrs. William Laird and Son. Devoting himself to mastering the details of scientific shipbuilding, he early became the head of the drawing department, where he had the complete control of the work of designing, and the revision of all contracts for work undertaken by the firm. When this department was taken over by his younger brother Henry Hyndman (Proceedings 1898, page 205), he still devoted much time to it himself.

On 1st January 1860 he was admitted a member of the firm, along with his brother John, and the title was changed to John Laird, Sons, and Co.

At the end of 1861 his father retired from the firm, and in the middle of 1862 Mr. Henry Hyndman Laird was admitted into what then became the firm of Messrs. Laird' Brothers, of which Mr. William Laird was the senior partner.

Among the famous productions of the works under his guidance were the ironclad battle-ship 'Agincourt' in 1865, followed by the 'Vanguard,' the 'Britannia,' and many other vessels; then in 1880 three channel steamers for the London and North Western Railway; in 1886 the 'Battle-snake' torpedo gunboat, the first of a long line of high-speed boats; in 1889 the 'Columbia,' the largest merchantman ever constructed on the Mersey, owned by the Hamburg American Company; and recently the first-class battle-ships 'Royal Oak' and 'Mars,' and a fleet of 30-knot torpedo destroyers, as well as one boat of 83 knots ; also the 'Cephalonia,' the 'Westernland,' and the 'Noordland'; the battle-ship 'Glory,' of 12,500 tons, at present in the building dock; and Mr. Vanderbilt’s floating palace 'Valiant.' For the Irish mail service between Kingstown and Holyhead the steamers 'Ulster,' 'Munster,' and 'Connaught,' were built in 1860, of which he was the actual designer; then in 1885 the royal mail steamer 'Ireland,' probably the fastest paddle-boat in the world; and in 1896 four twin-screw steamers, 'Ulster,' 'TSS Leinster,' 'Munster,' and 'Connaught,' having a speed of nearly 24 knots, for the accelerated Irish mail service, to replace the three built in 1860.

Since the death of Mr. John Laird on 25th January 1898, the whole burden of the firm was principally borne by Mr. William Laird, who continued to attend to business up to a few days before his death, which occurred on 7th February 1899, in the sixty-eighth year of his age.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1872, and was a Member of Council from 1887. He was also a Member of the Institution of Naval Architects, and a Member of their Council. From the incorporation of Birkenhead in 1877 he had a seat on the Town Council; and was Mayor for the three years 1880-1-2, and again for 1886.

In 1875 he was appointed a justice of the peace for the county of Cheshire; and when the borough bench was formed in 1878, he became one of the first magistrates of Birkenhead.


1899 Obituary [2]



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